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Church of Scientology

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Scientologists engaging in psychological projection protesting against psychiatry. Psychiatry doesn't kill, but idiot cults do.
Drink the Kool-Aid
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But you WANT to stay!
Cults of personality
I, the crown prince of Nigeria, offer you
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Hook, line, and sinker
Totally sounds legit!
Who are you? You’re someone who’s about to waste a hell of a lot of money if you decide to join the Church of Scientology.
Hemant Mehta[1]

The Church of Scientology™[note 1] is a cult, a scam, and a singular anomaly of crank magnetism masquerading as a religion that was dreamed up by L. Ron Hubbard, a writer of crappy science fiction. More than one of Hubbard's science fiction writer-colleagues from the 1940s noted that Hubbard had an especial interest in getting rich.[2][3]

As a dilettante student of various sciences and a creative writer, Hubbard wrote a 1950 article in Astounding Science Fiction — later a book called "Dianetics™"[note 1] to, essentially, start an unscientific experiment in human psychology based upon hypnosis, Freudian ideas, Buddhism, and other philosophies. A few years later, in 1953, he founded the Church of Scientology after claiming to have discovered the soul. What followed became more and more ridiculous, as he produced everything from sacred recipes for baby-formula to scriptures about alien overlords to massively expensive promises of supernatural abilities for dedicated followers.

Though all cults tend to be draconian about their dogma, after the advent of the internet, the Church of Scientology became especially draconian in its attempt to stifle open discussion about Hubbard, Dianetics, and Scientology.

So, you know, a perfectly ordinary religion.


In the late 1940s, pulp fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard declared,

If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.

Hubbard did start his own religion, calling it the "Church of Scientology", that as of 1980 had grown into an enterprise grossing over $100 million a year worldwide.[4]


This universe has long been looking for new ways to make slaves. Well, we've got some new ways to make slaves here.
—L. Ron Hubbard (from PDC tape lecture #20 "Formative State of Scientology, Definition of Logic", given on 6 December, 1952)

Hubbard's experiment was well enough formed that his "religion" actually survives to this day, to the embarrassment of the human race. It is also known to be the biggest money-making scam in history. Sadly, believers in Scientology do not survive as well as the belief system: far too many have died through Scientology-related abuse; see Why are They Dead?

Ok, fine, I got that much...[edit]

So long as a physiological phenomenon remains the knowledge of a few and is denied to the many it can be utilized to control the many.
—L Ron Hubbard[5]

Scientology is an exploitative and coercive loony cult founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, based on crackpot psychology, and populated by a mixture of the gullible, the insane, and the power-mad, as well as numerous people who combine all three. It is also a satanic cult according to Dan Kennedy,[6] which is not strictly true; Hubbard was, however, a follower of Aleister Crowley whose Thelema faith was a forerunner of LaVeyan Satanism. There are a couple of interesting coincidences though. "Thetan", for example is pronounced like "Satan" with a lisp (if nothing else Hubbard had a warped sense of humor). Operating Thetans are OTs, while Crowley was a lover of Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.).

It has been widely criticized by groups such as Anonymous on the Internet and in the public at-large for legal threats and strong-arm tactics, treating members abusively, bilking believers out of huge sums of money,[7] and believing humans evolved from clams.[8]

Scientology claims you are under the influence of negative traumatic incidents that you need to become "clear" of. This is done with "audit counseling" sessions using a quack primitive form of lie detector called an E-Meter. Auditing sessions start cheap but get gradually more and more expensive and can suck the gullible convert into a cycle of needing ever more expensive auditing as the sessions uncover more traumatic incidents from past lives that they need to be "clear" of. Spending your adult life in Scientology and going through all the levels, auditing sessions, and other courses will cost you between $300,000 and $500,000, which you would be much better off putting into a good mutual fund to save for retirement.

Scientology successfully "clears" money from the bank accounts of vulnerable practitioners.


The early days[edit]

The only way you can control anybody is to lie to them.
—L. Ron Hubbard, 1952[9]
The first publication of Dianetics. Seriously.

After serving not very well in World War II,[10] Hubbard published Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science in the famous, peer-reviewed scientific journal Astounding Science Fiction in 1950,[11] followed shortly after by the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1950.[12] Dianetics described how all a person's problems were actually caused by "engrams" — essentially residual manifestations of past trauma, which in Scientology can include subconsciously remembered experiences from former lives. These engrams could be removed through a kind of therapy called "auditing". Once free of such engrams, a person would be a "Clear", and in full control of their mind and psyche. As such they would have special abilities, such as perfect memory and analytical powers. When Hubbard presented an alleged Clear to an audience in August 1950, those claims were shown to be slightly optimistic.

Predictably, Dianetics got the thumbs down from the scientific community, and Hubbard soon faced investigations by the Federal authorities for practicing quack medicine. However, as Dianetics had gotten a positive response from lots of gullible people with too much money, Hubbard decided to turn it into a religion instead.

The first Church of Scientology was founded in 1953, hiding Hubbard's con scheme behind a screen of respectability and also avoiding lots of laws that didn't apply to churches. But the Church's biggest treasure was tax exemption, which was granted to it in the US in 1957. The Church held tax-exempt status for ten years until it was revoked in 1967, when the IRS determined it was operating as a commercial venture, with profits going to L. Ron Hubbard. They would not regain tax exempt status until 1993, when the IRS capitulated after many legal battles (and many rumored shady actions on the part of the Church).[13][note 2]

Expansion and Sea Org[edit]

Scientology cruise ship Freewinds in 2004

Hubbard moved to the United Kingdom in 1959 and bought an old manor in Sussex called Saint Hill. At that time Scientology was beginning to expand outside the US. The manor was turned into the headquarters for this expansion and, eventually, for most international activities.

