Author Topic: Is Scientology a religion? A controversial subject  (Read 2830 times)

Offline ethercat

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Is Scientology a religion? A controversial subject
« on: March 10, 2010, 17:35 »
I found this list of quotes by L. Ron Hubbard, which indicate that he, himself, did not think of scientology as a religion, at least not until he wanted tax-exempt status: http://www.lermanet.com/not-a-religion-by-hubbard.htm (Longer quotes and the references are included at the link.)

Some snippets:

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We don't want a clinic. We want one in operation but not in name. Perhaps we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Center. Think up its name, will you. And we could put in nice desks and our boys in neat blue with diplomas on the walls and 1. knock psychotherapy into history and 2. make enough money to shine up my operating scope and 3. keep the HAS solvent. It is a problem of practical business.

I await your reaction on the religion angle. In my opinion, we couldn't get worse public opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we've got to sell.

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Scientology 1970 is being planned on a religious organization basis throughout the world. This will not upset in any way the usual activities of any organization. It is entirely a matter for accountants and solicitors.

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Theta clearing is about as practical and simple as repairing a shoe lace. It is nothing to do with hypnotism, voodooism, charalatanism, monkeyism or theosophy. Done, the thetan can do anything a stage magician can do in in the way of moving objects around. But this isn't attained by holding one's breathe or thinking right thoughts or voting Republican or any other superstitous or mystic practice. So for the reason I brought up, rule out, auditor, any mumbo jumbo or mysticism, spiritualism, or religion.

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Scientology has opened the gates to a better world. It is not a psycho-therapy nor a religion. It is a body of knowledge which, when properly used, gives freedom and truth to the individual.


Yet many adherents insist that scientology is a religion.  Is it a religion because the adherents say it is?  Is it a religion because of the subject matter it deals with?  Or is it not, because the founder said it wasn't?  At some point, is the question of religion out of the founder's hands?  Is it not, because of the aims of the organization?  What do you think?  All viewpoints are welcome.

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Offline Lorelei

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Re: Is Scientology a religion? A controversial subject
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2010, 20:13 »
Seems to me that it is a religion mostly when it suits their purposes to be one, but is a business 24/7.

IIRC, new Scienos are told at first that they can keep their current religion and beliefs, and that Scientology won't interfere with that. Then, later, any belief system other than Scientology is "mixing practices" or something similar to that phrase (and thus verboten), and later than that, you find out religion / deities / God / Satan / etc. are all supposed to be "implanted" lies; just the confused delusions of your personal angry dead alien spirits / invisible space ghost cooties / body thetans that you need Scientology to help you with, of course.
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Offline mefree

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Re: Is Scientology a religion? A controversial subject
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2010, 12:54 »
This gets me back to asking, what is worshiped in Scientology? Worship services are offered at the local org.

According to a post here http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080126190645AARIxY5 by an alleged Scientologist,

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Since Scientology is not faith based, we don't worship. What we do have is a religious philosophy, rather than a religious practice. This philosophy has it's basis going back to the Veda, Tao teh King and Buddhism. You are a spiritual being (not you have a soul, but YOU are the soul).

Interesting emphasis on "you". So, they basically worship themselves. Is that it? It seems to me that we have basically way too much of that type of thing going on in our society, already.

Another description on the site may have it spelled out better,

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I'm not sure there is a supreme deity. I think they focus on releasing their inner person correctly (or something). Their classes seem to focus on having the "correct" personality and lifestyle. And there is something about aliens crashing into a mountain. (I think that's where their inner person comes from...)
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
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Offline Lorelei

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Re: Is Scientology a religion? A controversial subject
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2010, 19:57 »
It does come across as very narcissistic and egocentric most of the time.

"F--- YOU (and everyone else who is being hurt or defrauded), 'CUZ I GOT MINE (attention, validation, people sucking up to me and making me feel important, shiny 'donator' awards, the delusion of "super powers", whatever)."
"Once the foundation of a revolution has been laid down, it is almost always
in the next generation that the revolution is accomplished." -- Jean d'Alembert

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Offline mefree

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Re: Is Scientology a religion? A controversial subject
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2010, 23:42 »
Here's what one ex-member had to say:

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Perhaps the most telling aspect about Scientology is its treatment of the poor, the sick, the unable. Scientology's stated purpose is to make the able more able. Where is the care for the poor, and the needy? It doesn’t exist because there is no money in that. A life long Sea Org member gets cancer, forget him! He is routed off as being unfit. Oh they may take up donations from public members, but that’s about it. So in my mind what makes a religion is compassion and the desire to help without getting something back. Help should be free. Oh I understand the need for donations, but you tell me where in the world will you find a religion that charges for almost all of it’s services? Show me a Church where everyone is expected to buy a $3,000 lifetime membership? Even 10% tithing would be break for most Scientologists. So there can be little doubt that the Church of Scientology is neither compassionate or helpful without charging for it.

http://exscn.net/content/view/29/88/1/3/
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama

Offline ethercat

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Re: Is Scientology a religion? A controversial subject
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2010, 12:48 »
I don't know that it's a requirement for a religion to worship, or to be charitable or humble.

