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May 5, 2008

Wikipedia: Church of Scientology

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Scientology organization in Hamburg, Germany

Scientology organization in Hamburg, Germany

The Church of Scientology is the largest organization devoted to the practice and the promotion of the Scientology belief system. The Church of Scientology International is the mother church of the Scientology religion, and is responsible for the overall ecclesiastical management, dissemination and propagation of Scientology.[1][2][3] Every Church of Scientology is separately incorporated and has its own local board of directors and executives responsible for its own activities and well-being, both corporate and ecclesiastical.[4][5][6] The church has been the subject of much controversy and has been convicted of illegal activities including theft of documents from government offices.[7]

Contents

History

The first Scientology church was established in December 1953 in Camden, New Jersey by American Science Fiction author[8][9] L. Ron Hubbard, his wife Mary Sue Hubbard, John Galusha and a few other early Dianeticists,[10] although the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International (HASI) had been operating already since 1952[11][12] and Hubbard had been selling Scientology books and other items. Soon after, he explained the religious nature of Scientology in a bulletin to all Scientologists[13], stressing its relation to the Dharma.

Hubbard’s stated “Aims of Scientology” were to be “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology.[14]

Hubbard had official control of the organization until 1966 when this function was transferred to a group of executives.[15] Though Hubbard maintained no formal relationship to Scientology’s management he remained firmly in control of the organization and its affiliated organizations.[16]

In May 1987 David Miscavige, one of Hubbard’s former personal assistants, assumed the position of Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center (RTC), a non-profit corporation that administers the trademarked names and symbols of Dianetics and Scientology. Although RTC is a separate corporation from the Church of Scientology International, whose president and chief spokesperson is Heber Jentzsch, Miscavige is the effective leader of the movement.[17]

Controversy

Main article: Scientology controversy

Though it has attained some credibility as a religion,[18] the church has also been described as both a cult and a commercial enterprise.[19] Some of the Church’s actions also brought scrutiny from the press and law enforcement. For example, it has been noted to engage in harassment and abuse of civil courts to silence its critics.[20][21]

Church or business

From 1952 until 1966, the Scientology was administered by an organization called the Hubbard Association of Scientologists (HAS), established in Arizona on 10 September 1952. In 1954, the HAS became the HASI (HAS International). The first Church of Scientology was incorporated on 18 December 1953 in Camden, New Jersey. This, along with two other groups incorporated by Hubbard at the same time—the Church of American Science and the Church of Spiritual Engineering—were soon abandoned by Hubbard. The Church of Scientology was incorporated on 18 February 1954 in California, changing its name to “The Church of Scientology of California” (CSC) in 1956. In 1966, Hubbard transferred all HASI assets to CSC, thus gathering Scientology under one tax-exempt roof. In 1967, the IRS stripped all US-based Scientology entities of their tax exemption, declaring Scientology’s activities were commercial and operated for the benefit of Hubbard. The church sued and lost repeatedly for 26 years trying to regain its tax-exempt status. The case was eventually settled in 1993, at which time the church paid $12.5 million to the IRS—greatly less than IRS had initially demanded—and the IRS recognized the church as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.[22]. In addition, Scientology also dropped more than fifty lawsuits against the IRS when this settlement was reached. Scientology cites its tax exemption as proof the United States government accepts it as a religion.[23] The U.S. State Department has criticized Western European nations for discrimination against Scientologists in its published annual International Religious Freedom report, based on the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30]

In some countries Scientology is treated legally as a commercial enterprise, and not as a religion or charitable organization. In early 2003, in Germany, The Church of Scientology was granted a tax-exemption for the 10% license fees sent to the US. This exemption, however, is related to a German-American double-taxation agreement, and is unrelated to tax-exemption in the context of charities law. In several countries, public proselytizing undergoes the same restrictions as commercial advertising, which is interpreted as persecution by Scientology.

In Israel, Scientology does not use “Church” as part of its name, possibly because of the Christian connotation of the term in Jewish culture.

