Few words are so fraught with passion, controversy and the ability to inflame.
As long as there have been people there has been an attempt to explain our existence, a seeking for an elusive Other to justify our lives. Something to believe in to comfort and calm our fear of the unknown.
This search has led to as many different interpretations as there are cultures.
Herein lies the tinder for abuse and fraud.
While most people seek with honest and sincere hearts in whatever form their faith takes, there are some who use Religion as a shield. These people take advantage of the sincerity and longing that lives in the hearts and souls of those who search. They turn the desire for more into chains that imprison and control.
Society has developed a word to describe these groups who twist religion into an unrecognizable morass of blind misery.
Currently no other pseudo religion has had more exposure in the media and online than the self titled “Church of Scientology”.
Thanks to strong and courageous former members the world is finally getting more than a glimpse into what has up until now been a closed and mysterious world. The more that is exposed the less a religion it becomes.
Scientology wields it’s tax exempt status like a badge of honor. Proof that it is, indeed, a religion. On it’s website it explains exactly why it deserves that designation. Aligning itself with the other major religions it states: “Scientology holds in common with all great religions the dream of peace on Earth and salvation for Man.”
So is there truly common ground that makes Scientology a religion?
1. True religion directs the individual outward. The person is encouraged to good works to better the community. It is love of neighbor, forgiveness for wrongs and treating others as we would want to be treated. Hindus believe that all life is sacred, to be loved and revered, and therefore practice ahimsa, noninjury, in thought, word and deed. Christians are taught to forgive and turn the other cheek. No matter the religion, our similarities are in the focus being on how our actions reflect on and affect our community and family. Scientology focuses not on the good of the community but on what good the community can do for the entity. Where the Christian Church, the Jewish Temple or the Mosque is a point of coming together to pray for each other and the world, each building in the Scientology fold represents materialistic progress and growth. Success is measured in square footage not in the souls who cross the thresholds.
2. Followers of the major religions that Scientology leans on for validation have free will. We have the freedom to choose. Scientology seeks to take away that freedom of choice from it’s members. Where God created us as diverse and different and wonderful, each with his or her own gifts and strengths, Scientology seeks to whittle away everything that makes each person unique. Scientology creates an order of followers with no choice. Anything perceived to be against the Organization results in immediate retaliation. Instead of forgiveness or turning the other cheek, Scientology is all about crime and punishment. Disagreeing with the Organization, or even worse leaving, is considered the highest sin. For the unlucky member who attempts to escape there is the Blow Drill followed by the RPF. In the real religions of the world members can question, learn and seek. A person can choose to change faiths without fear of being hunted down and imprisoned. There is no free will in Scientology. No freedom to seek or to question. As it is only through these basic rights of our souls that we grow spiritually those who are part of Scientology are in fact being spiritually stifled and stunted.
3. Pride and idolatry. Humility and recognizing that there is a Being higher than ourselves is at the core of all the main religions. We admit that we are not the end all and be all of the universe. Our purpose is to move forward on our journey and by our actions to give glory to God. Our interactions with each other as a family and community are the conduit through which we better ourselves. Mainstream religions are about forming a Family of Man. No religion teaches selfishness as a virtue. Man acknowledges his limitations and his need for God to attain salvation. Scientology believes that only IT has the ability to save mankind. This is the biggest sin of all; placing COS as a god. Pride in Scientology and the idolatry of itself at the exclusion of God is what separates COS from other religions. And this is the difference between what Sin is in the world of LRH and DM and in Christianity. To Christians sin destroys the family of man. It damages the community. Sin hurts others. Scientology’s only “sin” is when it affects the entity that is Scientology.
4. Scientology is a harsh, hard and unforgiving Organization. Where other religions teach and encourage forgiveness, love, compassion and care for our neighbors, these things are noticeably missing from Scientology doctrine. Scientology is always on alert for perceived attacks. This paranoia drives the Organization to continually monitor it’s members through auditing, sec checks and Knowledge Reports. The founder, L. Ron Hubbard, wrote thorough and clear instructions for dealing with any supposed attack.
“The DEFENSE of anything is UNTENABLE. The only way to defend anything is to ATTACK, and if you ever forget that, then you will lose every battle you are ever engaged in, whether it is in terms of personal conversation, public debate, or a court of law. NEVER BE INTERESTED IN CHARGES. DO, yourself, much MORE CHARGING, and you will WIN.”
“SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”
“If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace.”
Religion’s purpose is to bring Man to God. To fulfill the soul’s longing for peace. Through the various faiths we are drawn together as a community. In Christianity, the Bible says “Where two or more are gathered in My name, there will I be.” We are not meant to quest alone. The paranoia, the attacks and Knowledge Reports are not designed to bring people together but to purposefully drive them apart.
5. Scientology is an angry Organization. Anger simmers beneath all that drives it. LRH extorts it’s members to attack and destroy anyone who causes offense. The current leader, David Miscavige, uses anger and violence to control those around him. Claiming that it’s religious roots are found in the teachings of Hinduism amongst others, still it uses negativity and anger as a cattle prod. Hinduism however speaks clearly about anger.
