"Scientologists hold the bible as a holy work, and have no argument with the Christian belief that Jesus Christ was the Savior of Mankind and the Son of God . . .There are many types of redemption. That of Christ was to heaven." - L. Ron Hubbard, What is Scientology, page 545.
Coverage by the press since then has, if anything, increased. So had the number of books concerning Hubbard and the church. Paulette Cooper, herself a victim of a failed Scientologist plot to implicate her in a fake bombing threat, (revealed in seized files obtained in an FBI raid) wrote a stinging expose entitled "The Scandal of Scientology." Others, most notably Bent Corydon and Russell Miller, followed with equally hard hitting books that attacked Hubbard mercilessly. They alleged, among other things that he had falsified his war record so as to appear a hero and claimed decorations that he neither received or deserved. They traced his life citing lie after lie, Hubbard came off in these as an essentially mean man whose main interest was in the making of money and controlling other's lives.
In 1980 the St. Petersburg Times won a national award for its series of stories concerning the secretive arrival of Hubbard and his supporters in Clearwater, Florida. For years preceding his arrival in Florida he had been sailing, in several ships, throughout the Mediterranean. After being denied entry, or forced to leave various countries he landed in Daytona, sold his ships and purchased the old Ft. Harrison Hotel, under the name of "United Churches," in downtown Clearwater, Florida. This property, now greatly renovated, serves, with many other more recently purchased properties, (a total of some 23 properties valued at over $20 million) as the spiritual center of this group, much to the disgust of many past and present city officials.
In 1990 the Los Angeles Times wrote a six-part expose of Scientology followed in 1991 by a scathing article, "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power," appeared in Time magazine. Some years earlier Time had printed a now famous picture of Hubbard with an e-meter (a device we will get to shortly) hooked up to a tomato plant. In this same article Dr. Edward Lottick, whose son committed suicide while a member of Scientology, concluded after conducting a personal investigation of this group, "I now believe it's a school for psychopaths." Scientology sued, they did not, however, prevail in court.
A host of other stories have appeared about Scientology over the years, a surprising number of them from outside the US. Virtually every crime has been laid at the feet of Hubbard's followers. Among these are smuggling, tax evasion, fraud, kidnaping, false imprisonment, theft, breaking and entering, practicing medicine without a licence, extortion and taking advantage of mentally incapacitated persons. Scientology has also been active in other legal arenas often suing people for copyright infringement concerning the publication, mostly on the Internet, of certain secret teachings or scriptures.
1997, the year of this writing, has seen Scientology continually in the news. Prestigious papers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Tampa Tribune, and the St. Petersburg Times have all attacked the IRS for granting Scientology a tax exempt status. The press has alleged unusual circumstances in the granting of the application. Scientology had numerous suits (over 2,000) pending against the IRS at the time the exemption was granted in 1993. Concurrent with this was the extensive press coverage of the Lisa McPherson case. McPherson, 36, a long time church member was involved in a minor car accident. Although unhurt she took her clothing off and started walking down the street naked. She was taken to a hospital for a mental evaluation. Soon after some Scientologists arrived at the hospital and told the doctor that "Psychiatry was against her religion." Later she left, against medical advice, after church members promised to care and watch over her. Seventeen days later she was DOA at a hospital 25 miles out of town who had a Scientologist on their staff. He pronounced her dead of infection. The medical examiner has a very different theory of how she died. Her estate has filed a wrongful death suit against the church.
During this year the government of Germany has placed this group under government surveillance and restricted their access to government employment. Scientology is involved in lawsuits in most European countries and has recently suffered a huge judgement against its church in Oslo, Norway.
Scientology is controversial, to say the least, but it continues to exert its influence in society. Recently it purchased two more properties in downtown Clearwater and has plans to soon erect a forty-million dollar "Power center" across from the Ft. Harrison Hotel on what is now vacant land. Similar expansion is currently in hand in California where new buildings and administration sites are under construction. Scientology publications list many new and ambitious projects, some in the US, a lot of it in Latin America. A $114 million project to preserve Hubbard's writings in nuclear blast resistant tunnels is almost complete.
Scientology has always sought to attract the rich and the famous into its ranks. Among the artists, musicians and actors who adhere to Hubbard's teachings are Michael Jackson, Anne Archer, Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise. John Travolta, Chick Corea and Nicloe Kidman. CNN legal commentator Gerta Von Susteren is a member.
While few groups have attracted as much hostile sentiment as they have their income per year is in the hundreds of millions. This is in keeping with the tradition of their founder, Hubbard was thought to have over $200 million in liquid reserves when he died.
