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RST 18.2 (1999): 97–117 Religious Studies and Theology (print) ISSN 0829-2922 Religious Studies and Theology (online) ISSN 1747-5414
The CreaTion of “religious” sCienTology
Stephen A. Kent
University of Alberta
This article traces the evolution of L. Ron Hubbard’s presentation
of Dianetics as a mental health science to Scientology as a religion
in the 1950s. It shows how Hubbard came to realize that a religious
label likely would protect his alleged healing practices from
governmental and medical interference, as well as provide him with
tax breaks during a period of heightened nancial difculties. Part
of the cosmology that Hubbard developed involved descriptions
of priests and psychiatrists impeding the ability of soul-like
entities (that he called thetans) from realizing their true nature. In
tracing how Hubbard developed religious claims out of a reputed
psychotherapy, the article claries why critics see this development
as mere expediency on Hubbard’s part. Nevertheless, Scientologists
are unlikely to know, or much care, about these issues from the
early days of its movement.
L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics, Scientology,
thetan, anti-psychiatry, Xenu, Xemu
Among the most complex and mysterious ideologies of the so-called new
religions today is Scientology. A multinational conglomerate dedicated
to the propagation and implementation of L. Ron Hubbard’s beliefs and
ideas, Scientology operated missions in approximately twenty-ve coun-
tries and had an active membership of at least 75,000 in the early 1990s
(Kent 1999a, 147 and n2). (More precise and recent gures are exceeding
difcult to acquire.) Aspects of its elaborate ideological system relate to
business practices (Hall 1998; Passas 1994; Passas and Castillo 1992),
educational techniques, mental health (Wallis 1977), drug rehabilitation,
moral values, environmentalism, and religion. Its religious theology and
accompanying cosmology are poorly understood by researchers (for an
exception see Meldgaard 1992),1 who fail to appreciate how they motivate
1. One recent overview of Scientology contains a short section on Scientology’s origins
and beliefs; however, as primary historical sources it included only reprints of two
98 Stephen A. Kent
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
members, identify societal opponents, and reect the social and nancial
pressures that plagued its founder and sole theologian, L. Ron Hubbard,
in the early 1950s.
This article documents the multifaceted self-representation of Scientol-
ogy as a science, a mental health therapy, and a religion during its found-
ing years. In doing so it pays particular attention to the social, economic,
and ideological pressures on Hubbard that motivated him to claim reli-
gious status for his ideas. Consequently, the study provides an in-depth
examination of the birth of a controversial faith, and it complements an
earlier analysis that viewed Hubbard’s religious representations of Sci-
entology as attempts to protect his followers from charges that they were
practising medicine without licenses (Kent 1996, 3033). The rst part of
this study presents the ideological content of Dianetics and its offspring,
Scientology, and the second part identies social and economic pressures
that were signicant factors in Hubbard’s creation of Scientology’s reli-
gious claims. It concludes with some thoughts about the development of
religious beliefs out of purely secular concerns, and underscores the con-
temporary difculties brought about by an historical understanding of Sci-
entology’s early years.
The basic belief system of Dianetics
Hubbard had been discussing and developing his ideas at least since the
summer of 1949 (see Miller 1987, 147–150; Winter 1987, 3). He rst pub-
lished his ideology of mental health techniques in the third week of April
1950, in the May issue of Astounding Science Fiction. His Dianetics: The
Modern Science of Mental Health followed shortly after (May 9, 1950)
and differed from it to some degree.2 The book’s initial popularity owed
much to the manner in which it addressed issues that were salient both to
the science ction community of its day as well as to the wider society.3
Hubbard books (Bromley and Bracey 1998). The article’s reliance on Scientology-
produced public relations material to glean some of its information led the authors to
accept a few inaccuracies in that short section, beginning with the incorrect claim that
“Hubbard’s spiritual discoveries began in 1945, while he was recovering from injuries
while serving as a naval ofcer that left him crippled and blind” (Bromley and Bracey
1998, 143). One of the very sources that they cite however, Russell Miller’s biography,
pointed out the inaccuracy of this statement (Miller 1987, 110).
2. The most obvious difference was that the Astounding Science Fiction article did not
use the term, “engrams,” to describe painful and debilitating events from the past, but
instead called them “norns” (Hubbard 1950a, 70).
3. For example, one author, who was informed about science ction, concluded that
Hubbard’s Dianetics appeared to offer a solution to the problem of human irrationality
that science ction fans believed always thwarted scientic and technological
The Creation of “Religious” Scientology 99
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Hubbard’s initial ideological model was not religious, and he speci-
cally asserted that it was scientically based. The title of his book, Dia-
netics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (1950), suggested as much.
Likewise, in the book’s opening pages, Hubbard announced:
the rst contribution of dianetics is the discovery that the problems of
thought and mental function can be resolved within the bounds of the -
nite universe, which is to say that all data needful to the solution of mental
action and Man’s endeavour can be measured, sensed and experienced as
scientic truths independent of mysticism or metaphysics. (1950b, x)
In the body of the book itself, Hubbard insisted that “once [a person] has
used dianetics, he will not fall back to mystic efforts to heal minds” (Hub-
bard 1950b, 167). He made these claims three and a half years before he
became involved with the founding of Scientology churches (see Atack
1990, 138). Part of Dianeticss appeal was that its goal of “clear” was one
“which some patience and a little study can bring about” (Hubbard 1950b,
17). No indication exists that Hubbard wanted Dianetics to be considered
anything other than a science when he rst presented it to the world.
Hubbard’s dissection of the human mind involved a series of claims that
he insisted were developed through careful research, although he never
produced copies of any research protocol. He asserted that people had a
“sub-mind” that he called the “reactive mind” (Hubbard 1950b, xii). This
reactive mind “is always conscious” (Hubbard 1950b, xii [italics in origi-
nal]) and records (rather than remembers) all that occurs. It then impinges
recordings (called “engrams”) of “physical pain and painful emotion” onto
“the ‘conscious’ mind” (called the “analytical mind” [Hubbard 1950b, xiv,
see 60]) when catalytic situations occur in relation to the one in which
the reactive mind rst recorded the pain (Hubbard 1950b, xiii). The third
type of mind that an individual possesses is, according to Hubbard, the
“somatic mind,” which is akin to science’s autonomic nervous system
because it “takes care of the automatic mechanisms of the body, the regu-
lation of the minutiae which keep the organism running” (Hubbard 1975a,
393; see 1950, 45; Bromley and Bracey 1998, 144–145).