In the following years Hubbard consolidated Scientology, establishing many of the organization's fundamental policies and practices. However, Scientology also attracted increased negative attention as it grew, so in 1966 Hubbard resigned as the formal head of the Church and instead bought a ship to use as his base; he began calling himself "Commodore" and established the Sea Org to act as his agents and assistants in Scientology. During this time Hubbard and his followers traveled around the Mediterranean as Hubbard carried out his "research" on the OT levels. He is known to have been strongly alcoholic and abusing drugs at the time, which might explain a lot about what he "learned" from his research.

Meanwhile, Scientology continued to expand in the US and abroad. It founded several front groups, such as Narconon (not to be confused with Narcotics Anonymous, which one could abbreviate to "Narcanon") in 1966. Also in 1966, the infamous Guardian's Office was established to counter threats to Scientology, both internal and external.

Government interest in the group was increasing. In 1963, the FDA had seized a number of E-meters and charged the Church with making false claims about their ability to diagnose and treat illness. In 1967 the IRS revoked tax exemption from all Scientology-related entities in the US. When the courts upheld this revocation in 1969, Scientology simply decided to withhold their owed taxes anyway, beginning a long war with the IRS that only ended in 1993.

While this was happening, Hubbard's flagship Apollo was established as the first "Advanced Org" and began offering Operating Thetan level III (the Xenu story) to members. Hubbard continued his "research in the upper levels of OT", regularly releasing new courses and OT levels in his search for more ways to help the Scientologists get rid of their money problems. He also introduced a new strategy to Scientology in the late 1960s when he realized that Hollywood celebrities would be obvious and useful targets for Scientology. The first Scientology "Celebrity Center" opened in Los Angeles, California in 1970.

Operation Snow White[edit]

In the early 1970s, US government investigations were becoming a serious problem for Scientology. In response Hubbard launched "Operation Snow White", the largest ever infiltration of several US government agencies that were believed to have taken an interest in Scientology. Under the direction of the Guardian's Office, an estimated 5,000 agents infiltrated hundreds of government offices, stealing or destroying documents, tapping telephones, planting false information, and gathering material on officials to be used to blackmail them.

Sometime by the mid-1970s Hubbard returned to the US where he went into hiding to avoid the authorities. He remained on the run for the rest of his life, but always maintained contact with the Scientology organization through a group of people known as "Messengers".

The organization suffered a severe blow in 1977 when the FBI raided several of its offices and found evidence of Operation Snow White and other illegal activities. Two years later, eleven top ranking members of the Guardian's Office, including Hubbard's wife Mary Sue Hubbard, were convicted and sent to jail. Ron Hubbard himself was listed as a "un-indicted co-conspirator" at the trial.

Captain Davie takes the wheel[edit]

David Miscavige, the current leader of the CoS

The upheaval of the organization and Hubbard's absence (and likely worsening illness) allowed one of Hubbard's Messengers, David Miscavige,Wikipedia to gradually assume control of Scientology. As a Messenger, Miscavige spoke with Hubbard's authority, and he instigated a thorough reorganization of Scientology, with himself at the top. Significantly, he closed the Guardian's Office and established the Office of Special Affairs in its place, essentially bringing the old car with just a paint job. He also created the Religious Technology Center to license the all-important copyrights of Hubbard's works, and effectively run the entire Scientology organization. As chairman of the RTC, Miscavige became the de facto head of Scientology. It is unknown whether this was according to Hubbard's wishes.

In 1986, Hubbard suffered a stroke "completed all of his research" and died "discarded the body he had used in this lifetime".[14] As the now undisputed head of Scientology, David Miscavige started a large-scale publication program of new versions of Scientology's books and courses.[note 3] The Sea Org also acquired a third-hand new ship at this time, the Freewinds. Sea Org had been landlocked ever since its last ships had been sold in the mid-1970s, but now has returned to the waves, cruising the Caribbean and offering OT VIII levels to happy members.[note 4]

Miscavige has been accused of changing (squirreling) the technology and of being a giant asshole.[16] After what seems to have been a power play by Miscavige's wife, Shelly, in 2005, she vanished. The subject is now verboten among the faithful.[17] Miscavige's niece, Jenna Miscavige, left Scientology in 2005 and has since become an outspoken critic against it.

Wins! (And not so much wins)[edit]

Scientology, and especially David Miscavige, scored an epic win in 1993 when they reached a settlement with the IRS over the taxes Scientology had been withholding ever since their tax exempt status was revoked in 1967. In return for a payment of $12.5 million in back taxes the IRS relented and agreed to restore tax exempt status to Scientology and all related entities. This new agreement extended the exemption to areas of Scientology that would not normally have been covered by normal charitable status, such as religious education.[note 5] It is believed that the agreement may have come about due to blackmail of top officials in the IRS. Besides the obvious advantages of now effectively never having to pay taxes on any of their businesses, the agreement also made it easier for Scientology to push for similar recognition in other countries. This allowed them to expand even further outside the US, especially in Europe.

The early and mid-1990s also marked the first skirmishes in a long war between Scientology and the Internet. The newsgroup alt.religion.scientology was created in 1991 and became a regular hang-out for critics of Scientology. Most interestingly, several of the Church's highly confidential top secret OT documents were leaked on a.r.s.[note 6] Having failed epically to shut the newsgroup down in 1995, Scientology switched tactics and instead started flooding the group with trolls and apologists from the Sea Org and OSA. All things considered, a.r.s is easily one of the more entertaining newsgroups around, even if not very much is actually accomplished there.

