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Scientology is a system of beliefs and teachings, originally established as a secular philosophy in 1952 by author L. Ron Hubbard, and subsequently reoriented from 1953 as an "applied religious philosophy." It is most prominently represented by the Church of Scientology, which has aroused considerable controversy since it was founded in 1954.

Scientology is recognized as a constitutionally protected religion in the United States and Australia, but not in most European countries.

Table of contents
1 Origins of Scientology
2 Beliefs and practices
3 The Church of Scientology
4 Controversy and criticism
5 Scientology vs. the Internet
6 See also
7 External links

Origins of Scientology

Scientology was expanded and reworked from Dianetics, an earlier system of self-improvement techniques originally set out in the 1950 book, . By the mid-1950s, Hubbard had relegated Dianetics to being a minor sub-study of Scientology, although it is still promoted and delivered by Scientology organizations. The chief difference between the two is that Dianetics is explicitly secular, focused on the individual's present life and dealing with physical problems, whereas Scientology adopts a more overtly religious approach focused on dealing with spiritual issues spanning multiple past lives as well as the present day. Hubbard was repeatedly accused of adopting a religious facade for Scientology in order for the organization to maintain tax-exempt status and avoid prosecution for false medical claims; these accusations have dogged the Church of Scientology to the present day.

The word "scientology" has a history of its own. Although nowadays associated almost exclusively with Hubbard's work, it was coined by the philologist Alan Upward in 1907 as a synonym for "pseudoscience." [1] In 1934, the Argentine-German writer Anastasius Nordenholz published a book using the word positively: Scientologie, Wissenschaft von der Beschaffenheit und der Tauglichkeit des Wissens, or Scientology, Science of the Constitution and Usefulness of Knowledge. [1] Nordenholz's book is a study of consciousness, and its usage of the word is not greatly different from Hubbard's definition, "knowing how to know". However, it is not clear whether Hubbard was aware of these earlier usages. The word itself is a pairing of the Latin word scio ("know" or "distinguish") and the Greek λόγος lógos ("reason itself" or "inward thought"). It seems plausible that Hubbard's meaning derived, like that of Nordenholz, from a simple translation of these root words.

Beliefs and practices

Scientology's doctrines were established by Hubbard over some 33 years from 1952 through to his death in January 1986, issued in the form of thousands of lectures, bulletins, policies, books and pamphlets. Most of the basic principles of Scientology were set out during the first 15 years of its existence, with Hubbard devoting much of his later life to the more esoteric upper levels (or "Advanced Technologies") of the Scientology belief system.

The central beliefs of Scientology are that a person is an immortal spiritual being (referred to as a thetan) who has a mind and a body, but is neither of these, that the person is basically good, and is seeking to survive. For details, see Scientology beliefs and practices.

The Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology was first incorporated in the United States as a nonprofit organization in 1953. Today it forms the center of a complex worldwide network of corporations dedicated to the promotion of L. Ron Hubbard's philosophies in all areas of life.

The Church of Scientology has been, and remains, a highly controversial organization. Countries have taken markedly different approaches to Scientology. The United States government regards Scientology as protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; other countries, notably in Europe, have regarded Scientology as a potentially dangerous cult and have significantly restricted its activities at various times. In Germany for instance, they are not seen as a religion by the government but as a financial organization. Scientology has also been the focus of criticism by anti-cult campaignerss and has aroused controversy for its high-profile campaigns against psychiatry and psychiatric medication.

The many legal battles fought by the Church of Scientology since its inception have given it a reputation as one of the most litigous religious organizations in existence. Details of Scientology's legal actions can be found in the Wikipedia article Scientology and the Legal System.

For more detailed information on the Church of Scientology and the , see those articles.

Independent Scientology groups

Although "Scientology" is most often used as shorthand for the Church of Scientology, a number of groups practice Scientology and Dianetics outside of the fold of the official Church. Such groups are invariably breakaways from the official Church and usually argue that it has corrupted L. Ron Hubbard's principles or has otherwise become overly domineering. The Church takes an extremely hard line on breakaway groups, labeling them "apostates" (or "squirrels" in Scientology jargon) and often subjecting them to considerable legal and social pressure. Breakaway groups avoid the name "Scientology" so as to keep from being sued, instead referring to themselves collectively as the Free Zone.

Free Zone groups are extremely heterogeneous in terms of doctrine--very unlike the official Church. Some Free Zoners practice more or less pure Scientology, based on Hubbard's original (Church-published) texts and principles but without the supervision or fee system of the official Church. Others have developed Hubbard's ideas into radically new forms, some of which are barely recognizable as being related to Scientology.

Controversy and criticism

Of the many new religious movements to appear during the 20th century, Scientology has been one of the most controversial almost since its inception. The Church of Scientology has come into conflict with the governments of several countries (including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany) numerous times over the years. Critical arguments against Scientology, as well as accusations of cult behavior, can be found in the article . This section includes examinations of:

Scientology vs. the Internet

Probably the most extensive undertaking of Scientology to address the growing exposure of what Scientology actually is and what it is about is Scientology's actions on the Internet. The organization states that it is taking actions to prevent distribution of copyrighted Scientology documents and publications online; however, its critics (and many Internet users) claim the organizations is attempting to suppress free speech. In 1995 Scientology attempted to silence the discussions taking place on the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup, an act that resulted in thousands of Internet users around the world taking a closer look at Scientology.

Scientology's response was to issue a statement insisting that their assault against free speech is actually an assault against hate speech, making numerous claims about hate and violence. The history of the ongoing Internet conflict is examined in the Wikipedia entry Scientology vs. the Internet.

See also

External links

Official Scientology sites

Other pro-Scientology sites

Current news and discussions

Critical sites