Scientology has been in the news lately.
A group of hackers with the name of "Anonymous" has vowed to destroy the Church of Scientology and about a week ago, Scientology websites in the US and UK started crashing.
"Anonymous" Hackers Vow to Destroy Scientology
"Anonymous" Hackers Issue Third Video Warning to Scientology
Below is the first video warning issued to Scientology by "Anonymous". The "Anonymous" tagline on all three of their video warnings has been "We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget."
Two days ago, "Anonymous" supporters took to the streets in Phoenix, AZ in a demonstration outside the Phoenix Church of Scientology, staging a protest in commemoration of the birthday of Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist once cared for by church staffers.
McPherson died while under the care of Scientology.
As we are not up to speed on Scientology, we thought we'd run down some information on the Church of Scientology.
Is it a cult?
Is it a religion?
We will start out by saying that all religions start out as cults--Christianity, Islam and Jews all started out as a small band of believers in their religions.
So, being branded as a "cult" doesn't sway us one way or another.
There is some discrepancy as to how many Scientology members there actually are. In 2007, the Scientologists claimed 3.5 million members in the U.S., but a 2001 survey published by City University of New York, stated that "when asked to identify what religion you are", 55,000 in America claimed Scientology.
Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices as well as a profitable multinational network of corporations created by American speculative fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard developed Scientology teachings in 1952 as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics.
Hubbard later characterized Scientology as an "applied religious philosophy" and the basis for a new religion. Scientology encompasses a spiritual rehabilitation philosophy and techniques, and covers topics such as morals, ethics, detoxification, education and management.
From the Scientology website:
The word Scientology literally means "the study of truth." It comes from the Latin word "scio" meaning "knowing in the fullest sense of the word" and the Greek word "logos" meaning "study of."
Scientology is the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others and all of life. The Scientology religion comprises a body of knowledge extending from certain fundamental truths. Prime among these:
Man is an immortal, spiritual being. His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime. His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized — and those capabilities can be realized. He is able to not only solve his own problems, accomplish his goals and gain lasting happiness, but also achieve new, higher states of awareness and ability.
In Scientology no one is asked to accept anything as belief or on faith. That which is true for you is what you have observed to be true. An individual discovers for himself that Scientology works by personally applying its principles and observing or experiencing results.
Through Scientology, people all over the world are achieving the long-sought goal of true spiritual release and freedom.
Seems like a noble enough goal.
Scientology does have the distinction of being the only religion created by a science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard.
Hubbard established Scientology's doctrines over a period of about 34 years beginning in 1952 and continuing until his death in January 1986, with the basic principles set out during the 1950s and 1960s.
Scientology was at first secular: "Scientology would be a study of knowledge," Hubbard stated in 1952. Hubbard later began to characterize Scientology's beliefs and practices as a religion in 1953; by 1960 he defined Scientology as: "a religion by its basic tenets, practice, historical background and by the definition of the word 'religion' itself." In 1969 he wrote that "It is fundamentally an applied religious philosophy." Hubbard recorded his doctrine in archived writings, audio tapes and films.
There is no single Scientology book that serves as the equivalent of the Bible or Koran. Knowledge of Scientology is achieved through the study of 18 basic books and over 3000 recorded lectures.
The primary belief of Scientology is "that man is a spiritual being whose existence spans more than one life and who is endowed with abilities well beyond those which he normally considers he possesses."
Unlike Christianity, Scientology believes that man is basically good.
Like Christianity and Islam, Scientology has its heretics and apostates.
Although "Scientology" is most often used as shorthand for the Church of Scientology, a number of groups practice Scientology and Dianetics outside of the official Church.
Some groups are breakaways from the original Church while others have started up independently. The Church labels these as "apostates" (or "squirrels" in Scientology jargon) and often subjects them to considerable legal and social pressure.