Meanwhile, in Real Life, Scientology continued business as usual: expanding, clearing the planet, and screwing its rank-and-file members over so Miscavige could indulge in his love for expensive motorcycles and underwater photography. Numerous lawsuits were filed against critics in attempts to shut them up. Members such as Lisa McPherson (1995)[18] and Stacy Meyer (2000)[19] have died in mysterious circumstances. Hilarious documents continued to leak to the public through court cases and ex-members. But generally life was good.[note 7]

In 1996-97 Miscavige launched the "Golden Age of Tech" program which was supposedly "based on" Hubbard's works. The program made significant changes to the way Scientology's "auditors" were trained, essentially forcing a lot of members to pay again for courses they had already taken… or else. In 2004, Miscavige built further on this success through the "Golden Age of Knowledge". This is meant to be a complete re-release of all works by Hubbard, but as corrected, annotated and improved versions! (OMG!) In other words, members could now buy books that they had already bought… or else.

But not all has been well for Scientology recently, particularly in Europe. The Greek authorities shut down the Church in 1997 after they "found it to be a profitmaking group that endangers the mental and physical well-being of its members."[20] (One might say it's About Damn Time someone came out and said that.) The German Office for the Protection of the Constitution started monitoring Scientology activities in Germany in the mid-1990s, considering them to present a potential danger to the democratic society. In Belgium, Scientology may be facing criminal charges after a 10-year long government investigation has uncovered evidence of fraud, organized crime, illegal medical practices and several other transgressions. Meanwhile, a government committee in France has recommended dissolving the Church of Scientology there, on the grounds that its activities threaten public order[21] and seven of its top members are to stand trial in Paris on fraud charges after an investigation into allegations by a former member that the church swindled her out of more than $28,000.[22][23]

France's top appeals court has upheld a fraud conviction and fines totalling hundreds of thousands of euros against the Church of Scientology, for taking advantage of vulnerable followers.
London Daily Telegraph (accessed 11:12, 17 October 2013 (UTC))

Don't worry, ma'am, the Internet is here[edit]

2008 kicked off with an even worse mess for Scientology when they fired probably their most epic footbullet to date. Around January 14, an internal Scientology propaganda video was leaked on the Internet. The video showcases irritating actor and Scientology front-person Tom Cruise rambling incoherently for ten minutes about how awesome Scientology is, punctuated by random crazy laughter.[24] Great lulz were had by all.

But then, in a move that showed their complete lack of comprehension of how the Internet works, Scientology filed a copyright complaint and had the video removed. This attack on free speech roused the ire of the unwashed masses of Anonymous, who were moved to action in the way they knew best. DDoS attacks were made, black faxes were sent, prank calls were made, and further lulz were had.

Following a YouTube appeal by Wise Beard Man (AKA critic Mark Bunker) to stop failing and start doing it right,[25] at least 7000 over 9000 Anonymous took his words to heart, put on Guy Fawkes masks and flooded into the streets of cities all over the world on February 10 to protest in front of Scientology Orgs. The protests continued in the following months. Anonymous has pledged to continue the fight for as long as it takes, making these protests probably the greatest threat to Scientology since the 1970s.

However, the Internet's fight against Scientology suffered a bad hit when the Cult Awareness Network made a mistake (and committed a crime) by referring the family of a cult member to a deprogrammer, who kidnapped said cult member. The resulting trial against CAN (in which Scientology supported the plaintiff) ended with a great payment in trial costs and fines, which forced CAN into bankruptcy. At this moment, Scientology came and bought all properties owned by CAN, which is now a front for them.[26]


Xenu on stilts

Scientology's core beliefs (the "Spiritual Technology", or "Tech") range from "not much weirder than mainstream religions" to "a bad version of Star Wars".[27] Scientologists believe that the physical universe (Matter, Energy, Space and Time, or MEST) is separate from "theta", which consists of thought as well as spirituality. They believe that human bodies are inhabited by an immortal construct known as a "thetan" (a similar concept to a soul in Christianity). When its body dies, the thetan inhabits a new body. Over many, many years, the thetan has become trapped in the physical universe, thanks to traumatic incidents ("engrams") that have occurred in current as well as past lifetimes. These traumas may be released using an expensive process known as "auditing" that is done with an "E-meter". Given enough auditing, one may become an "operating thetan" with superhuman powers. (Spoiler alert: Not happening.) Reaching the highest level, Operating Thetan VIII (subtitled "Truth Revealed"), costs $250,000 at the very cheapest.[28]

A DC8 in space?

When you reach Operating Thetan III, it is revealed that some engrams are shared among all thetans. The most important is "Incident II", which took place 75 million years ago (even though it looked like the 1950s),[29] when a Darth Vader type named Xenu (or Xemu—L. Ron Hubbard wasn't very consistent with the spelling) ruled 76 planets in the Milky Way, including "Teegeeack" (or as we call it, Earth).[30] So Xenu, concerned about overpopulation, had psychiatrists (Hubbard didn't like psychiatrists because they rightly decried Dianetics as pseudoscience) select billions of aliens to be killed under the guise of collecting taxes (Hubbard didn't like those either). They were then paralyzed, taken to Teegeeack on DC8 planes, and thrown into volcanoes. This killed the aliens but not the thetans. Xenu captured the thetans and forced them to watch Plan 9 from Outer Space view "R6 implants", false memories that would later become our religions and histories. Afterwards the brainwashed thetans aimlessly roamed Earth and attached themselves to humans, becoming "body thetans". Xenu was later overthrown but remains alive today because he is protected by a forcefield.Do You Believe That? All your problems are because these body thetans are stuck to you (like Velcro, but for the soul!) and you yourself, having been audited out of most of your money can now audit them, wake them up through your psychic communications and get them to leave.

