Chances are, you heard of the Church of Scientology at least once in your life. You probably even heard it specifically with the name of Tom Cruise attached to it. Chances are, however, you have no real idea what they’re actually about. But you’re intrigued, especially since they ran a perfectly cryptic clip during the Superbowl, asking the simple question: Are you curious? If you are, make this your first stop to read what Scientology is and does, and why you should stay far away from it.
Scientology combines spirituality and technology, implying science in its very name. You’ll see members and high-ranking officials of the church pitching their vision to make the world a better place. It’s an intriguing pitch, one that many people do actually fall for.
Unfortunately, things are rarely as good as they seem. Over the course of the last 15 years, several Scientology drop-outs have voiced their version of what the Church of Scientology is actually about and unearthed unnerving cases of abuse, financial exploitation, stalking, and indoctrination. But before we can look at all these serious allegations, we first have to talk about the motivation and origin of this mysterious institution that claims to be a harmless but important religion. And it all starts with its founding father, L. Ron Hubbard, called LRH by his followers.
L. Ron Hubbard and Dianetics
When founding a religion, you need a starting point. You need a story, common ground, a belief system that enchants your followers. What do people have to gain? L. Ron Hubbard was a science-fiction author and a rather busy one at that, writing hundreds of pulp fiction novels that would later on eventually contribute to the book that started it all: Dianetics. A mess of different practices and theories about the relationship between body and mind. The book was originally published unrelated to Hubbard’s religion of Scientology, but would, later on, build the basis of it and shape its public image.
As Hubbard claimed, Dianetics was able to improve life in a number of areas, such as increased IQ, help the emotional state, and rid the practitioner of a variety of illnesses, allegedly even death. This is achieved by an Auditing system, also a central part of Scientology itself, that is similar to practices found in psychoanalysis, promising to rid the participants of so-called engrams. Engrams are traumatic events from the past that can have a severe impact on the individual and that are detected by an E-Meter.
Hubbard: A Pathological Liar
An E-Meter is a sort of primitive lie detector, that allegedly senses the mass of thoughts, thus identifying these engrams in Auditing sessions and ridding them by talking about them until they are gone. There is no scientific basis for this, of course, and these Auditing sessions are more akin to very frequent and thorough confessions that the Church of Scientology keeps incredibly detailed notes of. Notes that may even be used against you, if you ever decide to leave.
One may see how total mind control and reaching spiritual heights might be a bit of an overpromise, but it wasn’t out of the ordinary for L. Ron Hubbard. Going through his life, one does get the impression that he was, indeed, a pathological liar, claiming achievements and injuries (including a miraculous recovery in part to his practices) in the navy that were far from true according to his military records. But why would someone just invent a religion from scratch and claim it would better the mind and body of everyone practicing it? Well, again, what’s in it for me? Betterment. What’s in for L. Ron Hubbard? A load of money.
Church of Scientology: A Pyramid Scheme
If you ever heard about Scientology, you may have heard about the costs. That’s unsurprising, as L. Ron Hubbard himself said on several occasions, that in order to earn real money, one has to start a religion. And eventually, he did. Anyone thinking he only did because he finally cracked the code to eternal life and betterment of this planet, has not yet seen the price tags that come with the Scientology doctrine.
And even if you paid everything once, the organization will find ways to have you pay them again for updated courses and materials. But there is one important change once you have officially stepped over most of the paywalls L. Ron Hubbard put in place: The real story. Like any other religion, Scientology too has its own origin story. But unlike other religions, they keep it under wraps until you’re in for a fortune, probably because you’d run away otherwise.
A mess of Science-Fiction paired with souls, atomic bombs, and volcanos that makes no sense whatsoever. Be glad we told you beforehand.
The Sea Org: A Humanitarian Nightmare
However despicable financial exploitation under false pretense may be, you won’t know just how bad things can get with Scientology until you become a member of the Sea Org. The Sea Org is pretty much the clergy of the Church of Scientology, requiring members to sign a billion year contract and to fully commit their life to the church. This part of Scientology was founded by Hubbard himself, originally as part of his naval endeavors, manning four ships L. Ron Hubbard used to sail around the world with, partly due to paranoia and legal troubles opting to spend time in international waters when needed.
Today, as a Sea Org member, you work for Scientology, without proper pay (hourly wage for a member is far below one USD) coupled with often poor living conditions, physical abuse and several other practices that are more than concerning. But why don’t they leave, you may ask? Rationalization, blackmail, harassment and a practice called Fair Game.
This is only an overview, a few tiny glimpses into what Scientology entails, not even stating the most horrifying practices and abuses the Church of Scientology commits on a regular basis. Are you still curious?
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