Dianetics therapy involved a partner or Dianetics therapist (called an
“auditor”) placing “the patient in various periods of the patient’s life
merely by telling him to go there rather than remember” (Hubbard 1950b,
xiv). By returning to these painful occurrences, a “patient” was supposed
to have eventually erased the engrams along with their negative effects
progress (Berger 1989, 136). Other commentators have noted the combination of
science ction and occult orientations in Hubbard’s Dianetics (Whitehead 1987, 54)
as well as his selective appropriation of popular psychological concepts from the
period (Wallis 1977, 31–38).
100 Stephen A. Kent
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
and attains a state called “clear,” in which “full memory exists through-
out the lifetime” (Hubbard 1950b, xv). Furthermore, a clear allegedly
was entirely free from “any and all psychoses, neuroses, compulsions
and repressions (all aberrations) and […] any (self-generated) diseases
referred to as psycho-somatic ills” (Hubbard 1950b, 8). IQ also “soars”
(Hubbard 1950b, 90). Hubbard even claimed that Dianetics techniques
could recover “prenatal engrams” (Hubbard 1950b, xvii; for a more exten-
sive summary see Atack 1990, 109–113). (In contrast to the reactive and
analytic minds, the somatic mind plays a minor role in both Dianetics and
Scientology systems.)
Within months after the appearance of Dianetics, practitioners were
claiming to nd engrams caused by experiences in past lives (see White-
head 1974, 579). By October 1950, Joseph Winter (who was a medical
doctor) resigned from the Board of Directors of the Hubbard Dianetic
Research Foundation in New Jersey, partly because he was “alarmed by
the auditing of ‘past lives,’ which he considered [to be] entirely fanciful”
(Atack 1990, 115; see Winter 1987, 188–191). On this same issue Hub-
bard also ran into trouble with one of his early nancial backers, Don
Purcell, apparently during the summer of 1951 (Miller 1987, 197; see
Hubbard 1951, 61 n*).
Increasingly, however, belief in (and Dianeticists would insist, experi-
ence of) past lives became part of Hubbard’s unfolding pseudo-scientic
ideology, and he discussed the concept in his second Dianetics book, Sci-
ence of Survival (Hubbard 1951, 61; see Miller 1987, 194). The next year
(1952), Hubbard was insisting that auditors would achieve only mediocre
results unless they took patients (now called “pcs” or “preclears”) “prior
to this lifetime” (Hubbard 1975a, 6). By 1958, it appears that much of
Scientology’s “Advanced Clinical Course” at England’s Hubbard Associ-
ation of Scientology International (HASI) “was devoted to students inves-
tigating each other’s past lives” (Miller 1987, 231).4 He insisted, however,
that “[p]ast lives are not ‘reincarnation’ […] There evidently is no gradient
4. Hubbard himself frequently discussed his own alleged past lives (Miller 1987, 197,
281, 362). Several of his past lives apparently took place on different planets (see
Miller 1987, 246) and in one he claimed to have been “‘a race car-driver in the Marcab
civilization’” (Mary Maren, quoted in Miller 1987, 278). According to Hubbard’s
Technical Dictionary, the Marcab Confederacy consisted of “various planets united
into a very vast civilization which has come forward up through the last 200,000
years, [and] is formed out of the fragments of earlier civilizations. In the last 10,000
years they have gone on with a sort of a decadent kicked-in-the-head civilization that
contains automobiles, business suits, fedora hats, telephones, spaceships. A civilization
which looks almost [like an] exact duplicate but is worse off than the current U.S.
civilization” (Hubbard 1975a, 243).
The Creation of “Religious” Scientology 101
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scale of advance, as in theories of reincarnation, but there are cases on
record of preclears who got well after a life as a dog or other animal was
run out by a Scientologist” (Hubbard 1958. 18, 18–19).
The secular reasons that Dianetics auditors uncovered past lives – which
became central to Scientology’s pseudo-scientic and religious claims –
stemmed from social-psychological and ideological pressures that likely
existed inside Dianetics and Scientology centres from 1950 to 1953.
These pressures almost certainly contributed to clients believing that they
were discovering past life information. Wallis, for example, suggested that
“coaching the pre-clear may have had an important part in the effective
running of Dianetic auditing” and that “[i]t is not hard to see how a con-
viction of past lives would develop out of Dianetic technique” (1977, 41,
see 42n1). What may have happened is that failures to clear individuals
who had examined what they conceived were their basic engrams pro-
pelled them to believe that “there must necessarily be an earlier incident
to resolve” (Wallis 1977, 90 [italics in original]). Some evidence suggests
that Hubbard “briey resisted the notion that this material [in pre-clears’
cases] emanated from past lives” (Wallis 1977, 90), but by June 1952 (and
probably much earlier) Hubbard himself was leading suggestible people
into past life recalls involving lives in other galaxies.5
Hubbard and his followers could have maintained their discussions
of reputedly past life data strictly within a pseudo-scientic Dianetics
framework (see Miller 1987, 203). In his August 1, 1951 book Science of
Survival, for example, Hubbard claimed that “evidence is growing – good
evidence of a highly scientic nature on a much more practical level than
parapsychology – that the human soul does exist in fact” (Hubbard 1951,
7). That discussion, however, already had become commonplace among
Dianeticists, many of whom nonetheless had become disappointed with
their ideology’s techniques and results (see Wallis 1977, 87). Hubbard’s
eventual translation of allegedly past life recall into an ideology of the
soul allowed him to make claims about the superiority of Scientology
over Dianetics as part of his efforts to regain “control over the Dianetics
community” (Wallis 1977, 91). It also allowed him to reach out to new
5. Volney G. Mathison, for example, described Hubbard’s auditing of him during the
June, 1952 Scientology conference: “Ron audited me one afternoon, and through his
remarkable methods of interrogation, caused me to disclose – theta-wise – both to him
and to myself, that I am one of the principal inventors of a weapon allegedly styled as
a ‘Facsimile One’ machine, which I rst developed in the T-8 Galaxy forty-two trillion
years ago, and which, as a member of the Eighth Invader Corps, I used twenty trillion,
two and one-eighth years later to take over an entire system of planets in the Arcturus
Area” (Mathison 1954, 5).
102 Stephen A. Kent
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
members of the public who were outside of science ction fandom
(Spencer 1981, 171, see 181).
