What is Scientology?

What is Scientology?
Posted on 20-07-2023

What is Scientology?

Scientology is a controversial religious movement that was founded in the 1950s by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. It claims to be a religion that offers a comprehensive system for understanding the human mind, spirit, and one's relationship to the universe. However, Scientology has been a subject of intense scrutiny and criticism, with detractors calling it a cult and questioning its practices, beliefs, and financial structures.

In this extensive article, we will explore the history, beliefs, practices, organization, controversies, and impact of Scientology on its followers and the wider society.

1. The Origins and History of Scientology:

Scientology's origins can be traced back to the early 1950s when L. Ron Hubbard published his book "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" in 1950. Dianetics was intended as a self-help guide to improving mental health through a process called "auditing," which involved identifying and eradicating "engrams" or negative experiences stored in the mind.

The success of Dianetics led Hubbard to develop it into a more comprehensive spiritual belief system, which he termed "Scientology." In 1954, he established the first Church of Scientology in Los Angeles, California, with the aim of promoting and spreading his newly formulated doctrine.

2. Core Beliefs of Scientology:

Scientology's core beliefs are based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, who claimed to have discovered deep insights into the nature of human existence and the universe. Some of the fundamental tenets of Scientology include:

a. Thetan: According to Scientology, each individual is an immortal spiritual being called a "thetan." Thetans are believed to have existed through multiple lifetimes, transcending physical bodies.

b. Reactive Mind and Engrams: Scientology posits that individuals possess a reactive mind that stores negative experiences or "engrams." These engrams are the root cause of mental and emotional issues and must be audited to achieve spiritual enlightenment and freedom.

c. Auditing: Auditing is a central practice in Scientology, wherein an auditor guides an individual through a process of recalling and addressing past traumas and engrams. The goal is to "clear" the person of these negative experiences and reach a state of spiritual clarity and enlightenment.

d. The Bridge to Total Freedom: Scientologists believe in the "Bridge to Total Freedom," a spiritual progression path that includes various levels or "Operating Thetan" (OT) levels. As one advances through these levels, they are believed to attain higher states of spiritual awareness and abilities.

e. The Dynamics of Existence: Scientology divides human existence into eight "dynamics," representing different aspects of life, including self, family, groups, mankind, animals, and the universe. The aim is to achieve harmony and balance in these dynamics.

3. Organizational Structure of Scientology:

Scientology operates as a hierarchical and tightly controlled organization. The Church of Scientology is the central governing body that oversees various local churches and missions worldwide. At the top of the organization is the Sea Organization (Sea Org), considered the most dedicated and elite group of Scientologists.

The Sea Org members sign "billion-year contracts," pledging their commitment to Scientology across multiple lifetimes. They often live and work in dedicated facilities and are responsible for overseeing the management and expansion of Scientology's operations.

4. Controversies Surrounding Scientology:

Scientology has been embroiled in numerous controversies since its inception. Some of the most significant controversies include:

a. Cult Accusations: Critics and former members have accused Scientology of operating as a cult, employing coercive tactics, isolating members from their families, and using psychological manipulation to maintain control.

b. Financial Practices: Scientology's financial structure has drawn criticism for its high fees for auditing sessions and courses, which can amount to significant financial burdens for followers seeking to advance within the organization.

c. Treatment of Critics: Scientology has faced accusations of harassment and legal intimidation against individuals, organizations, and journalists critical of the movement.

d. The Disconnection Policy: Scientology's policy of "disconnection" requires members to cut ties with family and friends who are critical of or not involved in the movement, causing emotional distress and familial rifts.

e. Tax Exemption and Legal Battles: Scientology's pursuit of tax-exempt status in various countries has been a subject of controversy, as some governments have denied or revoked its tax-exempt status due to concerns over its practices and financial transparency.

5. Impact on Followers and Society:

Scientology has attracted a diverse group of followers over the years, including celebrities, artists, and professionals. For some, Scientology offers a sense of purpose, self-improvement, and community. However, others have experienced negative consequences, such as strained relationships with loved ones, financial strain, and emotional distress.

Scientology's impact on society has been multifaceted. It has drawn both admiration and criticism from different quarters. Supporters believe it provides valuable insights into personal development, while critics argue that it is a manipulative and harmful organization.

6. Legal Status and Recognition:

Scientology's status as a religion has been the subject of legal disputes in various countries. While some nations recognize it as a religion and grant it tax-exempt status, others classify it as a commercial enterprise or deny it religious recognition altogether.

7. Recent Developments:

In recent years, Scientology's growth and influence have faced challenges amid growing public scrutiny, legal battles, and high-profile defections of former members. Online platforms and documentaries have shed light on the inner workings of the organization, leading to increased awareness and debate.


Scientology is a controversial religious movement founded by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s. Its core beliefs revolve around the concept of thetans, reactive minds, and the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment through auditing. However, the organization has faced criticism and legal challenges, with detractors accusing it of being a cult, employing coercive tactics, and operating as a profit-driven enterprise. Scientology's impact on its followers and society remains a subject of ongoing debate, with supporters praising its self-help aspects and detractors condemning its practices and organizational structure. As the movement continues to evolve, it will likely remain a topic of interest and controversy for years to come.

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