The Church of Scientology has caused controversy since its origin in 1952. Nevertheless, many people continue to flock to Scientology to find clarity, peace of mind, and try to understand more of the world around them. Notable Scientologists include John Travolta and Tom Cruise, botho of whom have benefitted from this organization. And yet why have so many people left the Church of Scientology and criticized its methods? The Church of Scientology’s purpose brings in aspects of both traditional Western and Eastern religions and provides a more personal and applied religious philosophy for its members. The goal of our project and endeavor is to uncover the stigma behind the Church of Scientology and see how it contributes to the story of religion in St. Louis.
The Church of Scientology owes its discovery in 1954 to L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) and his “new line of research,” in which he stated that man is most fundamentally a spiritual being. He claimed to have discovered the human soul. Hubbard went through a lot of different phases in his life. He attended George Washington University for three semesters as a young man, but would not return due to poor grades. In 1941, Hubbard was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve. However, in 1945 he suffered from illness and became depressed. During the remainder of World War II, Hubbard claimed to have made scientific breakthroughs with the use of “endocrine experiments.” He would also go through two marriages which ended in divorce until he found his third and final wife, Mary Sue Whipp, whom he was married to until his death in 1986. Hubbard wrote over 1,000 works in his lifetime, his most famous--and controversial--was Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.
Dianetics became a signature aspect of Hubbard’s work. This technique uses "auditing" to understand what a person is looking to reveal from within themselves, even if he/she has not yet determined what that may be. This can often involve traumatic events or stressful situations that one has experienced. Dianetics would become one of the major foundations of Scientology and was considered a spiritual healing technique.
In 1951, Hubbard incorporated the electropsychometer, or E-meter, into auditing in the church of Scientology. The E-meter works by measuring levels of stress throughout the body and can detect how much stress you are experiencing when holding onto the cylinders attached to it. An auditor helps you find what it is that you are looking to release from within you, such as a stressful event or traumatic experience in your life, and as you become closer to finding what that thing is, the meter reads this from your tension and flows more freely (swaying across the meter) as you come closer to releasing what it is you need to release. To become an auditor of the Church of Scientology, you must become very skilled at reading the meter and distinguishing the movements in the meter.
Important Dates in Scientology May 9, 1950: L. Ron Hubbard’s “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health” is published. February 1954: Scientology Founded in Los Angeles. 1960: Hubbard Mark II E-meter released, followed soon after by the Hubbard Mark III E-meter. February 22, 1970: Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles founded. January 24, 1986: L. Ron Hubbard dies of a stroke. October 1993: The IRS settles its 40-year battle with the Church of Scientology and recognizes it as a tax-exempt church. June 2005: Tom Cruise draws attention with his beliefs in the Church of Scientology
The word Scientologist inherently means, “the science of knowing how to know answers.” Scientologists fundamental beliefs begin with the statement that, man is basically good and his “spiritual salvation” is dependent upon himself, through creating beneficial relationships with himself, the people around him, and the universe, it is then possible for one to truly appreciate life. Many beliefs and practices stem from self-care and wellness. Scientologists believe in a higher Supreme Being. Through auditing and training, that is where people are able to reach that dynamic. Auditing takes place when an individual meets with an auditor and discusses his or her problems. The auditor will first ask guided questions, about different periods of time. The use of auditing is for the person to overcome any spiritual anxiety, and overcome any problems that are affect their everyday life. An e-meter is also used, which is a device to measure psychic and spiritual charges, and when discussing problems, the meter will move in a certain direction. After completing the auditing process, the goal is to have the e-meter dial move freely, indicating that there is no charge. Along with an e-meter, another tool that is used in the auditing process is an emotional tone scale, otherwise known as an escale. The purpose of an escale is to provide an “emotional classification system”, this system will allow auditors to better assist the individual and assess his or actions.
Common terminology includes ARC and KRC triangles, these triangles are concept maps that include the values and beliefs within the religion. KRC stands for Knowledge, Responsibility, and Control, while ARC stands for Affinity, Reality, and Communication. Another governing aspect of Scientology are the Eight Dynamics. The Eight Dynamics are used to guide individuals to “live a life towards a spiritual entity,” they start from the self to the supreme being. The first dynamic starts with the survival of the self, then children, then a group (school, team, town), then all humanity, then animals, then the physical universe, the spirit, and then finally, the Supreme Being. Through the process of auditing, this is how a person will achieve to the eighth dynamic. To describe the spiritual sense of one’s body is described as a “thetan.” A thetan is infinite and is not categorized as a mind or body but is instead similar to a spirit.
The common services and practices that you would find at a Christian church are similar to the ones found in the Church of Scientology. In St. Louis, there are 10:30 am Sunday services, weddings, and naming ceremonies for babies. The Church of Scientology is very anti-drugs, not only including drugs such as marijuana and ecstasy, but insulin as well. The Church of Scientology is not against medicine, as antibiotics as accepted. Many people of other religions also attend the Church of Scientology, notably people that have no other religion, Christians, and people from the Nation of Islam. A typical service will include lectures and readings from the founder and the topics include many self-care and wellness topics such as better communication with your spouse and communication within the workplace.
While not much literature exists on the effects of The Church of Scientology on St. Louis and religiosity as a whole, it can be inferred that with a predominantly Christian history and population majority, this new religion has unsettled the status quo to an extent.
When it comes down it, no amount of research will be able to provide total insight into what the Church of Scientology is all about, and how it can impact someone’s life. Looking further into Scientology helps clarify some parameters for what religion truly is, and how this ideology is practiced in everyday life. The main message that we found Scientology to be espousing was that of self-wellness and an ultimate enlightenment of sorts. We noticed that most religions have this goal, and want its members to reach this place, but does not necessarily take the most direct and obvious route to get there. Many religions use scriptures and other sacred texts to get their message across, rather than more direct technological and interrogative means of determining one's spiritual "measurement." Scientology seems to be an ideology and religion that works for the betterment of the individual, and in the hopes that they can help others. In this way, Scientology may not truly be as different from other religions as we initially might believe.
Written and researched by Skylar Durante, Julia Hoffman, and Kavitha Srinivasan