In addition to past lives, another reputed discovery that remains central
to Scientology practice to this day is the utility of using an electro-psy-
chometer (called by members an E-meter) when auditing (Atack 1990,
126; Miller 1987, 201). This device supposedly gives accurate measure-
ments of emotions through small electrical currents that owed through
the machine’s wires into tin cans that the pre-clear held and which regis-
tered on a dial that was adjustable to sensitivity. Hubbard introduced it to
the Dianetics community on March 3, 1952, and very quickly his follow-
ers were using these machines to unravel the reputed engrams of current
(or “present-time”) and past lives.
The basic belief system of Scientology
Thetans and creation
Following on the heels of the E-meter’s introduction was Hubbard’s
self-proclaimed revelation that he had discovered the human soul, the
study of which he called Scientology. Dianetics, Hubbard claimed, only
addressed the body (Miller 1987, 203), but Scientology explored the pro-
cess of freeing souls (which he called thetans) from their entanglements in
the physical universe or material world (called MEST or “matter, energy,
space, and time” [Hubbard 1975a, 248; see Wallis 1977, 103–106]).
Nowhere did Hubbard present a concise, coherent description about the
formation and evolution of the universe and the thetans in it. I, however,
will attempt to systematize Scientology’s cosmology, and will do by fol-
lowing its chronological unfoldment as much as possible.
Hubbard’s cosmology stated that originally there existed an energy
“separate and distinct from the physical universe” called “theta’ (Hubbard
1975a, 429). Theta may be the same as Scientology’s “eighth dynamic”
– the Supreme Being, which “the science of Scientology does not intrude
into” (Hubbard 1973, 38 [italics in original]). Under obscure and poorly
described conditions, the single theta blew apart, and individual thetans
formed from the explosion. These thetans are spirits or souls, and each
one begins its existence having “no mass, no wave-length, no energy
and no time or location in space except by consideration [ie., thought] or
postulate [ie., self-created truth]” (Hubbard 1975a, 432, see 90, 304). In
essence, at rst these thetans have the same qualities as theta. Hubbard,
however, was not clear about how a thetan was different from a static,
which “is something without mass, without wavelength, without time, and
actually without position” (Hubbard 1975a, 405). Thetans do have, how-
The Creation of “Religious” Scientology 103
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ever, the ability to create, which soon becomes crucial for the unfolding of
universes (Hubbard 1973, 55; 1975a, 432).
At some point thetans form their own universes, each of which is called
a “home universe” (Hubbard 1975a, 199). The creations of each universe
involved “making illusions,” almost as forms of play or game (see Hub-
bard 1981, 4). In a process that Hubbard again described poorly, one thetan
“got a universe and it just ate [the other thetan’s] universe all up. And this
is what the mest universe is doing. Evidently it is an expanding universe
and it just keeps on eating into everybody’s time and space” (1981, 4; see
1975a, 47).
A number of signicant doctrinal developments emerged from the
account about thetans. Hubbard claimed, for example, that thetans had to
inhabit bodies along with lesser entities known as “theta bodies” or “body
thetans.” The uncoupling of thetans from theta bodies became the basis for
the secret OT (ie., operating thetan) levels that appeared in the mid-1960s
(Atack 1990, 129), and was central to the story that Scientologists read in
The events in OT III allegedly occurred 75,000,000 years ago, but Hub-
bard claimed that he rst unravelled them in 1967 (presumably through
auditing). He called these events “Incident 2.” Most signicant was the
solution to overpopulation engineered by Xenu (or Xemu), who was head
of a group of seventy-six planets called the Galactic Confederation that
each had populations averaging 178 billion. He transported people to Tee-
geeack (ie., Earth), then set off hydrogen bombs on the major volcanoes
(which, of course, killed the people). The people’s souls or “thetans” that
survived were transported (both from the Pacic area to Hawaii and from
the Atlantic area to Las Palmas, Canary Islands) and grouped together as
“clusters.” Xenu’s renegade supporters (elsewhere identied as priests and
psychiatrists) implanted the thetans with false and misleading information,
some of which involved concepts of God and the Devil. (These implanted
clusters are body thetans that the Scientology’s OT level courses aspire to
separate and free.) After Xenu’s “crime,” ofcers who were loyal to the
people attacked him but could not capture him for six years. When Xenu
was nally apprehended, the thetans punished him by placing him in an
electronic jail in a mountain where he remains to this day (text reproduced
in Corydon 1996, 357; Corydon and Hubbard 1987, 364; see Atack 1990,
31–32; Lamont 1986, 50–51).6
6. Worth noting is that this essential story appears in a book by E. J. Gold (1986, 56–58).
104 Stephen A. Kent
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
Also contained in this OT material was “Incident 1,” which was an
implant that allegedly took place some four quadrillion years ago and was
“the gateway to our universe” (Atack 1990, 32). As Jon Atack summarizes
the unsuspecting Thetan was subjected to a short, high-volume crack, fol-
lowed by a ood of luminescence, and then saw a chariot followed by a
trumpeting cherub. After a loud set of cracks, the Thetan was overwhelmed
by darkness. (1990, 32)
In any case, these alleged body thetans clarify for Scientologists why they
can be “clear” but still have emotional or physical problems. In essence,
Scientologists believe not only that they have to rid themselves of past life
engrams in addition to current life (or “present time”) ones, but also that
some of these engrams dated from eons ago and have to be discovered
through Scientology techniques. Hubbard’s attitudes about two groups,
Christian religious leaders and psychiatrists, become additional, important
theological developments connected with Scientology’s doctrines about
Implants about Christianity
As Hubbard’s cosmology evolved (see Meldgaard 1992, 172–177), it
became increasingly clear that these two occupations allegedly had per-
formed the implanting for Xenu. In essence, Hubbard stated the Chris-
tian doctrines that emphasized sexual control if not abstinence, humility,
and salvation through Jesus’ crucixion simply were implants designed
to prevent the thetan or soul from realizing its true nature (see Hubbard
1954a, 25–26). Neither Hubbard nor his organization widely publicized
his beliefs about the harmful roles that implanting priests and psychiatrists
played in the cosmological past, nor did they publicize Hubbard’s belief
that both occupations continued to implant people in contemporary time.7
A related implant was the Christian doctrine of heaven, a place in 1963
(or in Scientology dating AD13 [ie., thirteen years after the publication
of Dianetics in 1950]) that Hubbard claimed to have visited. In an HCOB
(Hubbard Communications Ofce Bulletin), Hubbard announced that he,
along with all Scientologists, had been to heaven, but only he was able
Assuming that the OT III has existed in Scientology since the late 1960s, then it well
may be that Gold simply appropriated it.