Birth and baby care[edit]

Hubbard was very opinionated about birth and infant nutrition.

Hubbard thought that talking in a delivery room could cause trauma for the baby and therefore delivery rooms should be as quiet as possible.[31] He also thought that the mother should use as little anesthetic as possible[32] — somehow a mother giving birth in pain doesn’t cause trauma for the mother or baby. But who expected Hubbard to be rational?

Hubbard further disapproved of breast milk in situations where the mother's health was compromised — but he also rejected the baby milk formulas developed by experts in nutrition. As usual, Hubbard thought he was a better expert than anyone else. He surmised that since Roman soldiers ate a lot of barley, and that made them fit and strong, it had to be good for babies too. Scientologist mothers still use the Hubbard baby formula.[33] Actual health care experts think the Hubbard formula is low in vitamins (vitamin C in particular) and can put the baby at risk.[34]

Other practices[edit]

  • Purification Rundown: Described by one source as "an extreme detox where [one ingests] high doses of vitamins and [sits for] five hours a day in a sauna."[35]
  • Sparkle Makeover: To restore the physical attractiveness to members who exhibit signs of Stockholm syndrome look run down.[35]
  • Fair game: In a manner similar to the way the Singularity might punish those who never helped it, members can resort to extraordinary means of dealing with those they perceive as threats.[36]
  • Noisy investigation: A tactic deployed by Scientologists against those marked "fair game". It is basically a low-level harassment technique that involves calling the friends, family, employer, etc. of someone who is "fair game" and telling them that they are "investigating" whether that person has committed any crimes.[37]
  • Regging: Incessant fundraising for various Scientology 'charitable' organizations/causes.


Sea Org[edit]

The Foxhole Atheist made this for a homework assignment. Nice work. The CoS will be at your door shortly.

The Sea Organization, or "Sea Org", is Scientology's "advanced religious retreat" but really forms part of its vast management and bureaucratic wing. Promoted to members as some sort of utopian cruise ship in which the most advanced levels of Scientology are taught, those who have joined Sea Org instead found themselves required to sign a "billion year contract" with Sea Org, surrender their passports upon boarding, live in squalid group quarters with no privacy, perform menial chores as assigned, and suffer punishments such as being locked in the chain locker or thrown overboard for petty offenses. Sea Org makes it deliberately hard to leave by issuing those who leave a "freeloader's bill", billing them for all the auditing and services received on the ship. However, neither the "billion year contract" nor the "freeloader's bill" are legally enforceable and Scientology will never try to uphold them in a law court, knowing how hard a judge would laugh at them.

Front groups and recruiting[edit]

Scientology is particularly opposed to the psychiatric community and operates a front group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), to engage in anti-psychiatry campaigns. Scientology practice has a great deal in common with bad psychiatry.

Another front group is Narconon, a purported drug rehabilitation program (note the deceptively similar name to Narcotics Anonymous, and the support group for those living with alcoholics, Al-Anon). Foundation for a Drug-Free WorldWikipedia, a group that makes anti-drug propaganda, is also a Scientology front, with people who call their hotline for help with addiction being directed to Narconon. Sterling Management Systems is a large group awareness training run by the Church of Scientology and promoted to doctors and dentists.

The Cult Awareness Network, originally a mainstream anti-cult organization founded 1978 in response to the mass suicide of Jim Jones followers, fell on hard times (due to aggressive litigation against it by Scientology and by Landmark Education and the Pentecostal "Life Tabernacle Church"), and its assets purchased from bankruptcy court in 1996 by the Church of Scientology, and now functions as a Scientology front group as well.

Scientology recruits heavily from celebrities, such as Tom Cruise, Isaac Hayes, and John Travolta. It also attempts to take advantage of tragic situations, having sent "counselors" to ground zero in New York, waterlogged New Orleans, and even to Virginia Tech in 2007 (their van actually parked outside of this author's building in Blacksburg). However, they aren't there to help, but to actually attempt to muscle out legitimate grief counselors on the scene.[38]

"Volunteer ministers"[edit]

Free E-Meter readings for Haitian earthquake victims, brought by the bad ship Whacker

A "Scientology volunteer minister", perhaps more accurately referred to as a "Vulture minister", is a volunteer of the cult who sets up molestation stations after major disasters to convince people that touching can heal them. They usually don yellow shirts and ramble on about Amway products Scientology services that will end up costing the people their life savings. It's like a religious corps of whackers. The real purpose of the Scientologists is to recruit new members; "raw meat" in Scientology speak.[39]

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, strongly opposed psychiatry,[40] and preventing mental health professionals (the psychs) from getting to disaster victims is one of many harmful things Volunteer Ministries do worldwide.[41] For instance, one of their main activities is handing out The Way to Happiness booklets[42] written by (who else?) L. Ron Hubbard. The IAS (International Association of Scientologists)[43] generally tries to get Scientologists to donate around 50¢ for each booklet before they hand them out.

Gawker published the account of an unnamed man who rode with some Scientology's "volunteer ministers" to Haiti in early 2010.[44] Among the issues raised were the following:

  1. That the inept group got landing clearance ahead of better organised aid agencies and got clearance to work in UN grounds suggesting some type of influence.
  2. That the SVMs believed they could purchase their supplies, food and toiletries in Haiti, when nearly all the infrastructure was devastated and not rebuilt.
  3. That wounded hospital patients came up to doctors and nurses saying they did not want the people in yellow shirts to treat them.
  4. That the SVM gave food to those who were awaiting surgery, complicating the surgeries.

The ineptitude and delusions regarding the state of Haiti's problems make SVM's arrival in Haiti a burden, rather than an asset.

They also got in the way at 9/11[45] because why not?