“The ignorant always regard anger as equivalent to energy. Wrath, however, has been given to man for the destruction of the world. The man, therefore, who wishes to behave properly, must ever forsake anger.”
Christianity teaches that anger is a sin. That God is peace. Islam believes extreme anger is unlawful because it creates opposition and bitterness. So how then does does Scientology claim brotherhood with the major religions of the world while at the same time shunning the basic tenets that each holds? The same virtues held by very different faiths, bonding people together through similar ideals. Religion; man’s seeking for something better. Can Scientology truly call itself a legitimate religion when it defies Religion’s most basic teachings, choosing instead to foster anger and isolation while attempting to create Stepford Parishioners?
6. Each faith has a Creation Story who’s purpose is to explain where Man came from. Scientology also has a Creation Story, written by LRH. The problem with this particular story is that according to Hubbard, the religions that are noted as the examples for it’s Spiritual foundation do not exist.
He states that God and all the major religions of the world are merely false and misleading implanted memories. With this explanation Hubbard himself effectively negates Scientology’s claims. They fight to prove that they are a legitimate Religion the same as the other major religions of the world, yet their own founder states that these Religions are not real. Where does that leave COS?
7. “The Scientology view of an Ultimate Reality transcending the material world includes its concepts of the thetan and the dynamics which include the spiritual world (the Seventh Dynamic) and the Supreme Being (the Eighth Dynamic).”
The idea of the soul is part and parcel of each of the major religions. The soul, immortal and driven to find it’s way back to the Creator is who we are on the deepest and most spiritual level. We are unique and wonderful individuals made up of both our physical body and our soul, which is comprised of both the intellect and the will.
Scientology claims that the body is merely the physical mechanism or container for the Thetan. According to the LRH Creation Story, Thetans are the souls of those who Xenu massacred then froze and shipped to various volcanoes on Earth. Those souls who survived inhabited the bodies they found. It is the Thetan who is the intelligence of the body. The Thetan, through auditing, seeks to achieve the State of Clear so it can then be free from the trauma it endured and move on. For the Scientologist, it is the Thetan that is the living, driving force or spirit. Body and Thetan are not one but separate entities.
This separation between body and spirit has inherent difficulties. A Spiritual Identity Crisis, so to speak. If we are not uniquely us, then who are we? Scientology claims that we are a husk inhabited by the soul of a murdered individual from another time and place. So who are we?
If this is true, as COS teaches, then it causes serious discrepancies between the teaching of what a Thetan is and the teachings of the Eight Dynamics. By the definitions of each so called doctrine either one is true or the other is true, but with logic both can not be true.
The First Dynamic states: “This is the effort to survive as an individual, to be an individual. It includes one’s own body and one’s own mind. It is the effort to attain the highest level of survival for the longest possible time for self. This dynamic includes the individual plus his immediate possessions. It does not include other people. It is the urge to survive as one’s self. Here we have individuality expressed fully.” But WHO are we, then?
Since it was already explained that the Thetan is the actual mind while the body just carries the brain, then the definition of an individual in the First Dynamic cannot be accurate. Either we are mind and body, thinking, intelligent, unique beings OR we are physical bodies carrying around the intelligent spirits of long dead people from another planet.
No other religion has such a confused dichotomy between body and soul.
Descartes said, “Cogito, ergo sum”, I think, therefore I am.
Religion is the conduit that Man uses to seek himself and ultimately God. We think, we question, we learn, we yearn.
Scientology is a chaotic jumble of statements at cross purposes that ultimately cancels out everything that it claims to be trying to achieve. This is not religion. It is chaos and madness.
Where there is peace, there is God. An almost universal practice is to seek the Infinite in stillness and silence. Through meditation, prayer, contemplation, yoga or whatever the form a calm and peaceful spirit it needed for the soul to soar to the Heavens.
Scientology is the antithesis of that calm. Rather that creating a stillness wherein the soul can find peace, Scientology bombards the member with dozens, if not hundreds of questions during their auditing sessions. Instead of reaching outward and upward for the Divine, Scientologists are directed toward the self.
Scientology teaches that ultimately Man is all there is. That by constant pseudoscientific methods a person will be granted super powers and thus be free.
It also teaches that IT IS the answer.
But to what?
Scientology is a cycle of never ending lives. Of never ending seeking for freedom from the internal struggle through constant auditing. Of freeing the Thetan so it can move on to the next lifetime.
It is a trap. A hamster wheel of focusing on the self to the exclusion of all else.
Taking God away and leaving the soul with nothing to seek, to soothe the yearning for peace just leaves a purgatory of unending struggle. It creates lost souls who wander in a hopeless and dark wilderness.
Even those who are atheists at least have an ending to the struggle, believing that once one dies there is nothing else. While that is a sad thought that in this writer’s opinion takes away hope, it is at least an ending. Scientology just goes on and on into the mists of the future with it’s members shackled to their cans for eternity. A never ending cycle of auditing for a perfection that is only found in the one thing they deny.
So is Scientology a religion? Is it truly aligned with the great religions of the world?
In the absence of everything that makes the Spirit free, no.