7. In a 1984 Hubbard Communications Ofce Bulletin designed to repair problems
associated with aspects of auditing, auditors were required to ask preclears a series
of 109 questions, including question 102: “IN THIS LIFETIME, HAVE YOU
[capitalization and boldface in original]).
The Creation of “Religious” Scientology 105
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to remember what it was like because he had uncovered the process of
implanting as it twice occurred to him many trillions of years ago. Regard-
ing his alleged rst visit, Hubbard described the Gates of Heaven, the stat-
ues of saints that led up to them, and the marble angels that sat at the gates’
pillars. The grounds of heaven were like Pasadena, California’s Bush [sic:
Busch] Gardens. The implanting supposedly took place in a town, which
included a sidewalk, bistro, train tracks, bank, and several other structures.
Regarding the second supposed visit, heaven was much shabbier, with
the vegetation missing, the pillars dilapidated, and the saints and angels
absent. Hell appeared as a pit or hole that Hubbard compared to an archae-
ological dig. An efgy of Joseph existed that was leading a donkey that
carried Mary and the baby Jesus from Bethlehem. In any case, heaven was
not a place oating in the sky but instead was on a mountain of a planet,
the name of which Hubbard did not provide (Hubbard 1963a).
In both cases, the implants seem designed to make thetans not only for-
get about past lives but also believe that being in heaven was a desirable
goal (Hubbard 1963a, 2–3). His alleged discoveries about the true purpose
of heaven explained why there has been such religious insanity through-
out history (Hubbard 1963a, 4). Further publications discussed additional
implants, including some that supposedly took place in trains, others that
occurred when thetans met the Marcab Invasion force in this universe
(Hubbard 1963c), and still others that always took place in the presence of
either gorillas or gorilla symbols (Hubbard 1963b).
Admittedly, non-Scientologists have difculty understanding or appre-
ciating much of this (to use Scientology’s term) “space opera” cosmolo-
gy, 8 and several commentators on Hubbard have suggested that reputed
8. Probably because of the signicance that events in other universes and eons play in
Scientology cosmology, the organization’s ofcial dictionary carries the term “space
opera” and reproduces the denition from Websters [sic] Third International Dictionary:
“a novel, motion picture, radio, or television play, or comic strip usually of a stock type
featuring interplanetary travel, beings of outer space often in conict with the people
of earth and other similar science ction themes” (Hubbard 1975a, 398). Observers of
Scientology likely would feel that the cosmology reects Hubbard’s work as a science
ction writer, while Hubbard himself presumably felt that his science ction stories
as well as those of other writers were actual representations of past life experiences.
Hubbard made comments along these lines in his Philadelphia Doctorate Course
Lecture on the evening of December 11, 1952. Speaking about science ction writers,
Hubbard informed his audience, “[w]ell, now, take one of these space opera writers, if
he’s really been on the track – he won’t write about it if he hasn’t been. He just won’t
have the knack. That doesn’t mean you couldn’t be ingeni[o]us enough to invent the
whole thing from one end to the other. It just means they don’t. Also they don’t write
science ction if they haven’t been solidly on the track. They’ll write something else
fantasy or something” (1952, 8–9). Later he added, “[a] lot of your bad science ction
106 Stephen A. Kent
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
visions such as these and others (specically including the OT III mate-
rial) were inuenced by his drug abuse.9 Nonetheless, one point about the
contents of his reputed trips to heaven seems rational and obvious. Among
Scientology’s cosmic enemies were people whose Christian religious
views pitted them against his organization’s own religious claims. Cos-
mology, it seems, paralleled real life, as social scientists would expect.10
Implants from cosmic devils: psychiatrists
Hubbard’s hatred of psychiatrists was unbounded, and he battled them and
other mental health professionals in countries around the world through a
Scientology-sponsored group called the Citizens Commission on Human
Rights (Kent 1999a, 150–151, 157; see Bowles 1996, 1013–1015) and,
since 1984, the International Association of Scientologists (International
Association of Scientologists 1993). He despised their therapies, he reviled
them for some doctors’ use of psycho-surgery (such as lobotomies), he
excoriated them for using electroshock therapy, and he coveted their
alleged inuence over governments and education. In all areas of mental
health, Hubbard was convinced that psychiatry had destructive inuence,
and he was determined to replace that inuence with Scientology.
Viewing Dianetics, Hubbard seems to have believed his techniques as
worthwhile mental (and often physical) health techniques (see Kent 1996,
30–33). In Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, Hubbard
began his public attack on the medical (and especially the psychiatric)
professions in a manner that both condemned their techniques and invited
them to adopt the techniques of his new pseudo-scientic ideology. As
he did throughout the rest of his life, Hubbard condemned psychiatrists
for their alleged use of various forms of electric shock and psycho-sur-
gery (see Hubbard 1950b, 151). Members of the psychiatric community,
is written by boys who […] they were just bad the whole track, but they weren’t very
bad. The guys who really write the good stuff and so forth, boy, were they horrible!”
(1952, 9). He quickly denied that he had written science ction, insisting that his work
in that genre “doesn’t classify as science ction” because his stories were “straight off
the record [ie., whole track]. No ction to them, really. They’re hopped up; that’s about
all” (Hubbard 1952, 9, 10).
9. Many people who knew Hubbard personally attest to his drug abuse. See Atack 1990,
171; Corydon and Hubbard 1987, 288, 300, 303; and Miller 1987, 266.
10. Hubbard apparently believed that some of the implants which had occurred in the
far reaches of the past also occurred (as he would have said) in “present time.” In
the 1984 “False Purpose Rundown Auditor Course,” Hubbard instructed auditors to
ask pcs (preclears) whether a psychiatrist or priest had given them implants in their
current lives (Hubbard 1984, 11). The denite implication from his question was that
psychiatrists and Christian priests did implanting in past lives.