Like many cults and unlike many well-established religious organizations, Scientology maintains strict control over its names, symbols, religious works and other writings. The word Scientology (and many related terms, including L. Ron Hubbard) is a registered trademark. Religious Technology Center, the owner of the trademarks and copyrights, takes a hard line on people and groups who attempt to use it in organizations unaffiliated with the official Church (see Scientology and the legal system).

Illegal activities

Main articles: Operation Snow White, Operation Freakout, Scientology controversies#Criminal behavior, and Fair game (Scientology)

Under the Guardian’s Office (now renamed the Office of Special Affairs or OSA), Church members organized and committed the largest penetration of United States federal agencies by an organization not affiliated with a foreign government, such as the KGB. This was known as Operation Snow White. In the trial which followed discovery of these activities the prosecution described their actions thusly:

The crime committed by these defendants is of a breadth and scope previously unheard of. No building, office, desk, or file was safe from their snooping and prying. No individual or organization was free from their despicable conspiratorial minds. The tools of their trade were miniature transmitters, lock picks, secret codes, forged credentials and any other device they found necessary to carry out their conspiratorial schemes.[31]

The Church has also in the past made use of aggressive tactics in addressing those it sees as trying to suppress them, known as Suppressive Persons (SPs) first outlined by L. Ron Hubbard as part of a policy called fair game. It was under this policy that Paulette Cooper was targeted for having authored The Scandal of Scientology, a 1970 exposé book about the Church and its founder. This action was known as Operation Freakout. Using blank paper known to have been handled by Cooper, Scientologists forged bomb threats in her name.[31] When fingerprints on them matched hers, the Justice Department began prosecution, which could have sent Cooper to prison for a lengthy term. The Church’s plan was discovered at the same time as its Operation Snow White actions were revealed. All charges against Cooper were dismissed, though she had spent more than $20,000 on legal fees for her defense.[31]

Of these activities the current Church laments:

…how long a time is the church going to have to continue to pay the price for what the (Guardian Office) did. … Unfortunately, the church continues to be confronted with it. And the ironic thing is that the people being confronted with it are the people who wiped it out. And to the church, that’s a very frustrating thing.[31]

Yet it has continued to aggressively target people it deems suppressive as recently as 2006 when BBC journalist John Sweeney was making Scientology and Me, an investigative report about the Church and was the subject of harassment:

In LA, the moment our hire car left the airport we realised we were being followed by two cars. In our hotel a weird stranger spent every breakfast listening to us.[32]

Members’ health and safety

Main articles: Lisa McPherson and Elli Perkins

The death of some Scientologists has brought attention to the Church both due to the circumstances of their demise and their relationship with Scientology possibly being a factor.[33] In 1995, Lisa McPherson was involved in a minor automobile accident while driving on a Clearwater, Florida street. Following the collision, she exited her vehicle, stripped naked and showed further signs of mental instability. Representatives from the Church, acting as her guardian, had her discharged from the state’s mental treatment facility against medical advice. They performed a Church sanctioned treatment called Introspection Rundown. When she later died, the state of Florida pursued criminal charges against the Church[34] which attracted press coverage and sparked lawsuits. Eight years later, Elli Perkins, another adherent to Scientology’s beliefs regarding psychiatry was stabbed to death by her mentally disturbed son. Though he had begun to show symptoms of schizophrenia as early as 2001, the Perkins family chose not to seek psychiatric help and opted instead for remedies sanctioned by Scientology. Her death at the hands of a disturbed family member whose disease could have been treated by the methods and medications banned by Scientology again raised questions in the media about its methods.[35]

In addition, the Church has been implicated in kidnapping members whom have recently left the church. Martine Boublil, was recently kidnapped and held for several weeks against her will in Sardinia by four Scientologists. She was found on the 22nd of January 2008, clothed only in a shirt. The room she was imprisoned in contained refuse and an insect infested mattress.[36][37]

On Friday the 28th of March 2008, Kaja Bordevich Ballo, daughter of Olav Gunnar Ballo, Norwegian parliament member and vice president of the Norwegian Odelsting, took a Church of Scientology personality test while studying in Nice. Her friends and co-inhabitants claim she was in good spirits and showed no signs of a mental break down, the report from the Church of Scientology said she was “depressed, irresponsible, hyper-critical and lacking in harmony”. A few hours later she committed suicide by jumping from her balcony at her dorm room leaving a note telling her family she was sorry for not “being good for anything”. The incident has brought forward heavy criticism against the Church of Scientology from friends, family and prominent Norwegian politicians.[38] Inga Marte Thorkildsen, parliament member, went as far as to say “Everything points to the scientology cult having played a direct role in making Kaja choose to take her own life”.[38]

