For many people, their first contact with Scientology is a handbill found in the mail. Others encounter a young person with a piece of paper in his hand and this becomes their entrance to the organization. That person is a Scientologist who is in the field recruiting new members from the street. He or she asks various people if they would like to have their personalities tested-- completely free of charge.
If someone agrees to take the test, he is escorted to Scientology's premises, where he is met with professional warmth and kindness. The newcomer receives a piece of paper with 200 questions, which must be answered "yes", "no" or "don't know". On the basis of these responses, a graph is drawn which almost always reveals your need to communicate better.
Once these results have been shared with the applicant, an offer is likely to follow: you may sign up for Scientology's Communication Course. It is relatively inexpensive and it consists of short lectures about the basic principles of Scientology, some practical exercises, and a bit of reading material.
The whole idea of this course is that the participants must learn to handle their surroundings and be able to confront them. That is, people are taught to look others in the eye and demand from them an answer that you have decided beforehand. In Scientology's language this is called "to have purpose". If you have enough purpose to reach a certain goal, then you will reach it. If you have the purpose of controlling your surroundings, you must first confront them, and then handle them. According to Scientology, everything can be controlled if the purpose is strong enough.
Once the communication course is completed, the participants are encouraged to continue with other, and far more expensive courses offered by the movement. This is because Scientology is supposedly "the only group on earth that has a solution that works".
The inventor of this system was an American by the name Lafayette Ron Hubbard (1911-1986). He was wounded in the Second World War, but never received the necessary psychiatric treatment. Ever since that time, he hated all psychiatrists and did his best to stay out of their reach. After the war he made a living as a science-fiction writer, but he discovered that the best way to become rich was to start a religion. In 1950 the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health appeared. It bears the imprint of limited psychological knowledge combined with modern occultism.
This technique includes the use of the so-called E-meter, an electical measuring instrument which is basically a primitive "lie detector". It is used during interview sessions which Scientology terms auditing. During this session, subjects are questioned about many things including embarrassing and unfortunate parts of their lives, for they are due to the presence of these engrammes which are located in this way. Many people have revealed intimate details about their sexual life during auditing. These responses are written down together with other pieces of information and stored in Scientology's files.
When the E-meter no longer deflects because of engrammes you are designated as "clear" (free or without obstacles). According to Hubbard, the reason for irrational behaviour and psychosomatic diseases has been removed. Once a Scientologist has become "clear" he or she should, for example, have no need for glasses nor be able to catch a cold - unless, of course, he associates with "suppressive persons" (referred to as SPs).
Although it is not immediately obvious that this sytem is religious by nature, a certain influence from oriental religiosity can be traced in its teachings. The engrammes can be seen as a pseudo-religious transcription of the teaching of karma as known from the ancient Asian religions. Scientology also has its own version of the teaching of reincarnation. Their belief is that man is a soul, designated as a thetan. The thetan has lived innumerable lives before and may be sent out of the body and around the universe.
The Structure of Scientology
After becoming clear, you may become an operating thetan and move to remote planets. By then you have become a superhuman, able to reach pandetermination, and this means that you are never the object of the will of others but on the contrary: you always make others the objects of your own will. The latter happens by way of the OT courses. A person who has reached this far has often paid a six figure amount for courses and auditing.
Scientology has its own internal police force and its own law courts. The latter are called Ethic Courts and are maintained by, among other bodies, the Sea Org, a corps which is often in naval uniform and whose members have signed a contract with Hubbard of up to 1 billion years of service. There used to be another group within the organization known as the Guardians Office, but it was abolished after eleven of its leaders- among them was Hubbard's wife - were convicted of severe crimes in the U.S.A. The Guardian's Office has been replaced by OSA, Office of Special Affairs.
What is "Ethics" in Scientology?
Therefore if a staff member is getting production up by having his own statistics excellent, Ethics sure isn't interested. But if a staff member isn't producing, shown by his bad statistics for his post, Ethics is fascinated with his smallest misdemeanor.
In short a staff member can get away with murder so long as his statistics are up and can't sneeze without a chop if it [the statistics] are down."
The judicial system of Scientology features High Crimes and Suppressive Acts. These are commited by Suppressive Persons. Anybody who critizises Scientology is already qualified as an SP. If a Scientologist has the slightest connection with any such person, he is a Potential Trouble Source (PTS) and must be punished. If a PTS does not discontinue his contact with an SP, he himself is declared an SP. This is all part of the worldview of Scientology that 20% of the earth's population are anti-social persons who should, according to Hubbard, be isolated and neutralized before any kind of progress will be possible.
Hubbard has expressed what is special about Scientology in the following way: "Just as Scientology now brings total freedom, it must also have total power and authority for bringing total discipline. If not it will not survive." (HCO Policy Letter, January 5, 1968). There is no room here for independent thinking or a critical standpoint of your own. If you obey with total discipline, you yourself get the possibility to develop into a superhuman, one of those who are chosen to decide for others.
It is hard to assess whether Scientology may justly be designated as a religion. It certainly is a business, and one of the more lucrative and multinational ones at that.
Scientology refers to itself as a "church" - an absurd word in this context, since church really means "that which belongs to kyrios" (Greek for Lord). Scientology certainly doesn't belong to the Lord. It belongs to Hubbard.
God actually plays no role in Scientology. There is no room for any god at all in this system. Where God should be, Hubbard is - and all Scientologists have a part in his "perfection."
Consequently, Scientology is not a church in any Christian sense of the word - but is it a religion? This is, as mentioned above, difficult to determine. There is no unambiguous definition of the term "religion". If we choose to look at Scientology as a religion, we must call it a pseudo-religion. When the organization makes a point of calling itself a religion, this is probably due to the fact that religious communities enjoy important tax exemptions in many of the American states. It also opens up the possibilty of counteracting critique and official investigations with accusations of "religious persecution".
What there might possibly be of real religiosity in Scientology must be found in the secret OT courses, since it is generally impossible to locate anywhere else. If Scientology desires a fair and objective assessment of its character as a religion, the organization will have to make these writings and courses accessible. Until that happens, the question must remain open-ended.
Connected to the Dialog Center, there is a group called The Truth About Scientology (in Danish, S.O.S.). It consists mainly of parents and other relatives of former and present members of Scientology. The group arranges meetings where they talk about problems that arise in connection with having relatives in Scientology and what can be done about it.There is also the possibililty of having a talk with one or more persons from the group. Enquires should be directed to the Dialog Center, which will also provide you with further material about Scientology and affiliated groups.