The Creation of “Religious” Scientology 107
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however, replied in a series of stinging book reviews. While a couple of
reviews by medical doctors were favourable (F. L. 1950, 45–46; Wolffe
1951, 70), others hammered or ridiculed Hubbard’s book and the thera-
peutic techniques that it outlined (see Fishbein 1950). A critical review,
for example, in the October, 1950 issue of American Scientist concluded:
[a]ny intelligent reader with scientic orientation will nd serious aws in
the Hubbard logic and will be aware of the fundamental shakiness of the
substructure. Apart from the highly questionable basic assumptions, there
are countless passages in this book which imperil its claim to scientic
status. (Gittleson 1950, 607)
Other reviews from the period were even more condemning and some-
times ridiculed Hubbard himself (see Bures 1950, 32; Peck 1950; Rabi
1951; Stearns 1951).
While we cannot be sure that Hubbard read any of these reviews, it seems
likely that he realized how chilly if not hostile prominent persons in the
medical and scientic communities were to his ideas. Certainly the Dia-
netics community was aware of these criticisms, and members fought back
by “bombarding the offending publications with indignant letters” (Miller
1987, 161). Any doubt, however, in Hubbard’s mind about the medical
community’s hostility would have been removed in January 1951, when
the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners accused Elizabeth, New
Jersey’s Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation of “teaching medicine
without a licence” (Elizabeth Daily Journal 1951; see Miller 1987, 174).
In response, Hubbard’s enmity toward the mental health profession
grew to religious, and at times cosmic, dimensions (Church of Scientology
1969, 5; Hubbard, 1982a). In his mind, “psychs” had been causing dys-
functions for eons. Thus, when he identied pain and sex as “two items in
this universe that cause more trouble than many others combined,” Hub-
bard indicted the “psychs” for utilizing them in their techniques (Hubbard
1982b, 1–2).11 Moreover, the rst international edition of Freedom had
a cartoon on the front cover of horned, goateed, cloven-hoofed, point-
ed-tailed psych devils performing electro-shocks and lobotomies on the
peoples of the world (Church of Scientology 1969, 1). Hubbard thought
that they had been performing analogous implants throughout people’s
past lives.
11. This portrayal resembles his earlier attacks against Christian priests. He did mention,
however, priests becoming “agellants and cut[ting] themselves to pieces with self-
whipping” as an example of people who get overwhelmed by pain and addicted to it
(Hubbard 1982b, 1).
108 Stephen A. Kent
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
Emerging religious claims
Unrelated to Hubbard’s hostility toward some religions (most notably
Christianity) and his attempts to appropriate major traditions (such as
Buddhism, Taoism, and parts of Hinduism [see Hubbard 1971, 10–35;
Kent, 1996]) into his own ideology, Scientology as a religious system con-
tains some unique supernatural elements. These supernatural elements are
central to its cosmology and its soteriology, even if they remain marginal
to most aspects of organizational operations.
A erce debate rages, however, between Scientology and its critics over
the sincerity of Hubbard’s initial religious claims. Critics insist that the
“religion” of Scientology either was Hubbard’s scheme designed to avoid
taxes or was his attempt to regain lost control over the Dianetics organiza-
tion. Miller, for example, who played on the phrase, “bare-faced liar” for
the title of the biography (Bare-Faced Messiah) that he wrote on Hubbard,
takes a cynical position (Miller 1987, 199–203). In Miller’s words, “Hub-
bard would introduce Scientology as a logical extension of Dianetics, but
it was a development of undeniable expedience, since it ensured that he
would be able to stay in business even if the courts eventually awarded
control of Dianetics and its valuable copyrights to […] [former nancial
backer, Don] Purcell” (1987, 202–203). As we shall see, Hubbard’s organ-
izations had been under attack by regulators and creditors, and the rep-
resentation of Scientology as a religion gave the movement new nancial
Miller uncovered a letter (dated April 10, 1953) in which Hubbard was
plotting “‘to make real money’” by “‘developing the religion angle.’” In a
letter that he wrote in London and sent to Helen O’Brien (who at the time
ran an independent but loyal Scientology ofce in Philadelphia [see Miller
1987, 194; Wallis 1977, 127]), Hubbard insisted:
we don’t need a clinic. We want one in operation, but not in name. Perhaps
we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Center. Think up a name, will you?
And we could put in nice desks and our boys in neat blue, with diplomas
on the walls and one, knock psychotherapy into history and, two, make
enough money to shine up my operating scope, and three, keep the HAS
[Hubbard Association of Scientologists] solvent. It is a problem in practi-
cal business.
I await your reaction on the religion angle [presumably referring to a
Spiritual Guidance Center]. In my opinion, we couldn’t get worse public
opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we’ve got to
sell. A religious charter would be necessary in Pennsylvania or N.J. to
make it stick. But I sure could make it stick. We’re treating the present
time beingness. Psychotherapy treats the past and the brain. And brother
The Creation of “Religious” Scientology 109
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
that’s religion, not mental science. (Read into court transcript of California
Superior Court 1984, 1976–1977; also see Corydon 1996, 330)
Another section of the same letter gave even stronger evidence that Hub-
bard was plotting to transform Scientology into a nancially lucrative
if we were able to return there [Phoenix] we’d be able to count on 10 to 15
preclears per week at $500 for 24 hours of processing. That is real money.
I have seen it happen before. We get more preclears at $850 per week in-
tensive. Charge enough and we’d be swamped. We need that money. We
should not long plan to have it siphoned away. (California Superior Court,
1984, 4620)
Although a few of these passages are open to varying interpretations,
Miller and other critics (for example, Corydon and Hubbard 1987, 310)
interpret them to indicate that Hubbard saw religion as a way to make
money and protect his techniques from scrutiny by mental health and
medical regulators (and likely tax agents) while trying to replace psycho-
As these critics realized, nancial and organizational pressures weighed
heavily upon Hubbard in the early 1950s. By early 1953 he had experi-
enced nancial and organizational setbacks. In addition to the probe in
January 1951 by the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners, Hubbard
lost his Dianetic organization in Wichita, Kansas in February 1952 (Miller
1987, 199–200). Moreover, in December, 1952 Hubbard signed a court
agreement to make restitution for over $9,000 that he had taken from the
bankrupt Wichita operation (Miller 1987, 211). Consequently, critics insist
that nancial difculties motivated him to seek money-making schemes
during the period between 1952 and early 1953.
Moreover, their argument has merit, since it explains Hubbard’s shift
toward religion in a manner contrary to his original antipathy toward it
in Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. While it is true that
the alleged evidence about past lives emerged early in Dianetics auditing,
Hubbard did not give the material a religious interpretation until after he
experienced nancial strain and membership decline. Arguably, he capi-
talized on the opportunity that presented itself by the past life material to
develop religious claims out of a pseudo-therapy (see Atack 1990, 125).