Splinter groups[edit]

Directly related to Scientology, the small groups collectively referred to as the Free Zone consist mostly of former Scientologists who continue to practice Scientology, but do so outside the official Church of Scientology. Scientology refers to all these as "squirrel organizations": Hubbard applied the term "squirrel" to anyone who appropriated Scientology doctrines outside the CoS (no, seriously). Participation in anything labeled "squirrel" by the CoS is automatic grounds for being declared a "suppressive person" (persona non grata) and cut off from any further involvement in the "church" — and often actively harassed by them.

Less clearly related as to what extent they still incorporate Scientology teachings are former Scientologists who later went into business for themselves. These include Kevin Trudeau, late-night infomercial purveyor of books "they" don't want you to read; Werner Erhard, of 1970s pop-psychology seminar fame;[46] Re-evaluation Counseling a mixture of Dianetics with Marxism; ; and Harry PalmerWikipedia's AvatarWikipedia, a large group awareness training seminar. Neo-Tech borrows heavily from Scientology's quasi-sci-fi style and imagery, but their main influence is Ayn Rand.

The Process Church of the Final JudgmentWikipedia was founded by ex-Scientologists turning to Satanism, and venerated four figures, Jehovah, Lucifer, Jesus, and Satan.[47] It was founded in London in 1966 by Mary Ann MacLean and Robert de Grimston.[48] After accusations of brainwashing it moved to the US, and expanded to 150 members and a lot of dogs. Ex-member Kathe McCaffrey described its rules as "arbitrary, harsh, and sometimes plain mean", although it was reportedly nicer to the dogs.[47] In 1974, Grimson was expelled and it became the The Foundation Faith of God, before turning into an animal rights organisation, Best Friends Animal Society, in Utah. However ex-members and followers continue to maintain an online presence and archives.[48] It had some celebrity friends, who took an interest if not being actual members, including George Clinton.[47] There were false rumors that notorious criminals Charles Manson and David BerkowitzWikipedia were members of the church; however the first edition of Ed Sanders' book on Manson, The Family, was withdrawn from sale following a lawsuit by the Process Church, and the church denied links to either Manson or Berkowitz; although Berkowitz claimed to be a Satanist, he does not seem to have been seriously involved in Satanism or knowledgeable about it, and police did not believe the church was involved.[49]

Is Scientology a religion?[edit]

There is some debate about whether Scientology, a scion and parallel of the New Age movement,[50] is, in fact, a religion.

Legal tests[edit]

Although one test could be whether Scientology is recognised as a religion by those states in which it operates, this is not, in practice, very helpful. For instance it is not recognised as a religion in Belgium, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Canada and the UK; however Australia, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, and the USA (since 1993, unlike beforehand) recognise it as a religion. In other countries, such as Austria and Germany, the legal position remains unclear.

Scientology's opinion of itself[edit]

To the surprise of no one, A Scientology web-site refers to Scientology as a religion,[51] stating: "The religion comprises a body of knowledge extending from certain fundamental truths." However, it could well be argued that the fact that it self-identifies as a religion does not necessarily mean that it is, in fact, a religion.

In its own description it also includes phrases such as: "Man is an immortal, spiritual being." and "Through Scientology, people all over the world are achieving the long-sought goal of true spiritual release and freedom." which certainly sound religious in nature.

However, what Scientology says openly to the world, and what Scientology says secretly to its "advanced" members are two different things — and consequently it is not necessarily wise to take at face value anything which may appear on their public site.

Spiritual beings[edit]

It could be maintained that one mark of a religion would be the belief in a God, Gods or other spiritual entities (this would not seem to be a perfect definition as it would appear to exclude certain varieties of Buddhism). Does Scientology have such a belief? Apparently at the higher levels they have "thetans" — dead space-aliens — though it would probably be stretching the matter to call them "spiritual entities".


Another element usually common in religions is the question of faith. However on their front page they say: "In Scientology no one is asked to accept anything as belief or on faith." which would seem to exclude them from the religious world.

On the other hand, as we noted above, what Scientology says — and what is the actual truth — are two different things.

Does it match other accepted definitions of religion?[edit]

On the face of it, Scientology would seem to match many of the definitions included in our religion article.

Bad movie night![edit]

Scientology has a free movie they show called Orientation. You can only watch it at your local Church of Scientology. Actually, that's not true. Somebody posted a bootleg copy to YouTube and Google Video, but the Church of Scientology forced it down due to copyright threats. Somehow it still keeps popping up on the Internet though. That way you can watch it without having to give them your name and address and being pestered by them. The narrator, actor Larry Anderson, ends the film with, "If you walk out of here and never mention Scientology again, that is fine with us. You can also jump off a bridge or blow your brains out. That is your choice. But, if you don't walk out that way, if you continue with Scientology, we will be very happy with you. And you will be very happy with you."

An interesting note is that after 33 years with Scientology, the last 13 being its official "voice" in their promotional videos, he broke ties in 2009.[52]

There is another leaked Scientology video at the Tom Cruise article.

In 2017, it was discovered that Scientology Media Productions purchased a slot on cable TV from Spectrum (formerly known as Time Warner Cable).[53] The list of shows will reportedly be: What is Scientology, Drug Free World, Detox from Street Psychiatric Drugs, Youth for Human Rights, The Hubbard Electro Meter, What is Real Education, An Overview of Scientology, and "Amazing."[53]

Scientology launched the Scientology NetworkWikipedia in 2018 on DirecTV and various streaming platforms. (How did they get on DirecTV? The same way Newsmax and RT did, by paying for it.)[54]

The Internets v. Scientology[edit]

Scientology has been at odds with many on the Internet since 1995, when the "church" attempted to cancel the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup using forged cancel messages. In 1996 a popular anonymous remailer in Finland chose to shut down after Scientology demanded the identities of two users. Several people who posted what the "church" considered their proprietary material have been sued and their homes and computers raided. A partial timeline of these early events can be found here.

