12
Scientology: “Modern
Religion” or “Religion
of Modernity”?

Gerald Willms

There are no tenets in Scientology which cannot be demonstrated
with entirely scientific procedures.

—Hubbard, 1956a: 79


Introduction

Being a religion is one of the most important issues of Scientology’s current self-representation. Although this claim seems to be supported by the majority of the (mainly Anglo-Saxon) scientific community, it is widely rejected in the public discourses throughout Europe, particularly in Germanophone countries, where the discourse is headed by a strong coalition of anti-Scientology activists, including church and state representatives, and backed by continuous hostile media coverage.

Apart from public opinions and court decisions, the mainstream of the scientific discourse is ruled by the principle of charity that rejects the questioning of the very substance of any religious selfportrayal. Hence, Scientology’s claim of being a religion can hardly be denied from a scientific point of view, though Melton’s emphasis, “in the fullest sense of this word,” seems at best confusing because there is no scientific consensus on any “religion in the fullest sense” at all. If there were one, it would be on the common sense over the cited principle, which means in application: If Scientology claims to be a religion, we must first acknowledge this claim.

Yet we should be critically guided by a common but unexpressed scientific agreement on the “nature” of religions. The “enlightened” sociological point of view suggests that all religions contain an

-245-

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