Group Snapshot: Scientology

From UFO Rejects to Reincarnated Gods!

Fasten your seatbelts, hold onto your hats, and get ready for the out-of-this-world, interplanetary, galactic-swooping, spiritually strange spaceship ride of your life (or lives). You are about the enter something weirder than the Twilight Zone. It is the world of Scientology.

Scientology was founded, developed and formed from the incredibly creative mind of L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard was somewhat of a minor celebrity as a popular writer in the world of S-F (science fiction) during the golden era of pulp magazines and really bad B-movies. He switched from S-F to pop psychology in the 1950’s when he developed a system of therapeutic treatment called Dianetics. Dianetics taught people that they had latent within them emotional and psychic traumas that affected their health, mental welfare, and ability to function and succeed in life. These traumas were buried deep in their minds as something called engrams. Through Dianetics, a person could be taught to expose, identify and get rid of these dangerous and debilitating engrams. This was accomplished by holding onto to two metal cylinders (think of a tin can with no label on it) attached by wires to something called an E-meter. (E-meter is short for “electropsychometer.”) A trained person called an “auditor” asked you questions and took notes of the needles on the E-meter, thus identifying your engrams. This process, called auditing, helped you get rid of the engrams, and set you on the road to mental health. The goal is to become a “clear,” that is, someone who has no longer has any engrams hanging around. But before this happens, you must face the challenge of being a “preclear.” (Of course, during the process of going from preclear to clear, you must spend many hours and thousands of dollars on being audited.)

The only problem with this auditing process was that it smacked an awful lot of psychological therapy. As a result, Hubbard and Dianetics started running afoul of the official medical groups and governmental agencies. So to avoid these problems the principles of Dianetics were transformed from psychological theory to religious practice. And thus was born the Church of Scientology in 1952. With the change to a religious system, other teachings were added to the theories of Dianetics.

For example, Hubbard taught that all human are actually immortal, spiritual, god-like beings called “thetans.” If we are little gods, how did we get into these mortal bodies and become plagued by all these nasty engrams. The answer lies in the far distance history of our race. Originally we thetans living on another world under the tyrannical rule of a being called Xenu. Xenu was lord of the Galactic Confederacy. 95 million years ago (yes, I said 95 million) Xenu was facing a colossal problem, overpopulation on multiple worlds. He solved this problem by bringing the thetans from these worlds to the earth. Here he dumped them en masse near active volcanoes. He then set off the volcanoes by exploding H-bombs. This caused the thetans to cling to each other, and (horror of horrors) the material worlds. (Remember, thetans are spiritual beings.) The thetans became entrapped in matter, and began a process of incarnation and reincarnation through the evolving creatures of this planet. This ongoing process has continued to this day.

To sum up, you are a god-like being called a thetan, trapped in a mortal body, and struggling because of the thousands and thousands of psychic engrams you have have collected through millions of years of reincarnations in various evolving life forms. If all this sounds totally wacky, remember that Hubbard began his career as a science fiction writer.

Scientology is a unique and rather odd religion. Beginning in the science fiction realm with overtones of bogus psychological theory, Hubbard added a variety of concepts and ideas from many sources, including Gnosticism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and a lot of imagination. Mixing all this together, Scientology now claims that it has a belief system superior to any other religion, and a practical philosophy that ensures success, health, and complete well-being—in addition to achieving your own divine status as an “Operating Thetan.”

Summary of Beliefs

God: There are many gods in the universe.
Jesus: One avatar of the divine, but not even an Operating Thetan.
Salvation: Release from the cycle of death and reincarnation. This is achieved through your
own efforts in the practice of Scientology.
Human nature: Man is basically good. We are fallen in the sense that we are spiritual beings
entrapped in matter.
Sin: There is no such thing as sin or evil. These are illusions.
Afterlife: There is no heaven or hell in the Christian sense. Man may advance to a deified state.
Scripture: The writings of L. Ron Hubbard.
Truth: Relative, individual and existential in nature.

Sources:

Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults. Ravi Zacharias, ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany
House Publishers, 2003.

Mather, George A. and Larry A. Nichols. Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993.

Lewis, James R., ed. The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects and New Religions. 2nd ed. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2002.

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