Celebrities

See also: Tom Cruise

In order to facilitate the continued expansion of Scientology, the Church has made efforts to win allies in the form of powerful or respected people. [39]

Churches, missions and major Scientology centers

Locations of major Scientology centers1. Saint Hill Manor 2. Flag Land Base 3. PAC Base 4. Gold Base 5. Trementina Base 6. Flag ship, Freewinds

Locations of major Scientology centers
1. Saint Hill Manor 2. Flag Land Base 3. PAC Base 4. Gold Base 5. Trementina Base 6. Flag ship, Freewinds

Scientology organizations and missions exist in many communities around the world.[40] Scientologists call their larger centers orgs, short for “organizations.” The major Scientology organization of a region is known as a central org. The legal address of the Church of Scientology International is in Los Angeles, California, 6331 Hollywood Blvd, in the Hollywood Guaranty Building. The Church of Scientology also has several major headquarters, including:

Saint Hill, Sussex, England

Main article: Saint Hill Manor

L. Ron Hubbard moved to England shortly after founding Scientology, where he oversaw the worldwide development of Scientology from an office in London for most of the 1950s. In 1959, he bought Saint Hill Manor near the Sussex town of East Grinstead, a Georgian manor house formerly owned by the Maharajah of Jaipur. This became the worldwide headquarters of Scientology through the 1960s and 1970s. Hubbard declared Saint Hill to be the organization by which all other organizations would be measured, and he issued a general order (still followed today) for all organizations around the world to expand and reach “Saint Hill size”. The Church of Scientology has announced that the next two levels of Scientology teaching, OT 9 and OT 10, will be released and made available to church members when all the major orgs in the world have reached Saint Hill size.

Flag Land Base, Fort Harrison Hotel, Clearwater, Florida

Main article: Fort Harrison Hotel

The “worldwide spiritual headquarters” of the Church of Scientology is known as “Flag Land Base,” located in Clearwater, Florida. It is operated by the Floridian corporation Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc..

The organization was founded in the late 1970s when an anonymous Scientology-founded group called “Southern Land Development and Leasing Corp” purchased the Fort Harrison Hotel for $2.3 million. Because the reported tenant was the “United Churches of Florida” the citizens and City Council of Clearwater did not realize that the building’s owners were actually the Church of Scientology until after the building’s purchase.[41] Clearwater citizens’ groups, headed by Mayor Gabriel Cazares, rallied strongly against Scientology establishing a base in the city (repeatedly referring to the organization as a cult), but Flag Base was established nonetheless.[42]

In the years since its foundation, Flag Base has expanded as the Church of Scientology has gradually purchased large amounts of additional property in the downtown and waterfront Clearwater area. Scientology’s relationship with the city government has repeatedly moved between friendly and hostile, but the organization has worked with the city in attempts to establish better relations.[citation needed] At the same time, it opposed the local St. Petersburg Times and protested actions of the Clearwater police department. Scientology’s largest project in Clearwater has been the construction of a high-rise complex called the “Super Power Building,” an enormous structure whose highest point, when completed, will be a Scientology cross that will tower over the city.

PAC Base, Hollywood, California

Los Angeles, California has the largest concentration of Scientologists and Scientology-related enterprises in the world. Scientology has established a highly visible presence in the Hollywood district of the city. The organization owns a large complex on Fountain Avenue which was formerly Cedars of Lebanon hospital. It contains Scientology’s West Coast headquarters, “Pacific Area Command Base,” often referred to as “PAC Base”. Adjacent buildings include headquarters of many of Scientology’s internal divisions, including the American Saint Hill Organization; the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles; Los Angeles Organization, founded February 18, 1954; and the offices of Bridge Publications, Scientology’s publishing arm for the Americas. The Church of Scientology successfully campaigned to have the city of Los Angeles rename one block of a street running through this complex “L. Ron Hubbard Way.” The street has been paved in brick.