In 2008, in response to Scientology forcing a leaked Tom Cruise video off the 'net, some unruly anonymous 1337 hax0rz types were holding regular protests at Scientology "churches" around the world, posting their communiques on YouTube, campaigning for revocation of Scientology's tax-exempt status and generally making merry pranksters out of themselves (while enjoying delicious cake). This movement, known as Project Chanology, is spiraling out of control and running circles around the Church of Scientology. Since the first protest in February 2008, monthly protests have been held all over the world, including L. Ron Hubbard's joyous birthday celebration in March, the infamous Operation: Sea ARRGGHHH! in June, and the insidious Operation: Spy vs. Sci in July. Outside of the monthly protest schedule, miniraids and surprise enturbulations are happening regularly. Operations are carried out according to plan across all fronts and will continue as needed until the objectives are reached, or, well, until something more interesting turns up.

The unofficial central website of this conspiracy by suppressive persons to bring down this great work of LRH is the forums at, but Project Chanology is decentralized and its goings-on all over the Internet can be seen on any search engine.

Anonymous and Scientology[edit]

Anonymous has, as a result of this, declared all out war.[55] They have pledged to fight no matter how long it takes. This will probably be quite a while, so don't hold your breath.

Anonymous often uses suspicious deaths of members to advance their cause. A paragraph of theirs usually goes like this:

Deaths of Scientologists have founded numerous theories about abuse. A case in point is Lisa McPherson. She was taken from the hospital by Scientologists due to the fact that she had gone to a psychologist after a car crash (Scientologists don't like psychology). She was kept in their hotel for a few days. When the Scientologists finally took her to a hospital again, she was pronounced dead upon arrival. She was emaciated, dehydrated, and her hands had cockroach bites.[56][57] They were indicted with two charges of felony, but the charges were dropped after a medical examiner declared the death an accident.[58] A lawsuit was later brought against the CoS, which was settled.[59]

Wikipedia and Scientology[edit]

After many Scientologists coordinated actions to make self-serving edits, the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee banned editing from IP addresses associated with Scientology.[60] It was the fourth Scientology-related case on the site, which just goes to show that they're more trouble than they're worth.[61]


"Everyone hates Scientologists!" This is a fan-modified version of a Steve Napierski—creator of Dueling Analogs and The Outer Circle--comic strip. The original version, "Hello, I'm Linux", can be viewed at the Dueling Analogs site.[62]
© Steve Napierski, used with permission.[63]

Notable followers[edit]

The CoS likes to trot out their celebrity members to recruit new raw meat. Here is a brief list of some notable members of the church who have attempted to promote their beliefs:

  • Tom Cruise — Probably the man whom most Americans think of when they think of Scientology. He's probably best known[note 8] for going on the Today show and arguing with Matt Lauer that it was okay for him to condemn Brooke Shields for taking medicine to help with her postpartum depression. (That, and jumping excitedly on Oprah's couch.)
  • John Travolta — A bit less vocal about his religion than Tom Cruise, although he did produce a movie version of Hubbard's Battlefield Earth which is considered to be one of the worst movies of all time.
  • Isaac Hayes — The soul singer and voice of "Chef" in South Park. He left the show after claiming that it did not respect religion — well, his religion at least.
  • Nancy Cartwright — The voice of Bart Simpson on The Simpsons. She caused a bit of an uproar when she used Bart's voice in an unauthorized manner to promote the church.[64]
  • Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley (see: "ex-followers" below). Apparently, the cult attempted to recruit Elvis Presley, but a single visit to their Celebrity Center was enough to convince him that all they wanted was his money.[65]
  • Chick Corea — Noted jazz musician. Allegedly, Stanley Clarke quit the group Return to Forever after a falling out with Chick following Clarke's decision to leave the cult.
  • Anne Archer — '80s almost-ran actress. Yep, that's where she went. Is probably Scientology's nearest equivalent figure to the Virgin Mary, as her son, Tommy Davis, heads up the organisation's Celebrity Center in Los Angeles. was a high level member of the Sea Org for several years and for some time was the church's official spokesman.[66]
  • Greta van Susteren — presents us with the double whammy of being a Scientologist and a Fox News host. Her husband, John Coale, is also a member, one who wanted to use the CoS to influence government policy. Also, those two have a weird relationship with Sarah Palin.[67][68]
  • Elisabeth Moss — Peggy Olson on Mad Men and June Osbourne/Offred on The Handmaid’s Tale.[69] (Yes, a show with a message against religious oppression cast a Scientologist as its lead. You try figuring that one out.)
  • Kirstie Alley — TV actress (Cheers, Veronica's Closet).[70]
  • Danny Masterson — Steven Hyde on That '70s Show, was convicted in 2023 of sexual assault and sentenced to 30 years in prison.[71][72]

Notable ex-followers[edit]

