22
Pastoral Care and
September 11: Scientology’s
Nontraditional Religious
Contribution

Carole M. Cusack and Justine Digance

Maintaining a presence at Ground Zero was a complex process, in that no religious group could set up there to provide pastoral care unless recognized by the authorities, city, state, and federal. These groups were overwhelmingly Christian churches, Catholic and Protestant. The one exception was the Church of Scientology, which is perhaps the quintessentially modern American religion, founded by L. Ron Hubbard (Bednarowski, 1995). Scientology shares certain features with New Age religions, such as the desire to interpret September 11 as an event that should result in peace, not war, and a hierarchical organizational structure resembling initiatory groups within the Western esoteric trajectory (Martin, 1989). However, in many ways it is quite different from New Age religion, having an institutional structure and a definite, articulated belief system.

Scientology was the only nontraditional religion to provide pastoral care at Ground Zero. This unique status could be explained by the extensive network of powerful members the Church of Scientology possesses (show business celebrities and politicians being the most visible). It could also be explained by the fact that the Church

As noted in the acknowledgments, this appendix was originally a section in Carole M. Cusack and
Justine Digance’s article, “Religious, Spiritual, Secular: Some American Responses to September
11,” which was published in the Australian Religious Studies Review 16:2 (Spring 2003). The editor of
the current volume has slightly altered the original version of this section by dropping or rewording
references to other sections, and by converting the spelling and punctuation into the conventions
of American English.

The authors would like to thank members of the Church of Scientology for providing some of
the material that is used in this chapter

-435-

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