Scientology

Scientology, Church of

Church of Scientology, philosophical religion founded by L(afayette) Ron(ald) Hubbard, 1911–86, b. Tilden, Nebr. Hubbard's book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (1950) first set forth the basis of his philosophy, offering an alternative path to overcoming physical and mental stress. The church believes that a person's spirit can be cleared of past painful experiences through a process called "auditing," freeing the person of the burdens that interfere with happiness and self-realization. The first church was established in Los Angeles in 1954. A prolific author, Hubbard wrote many works on Scientology and is also noted for his science-fiction novels and short stories.

Scientology has been regarded with suspicion by many during its history. The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association questioned the tenets of Scientology during the 1950s, and in the 1960s the governments of England, Australia, and the United States opened investigations into church activities, particularly for suspected practices of tax evasion. The church's status as a religion was, however, ultimately established in those and other countries, but elsewhere it has been regarded as a sect. It has continued to face governmental challenges, perhaps most notably in Germany, where it has been accused of being antidemocratic and unconstitutional and where its members have experienced personal discrimination, and in France, where it has been convicted of fraud. Some, including some former members, view the church as an elaborate cult, a charge the church and some religious scholars deny. In 1996 there were more than 3,000 churches, missions, and groups worldwide, with headquarters in Los Angeles.

See J. Reitman, Inside Scientology (2011); H. B. Urban, The Church of Scientology (2011).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion
Hugh B. Urban.
Princeton University Press, 2011
Scientology
James R. Lewis.
Oxford University Press, 2009
L. Ron Hubbard's Alternative to the Bomb Shelter: Scientology's Emergence as a Pseudo-Science during the 1950s
Manca, Terra.
Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring 2012
Inside Scientology Investigating a Secretive Organization
Childs, Joe; Tobin, Thomas C.
Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. The IRE Journal, Vol. 35, No. 4, Fall 2012
The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism: Sects and New Religious Movements in Contemporary Society
Bryan R. Wilson.
Clarendon Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Scientology: A Secularized Religion"
Sects, Cults, and Spiritual Communities: A Sociological Analysis
William W. Zellner; Marc Petrowsky.
Praeger, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "The Church of Scientology: A Quasi Religion"
New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in America
Derek H. Davis; Barry Hankins.
Baylor University Press, 2003 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "A Contemporary Ordered Religious Community: The Sea Organization"
Philosophers and Religious Leaders
Christian D. Von Dehsen.
Oryx Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Hubbard, L. Ron: Founder of the Church of Scientology 1911-1986" begins on p. 90
Controversial New Religions
James R. Lewis; Jesper Aagaard Petersen.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Inventing L. Ron Hubbard: On the Construction and Maintenance of the Hagiographic Mythology of Scientology's Founder"
The New Heretics of France: Minority Religions, la République, and the Government-Sponsored "War on Sects"
Susan J. Palmer.
Oxford University Press, 2011
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "The Church of Scientology: Legal and Activist Responses"
Defining Religious Tolerance: German Policy toward the Church of Scientology
Moseley, Emily A.
Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 30, No. 5, November 1997
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