Also in Hollywood is Scientology’s main Celebrity Centre, which caters to arts professionals. On Hollywood Boulevard a multi-story building houses the executive offices of the Church of Scientology International and an open-to-the-public exhibition devoted to the life of L. Ron Hubbard. Also in the area are the headquarters of Author Services, Inc. (Hubbard’s Literary agency), the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), which administers social programs based on Hubbard’s writings, (including Narconon and Applied Scholastics), the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), which promotes Hubbard’s business management techniques and facilitates a network of Scientology-related businesses, and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a Scientology-affiliated group that focuses on alleged abuses of psychiatry, and includes a “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death” museum.

Today, the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles is one of the largest Scientology facilities of its kind in the world. Executives-in-training from every international Scientology organization now apprentice at the LA church before assuming their executive positions.

Gold Base, Gilman Hot Springs, California

Main article: Gold Base

The headquarters of the Religious Technology Center, the entity that oversees Scientology operations worldwide, are located near Gilman Hot Springs, north of Hemet, California.[43] The facility, known as Gold Base or “Int”, is owned by Golden Era Productions and is the home of Scientology’s media production studio, Golden Era Studios. Several Scientology executives, including David Miscavige, live and work at the base.[44]

The facilities at Gold Base have been toured by journalists several times. They are surrounded by floodlights and video observation cameras,[44][45][46][47] and the compound is protected by razor wire.[48] Gold Base also has recreational facilities, including basketball, volleyball, and soccer facilities, an exercise building, a waterslide, a small lake with two beaches, and a golf course.[49]

Trementina Base

Main article: Trementina Base

The Church of Scientology maintains a large base on the outskirts of Trementina, New Mexico for the purpose of storing their archiving project: engraving Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s writings on stainless steel tablets and encasing them in titanium capsules underground.[50] An aerial photograph showing the base’s enormous Church of Spiritual Technology symbols on the ground caused media interest and a local TV station broke the story in November 2005. According to a Washington Post report, the organization unsuccessfully attempted to coerce the station not to air the story.[51]

Flag ship, Freewinds

Main article: Freewinds

The cruise ship Freewinds is the only place the current highest level of Scientology training (OT VIII) is offered. It cruises the Caribbean Sea, under the auspices of the Flag Ship Service Organization. The Freewinds is also used for other courses and auditing for those willing to spend extra money to get services on the ship.

Other locations

The Church of Scientology is continuing to expand, in 2007 a church opened in “The Winter Strawberry Capital of the World”, Plant City, Florida.[52] and purchased the former site of the Saint Samuel Church of God in Harlem, New York for $10,200,000. [53] Smaller Scientology centers can be found worldwide, some examples are included below:


Sea Org

Main article: Sea Org

The Sea Organization (often shortened to “Sea Org”) was founded in 1967 by L. Ron Hubbard, as he embarked on a series of voyages around the Mediterranean Sea in a small fleet of Scientology-crewed cruise ships. Hubbard—formerly a lieutenant junior grade in the US Navy—bestowed the rank of “Commodore” of the vessels upon himself. The crew who accompanied him on these voyages became the foundation of the Sea Org.

“Orgs”, such as “Los Angeles Org”, are semi-autonomous organizations which staff themselves as they see fit. The Sea Org is a more dedicated, more elite group within Scientology which exclusively staffs the higher Orgs. The Advanced Organization of Los Angeles, for example, is staffed by Sea Org members. While every Org enforces rules and administers disciplinary procedures within its own portion of the larger organization which is the CoS, Sea Org members hold the highest jobs. The Sea Org is frequently characterized as the “elite” of Scientology, both in terms of power within the organization and dedication to the cause. Scientologists seeking to advance within the organization are encouraged to join the Sea Org, which involves devoting their full time to Scientology projects in exchange for meals, berthing and a nominal honorarium. Members sign a contract pledging their loyalty to Scientology for “the next billion years,” committing their future lifetimes to the Sea Org. The Sea Org’s motto is “Revenimus” (or “We Come Back”).

