Silent births, purification programmes, claims that humans are an exiled race from outer space called Thetans… welcome to religion, Scientology style.
The claims made on behalf of the controversial church have been prolific over the years, not least because its most famous torchbearer, Hollywood star Tom Cruise, is never far from the headlines.
But what exactly is the Church of Scientology? What does it teach and what makes it so popular among the Hollywood jet set as well as 10million people worldwide? We put Scientology in the spotlight to find out.
What is Scientology?
The word Scientology literally means ‘the study of truth’ and is a religion based on the works of science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard.
Essentially, Scientologists believe that the ‘reactive mind’ – the part of the mind that isn’t under your control – exerts power and command over your thoughts and actions.
The reactive mind is of no benefit to the individual as it’s a source of irrationality, fear and nightmare. So through spiritual counselling called ‘auditing’, Scientologists reduce and eventually get rid of the power of the reactive mind. This, they believe, is a landmark step in the discovery of one’s true nature, helping one to achieve spiritual awareness and freedom.
When was Scientology founded?
L Ron Hubbard founded the religion after writing his best-selling book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, published in 1950. The book claims to provide the first workable approach to solving the problems of the mind and the causes of irrational behaviour, thereby allowing man to improve himself. L Ron Hubbard described his philosophy in 5,000 works before his death in January 1986.
Who follows Scientology?
Celebrities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley plus an estimated 10million followers in 90 countries worldwide.
What are its main beliefs?
Scientologists believe that a person is an immortal, spiritual being (known in Scientology as a thetan, derived from the Greek letter meaning thought). Thetans are basically good and trying to survive. No person survives alone, but does so ultimately in co-ordination with others.
An important theme running through Scientology writings is helping people. Scientology holds that not only can people change – improving themselves and their conditions – but they can be helped to realise their capabilities, accomplish goals and achieve lasting happiness.
Scientologists believe there are eight dynamics of existence – Infinity (or God), Spiritual (life force), Physical Universe (energy, space and time), Life Forms (plants and animals), Mankind (as a species), Group Survival (friends, club, a company), Family and Self.
By understanding these dynamics and their relationships to each other, a Scientologist realises his life and influence extends far beyond himself and thereby increases his survival.
What is a Scientology wedding ceremony like?
Scientologists recognize marriage as a part of the second of the eight dynamics of existence. The second dynamic includes all creative activity, including sex, procreating and the raising of children.
During the ceremony family and friends are asked to give their agreement to the union and its lasting happiness. According to the Church of Scientology International: “This is not considered rhetorical or symbolic, but a tangible and important contribution to the future of the couple by the group to which they belong.”
The ceremony can offer varying degrees of formality but each of these ceremonies includes traditional vows of loyalty and devotion. It is performed by a Scientology minister.
Scientologists believe in silent births. What are they?
Scientologists say having a quiet, gentle birth is all about providing the best possible environment for mother and baby. They say it doesn’t mean the mother can’t make noises, but must speak no words. The object is to have as relaxing and as peaceful a birth as possible.
What do Scientologists say about medication and drugs?
Scientoligists with physical conditions are advised to seek medical advice and use medical drugs. However, once under medical treatment, they may address their injury or illness with ‘auditing’ to handle any factors connected with the physical condition which may have predisposed them to it.
Scientologists believe that mind-altering drugs damage a person mentally and physically, decreasing awareness and hindering abilities. Therefore they will not take street drugs or psychiatric drugs of any kind.