I suppose in order to answer the question of whether scientology is a religion, we first have to define the term "religion."  I went in search of "the definition" and found that there are many definitions, and that the commonly accepted definition has changed again and again, over time.  Everyone seems to have his own definition, comprised of his own culture's views and his set of experiences.

Wikipedia uses the first definition from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion, which is generally accepted as a reference of good authority:

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A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

(I note with some amusement that even the definition on reference.com has changed since the wiki article was written; the word "supernatural" has been changed to "superhuman.")

Reference.com has additional definitions not cited by wikipedia:

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2.  a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3.  the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

4.  the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.

5.  the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

6.  something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

I think scientology certainly fits the number 6 definition above for its followers, but is it enough that one believes in and follows something devotedly for it to be categorized as a religion throughout the world?  Could I say that using the internet is my religion?  No.  I consider the number 6 definition as more of a colloquialism than a hard and fast definition.

Reference.com gives the origin of the word itself as being between the years 1150 and 1200 AD, long after many of what most people consider to be prominent and accepted religions were formed, so clearly, these religions did not set out to define themselves as "a religion," they simply sought to answer the perpetually asked questions - where did we come from?  what happens when we die? what is the meaning of life?

The history of the word, according to wikipedia, is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion#History
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The word "religion" as it is used today does not have an obvious pre-colonial translation into non-European languages. Daniel Dubuisson writes that "what the West and the history of religions in its wake have objectified under the name 'religion' is ... something quite unique, which could be appropriate only to itself and its own history."[6] The words used in other languages for similar concepts, such as dharma, bhakti, Tao, or Islam, have vastly different histories. The history of other cultures' interaction with the religious category is therefore their interaction with an idea that first developed in Europe under the influence of Christianity.

By using the term "religion," of which the very origin of the word was under the influence of European Christian viewpoints, has scientology positioned itself to always be thought of in comparison to Christianity and similar belief systems?

More on the origin of the word can be found here: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=religion

In seeking a definition, I found that I was not alone in my struggle.  I found this paper: What Is "Religion"?—Well, It’s Hard to "Say Exactly"

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Educators who teach about religion immediately face the problem of defining the subject. Is a "religion" to be regarded as another form of human thought or opinion covered by guarantees of freedom, as is speech, assembly, press and so on? Or, does religion always imply supernaturalism?

There are further questions. Should the definition simply refer to those who feel that they are in a particular relationship to God (however defined) with an obligation to fulfill divinely revealed law? For example, Judaism is always listed as a "religion," but what about Humanistic Judaism,[1] which focuses on persons and humanity without reference to a deity? In addition, many Secular Humanists [2] tend to eschew the term "religion" because, in its popular interpretation, it carries with it overtones of a supernaturalism that they reject.

What does the word "religion" mean, and what is religion and what is nonreligion?
...
It is not surprising to discover that most present day scholars tend to avoid definitions when they discuss religions. The reasons for evasion become obvious as we look at some of the many earlier efforts to define the term.

... (examples are given of attempts by scholars and experts to define the term.)

The question arises: How does one handle this problem? Perhaps the answer lies in "no definition."

Given the difficulties in defining the term, is it even relevant to discuss, outside of discussions about "religious persecution," "religious tax-exempt status," and the legitimacy suggested to people who do not look beyond what the group defines itself as? 

Is the discussion of whether or not scientology is a religion with people who are uninformed about the abuses and controversies that surround scientology just a sideline discussion, a distraction, a lost opportunity? 

Despite opinions that scientology is not a religion, is it alright to let the public think that scientology is a religion?  In the eyes of the public, isn't it even worse for the leaders and followers of a group that defines itself as a religion to have the lack of regard for others and commit the abuses we've seen from the "Church of Scientology"?

Does it matter if scientology is or isn't a religion?
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Offline Lorelei

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Re: Is Scientology a religion? A controversial subject
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2010, 13:51 »
EC: Carl Sagan goes into some detail about what is / isn't a religion in the first chapter on "The Demon-Haunted World." No firm conclusions, but some food for thought.
"Once the foundation of a revolution has been laid down, it is almost always
in the next generation that the revolution is accomplished." -- Jean d'Alembert

The Human Wiki.
"I spend hours surfing the web for information, so you don't have to!"