Scientology is a body of beliefs and practices created by L. Ron Hubbard, starting in 1952, after his earlier self-help system, Dianetics. Hubbard characterized Scientology as a religion and in 1953 incorporated the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey. Scientology teaches that people are immoral beings who have forgotten their true nature.
For decades, Scientologists have maintained that the very notion of mental illness is a fraud. They base this belief on the views of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who proclaimed that psychiatry was an evil enterprise, a form of terrorism, and the cause of crime. Now, they’re attempting to enshrine their contempt for psychiatry in laws across the country.
Recently, Scientologists have promoted legislation in Florida, Utah and New Hampshire that seeks to discredit psychiatry and drug therapies, especially for kids. The laws would penalize, even criminalize, schoolteachers who recommended mental health treatments to students or parents.
Another overt is homosexuality, which Hubbard believed was a form of sexual "deviance" best treated by therapy, or institutionalization. This view was espoused by many psychiatrists of Hubbard's generation. Mainstream psychiatry has changed its view since the 1950s. Scientology as an institution takes no formal position on issues like gay marriage, but homosexuality, sexual promiscuity or any other form of "perversion" ranks low on Scientology's "tone scale," a register of human behavior Hubbard described in his 1951 book Science of Survival: Prediction of Human Behavior.
This book, according to Mike Rinder, is perhaps the most important Scientology text after Dianetics. In it, Hubbard denounced virtually every sexual practice that doesn't directly relate to marriage and children. "Such people should be taken from the society as rapidly as possible . . . for here is the level of the contagion of immortality and the destruction of ethics," he wrote of homosexuals. "No social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst."
Though other nontraditional religious groups that have been involved in dramatic incidents have attracted more public attention for short periods of time, the Church of Scientology is arguably the most persistently controversial of all contemporary new religious movements (NRMs). As a consequence of its involvement in numerous legal conflicts, Scientology has acquired a reputation as a litigious organization, ready to sue anyone who dares criticize the Church.
Where Scientology has not been wary of using its name has been in its humanitarian work. After the Haiti earthquake of January 12, 2010, for example, teams of Scientology missionaries, known as "volunteer ministers," flocked to Port-au-Prince, where they established a semi-permanent base, along with several other relief organizations such as Catholic Relief Services and Doctors Without Borders. Wearing the signature yellow T-shirts that identified them as members of the Church of Scientology's volunteer minister program, they brought food, water, medical supplies, and also plentiful Scientology literature.
But now that [Jason] Beghe and his wife have left the sect, the actor has concerns. They can be, he says, a vicious and vindictive group. When he asked for money back that he had banked for future study — some $60,000 to $70,000 — it was returned and he was banished.
"Once you ask for refund and repayment, that’s what it’s called, you’re not allowed to take another course or speak to another Scientologist ever again," Beghe says.
Joining the [International Association of Scientologists] was not optional. Every Scientologist must be a member, though when people first become interested in Scientology they are offered a free six-month membership. After that, members are prohibited from taking further Scientology services until they buy either a yearly or a lifetime membership. A yearly membership costs $300 and a lifetime membership costs $3,000. "The thing is, you are pretty much expected to become a lifetime member, and they hit you up for money all the time," Mike said during an interview in Clearwater in 2010.
From the 1950s onward, Scientology began to adopt ever more elements drawn from Eastern religions, alternative spiritualities, and science fiction, such as the notion of an eternal spirit, reincarnation, past-life memories, supernatural powers, and a vast "space opera" history of the universe. Correspondingly, as the church quickly grew in wealth and numbers, it also began to face ever more scrutiny, investigation, and attack by the media and government agencies, particularly the IRS, FBI, and FDA. After an incredibly complex twenty-six-year battle with teh Internal Revenue Service and a $12.5 million settlement, Scientology was in fact awarded tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization by the IRS in 1993 and soon after recognized by the U.S. State Department in its annual report on religious freedom.
The Church of Scientology grew out of Dianetics, a popular therapy movement founded by L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) in the mid-twentieth century. ... In 1950, he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. This book described techniques designed to rid the mind of irrational fears and psychosomatic illnesses. Dianetics quickly became a best seller, and groups were soon formed so that individuals could assist each other in the application of Hubbard's "auditing" techniques.
The total number of Scientologists in the world is extremely difficult to estimate, for a variety of reasons. Estimates range from 8 million (as estimated by the Church itself) to 100,000 as estimated by skeptics.
Developed by L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology is a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being.
Scientology addresses the spirit—not the body or mind—and believes that Man is far more than a product of his environment, or his genes.