baudrunner's space: Scientology: cult or religion — you decide
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Friday, January 25, 2008

Scientology: cult or religion — you decide

As with any well known religion, Scientology too has a basic belief structure which borders on legend and on which lie the foundations for the establishment of its tenets and its precepts. The following is extracted from the Rolling Stone Magazine article titled Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman..

They assert that 75 million years ago, an evil galactic warlord named Xenu controlled seventy-six planets in this corner of the galaxy, each of which was severely overpopulated. To solve this problem, Xenu rounded up 13.5 trillion beings and then flew them to Earth, where they were dumped into volcanoes around the globe and vaporized with bombs. This scattered their radioactive souls, or thetans, until they were caught in electronic traps set up around the atmosphere and "implanted" with a number of false ideas -- including the concepts of God, Christ and organized religion. Scientologists later learn that many of these entities attached themselves to human beings, where they remain to this day, creating not just the root of all of our emotional and physical problems but the root of all problems of the modern world.
From a purely intellectual point of view, the above should be considered no more fantastic than the Bible's superficial glossing over of the creation of the entire Universe by God in the first few pages of the Book of Genesis.

Scientology Symbol

The Church of Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard — arguably L. Ron Wilson (his father was orphaned and adopted by the Hubbards of Fredericksburg, Iowa). L. Ron was a published author of stories and novellas in varying genres and in pulp sci-fi magazines such as Fantastic Adventures and Amazing Stories and this fact probably surprised the faculty of George Washington University where he achieved poor grades and from which institution he did not graduate, having been placed on academic probation "for deficiency in scholarship". One of the courses he studied was molecular and atomic physics which he failed (nevertheless, he co-authored a book titled "All About Radiation" in 1957). He had a somewhat less than distinguished naval career during WW II, having been relieved of command twice. He was not highly regarded by his superiors.

Hubbard married his second wife after abandoning his first wife, whom he would not divorce until a year after the second marriage. It seems from a reading of his biography that he returned to writing after realizing that his was essentially a dysfunctional existence, outside of the norm of human experience. Both of his wives accused him of physically abusing them. His first wife, Margaret "Polly" Grubb, wrote a letter to the second, Sara Northrup while Northrup and L.Ron were undergoing divorce proceedings. From that letter..
"Ron is not normal... I had hoped you could straighten him out. Your charges probably sound fantastic to the average person – but I've been through it – the beatings, threats on my life, all the sadistic traits which you charge – 12 years of it."
Scientology grew from a work of Hubbard's called Dianetics which became a best seller. Dianetics was essentially a self-improvement technique. Through the establishment of claims that disorder and disease were the manifestation of a troubled programming of the mind by disturbing early and even pre-natal experiences, Dianetics grew into a school of thought and led to the establishment of clinics under the authority of The Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation wherein were practised the art of self-improvement under the guidance of 'auditors'. Most of the branch offices closed within a year and Hubbard himself eventually abandoned the Foundation after denouncing former associates as communists to the FBI. Nevertheless, Dianetics lies at the root of Scientology. Again, from Janet Reitman's article..
In his 1983 autobiography, Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era, the sci-fi writer Lloyd Eshbach describes meeting Hubbard in the late 1940s. "I'd like to start a religion," Eshbach recalls Hubbard saying. "That's where the money is."
In an interview with Penthouse Magazine, Ronald DeWolf (1934 – 1991), L. Ron's son by his first wife said, "Scientology is a power-and-money-and-intelligence-gathering game" and described his father as "only interested in money, sex, booze, and drugs." He would later sign a sworn affidavit after retracting many things he stated in that interview that he "weaved" much of the Penthouse article.

In 1968 the church abandoned its policy of "Fair Game", which Hubbard created to intimidate anyone who dared to disparage or oppose the church and which he defined as "ENEMY — 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." Hubbard called non-Scientology members "Wogs" — in his words, ""common, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety humanoid[s]." The Church of Scientology discourages its novices and the students attending its many Scientology-oriented schools from using drugs; reading magazines and newspapers; and going to the movies. Discussion isn't encouraged. Unlike most if not all other religions, the world inside Scientology is secretive and mysterious, with the amount of knowledge any one individual possesses having a direct relationship with one's level of attainment within the hierarchy. Suppression as a tactic effectively isolates and alienates its members from the mainstream of life. Many who have abandoned the church have claimed that the processes of indoctrination and promotion amount to a subtle form of "brainwashing".

It is probably no co-incidence that major Scientology centres are located in the wealthiest parts of the country. A large part of the illusion which membership in that institution imbues is an aura of wealth and money and the sense of security and elation which that atmosphere can provide. Its members are institutionalized, and that institution is not poor. Services and knowledge are sold and the profits are rendered tax-free by virtue of its registration as a religion. Some zealous adherents have gone so far as to have mortgaged their homes to advance their levels within the church.

Notwithstanding, Scientology seeks to improve the individual and operates under the fundamental principle that failure to achieve one's potential is tantamount to failing at life. But one cannot but associate the almost paranoid and secretive nature of Scientology's inner sanctums as an extension of L. Ron Hubbard's own peculiar and paranoid nature from which he sought escape by writing. Guinness World Records declared L. Ron Hubbard to be the world's most published (1,084 fiction and non-fiction works) and translated (into 71 languages) author. That says something — not all of it good, in retrospect.

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