Hubbard’s introduction of religion into Scientology (which formally
occurred at the end of 1953) traces to an April 28, 1953 newsletter in
which he tried to chart the continuity from Dianetics to Scientology. In
the rst two sentences of the piece Hubbard teased his audience with the
observation that:
110 Stephen A. Kent
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
it probably has not occurred to the eld [of followers] at large what I am
attempting to do in the relationship to theta clearing and aberration. The-
ta clearing, even to auditors who have taken the course, continues to be
something very special, perhaps allied with religion, perhaps a mystic
practice, and possibly just another form of Christian Science or plain Hub-
bardian nonsense. (1976b, 315)
Five days before that newsletter (on April 23, 1953), Hubbard had advised
readers that the next issue of The Journal of Scientology would contain
The Factors, which announces the gaining of the highest echelon planned
at this time for Scientology” (Hubbard 1976a, 312).
The Factors appeared in mid-June 1953, and its rst ten statements (out
of the total thirty) provided Scientology with something like a philosoph-
ical creation story:
1. Before the beginning was a Cause and the entire purpose of the Cause
was the creation of effect.
2. In the beginning and forever is the decision and the decision is TO BE.
3. The rst action of beingness is to assume a viewpoint.
4. The second action of beingness is to extend from the viewpoint, points
to view, which are dimension points.
5. Thus there is space created, for the denition of space is: viewpoint
of dimension. And the purpose of a dimension is reaching and with-
6. The action of a dimension point is reaching and withdrawing.
7. And from the viewpoint to the dimension points there are connection
and interchange. Thus new dimension points are made. Thus there is
8. And thus there is light.
9. And thus there is energy.
10. And thus there is life. (Hubbard 1976c, 375)
Elsewhere in the publication Hubbard began making tentative connections
between Scientology and religion. He formulated the awkward category,
“Para-Scientology,” in which he placed what he called “all greater or lesser
uncertainties” such as “Dianetics, incidents on the ‘whole track,’ the immortal-
ity of Man, the existence of God,” as well as “past lives, mysterious inuences,
astrology, mysticism, religion, psychology, psychiatry, nuclear physics and
any other science based on theory” (Hubbard 1976c, 377). Scientology, Hub-
bard asserted, was the science of certainty, and Dianetics (like the other beliefs
and practices that he mentioned) “is a specialized thing based on theory which,
no matter how workable, requires specialized observation” (1976c, 377). Pre-
sumably this distinction makes sense to some of Hubbard’s followers.
The Creation of “Religious” Scientology 111
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
Apparently propelled by secular reasons to develop in a religious con-
text the past life material that had emerged within Dianetics, and hav-
ing provided a creation story of sorts to his followers in the doctrinal list
called “The Factors,” in December 1953 Hubbard incorporated three new
churches in New Jersey: the Church of American Science (the parent
organization of the other two), the Church of Scientology, and the Church
of Spiritual Engineering. Soon afterward (February 18, 1954), Dr. J. Bur-
ton Farber incorporated the Church of Scientology of California (Aberree
1954, 1, 4; Miller 1987, 220). After early March, 1954, Scientology audi-
tors began receiving ordination in the Church of American Science (see
Aberree 1954, 4), which had within its chartered creed its intention “[t]o
practice the teachings and beliefs and to propagate in accordance with its
tenets healing of the sick and suffering by prayer or other spiritual means
without the use of drugs or material remedy” (Certicate of Incorpora-
tion 1953, 3). In August 1954 Hubbard acknowledged that to some people
his recent efforts to connect Scientology with religion “seems [like] mere
opportunism, to some it would seem that Scientology is simply making
itself bulletproof in the eyes of the law, and to some it might appear that
any association with religion is a reduction of the ethics and purposes
of Scientology itself” (1976d, 1). He, of course, denied the validity of
these charges, asserting connections between Scientology, the Vedas, and
Buddhism (Hubbard 1976d). Nevertheless, amidst a growing number of
religious assertions, Hubbard still insisted that “Scientology has opened
the gates to a better World. It is not a psycho-therapy nor a religion. It is a
body of knowledge which, when properly used, gives freedom and truth
to the individual” (1976d, 5).
It seems very likely, however, that the charges about opportunism
essentially were true, and in his denial Hubbard did not acknowledge the
protection that religion would provide his group in California. Evidence
about the essential truth of the charges comes from an April 1954, article
on Scientology’s new religious direction that appeared in a publication of
a break-off Scientology group in Phoenix, Arizona. When discussing the
reaction of Phoenix Scientologists to these churches, the article indicated:
[t]he news was received with mixed emotions. Some were outspokenly
antagonistic to the idea. Some who’d nursed the glories of self-determin-
ism since Book One [Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health]
couldn’t subscribe to the new idea that the best way to win is to BECOME
the enemy [i.e., religion]. Many from California feared that designating
Scientology as a religion would classify it with the state’s 9,857,385,237
1/2 cults.
112 Stephen A. Kent
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
In announcing the action, ofcials of the H.A.S. [Hubbard Association
of Scientologists] stated that there is little doubt but what this stroke will
remove Scientology from the target area of overt and covert attacks by the
medical profession, who see their pills, scalpels, and appendix-studded
incomes threatened. […]
With the formation of the Church of Scientology in the State of California
by Dr. J. Burton Farber of Glendale, and the granting of a charter, auditors
in that area can avoid the recent asco in which a Pasadena practitioner is
reported to have spent 10 days in that city’s torture chamber [i.e., prison] for
‘practicing medicine without a license’. On March 5, Dr. Farber appeared in
Phoenix, and before 30 clinical students, taped a ceremony in which L. Ron
Hubbard was made Doctor of Divinity and awarded Certicate No. One.
This gives him legal authority to lecture, perform marriages, baptisms, and
other religious rites (Aberree 1954, 1, 4 [capitalization in original]).
Having had his New Jersey foundation raided in January 1951 for alleg-
edly teaching medicine without a licence, Hubbard likely realized that
“the religion angle” would insulate his edging Scientology practices
from secular regulators.
