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Quick facts on Scientology

Like many other people, I knew very little about Scientology. I knew something about Tom Cruise and another something about placentas. Until recently, that was just about all of the time I was willing to dedicate to learning about it. After seeing the hundreds of people who have dedicated their lives to it as I drove through Clearwater, Fla. where the headquarters resides, I decided it was time to dig a little deeper.

Scientology was founded in 1958 by L. Ron Hubbard, who was an American science-fiction writer. The church’s religious texts are from Hubbard who wrote on things like “dianetics.”

Dianetics, according to the Church of Scientology International’s Web site, is a “spiritual healing technology” that can alleviate unwanted feelings or thoughts. The ultimate goal is to obtain the state of “Clear,” which can be obtained by the thetan (spiritual being of a person) going through dianetic auditing (something akin to counseling).

According to the official Church of Scientology Web site, “Scientology 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 make improvements where he finds them necessary and in the ways he sees fit.” They believe that each person has a different truth, saying “Only those things which one finds true for himself are true.”

The main focus is to enable people to improve their own lives through knowledge of everything. Scientologists believe that man is basically good and that because of this he is able to, though his own actions, be a “good” person through controlling his own life…and making it be what HE believes is right.

The Church of Scientology has eight dynamics, according to Religion Facts:
1. Self – the urge to survive as an individual.
2. Creativity – the urge to survive through family.
3. Group survival – the urge to survive through a group such as a nation, team, community, race, etc.
4. Species – the urge to survive through the survival of the human species.
5. Life forms – the urge for life itself.
6. Physical universe – the urge of the universe to survive.
7. Spiritual dynamic – the urge for the survival of the life source.
8. Infinity – the urge to exist as infinity or God.

Yes, it’s all quite complex, but just based on those facts, it doesn’t seem to be too outrageous…right?

If you’re looking for some of the more quirky accusations, there are plenty.

In 1991, The Times referred to Scientology as “The thriving cult of greed and power.” Since then, it’s impossible to say it’s gotten any better.

Still, from all of my research, it’s REALLY difficult to find anything off of the Church of Scientology’s official Web site that could confirm anything. There’s talk about placenta eating, murder, kidnapping and money obsession. The truth about these ideas isn’t anywhere to be found. There are many people accusing scientologists of doing these things and then there are many scientologists refuting these ideas. It’s a classic game of he said, she said.

So, what to make of it?

Here’s what I’ve decided: It sounds a whole lot like a cult. Any organization or religion that is as private as the Church of Scientology is not helping its cause. The concept of “innocent until proven guilty” isn’t going to fly for this.