Disciplinary procedures and policies within the Sea Org have been a focus of critics who argue that Scientology is an abusive cult. During the original Sea Org’s Mediterranean tour, Hubbard applied a variety of physical punishments, including the practice of “overboarding,” or throwing offenders over the side of the ship. Former Sea Org members have stated that punishments in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s included confinement in hazardous conditions such as the ship’s chain locker.[54] The Rehabilitation Project Force or RPF was established in 1974 to provide a “second chance” to Sea Org members whose offenses against Church rules were such that they would otherwise have been expelled from membership. RPF members are paired up and help one another for five hours each day with spiritual counseling to resolve the issues for which they were assigned to the program. The also spend 8 hours per day doing physical labor that will benefit the Church facility where they are located. On verification of their having completed the program they are then given a Sea Org job again. [55]

Volunteer Ministers

Main article: Volunteer Ministers

The Church of Scientology began its “Volunteer Ministers” program as a way to participate in community outreach projects. Over the past several years, it has become a common practice for Volunteer Ministers to travel to the scenes of major disasters in order to provide assistance with relief efforts. According to critics, these relief efforts consist of passing out copies of a pamphlet authored by L. Ron Hubbard entitled The Way to Happiness, and engaging in a method said to calm panicked or injured individuals known in Scientology as a “touch assist.”

Religious Technology Center (RTC)

Main article: Religious Technology Center

Around 1982 all of the Hubbard’s intellectual property was transferred to a newly formed entity called the Church of Spiritual Technology (CST) and then licensed to the Religious Technology Center (RTC) which, according to its own publicity, exists to safeguard and control the use of the Church of Scientology’s copyrights and trademarks.

The RTC employs lawyers and has pursued individuals and groups who have legally attacked Scientology or who are deemed to be a legal threat to Scientology. This has included breakaway Scientologists who practice Scientology outside the central church and critics, as well as numerous government and media organizations. This has helped to maintain Scientology’s reputation for litigiousness (see Scientology and the legal system).

Missionary activities

A visitor to a Church of Scientology public information tent receives a demonstration of an E-meter

A visitor to a Church of Scientology public information tent receives a demonstration of an E-meter

Members of the public entering a Scientology center or mission are offered a “free personality test” called the Oxford Capacity Analysis by Scientology literature. The test, despite its name and the claims of Scientology literature, has no connection to Oxford University or any other research body. Scientific research into three test results came to the conclusion that “we are forced to a position of skepticism about the test’s status as a reliable psychometric device” and called its “scientific value,” “negligible”.[56]

Further proselytization practices – commonly called “dissemination” of Scientology[57] – include information booths, fliers and advertisement for free seminars, Sunday Services in regular newspapers and magazines, personal contacts[58][59] and sales of books[60]

Legal waivers

Recent legal actions involving Scientology’s relationship with its members (see Scientology controversy) have caused the organization to publish extensive legal documents that cover the rights granted to followers. It has become standard practice within the organization for members to sign lengthy legal contracts and waivers before engaging in Scientology services, a practice that contrasts greatly with almost every mainstream religious organization. In 2003, a series of media reports examined the legal contracts required by Scientology, which state, among other things, that followers deny any psychiatric care their doctors may prescribe to them.[61]

I do not believe in or subscribe to psychiatric labels for individuals. It is my strongly held religious belief that all mental problems are spiritual in nature and that there is no such thing as a mentally incompetent person — only those suffering from spiritual upset of one kind or another dramatized by an individual. I reject all psychiatric labels and intend for this Contract to clearly memorialize my desire to be helped exclusively through religious, spiritual means and not through any form of psychiatric treatment, specifically including involuntary commitment based on so-called lack of competence. Under no circumstances, at any time, do I wish to be denied my right to care from members of my religion to the exclusion of psychiatric care or psychiatric directed care, regardless of what any psychiatrist, medical person, designated member of the state or family member may assert supposedly on my behalf.

