What is Scientology? The answer is as simple or as complex as the one asking and the one answering wants to make it. Since its creation in 1952, Scientology has been seen by some as a religion, others as a cult, still others as a joke. Is it, as its creator L. Rob Hubbard asserted, a philosophy? Or is it just an extension of Hubbard's career as a science fiction writer? Either way, more than 50 years later Scientology continues to be at the center of a heated debate of what defines religion, celebrity, cults, man's origins and exploitation. As recently as last month, the debate over Scientology flared up in Europe as the philosophy's common intersection of celebrity and culture clashed. Actor Tom Cruise's ties to Scientology came into conflict with Germany's criticism on the group, which it sees as a cult.
[...] "Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Green and Power." Time, May http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972865,00.html. Behar, Richard. "The Scientologists and Me." Time, May http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972886,00.html. Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin. "Scientology: Religion or racket?" Marburg Journal of Religion 8 (2003). Cieply, Michael, and Mark Landler. "Plot Thickens in a Tom Cruise Film, Long Before the Cameras Begin to Roll." The New York Times, June B1 Corydon, Bent. L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman. Fort Lee: Barricade Books Fleming, Michael. "Inside Move: 'South Park' feeling some celeb heat?." Variety, March http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117939918.html?categoryid=14&cs=1. [...]
[...] Petersburg (Fla.) Times found that eight members of the Church of Scientology had died in Clearwater since 1980. four of those deaths,” wrote Lucy Morgan, the reporter on the story. “Like (Lisa) McPherson's, relatives or law enforcement officials suspect that the church's health regimen or its opposition to psychiatric care precluded appropriate medical care.”[xvii] It's the death of McPherson, a 36-year-old who died in 1995 which has brought great scrutiny on the church. She was pronounced dead due to dehydration and malnutrition while under the care of the church. [...]
[...] Before the creation of Scientology and Dianetics, the self-improvement technique which preceded it, Hubbard was a pulp science fiction author. His stories of aliens and space evolved into Dianetics, which was first published in a science fiction magazine. Once Dianetics hit book form, Hubbard was already proclaiming its importance to the world: "the creation of dianetics is a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch."[iii] Dianetics eventually evolved into Scientology, which became an actual church with physical church centers, while Hubbard's philosophy expanded from mere self-improvement to a creed which looked from internal workings of man's spirit to his galactic origin. [...]
[...] To them, Scientology was dreamed up by Hubbard as both a money making venture and a way to continue the mythology of his own life. In many retellings of Scientology's Earthly origins, Hubbard is said to have claimed to have started a religion solely for the purpose of profit. “(Hubbard) began making statements to the effect that any writer who really wished to make money should stop writing and develops religion, or devises a new psychiatric method. Harlan Ellison's version is that Hubbard is reputed to have told (John W. [...]
[...] Recognize them for what they are; psychotic criminals-- and handle them accordingly."[ix] Even Tom Cruise, the world's most famous Scientology adherent, got away from the typical celebrity interview when he spoke out against the use of Ritalin in children in an exchange on the Today Show. It was outbursts such as Cruise's, the criticism and exposure of Scientology have gotten more and more public, including one of the controversial cartoon episodes of all time. The exposure of the Xenu origin story had first come to light on the Internet in 1995, but didn't enter the public forum until the airing of South Park's “Trapped in the Closet” on Nov The cartoon laid out the Xenu myth, stating in a title card “This is what Scientologists actually believe.” The episode was a critical success, but was pulled from rebroadcast by its network, which feared a lawsuit from the church and from Cruise, who was satirized throughout the storyline. [...]
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