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March 5, 2011

What Is The Church Of Scientology

I was watching Tom Cruise on Oprah the other day and he briefly touched on some of the controversies that have come out because of his membership in the Church of Scientology. Listening to him talk about these things and seeing protesters protest a new Scientology website that has recently come out made me wonder more about this religion.

Scientology is a very new religion in comparison to other belief systems. Many countries in Europe do not even recognize Scientology as a religion instead they see it as a business. At first I did not understand why this would be but upon further investigation, I am not seeing much of a spiritual base for this belief system. Of course, I suppose that religion can be whatever you want it to be, I guess.

The Church of Scientology first came together in December 1953. L.Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer at the time developed the faith. He stated that the goal of Scientology was to end criminal behavior, insanity and create a way for mankind to reach the highest level of success possible. These are all respectable endeavors but does Scientology really do that?

First what does it take to become a Scientologist? Well, if you want to advance in the religion, a good deal of money for one. You must go to classes and possibly counseling sessions. The courses you take will range in price and are classified as donations. The classes you begin with are relatively cheap costing less than a hundred bucks American. The courses that will lead to the highest levels of Scientology can cost over 350,000 dollars.

The fact that Scientology requires a donation in a fixed dollar amount from members is what many say distinguish it from other religions. However, members of the religion combat this argument with the fact that the Doctrine of Exchange is in place to offset this. The Doctrine of Exchange states that whenever someone receives something, they must give something back. This doctrine is in place to help maintain a fertile environment in Scientologist’s spiritual self.

It is hard to get facts about Scientology online. There are estimates as high as 15 million and as low as 8 million. The official website for Scientology, or the online extension of it boast less than 20,000 members. The more I investigate this “religion”, I wonder where the religion part of it is. I suppose that the money could be the religious part of the equation?

The major complaint about Scientology appears to be the fact that they are against psychiatric treatment and drugs. There have been several deaths of members that have been mentally unstable that the church has taken guardianship of. While I am very much in favor of people treating mental illness with herbal and natural remedies, I do recognize that this is not a viable route for everyone. Some people are not able to put in the effort it takes to use herbal remedies to treat mental aliments. Others will not experience relief from St. John’s Wart or fish oil tablets or some of the other medications that are used to help ease mental illness. Taking these people off of psychiatric medications can lead to death and it has for several Scientology members. This is one aspect of the religion that I think crosses the bounds of being religious.

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