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); L. Wright, Going Clear (2013).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Scientology: Selected full-text books and articles

The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion By Hugh B. Urban Princeton University Press, 2011
Scientology By James R. Lewis Oxford University Press, 2009
Storming Zion: Government Raids on Religious Communities By Stuart A. Wright; Susan J. Palmer Oxford University Press, 2016
Cults and New Religions: A Brief History By Douglas E. Cowan; David G. Bromley Wiley-Blacdkwell, 2015 (2nd edition)
L. Ron Hubbard's Alternative to the Bomb Shelter: Scientology's Emergence as a Pseudo-Science during the 1950s By Manca, Terra Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring 2012
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Inside Scientology Investigating a Secretive Organization By 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 By Bryan R. Wilson Clarendon Press, 1992
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "Scientology: A Secularized Religion"
Sects, Cults, and Spiritual Communities: A Sociological Analysis By William W. Zellner; Marc Petrowsky Praeger, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "The Church of Scientology: A Quasi Religion"
Philosophers and Religious Leaders By 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 By 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" By 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 By Moseley, Emily A Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 30, No. 5, November 1997
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.