See also: Introspection Rundown

Government opinion of Scientology

Main article: Scientology as a state-recognized religion

United States

In 1979 Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, along with ten other highly placed Scientology executives were convicted in United States federal court regarding Operation Snow White, and served time in an American federal prison. Operation Snow White involved infiltration, wiretapping and theft of documents in government offices, most notably those of the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

In 1993, however, the United States IRS recognized Scientology as a “non-profit charitable organization,” and gave it the same legal protections and favorable tax treatment extended to other non-profit charitable organizations.[62] A New York Times article says that Scientologists paid private investigators to obtain compromising material on the IRS commissioner and blackmailed the IRS into submission.[63] Six levels of indents down in the eventually leaked “closing agreement,” the IRS is contractually required to discriminate in their treatment of Scientology to the exclusion of all other groups.[64]

“The following actions will be considered to be a material breach by the Service: … The issuance of a Regulation, Revenue Ruling or other pronouncement of general applicability providing that fixed donations to a religious organization other than a church of Scientology are fully deductible unless the Service has issued previously or issues contemporaneously a similar pronouncement that provides for consistent and uniform principles for determining the deductibility of fixed donations for all churches including the Church of Scientology”.

In a 2001 legal case involving a married couple attempting to obtain the same deduction for charity to a Jewish school, it was stated by Judge Silverman:[65]

“An IRS closing agreement cannot overrule Congress and the Supreme Court. If the IRS does, in fact, give preferential treatment to members of the Church of Scientology—allowing them a special right to claim deductions that are contrary to law and rightly disallowed to everybody else—then the proper course of action is a lawsuit to put a stop to that policy.”

To date (2008) such a suit is not known to have been filed. In further appeal in 2006, the US Tax Court again rejected couple’s deduction, stating “We conclude that the agreement reached between the Internal Revenue Service and the Church of Scientology in 1993 does not affect the result in this case.”[66]

However, this matter is still ongoing. On February 8, 2008, three judges in the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals “expressed deep skepticism” over the IRS’s preferential treatment of Scientology.[67]

Australia

Main article: Scientology in Australia

In the 1960s Scientology was banned in three states in Australia as a result of the Anderson Report published in 1965. Specific legislation was made to counter it in South Australia. However, legislated bans in all three States was either repealed [68] [69] or emended [70] to remove references to Scientology during the 1970s and there is currently no legal restriction in Australia on the practice of Scientology.

The High Court of Australia dealt with the question whether Scientology is a religion. The unanimous opinion of that court was that Scientology is a religion.[71]

Europe

United Kingdom

Foreign Scientologists were banned from entering the United Kingdom between 1968 – 1980 but were allowed later on. In 1999 an application by Scientology for charitable status was rejected after the authorities decided its activities were not of general public benefit.[72] In the United Kingdom the Charity Commission does not class Scientology as a religion on financial grounds.[73]

Germany

In Germany, official views of Scientology are particularly skeptical. In Germany it is seen as a totalitarian organization and is under observation by national security organizations due, among other reasons, to suspicion of violating the human rights of its members granted by the German Constitution[74], including Hubbard’s pessimistic view on democracy vis-à-vis psychiatry and other such features.[75] In December 2007, Germany’s top security officials said that they considered the goals of Church of Scientology to be in conflict with the principles of the nation’s constitution and would seek to ban the organization.[76]

The Federal Labor Court of Germany ruled in 2002 that Scientology staff were not employees per se but association members that do not work for profit but for idealistic goals and spiritual improvement. This reversed a 1995 ruling by the same court that stated an employer-employee relationship existed.[77]

France

In France, a parliamentary report classified Scientology as a dangerous cult.[78] In the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada, the organization is not regarded as meeting the legal standards for being considered a bona fide religion or charity.[79]

Russia

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2007 that Russia’s denial to register the Church of Scientology as a religious community was a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of assembly and association) read in the light of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion)”.[80]

Belgium

In September 2007, a Belgian prosecutor announced that they had finished an investigation of Scientology and said they would probably bring charges. The church said the prosecutor’s public announcement falsely suggested guilt even before a court could hear any of the charges. An administrative court has yet to decide whether to press charges against the Scientologists.[81]

