Posted by Linda LBW
Scientology, one of the genuinely new religions to originate in the United States in the twentieth century, was founded by L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986).
The Church of Scientology believes "that Man is basically good, that he is seeking to survive, [and] that his survival depends on himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe" (from Church of Scientology's statement of beliefs).
Hubbard's extensive writings and taped lectures constitute the beliefs and the basis for the religion's practices. The aims of Scientology are "A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights."
L. Ron Hubbard (http://www.lronhubbard.org/) grew up mostly in Montana, but also lived in Nebraska; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, DC (http://expansion.scientology.org.uk/dc/). As a child he read extensively, and by the age of twelve was studying the theories of Freud. As a teenager Hubbard traveled throughout Asia and the East, continuing his studies of philosophy, religion, and human nature.
In 1929 he returned to the United States and in 1930 enrolled in George Washington University, studying mathematics, engineering, and nuclear physics. Hubbard wanted to answer the basic questions relating to the human being's nature, and decided to do further research on his own. To finance this, he began a literary career in the early 1930s, publishing numerous stories and screen plays in various genres, including adventure, mystery, and science fiction. Hubbard continued his travels and then served in the United States Navy during World War II. He was injured during the war, and used some of his own theories concerning the human mind to assist in his healing.
By 1950, Hubbard had completed enough of his research to write Dianetics: The Modem Science of Mental Health (http://www.dianetics.org/). This book described mental techniques designed to clear the mind of unwanted sensations, irrational fears, and psychosomatic illnesses. Dianetics quickly became a bestseller and generated a large following. Groups were soon formed so that individuals could assist each other in the application of the techniques described in Dianetics, called "auditing." Hubbard lectured extensively, continued his research, and wrote numerous volumes covering his discoveries. His research soon led him into a spiritual realm, and in 1952 the "applied religious philosophy" of Scientology (http://www.scientology.org/) was born. It was described as a subject separate from Dianetics, as it dealt not only with the mind but also with one's spiritual nature. The goal of Scientology would be to fully rehabilitate the spiritual nature of an individual, including rehabilitating all abilities and realizing one's full potential.
In 1954, the first Church of Scientology (http://www.churchofscientology.com/) was established in Los Angeles, California. In 1959 Hubbard moved to Saint Hill Manor (http://www.sainthill.org.uk/), in Sussex, England, to continue his research and the world-wide headquarters of Scientology (http://www.scientology.org.uk/) relocated there. The religion continued to grow during the 1950s and 1960s, and many more churches were founded around the world. In 1966, Hubbard resigned his position as executive director of the church to devote himself to researches into higher levels of spirituality. In August 1967, he formed the "Sea Organization (http://www.whatisscientology.org/html/part06/Chp26/)," a group of dedicated members of the church and continued his travels and research on board various ships acquired by the church. In 1975 the activities outgrew the ships and were moved onto land in Clearwater (http://www.scientology-fso.org/), Florida. From this time until his death in 1986, Hubbard wrote and published materials on the subjects of Dianetics and Scientology, as well as a number of works of science fiction. The Church of Scientology (http://www.americanreligion.org/books/scientology.html) now has more than 3,000 churches, missions, and groups worldwide.
The Church of Scientology (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8057_1.html) believes "that Man is basically good, that he is seeking to survive, [and] that his survival depends on himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe" (from Church of Scientology's statement of beliefs). This is achieved in Scientology by two methods, referred to as "auditing" and " training (http://training.scientology.org/)." Dianetics and Scientology auditing (http://www.auditing.org/) (counseling of one individual by another) consists of an "auditor" guiding someone through various mental processes to first free the individual of the effects of the "reactive mind," and then to fully realize the spiritual nature of the person. The "reactive mind" is said to be that part of the mind that operates on a stimulus-response basis, and is composed of residual memories of painful and unpleasant mental incidents (called engrams) which exert unwilling and unknowing control over the individual. When the individual is freed from these undesired effects, he is said to have achieved the state of "Clear," which is the goal of Dianetics counseling. An individual then goes on to higher levels of counseling dealing with his nature as an immortal spiritual being (referred to in Scientology as a "thetan"). Scientologists believe that a "thetan" has lived many lifetimes before this one and will again live more lifetimes after the death of their current body (the doctrine of reincarnation).
Scientology (http://www.scientologyhandbook.org/) "training" consists of many levels of courses about (1) improving the daily life of individuals by giving them various tools (i.e., concerning communication), and (2) learning the techniques of auditing so that one can counsel others. Scientologists refer to the presence of a Supreme Being as representing infinity, but do not worship any deity as such, instead spending their time on the application of Scientology principles to daily activities. Regular church services are held, however, and concern themselves with discussing the principles of Scientology (http://www.bonafidescientology.org/) and their application.
Internationally, Scientology the religion consists of more than 3,000 separate churches, missions (http://www.smi.org/), and groups spread over 74 countries. Its membership includes people from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, and is said to encompass 8 million members, including over 10,000 staff members. The church sponsors more than 1,000 community action and social reform groups that concern themselves with human rights (http://www.theta.com/goodman/), education (http://www.effective-education.org), and drug rehabilitation (http://www.drugs-information.net), among other issues. There is an elaborate management structure in the church, with many different levels of types of activities needed to run all the various activities of the church.
L. Ron Hubbard (http://lron.hubbard.org)'s publications number in the hundreds. They cover a wide variety of subjects from communication, the problems of work and how to solve them, to past lives. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health has continued over the years to be a best-seller. There are numerous church magazines published on regular basis, the principal ones being Source, Advance, Auditor, and Freedom (http://www.freedommag.org/). These serve to inform the membership of current events, progress made, the activities of celebrities and other Scientologists, and the availability of classes and Scientology materials.
Excerpted from The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects and New Religions Edited by James R. Lewis published by Prometheus Books (http://www.prometheusbooks.com/site/)