Community in Scientology
and among Scientologists
Peter B. Andersen and Rie Wellendorf
The Church of Scientology has been seen as a privatized religion fitting into the present age with hardly any “communal expression or community activity”(Wilson 1990: 278, vide infra 146). Based on observations, interviews and a questionnaire handed out to about 500 core members of Scientology in Denmark between 1986 and 1999, the chapter argues that the teachings and organization of the Church of Scientology, gnostic and arcane though they may be, still allow for community in a religious sense of the word, but that it is established through other channels and therefore expresses itself in different ways than in, for example, a Catholic community in which all members have equal access to salvation through one initiation.
From the outside the Church of Scientology may be seen as an expression of an extreme individualism because its core service is auditing, which aims to help individuals progress along “The Bridge to Total Freedom.” The ultimate goal—Scientology’s equivalent of salvation—is to enable the individual’s thetan, the equivalent to the soul in other religious systems, to move freely in time and space as it once did countless existences ago before it was bound to its current state of existence in the material universe. On the other hand, L. Ron Hubbard, who developed the therapy and philosophy behind the Church of Scientology, fitted it into a utilitarian framework that attacked the individualistic assumptions of Freudian psychology. At a later point in time, Hubbard’s ideas also inspired the Church to undertake a number of charitable activities.
This chapter will analyze the social setting in and around the Church of Scientology insofar as it is relevant to identify a community within Scientology and among its members. The Church of Scientology and its related charities will then be investigated to