Spain

On 31 October 2007, the National Court in Madrid issued a decision recognizing that the National Church of Scientology of Spain should be entered in the Registry of Religious Entities. The administrative tribunal of Madrid’s High Court ruled that a 2005 justice ministry decision to scrap the church from the register was “against the law.” Responding to a petition filed by the church, the ruling said that no documents had been presented in court to demonstrate it was anything other than a religious entity.[82][83]

Israel

In Israel, according to Israeli professor of psychology Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, “in various organizational forms, Scientology has been active among Israelis for more than thirty years, but those in charge not only never claimed the religion label, but resisted any such suggestion or implication. It has always presented itself as a secular, self-improvement, tax-paying business.”[84] Those “organizational forms” include a Scientology Organization in Tel Aviv. Another Israeli Scientology group called “The Way to Happiness” (or “Association for Prosperity and Security in the Middle East”) works through local Scientologist members to promote The Way to Happiness.[85] An Israeli CCHR chapter runs campaigns against abuses in psychiatry[86]. Other Scientology campaigns, such as “Youth for Human Rights International” are active as well.[87] There is also an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group that opposes Scientology and other religions in Israel[88], Lev L’Achim, whose anti-missionary department in 2001 provided a hotline and other services to warn citizens of Scientology’s “many types of front organizations”.[89]

Summary

Early official reports in countries such as the United Kingdom (1971), South Africa (1972), Australia (1965) and New Zealand (1969) have yielded unfavorable observations and conclusions.[90][91][92][93]

While a number of governments now give the Church of Scientology protections and tax relief as an officially recognized religion,[94][95][96] other sources describe the Church as a pseudoreligion or a cult.[84] Sociologist Stephen Kent published at a Lutheran convention in Germany that he likes to call it a transnational corporation[97]. Sociology Professor James A. Beckford[98], Professor for Religion Per-Arne Berglie [99], Sociology Professor Alan W. Black [100], Professor for Religion Juha Pentikainen[101] and several others[102] generally found it to be a religious organization.

Finances

Scientologists are expected to attend classes, exercises or counseling sessions, for a set range of fees (or “fixed donations”). Charges for auditing and other church-related courses run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. A wide variety of entry-level courses, representing 8 to 16 hours study, cost under $100 (US). More advanced courses require membership in the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), have to be taken at higher level Orgs, and have higher fees.[103] Membership without courses or auditing is possible, but the higher levels cannot be reached this way. In 1995, Operation Clambake, a website critical of scientology, estimated the cost of reaching “OT 9 readiness”, one of the highest levels, is US $365,000 – $380,000.[104][105], assuming the most expensive route. Scientologists can choose to be audited by a fellow Scientologists rather than by a staff member.[106]

Scientologists are frequently encouraged to become Professional Auditors as a way of earning their way up the Bridge. As a Field Auditor, auditors can receive commissions on people referred to Organizations and a 15% commission on completed services.[107]

Critics say it is improper to fix a donation for religious service; therefore the activity is non-religious. Scientology points out many classes, exercises and counseling may also be traded for “in kind” or performed cooperatively by students for no cost, and members of its most devoted orders can make use of services without any donations bar that of their time. A central tenet of Scientology is its Doctrine of Exchange, which dictates that each time a person receives something, he or she must give something back. By doing so, a Scientologist maintains “inflow” and “outflow”, avoiding spiritual decline.[108]

Membership statistics

The International Association of Scientologists (IAS) maintains a list of Scientologists world-wide. However, not every active Scientologist is a member of the International Association of Scientologists. It is difficult to obtain reliable membership statistics for Scientology. The organization itself issues only vague figures (without breaking them down by region or country), and public censuses have only recently included questions about religious affiliations though the United States Census Bureau states that it is not the source for information on religion[5].