  • Ronald Miscavige Sr., father of David Miscavige. After he left the CoS, he was apparently put on permanent full-time surveillance to assure that he didn't divulge any secrets. One of the private detectives following him once reported to an intermediary that the senior Miscavige was apparently having a heart attack. David Miscavige immediately called the detective and said, “if it was Ron's time to die, to let him die and not intervene in any way."[73]
  • L Ron "Nibs" Hubbard Jr., son of L Ron Hubbard and groomed as his heir during the 1950s. Left after disgust at his father allegedly selling secrets from his followers auditing files to the KGB, and became a well known critic. He interestingly claimed that his father actually followed Thelema in his personal life while making up Scientology for public consumption. Changed his name to Ron DeWolf in an attempt to escape CoS harrassment.[74]
  • Lisa Marie Presley (singer, songwriter, daughter of Elvis Presley, ex-wife of Michael Jackson)[75] Quote:"I was slowly starting to self-destruct… I was devastated… I got bad advice. I was insulated with no grip on reality. They were taking my soul, my money, my everything.”[76]
  • Leah Remini (actress: King of Queens TV show, "The View" talk show)[77] Leah Remini asked about the whereabouts of CoS leader David Miscavige's wife, Shelly, who has not been seen in public since 2007, and was then "put through interrogations and blacklisted" and endured five years of "thought modification". Quote: "I believe that people should be able to question things."[78] "No one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to."[79] In 2016, Remini produced an exposé documentary series for A&E Network titled Scientology and the Aftermath.[80] In 2023, Remini filed a lawsuit against CoS and Miscavige, alleging "psychological torture, defamation, and intimidation" over a period of 17 years."[81]
  • Peaches Geldof - Formerly one of the dumbest persons on the entire planet and yet somehow the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd [82]. Seriously, watch that Fearne Cotton meets Peaches Geldof documentary and you will have your IQ slashed in half. Seems to have moved on to Thelema before she died.[83]
  • Paul Haggis (film director & producer: Crash, Million Dollar Baby)[84] Quote: "I could not, in good conscience, be a member of an organization where gay-bashing was tolerated". Haggis also said he was "shocked" that the Church of Scientology was publicly denying that it adheres to a policy of disconnection – of severing ties with a friend or family member who's antagonistic toward Scientology, as his wife was given precisely those orders and didn't speak to her parents for more than a year.[85]
  • Jason Beghe (actor: G.I. Jane movie, Thelma & Louise) Quote: "Scientology is destructive and a rip-off. It's very, very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health and evolution.[86]
  • Tommy Davis (son of actress Anne Archer) Former spokesman for CoS. Quit along with Jessica Feshbach, former "handler" of Katie Holmes; Tommy & Jessica are now married.[87][88]
  • Neil Gaiman — Author of "The Sandman"; prefers not to talk about Scientology publicly.[89]
  • Larry Anderson — Actor/Magician, Narrator of the Scientology film Orientation. Was the sect's official "voice" in promotional material, and left after 33 years.[90]
  • Jason LeeMallrats and My Name is Earl actor. Stated to have left in 2016, but hasn’t really stated the reasons as to why nor has he spoken out against the Church (yet).[91]
  • Beck — Famous folksinger and second-generation Scientologist. Left following his divorce from Marissa Ribisi, but the way he announced his leaving was by denying having that much involvement with the activities of the Church despite all evidence to the contrary. He was rightfully called out for being a dirty fucking coward by many former Scientologists and Scientology critics.[92]
  • Edgar Winter — rock musician best known for his hits "Frankenstein" and "Free Ride" with the Edgar Winter Group. Was at one point involved enough with the Church and famous enough that Hubbard commissioned Winter to write a concept albumWikipedia based on Hubbard's Mission Earth series. Winter is vague about whether he has left or not, noting that he attends important Church events but is largely separate from the bulk of Church activities, and that his wife is the reason he remains fully in the Church.[93]
  • Charles Manson — led his own murder cult after leaving and stated “All seems a bit weird to me to be honest.” Moving on....
  • See Wikipedia's list of ScientologistsWikipedia for more. The former ScientologistsWikipedia list also makes for interesting reading.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Much has been written about Scientology by people who have been in the skeptic business for far longer than we have at RationalWiki. Here are a few choice examples:


  1. 1.0 1.1 Totally a Trademark of the Religious Technology Center,Wikipedia and frequently mocked as "$cientology" due to its competence at ravaging assets and credit lines of members, which RationalWiki is in no way connected to!
  2. This was celebrated at a big fancy event that was commended to VHS and, despite multiple takedowns, is currently viewable on YouTube. Note that while not being any kind of indoctrination video — indeed, it was never intended to be seen by anyone outside the Church — it displays definite elements of reinforcement.
  3. That Miscavige could do this unopposed shows how completely he controlled Scientology at this point. Hubbard's writings were otherwise considered perfect, and to alter ("squirrel") the perfect "tech" was a serious crime. Yet no one seems to have lifted an eyebrow when Davie rewrote the books and required the members to fork out even more money for the "new and improved" courses.
  4. Freewinds later turned out to have an epic blue asbestos problem.[15] Thank Xenu that OT VIIIs can cure cancer, eh!?
  5. Hello, First Amendment! Can we say "establishment of religion", everyone?
  6. Any similarity of this acronym to the word "arse" is strictly coincidental yet hilariously fitting.
  7. Except for the rank-and-file members, of course.
  8. In a Scientology sense, we're going to ignore "being short", "being mental on Oprah", "being married to Nicole Kidman" and "being homoerotic in Interview with the Vampire".