These groups avoid the name "Scientology" so as to keep from being sued, instead referring to themselves collectively as the Free Zone. Such groups include Ron's Org and the International Freezone Association, among others
The story of Xenu (or Xemu) is a controversial one.
Critics of Scientology say that the Xenu story is an incredible one. Of course, many religious stories seem incredible to non-believers.
Scientology is accused of trying to hide the Xenu story.
The story of Xenu is covered in OT III, part of Scientology's secret "Advanced Technology" doctrines taught only to advanced members. It is described in more detail in the accompanying confidential "Assists" lecture of 3 October 1968 and is dramatized in Revolt in the Stars (an unpublished screenplay written by L Ron Hubbard during the late 1970s). Direct quotations in this section are from these sources. (See also Scientology beliefs and practices)
Scientologists believe that seventy-five million years ago, Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as Teegeeack. The planets were overpopulated, each having an average population of 178 billion. The Galactic Confederacy's civilization was comparable to our own, with aliens "walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute" and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those "circa 1950, 1960" on Earth. Xenu was about to be deposed from power, so he devised a plot to eliminate the excess population from his dominions. With the assistance of "renegades", he defeated the populace and the "Loyal Officers", a force for good that was opposed to Xenu. Then, with the assistance of psychiatrists, he summoned billions of his citizens together to paralyze them with injections of alcohol and glycol, under the pretense that they were being called for "income tax inspections". The kidnapped populace was loaded into spacecraft for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). The spacecraft were identical to the Douglas DC-8 with the exception of having different engines.
When they had reached Teegeeack/Earth, the paralyzed citizens were unloaded around the bases of volcanoes across the planet. Hydrogen bombs were then lowered into the volcanoes and detonated simultaneously. Only a few aliens' physical bodies survived. Hubbard described the scene in his film script, Revolt in the Stars:
Other Scientology beliefs are:
* A person is an immortal spiritual being (termed a thetan) who possesses a mind and a body.
* The thetan has lived through many past lives and will continue to live beyond the death of the body.
* Through the Scientology process of "auditing," people can free themselves of traumatic incidents, ethical transgressions and bad decisions which are said to collectively restrict the person from reaching the state of "Clear" and "Operating Thetan." Each state is said to represent the recovery of native spiritual abilities and to confer mental and physical benefits.
* A person is basically good, but becomes "aberrated" by moments of pain and unconsciousness.
* Psychiatry and psychology are destructive and abusive practices.
Scientology's crusade against psychiatry might pick up some steam if psychiatry keeps inventing mental "diseases".
What were once signs of bad behavior has increasingly become uncontrollable "diseases" and "mental conditions". It could have something to do with how Medicaid pays for treatments, or it could be a sign of "defining deviancy down".
John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Lisa Marie Presley, Jason Lee, Isaac Hayes, Tom Cruise, and Katie Holmes are among the Hollywood adherents of Scientology.
James Packer, formerly the richest man in Australia is another famous Scientologist.
CONTROVERSIES INVOLVING SCIENTOLOGY
* Scientology's disconnection policy, in which members are encouraged to cut off all contact with friends or family members considered "antagonistic."
* The death of a Scientologist Lisa McPherson while in the care of the Church.
* Criminal activities committed on behalf of the Church or directed by Church officials (Operation Snow White, Operation Freakout)
* Conflicting statements about L. Ron Hubbard's life, in particular accounts of Hubbard discussing his intent to start a religion for profit, and of his service in the military.
* Scientology's harassment and litigious actions against its critics encouraged by its Fair Game policy.
* Attempts to legally force search engines such as Google and Yahoo to omit any webpages critical of Scientology from their search engines (and in Google's case, AdSense), or at least the first few search pages
Scientology in the nutshell.
We don't know if it changed anyone's mind--one way or another--but one thing about it.
We learned a couple things.
* "Anonymous" Hackers Vow to Destroy Scientology
* "Anonymous" Hackers Issue Third Video Warning to Scientology
Death by 1000 Papercuts Front Page.