Most recently, the German national magazine Der Spiegel reported about 8 million members worldwide, about 6000 of them in Germany, with only 150-200 members in Berlin.[109] In 1993, a spokesperson of Scientology Frankfurt had mentioned slightly more than 30,000 members nationwide.[110]

The organization has said that it has anywhere from eight million to fifteen million members world-wide,[111][112][113][114][115] and has stated that Scientology is “the fastest growing religion in the world.”[116]. Derek Davis [6] stated in 2004 that the Church organization has around 15 million members worldwide [117]. Religious scholar J. Gordon Melton has said that the church’s estimates of its membership numbers are exaggerated.[118]

The “Scientologists Online” website presents “over 16,000 Scientologists On-Line”.[119]

Statistics from other sources:

  • In 1991, the National Survey of Religious Identification reported 45,000 Scientology followers in the United States. This survey was submitted as evidence in the case “Raul Lopez v. Church of Scientology Mission of Buenaventura” by the Church of Scientology’s attorney, Gerald L. Chaleff.
  • In 2001, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) reported that there were 55,000 adults in the United States who consider themselves Scientologists.[120]
  • The 2001 United Kingdom census contained a voluntary question on religion, to which approximately 48,000,000 chose to respond. Of those living in England and Wales who responded, a total of 1,781 said they were Scientologists.[121]
  • In 2001, Australia’s national census recorded 2,032 Scientologists nationwide.[121] In 2006, it recorded 2,507. [122]
  • In 2001, the Canadian national census reported a total of 1,525 Scientologists nationwide.[121]
  • In 2001, the New Zealand national census found 282 Scientologists nationwide.[121]
  • In 2005, the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution estimated a total of 5,000 – 6,000 Scientologists in that country, and mentioned a count of 12,000 according to Scientology Germany.[123]

Scientology splinter groups

Main article: Free Zone (Scientology)

The Church denies the legitimacy of any splinter groups and factions outside the official organization, and has actively sought out these “rogue” Scientologists and tried to prevent them from using officially trademarked Scientology materials. These independent Scientologists are known as squirrels within the Church, and are classified as suppressive persons (“SPs”) — opponents or enemies of Scientology. Many groups refer to themselves under the umbrella term of “Free Zone”.

Affiliated organizations

There are many independently-chartered organizations and groups which are staffed by Scientologists, and pay license fees for the use of Scientology technology and trademarks under the control of Scientology management. In some cases, these organizations do not publicize their affiliation with Scientology.[124][125]

ABLE

Main article: Association for Better Living and Education

Founded in 1989, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) is an umbrella organization that administers six of Scientology’s social programs:

  • Narconon drug rehabilitation centers.
  • Criminon prisoner rehabilitation programs.
  • The Way to Happiness Foundation, dedicated to disseminating Hubbard’s non-religious moral code.
  • Applied Scholastics, educational programs based on Hubbard’s “Study Tech.”
  • International Foundation for Human Rights and Tolerance, which has a particular interest in religious freedom.
  • Youth for Human Rights International, the youth branch of the above.

CCHR

Main article: Citizens Commission on Human Rights

The Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), co-founded with Thomas Szasz in 1969, is an activist group dedicated to exposing “psychiatric abuse,” furthering Scientology doctrinal opposition to mainstream psychiatric therapies.

WISE

Main article: World Institute of Scientology Enterprises

Many other Scientologist-run businesses and organizations belong to the umbrella organization World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), which licenses the use of Hubbard’s management doctrines, and circulates directories of WISE-affiliated businesses. WISE requires those who wish to become Hubbard management consults to complete training in Hubbard’s administrative systems; this training can be undertaken at any Church of Scientology, or at one of the campuses of the Hubbard College of Administration, which offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree.

  • One of the best-known WISE-affiliated businesses is Sterling Management Systems, which offers Hubbard’s management “technology” to professionals such as dentists and chiropractors.
  • Another well-known WISE-affiliated business is e-Republic, a publishing company based in Folsom, California.[126] e-Republic publications include Government Technology and Converge magazines. The Center for Digital Government is a division of e. Republic that was founded in 1999.
  • Internet ISP EarthLink was founded by Scientologist Sky Dayton as a Scientology enterprise. The company now distances itself from the views of its founder, who has moved on to become CEO of SK-EarthLink.

See also

Scientology Portal
  • List of groups referred to as cults or sects
  • List of religious organizations
  • List of Scientologists
  • Scientology beliefs and practices
  • Scientology controversy
  • Scientology and the legal system
  • Timeline of Scientology
  • Scientology In Australia
  • Project Chanology
  • alt.religion.scientology
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