How one religion relates to science, the media, and psychology
Scientology describes itself as an "applied religious philosophy" addressing humankind's mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. Compared to most religions, Scientology is inherently young, only establishing official religion status in 1953. Founded by L. Ron Hubbard, a former science fiction writer, it started with the release of his book, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health”. Originally, Scientology was intended as a much need response to the barbaric methods of the psychiatry industry, which scientology vehemently opposes, it shortly became the guiding texts for the Church of Scientology and a number of affiliated organizations that address such diverse topics as business, administration, literacy, and drug rehabilitation. Scientology has received much criticism from multiple sources, often being called a cult. It is a religion that has received much controversy from all different angles and for this very reason has become very intriguing.
Scientology is considered to be an applied religious philosophy, a place where It is about the individual man or woman. Its goal is to bring an individual to a sufficient understanding of himself and his life and free him to improve conditions in the way he sees fit. As Hubbard is quoted as saying “A civilization without insanity, without criminals, and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology.” Scientology states that there are two parts to the mind, the reactive and the analytical. When a person is fully conscious, his analytical mind is fully in command. When a person becomes ‘unconscious’, in full or in part, the reactive mind comes to the forefront. When a person’s reactive mind is in control, they are victim to unwanted emotions and tend to capture memories in a very different way than the analytical mind. Scientology focuses on achieving a state of ‘clear’, a state where a person is free from their reactive mind, and is free to be happy and successful in their life.
Although, L. Ron Hubbard went to a George Washington University for engineering, he never graduated. He claims to have done multiple independent scientific studies that have cleared the way for his program of Dianetics and a detoxification process he calls the ‘Purification Rundown’ or known as the ‘Hubbard Method’. Taken directly from the Scientology website, they explain that “Dianetics is a set of ideas and practices regarding the believed metaphysical relationship between the spirit, mind and body.” Hubbard claimed that this process could increase a person’s intelligence, eliminate any unwanted emotions and be relieved of any psychosomatic illnesses. The Purification Rundown, is an intense detoxification that is a costly first step to the Dianetics process. There is no actual scientific proof that can be found by an outsider of the religion that any of this actually scientifically valid. However, The Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education is a front group for the organization, that’s 1981 mission statement was to ‘promote the works of L. Ron Hubbard’.
Scientology has received much criticism from the media for their religious methods. The St. Petersburg Times reported on June 24, 2009 “It (Scientology) is an organization that uses intimidation and brutality to control it’s employees, places financial ambition above spiritual service to its members and stops at nothing to undermine it’s critics.” In addition, The Cincinnati Post reported that Cynthia Folcarelli, VP of the NMHA, said “We are concerned Scientology may be playing on people’s vulnerability to increase their membership”, referring to a string of post 9/11 billboards promising that scientology can help those coping with that horrible tragedy with the slogan “No matter how bad it is, something can be done about it.” Scientology has a long history of advertising in hopes that it can erase it’s tarnished image. In 1990, they embarked on an aggressive campaign of passing out over a million pamphlets that outlined moral values to school aged children, from one of their books “The Way to Happiness”. Most recently, they launched a different type of media campaign with three commercials aimed at a younger generation with the slogan “Know Yourself, Know Life.” With Scientology claiming over eight million members, they must be doing something right.
Scientology offers a form of psychiatry for their followers, a form of emotional release that helps them reach a sense of enlightenment. The irony of this is that Scientology is grossly anti-psychiatry. Hubbard is quoted as saying “Psychiatry and psychiatrists are easily redefined to mean ‘an antisocial enemy of the people’ This takes the kill-crazy psychiatrist off the preferred list of professions.” As opposed to tradition talk therapy, Scientology uses a process called Auditing. It is a process part of Dianetics that is described as a very unique form of personal counseling that helps an individual look at his own existence. It is a very specific process, using predetermined questions and a version of a lie detector that helps the individual reach a state of ‘clear’. Scientology appears as if it will stop at nothing to deter people from the psychiatry industry. Hubbard believed Scientology’s applied religious philosophy offered a better way to deal with life’s pains and make people happier. Scientologists consider psychiatry to be barbaric, and have been extremely public about their feelings. The Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights, another front agency for the religion, has a museum in Los Angeles that is completely focused to ‘exposing psychiatry’. It is appropriately titled “Psychiatry : An Industry of Death Museum.” The museum is dedicated to exposing what it describes as “an industry driven entirely by profit” and provides a variety of exhibits that apparently expose the dangers of the industry.
Although, Scientology shares some beliefs with many religions, the dual nature of humankind and the attainment of spiritual awareness and freedom through the application of Church philosophy, it is still a fairly new religion. Every religion has its extremists, which help give it a negative name. There are suicide bombers and extremist Christian’s who kill abortion doctors or physically abuse homosexuals because they feel it is an abomination of god. So, with this religion, similar to others, it will have those that twist it’s message to how they want to perceive it. Just like any new religion, Scientology is expected to draw controversy, especially when it’s beliefs or not standard with the mainstream.