In his denial of opportunism Hubbard did not indicate how his
identication of Scientology as a religion contributed to his diverse
marketing efforts for his movement. In the spirit of his earlier comment
to O’Brien about making money through a week-long intensive course
that would cost $850.00, Hubbard’s Advanced Clinical Course (which
already was on its fth series by May 10, 1954) cost $800.00 and
gave Scientologists the opportunity to receive certicates as a Doctor
of Scientology, a Freudian Psycho-analyst, or a Doctor of Divinity
(Hubbard 1976e, 32). Through these three degrees Hubbard could market
Scientology as a science (through the Doctor of Scientology), a therapy
(psychoanalysis), or a religion (through the divinity degree). He told his
followers that “[b]ecause of the legal situation in various places, The
Church of Scientology [ie., religion] is your best bet in such areas. Alliance
with the Freudian Foundation [i.e. therapy] is possible. Continuing as an
HAS associate is possible” Hubbard 1976e, 34). Late the following month
(April 30, 1954), Hubbard quipped that “[s]eeing that Scientology can
embrace a science, a religion, a psychotherapy, one of the wittier DScns
[Doctor of Scientologists] invented Scientocracy, which is ‘Government
of the people, by the thetans’” (1976f, 54 [capitalization in original]).
Presumably Hubbard liked the term and what it represented, since it
epitomized the goal of his Scientology movement.
The Creation of “Religious” Scientology 113
© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2007
Conclusion: the secular origins of an insistent religion
Economic circumstances and social pressure propelled Hubbard rst to
transform his Dianetics creation into the grander system of Scientology,
then to assert that his scientic creation actually was religious in nature.
Critics of the organization who understand these transformations often
resist its contemporary religious presentations, believing that it contin-
ues to use religion as an expedient device to gain the freedom to operate
with minimal governmental interference. Members, however, are almost
certainly unaware of the early historical complexities in their organiza-
tion’s past, and probably care little about them. In that way, Scientologists
differ little from others who hold positions of faith – critical historical
understanding rarely is a factor inuencing people’s beliefs and practices.
People’s experiences of their faith’s claims, usually in the context of com-
munities whose members act collectively according to its tenets, play far
greater roles in explaining why people consider themselves to be religious.
In Scientology’s case, current members probably care little about the
nancial pressures that bore down upon the founder of their faith. Scholars
of religion, however, may nd the information useful (cf. Wilson 1990, 282
283), since the exibility that these religious claims gave Scientology in its
early days continues into the present. While religious practices (in contrast
with religious beliefs) are scrutinized by various governmental authorities,
religious bodies nonetheless receive nancial benets and social status that
few secular bodies can rival. Scientology’s religious claims operate as a
legitimating device (see Kent 1990, 397–398, 402). This device allows the
organization to engage the wider culture in ways that would be closed to
it if it were to adhere to Hubbard’s initial scientic assertions, while at
the same time these claims provide it with a degree of protection from
some forms of governmental incursion in many Western countries (includ-
ing taxes; see Saunders and Appleby 1998). Not surprisingly, therefore,
countries like Germany that scrutinize Scientology carefully (see Freeman
1997; Hexham and Poewe 1999) pay considerable attention to the compli-
cated historical circumstances of the organization’s initial religious claims,
since they view them as expedient devices (see Kent 1999b).
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... Scientology, as a religious practice, draws heavily from L. Ron Hubbard's concept of Dianetics. First published in an article for Astounding Science Fiction, Dianetics was initially promoted as a scientific self-help system (Kent 1999). Dianetics suggests that the mind is comprised of two sec- tions, the reactive mind and the analytical mind. ...
... Here, Scientology requires increasing level of "donations" to progress through these levels. The Church's justification for this practice is that higher levels require more advanced ministers, and are therefore more expensive (Scientology 1998;Kent 1999;Melton 2009). Hubbard argued that man had been misled by the idea that he had a soul. ...
... Hubbard. However, its characterization as a cult stemmed from it implementation of several contentious practices, including: forced labor; brainwashing; and the excommunication of ex-members (Kent 1999). Many of these controversial practices were linked to Scientology's fraternal religious order, "Sea Org" (organization). ...
In 1967 the Church of Scientology's tax-exempt status was revoked on the basis that it failed to meet the criteria outlined in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service. Between its loss, and eventual reacquisition in 1993, the Church of Scientology employed a number of political based tactics in an attempt to legitimize itself to the public sector. This article explores these tactics in relation to the religion's use of perception management. The article argues that the processes of both legal recognition and legitimization draw upon each other in a new faith's transition to mainstream theology. In this, the Church employed perception management in attempt to influence both processes. In exploring this, the paper contributes to our understanding of role that public legitimacy plays in a new faith's development.
... Various Scientology documents allege that, in a cosmic catastrophe seventy-five million years ago, psychiatrists and priests together implanted ideas and images into lost and confused souls (called thetans) who subsequently would forget their eternal nature and reattach to bodies. Therefore, psychiatrists (and priests) were the ultimate embodiment of evil, who hindered thetans from realising their true, individual, and isolated eternality (see Kent, 1999b, p. 103–108). ...
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This Element surveys the history and practice of Scientology studies over the past sixty years and offers resources for scholars and students moving forward. Section 1 reviews the history of academic research on the subject from 1958 to the present day. Section 2 draws on the author's fieldwork with the Church of Scientology to illuminate how founder L. Ron Hubbard (1911–86) is viewed among contemporary members. Section 3 considers Hubbard's influence and legacy in terms of the church sites and institutions that exist today in connection with the soteriological 'Bridge to Total Freedom.' Section 4 introduces English-language archival resources and their strengths. Section 5 proposes some open areas for Scientology researchers. Finally, glossaries of terms and appendices are included with major dates in Hubbard's life and Scientology research and bibliographical information for major archival collections in North America.
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This paper provides an overview of the legal system of the religion of Scientology. To the members of the religion, this legal system supersedes and fully displaces the mainstream legal system. Scientology's legal system is self-contained and independent, with rules, enforcement mechanisms, and correctional facilities. The overview provided in this paper will be useful to courts and to further research in the nascent yet vital field of Scientological legal research.
L. Ron Hubbard created in Scientology an immense landscape of alternative worlds, realities, and possibilities. Scientology cosmology, mythology, and eschatology are inescapably linked to galactic events and Hubbard's retelling of human history is replete with science-fiction tropes – many of which found popularity in the early science-fiction tradition to which he belonged. In his therapeutic and religious teachings, Hubbard proposed a complex narrative that re-defined the essence of self and society in relation to the cosmos. For Scientologists, the fantastic becomes mundane as they position themselves within a vast and heavy quest to reshape themselves, the rest of humanity, and, for some, the entire universe. Understood within the science-fiction context from which Scientology emerged, one can better understand the grand nature of Hubbard's proposals as belonging to a specific tradition within the genre – namely, space opera. Consequently, this article analyses Hubbard's propositions using space-opera concepts, and argues that Hubbard re-defined a unique tradition in the course of creating a new reality.