  1. Super Bowl Scientology Ad Asks “Who Am I?” Here’s the Answer the Church Isn’t Telling You
  2. Hubbard is supposed to have said ""I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is." Llyod Arthur Eshbach, Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era, 1982, ISBN 1880418118.
  3. "I always knew he was exceedingly anxious to hit big money—he used to say he thought the best way to do it would be to start a cult." Sam Merwin on L. Ron Hubbard in Bare-Faced Messiah: A Biography of L. Ron Hubbard, 1988, ISBN 0805006540.
  4. Readers Digest 1980: Scientology: Anatomy of a Frightening Cult
  5. from Journal of Scientology Issue 4-G from October 1952
  8. The Clam FAQ at Operation Clambake.
  9. "Off the Time Track," lecture of June 1952, excerpted in Journal of Scientology issue 18- G, reprinted in Technical Volumes of Dianetics & Scientology, vol. 1, p. 418
  12. It seems possible that Hubbard borrowed from an earlier writer. 1934 German book.
  14. Miscavige announces Hubbard's death to a jubilant crowd of Scientologists.
  15. Asbestos scare seals off Scientology cruiseship: Refurbishment work is suspended on ship used as a spiritual retreat by Rainbow Nelson (7 May 2008) Lloyd's List (archived from June 9, 2008).
  16. Who is David Miscavige? Archived from the original at |Numerous allegations have been made against him in court documents and media reports surrounding his treatment of staff, including physical assault, coerced abortions, human trafficking and child labor.
  17. So, where the hell is Shelly Miscavige?
  18. See the Lisa McPherson Memorial Page, Why are they dead?, the coroner's report, and Wikipedia's articleWikipedia on the subject.
  19. See Wikipedia's articleWikipedia or Scientology® Versus Stacy Moxon (Meyer).
  20. Saint Petersburg Times, March 29, 1999
  21. BBC news Feb 2008.
  22. Newsvine Aug 2008.
  23. French trial date set
  24. Video on YouTube. The whole video is hilarious, but check esp. 4:21-4:54 and 8:38-8:54 for superior lulz.
  26. Cult Education Insittute Expose
  27. Reference for most of this section:
  29. See the Wikipedia article on Xenu.
  30. Source for most of this paragraph:
  31. Scientology Newsroom, accessed 2006-08-07
  32. Hubbard, Dianetics, quoted in Accessed 2007-06-15
  34. Wikipedia on Hubbard & baby careWikipedia. There are several "original" cites for this at the Wikipedia article, but they are all print rather these easy links to grab.
  35. 35.0 35.1 "Katie Holmes' Scientology Makeover", FemaleFirst website, 21 March 2009, accessed 6 March 2010.
  36. Fair Game (Scientology)Wikipedia
  37. See the Wikipedia article on Noisy investigation.
  39. Scientology Volunteer Ministries Helping With A Hook Part Deux
  40. Scientology vs. Psychiatry
  41. Warning regarding Scientology’s ‘volunteer ministers’
  42. See the Wikipedia article on The Way to Happiness.
  43. What is the International Association of Scientologists
  44. Ravi Somaiya. "[, Scientologists in Haiti: A Firsthand Account]." Gawker. 2010 February 5.
  45. Barbara Graham. "Scientology at Ground Zero." Operation Clambake. 2001 September 18.
  46. Note for example: Bainbridge, William Sims (2009). "The Cultural Context of Scientology". In Lewis, James R.. Scientology. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 36. ISBN 9780199715954. Retrieved 2016-12-09. "[...] Earl BabbieWikipedia's (1977) classic textbook, Society by Agreement, seems to have been influenced to some degree by Werner Erhard's EST movement, which in turn drew heavily upon Scientology." 
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 ‘Reluctant cultist’ survives an end times cult turned pet rescue group to find his own faith, Religion News Service, October 14, 2020
  48. 48.0 48.1 Cusack, C. M. (2020). The Process Church of the Final Judgment: The Demise by Transmutation and Replacement of a Controversial New Religion. International Journal for the Study of New Religions, 10(2), 139–158.
  49. The process: Church of the Final Judgment, Religious Tolerance, 2000
  50. Lewis, James R., ed (2009). Scientology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199887118. Retrieved 2017-05-20. "In a short text, published in late 1957 in Scientology's Ability magazine, Hubbard himself used the term New Age with reference to his brainchild Scientology. [...] The notion and idea of a new age or new era is far more than a mere metaphoric usage for Hubbard and Scientology. The publication of Dianetics in 1950 marks Scientology's new internal counting of eras, by which, for example, 1957 C.E> would be relabeled 'AD7' (i.e., seven years 'after Dianetics'). This fact is already clear in Hubbard's 1957 text 'Scientology: The Philosophy of a New Age.'" 
  51. Scientology main page
  53. 53.0 53.1 Scientology TV: It's really happening! Spectrum blocks out a channel for Miscavige by Tony Ortega (March 29, 2017). The Underground Bunker.
  55. Message to Scientology YouTube video.
  56. Room 174
  57. The autopsy
  58. TampaBay
  59. Tampabay
  60. w:Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Scientology#Church of Scientology IP addresses blocked
  61. Wikipedia Bans Scientology From Site - The Huffington Post
  62. here
  63. Permission is apparently granted here.
  64. "Bart Simpson's voice being used to promote Scientology event", NY Daily News, 28 January 2009.
  65. "9 Celebrities Who Hated Scientology Before It Was Cool"
  71. Danny Masterson on Tom Cruise Scientology Backlash. Archived from Hollyscoop, 5 December 2008.
  73. Scientology Leader Spied On His Own Father: Police files detail surveillance of 79-year-old former church elder The Smoking Gun
  80. How Leah Remini is trying to expose Scientology secrets in her new docuseries by Emily Yahr (November 30, 2016 at 7:00 AM) Washington Post.
  81. Leah Remini Sues Church of Scientology After Years of Alleged ‘Psychological Torture’: In her lawsuit, the actress and ex-Scientologist recalls the discipline she faced after attending Tom Cruise’s wedding. by Helen Holmes (Aug. 02, 2023) The Daily Beast.
  89. Goodyear, Dana (25 January 2010). "Kid Goth Neil Gaiman’s fantasies". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 27 April 2013.
  91. Sara Button, "Checking In With Jason Lee", The Dentonite, 16 September 2016.
  93. "Edgar Winter, Scientology Celebrity", Tony Ortega