The church of Scientology has been the surrounded with controversy since it was created around 1950. Its core beliefs and unique methods has gathered the attention of scholars from around the world. The creator of scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, began his studies of the mind in 1923. According to the religions website, this research led to an unpublished manuscript titled “Excalibur” in 1938. In this manuscript, the word scientology was used for the first time. Hubbard defined it as “the study knowing how to know”
The church has been the center of many federal investigations and countless lawsuits as well. Scientology is also no stranger to the media due to the amount of celebrities that endorse it. Although many famous people have spoken out against the religion and the problems they have with it. However, the main topic of debate surrounding the Church of Scientology is, if it is truly a religion. Some of the church members tell others how Scientology has helped them to become happier people and overcome difficulties in their lives, while others claim that it is so dangerous it is comparable to a cult. One celebrity that has been very vocal about her feelings towards the church is Leah Remini. She says she had been a member since she was a young girl before she left the church after 34 years of being a member. After she gained a following, she would appear in promotional videos for the church, along with other celebrities such as, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and a few others. She dedicated a whole docuseries to her negative experience. In her docuseries she talked about contracts the church would keep people in, how the church would handle crimes such as sexual abuse, her problems with the leadership, and how people have been treating her since she left. The church responded by saying she had just done all of this for money and to gain more of a following.
The Church of Scientology is a religious group whose main goal is to draw their members in with the guarantee of spiritual enlightenment. It is known for having controversial history and a very intense commitment to keep its members.
Scientology was officially established in the mid-twentieth century by well known science-fiction author L Ron Hubbard. According to the religions website, the basic foundation of the church come from the ideas of Hubbard's best-selling book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. This book was published on May 9, 1950, and that date would become remembered among Scientologists as one of their religious holidays. Hubbard believed that his findings of the science of dianetics is “a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and the arch”. The core ideas in the book's ideas push the reader to rid themselves of any and all mental weaknesses.
By the summer of 1950, it went on to make it to the top of the best seller list. The reading was popular on college campuses with students and professors. However, as popular as it was, Dianetics was also met with harsh criticism among physicians and psychologists, claiming that its ideas are based on “flimsy scientific evidence”. Even with the negative feedback from established professionals, many readers thought of Dianetics to be enlightening and felt that it provided answers to difficult questions and solutions through “scientific techniques”.
Hubbard went on to open the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey before the Dianetics was even published. After his book became so successful, he opened up similar organizations on some of the major cities across the country such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Honolulu.
Hubbard would advertise the promise of spiritual enlightenment with the establishments of that he had opened up and named The Church of Scientology.
By the end of 1950, the new foundations were not really making any money and and had over $200,000 dollars in debt. To top it off, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners sued the Elizabeth Foundation for practicing medicine without a license. The Elizabeth Foundation would be shut down by the end 1951. Although Don Purcell, a wealthy supporter of Dianetics, wanted to open a foundation in Wichita Kansas. However, when he tried the court ruled that if he would open up the foundation in Wichita, it would be liable for the debt of the Elizabeth foundation. He tried to convince Hubbard to file for voluntary bankruptcy, but he kept refused to do so. At an emergency meeting in Wichita, the board of directors voted to go with the bankruptcy proceeding, much to the dismay of Hubbard. Due to the bankruptcy, he no longer owned the rights to Dianetics. However, he did not want to give up on all of his work, so he later began to rebrand the fundamental ideas of Dianetics. He decided to move into a more “spiritual” angle. One of his best known quotes is “You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”
The first official Church of Scientology was officially opened on February 18, 1954. It was opened by Burton Farber in Los Angeles California. Multiple individual organizations had been opened and would become churches and 10 percent of their income would go to the “mother church”. The mother church was the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International. If Hubbard called this a church, he would not be worried about feeling interrupted or pestered by medical establishments with lawsuits. He started to advertise the church. He was constantly urging his followers to spread the word while run advertisements promoting “cures” for various diseases as well as helping people who were “victimized” at one point in their lives. They are actually still running ads today, one aired during the 2018 Superbowl. With all of the marketing going into this, it ended up becoming pretty profitable for Hubbard and became one of the most talked about churches in America.
The beliefs of Scientologist reveal how they justify in keeping their members intrigued with the guarantee of spiritual enlightenment. The core belief of Scientology is that the “thetan” is “the anatomy of the human soul”. The thetan is meant to represent a person's true spiritual being, separate from the “the mind, body, and the physical world.” Basically, what this is saying is Scientologists claim that a person's thetan has lived through many past lives and contains stored memories from those past lives. Holding onto the memories from the past could become problematic to their present life. Scientologists feel the need to reclaim those memories and cleanse them for one to reach true spiritual enlightenment.
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