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From Tom Cruise’s wedding to South Park’s scathing cartoon parody, the Church of Scientology has emerged as one of the wealthiest, most powerful but also most controversial new religious movements of the last fifty years. Remarkably, however, it has rarely been subjected to serious, critical study by historians of religions, in large part because of the intense secrecy that has surrounded the movement from its origins. This paper examines the role of secrecy in the early Church of Scientology, placing it in the historical and cultural context in which it emerged: Cold War America of the 1950s and 60s. Far from a strange aberration, Scientology in fact embodies many of the obsessive concerns with secrecy, information-control, and surveillance that ran throughout Cold War America. Indeed, with its policies of “security checks” and “fair game,” Scientology developed an apparatus of secrecy and surveillance that rivaled and in fact mirrored that of the FBI. As such, Scientology raises profound questions for the study of religion today, particularly in a post-9/11 context, where the questions of religious privacy and government surveillance have re-emerged in ways that eerily echo the height of the Cold War.
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Using primary material that has not appeared in scholarly literature, this paper presents a sevenfold categorization of labelling strategies utilized by religiously deviant ideological organizations and their countermovements in attempts to secure resources for themselves and deny them to their opponents. These strategies involve public self-presentations by the groups as being either normative or tolerable, and portrayals of their opponents as being intolerable deviants. Designations of both tolerableness and intolerableness take place in three dimensions (legitimate, non-criminal, and criminal), and the debates between the "cults" and the "countercults" involve competing claims to the public concerning the most appropriate ways to interpret each side's behaviours and beliefs. Labelling perspectives and resource mobilization theory provide the broad contours for my argument, and my conceptual scheme builds upon work recently published by Robert Stebbins on "tolerable" deviance. /// Cet article propose une catégorisation en sept points des stratégies d'"étiquetage" employées par des organisations religieuses déviantes et leurs contre-mouvements en vue d'obtenir des ressources et d'en bloquer l'accès à leurs adversaires. En mettant en oeuvre ces stratégies, les groupes peignent pour consommation publique un portrait d'eux-mêmes comme étant tolérables ou normatifs, et peignant leurs adversaires en intolérables déviants. Les désignations du tolérable et de l'intolérables se déploient selon trois dimensions (légitime, non-criminelle, criminelle); dans les débats entre "cultes" et "contre-cultes," le public est appelé à départager les façons les plus appropriées d'interpréter les actions et croyances de chaque camp. Mon propos est basé sur les perspectives de l'"étiquetage" et sur la théorie de la mobilisation des ressources, alors que mon modèle conceptuel est développé à partir des travaux récemment publiés de Robert Stebbins sur la déviance "tolérable." L'analyse est menée en utilisant des données primaires inédites.
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: This paper examines the ideology of the German anti-cult movement. It also discusses the unique problems facing the German government resulting from right-wing extremism and the role of German cult experts in defining new religions as verfassungsfeindlich , hostile to the constitution.
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Locating itself within a sociological perspective that analyses religiously ideological organisations as transnational corporations, this study examines the global activities of Scientology. It summarises the organisation’s resolution of its international conflict with Interpol, its take-over of its internationally influential opponent, the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and its heightened rhetoric against psychiatry. The article also highlights Scientology’s international marketing strategies that attempt to further the teachings of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and gain political and social influence. Despite Scientology’s efforts to adjust its approach to fit the cultural realities of the countries that it enters, its apparent successes in some formerly Iron Curtain nations is counterbalanced by growing opposition in Western Europe.
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Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, frequently made claims that Scientology was related to or shared significant similarities with Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism and Taoism. However, careful examination of Hubbard's claims indicates that he had only a superficial acquaintance with Eastern religions, and most of his attempts to associate Scientology with these faiths are unwarranted. Moreover, social and political pressures against his organisation's alleged healing practices probably provided the catalyst for Hubbard's attempt to portray his creation as a religion with Eastern overtones.
In this wide-ranging collection of essays, Bryan Wilson explores the complex relationships between religious sects and contemporary Western society. He examines the controversial social, political, and religious issues that arise as sects seek to pursue a way of life at variance with that of other people, and which at times brings them into conflict with outsiders or with the state. Sects are often subject to negative theological and moral judgements that are by no means always well-informed. Dr Wilson makes clear that they can be understood only as social entities, and that, as in the case of other social phenomena, a scientifically neutral and unbiased approach is essential if their emergence and persistence are to be explained. He traces the growth and expansion of various movements, such as the Unification Church, the Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Exclusive Brethren, relates them to their social context, and indicates the sections of society from which their support is likely to come. Particular essays are devoted to the attraction of sects for converts, the means by which commitment is sustained, and the personal and social consequences of sectarianism.
New Religious Movements, like other social organizations, must generate economic strategies to ensure survival. The Church of Scientology has a long-established system of therapeutic counseling and self-improvement courses to offer potential recruits and existing members in exchange for monetary resources. A recent development in Scientology's resource mobilization efforts involves a series of associated companies offering L. Ron Hubbard's “management technology” to medical professionals in the form of practice management consulting. Consulting programs may lead to conversion into the religious organization and often involve the introduction of Scientology doctrine into the workplace. Utilizing content analysis of both primary and secondary documents, as well as personal interviews, this article explores the relationship between Scientobgy, its consulting companies, and medical professionals (n=59) who became involved in religious ideology through management consulting. Since resource mobilization theory does not offer adequate provisions to explain individual participation in specific social movements, the author utilizes Lofland and Stark's conversion model as a supplement.
The Church of Scientology (COS) has been the center of controversy and moral panics around the world. Many of its critics, including government and professional bodies suggest that it is a “destructive cult” with values in conflict with society. Against such views, it is argued that the CoS both reflects and relies on conventional values. The CoS is analyzed as a successful commercial enterprise which, seeking to achieve its goals, occasionally adopts illicit means. The CoS's business is also deviant in that it denies its commercial structure. Ironically, it is this very denial, this very deviance that helps explain its survival and success.