Prominent on, and in, many Scientology magazines, books and promotional literature is a cross roughly similar to that used by Christians since the most early days of Christianity. One would suppose then that, on the face of it, Scientology may be a part or a sect of Christianity. If not, then why use a symbol so closely linked to the Christian religion? Scientologists say that within its ranks both Catholics and Baptists may be found. If this is true then presumably one could find members of other Christian sects there too like Lutherans, Episcopalians and Methodists.
So just what is the relationship between this relatively new religion and Christianity? Is there a legitimate basis for this use of a symbol long linked to the followers of Christ? These are questions that need to be answered and so far, to the best of my knowledge, they have not been fully addressed.
I apologize for the lack of footnotes in this paper, the format does not allow for their easy use. If you would like to comment on this essay please contact me at: email@example.com.
This article may be freely downloaded and may be reproduced only in its entirety. Excerpts for critical and scholarly review may be used as provided by law.
If there is one common element, one single thread that is to be found in all societies at all times, although in varying degrees and means of expression, it is curiosity. Man is a curious creature. In certain areas of the world it produced the wheel and arch, in others rich lore and art. All knowledge, whether stored in books or in the minds of the village elders, is the result of curiosity. Another area of commonality between technological and non-technological societies is the interest in the existence of God or a supreme Being(s). And by extrapolation the ultimate fate of the individual and the cosmos. Until very recent times the interest in the Divine was a matter of great importance for the State as well as the individual. Nor was the idea of a God or gods ever in doubt as entire societies universally presupposed the existence of the Almighty.
Certain activities in the quest for religious knowledge or experience seem inevitable. The first of these, the primary one in fact, is determining where the Divine Will can be found. There are countless ways in which this has been done. Historically people have consulted prophets, if they were living, or read their writings or heard their collected sayings. Other men or women who were thought to have some special insight or divine commission have been eagerly sought to serve as teachers and gurus. Various oracles opined at both individual and state request and quests for holy objects undertaken. The places and people that have at one time or another been considered as possible sources for the word of God is overwhelming and the number of books, tablets, scrolls, inscriptions, parchments, and the like whether extant or not is enormous.
But regardless of the source you choose, or have chosen for you as in today's Iran, your source of divine knowledge becomes the basis of your religious belief. Again, the intrinsic value of your beliefs is a matter of opinion.
Another necessary activity universally employed in ascertaining the Divine Will is the understanding of it. Once you have, or have had it done for you, discovered the mechanism that the Almighty has used to dispense the divine will it does not follow automatically that you will be able to comprehend it. Frequently in the history of religion one comes across sages, divines, priests, ministers, bishops and popes that are called upon to teach, explain or demonstrate the teachings of God. Nor have these experts, not unlike the "Experts" who take pot shots at each other in today's courts, agreed with each other. Experts always tend to disagree with each other it seems. In times where people took what are now considered trivial points of religious contention seriously wars were fought to settle the point. Unseemly debates took place like the medieval one where theologians debated how many angles could dance on the head of a pin.
There always seem to be areas of debate or expansion of thought in religion except in one important realm. And that is that argument may be permissible, in varying degrees according to the latitude allowed by the individual faith so long as the central core of its beliefs are not violated. For example, one cannot belong to a monotheistic religion and pray to multiple gods anymore than a Hindu could deny reincarnation. Nor could a Zoroastrian doubt the dual nature of the cosmos or a Moslem deny Muhammad's divine authority. Peripheral matters may sometimes be debated, and there is sometimes debate on what is considered "Peripheral," but the central premise of a religion cannot be grossly violated using the examples that I have given.
A further necessary ingredient that is universally found is the premise that once the source of the divine authority has been found and a study undertaken to understand them is that these mandates are to be followed. And that in doing so some reward will accrue to the believer or devotee. These rewards and benefits may vary considerably. They may be purely material, they may offer knowledge, wisdom, power, insight, status or anything desired in fact. They may offer eternal life. But whatever the perceived benefits are they must be thought worth the effort of doing whatever the God or gods command. Often, as in the promise of eternal life, the benefits are seen as unobtainable elsewhere.
Rewards, punishments too, are part of the process of identifying, understanding and following the perceived divine will. This basic and easily understood mechanism are the building blocks of theology, the system of knowledge about and beliefs in, the Supreme Being.
Yes they do, they agree with their core of beliefs, their basic theology. And these core elements are the belief that Christ died for both the sins of humanity in general and the individual believer in particular. This belief is paramount to Christian belief, as the Apostle Paul says, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain," (I Cor. 15:16).
The Gospel does not equivocate on this point, the Christian system of beliefs and knowledge of God depend on it. No Christian could be a Christian without it being the focal point of his religion, and by extension, his or her life. Also implicit in this is the belief that you have only one life to decide what you will, or will not, believe. There is no provision for more earthly lives in Christian thought, you are ultimately judged, for eternity, on this one existence. Reincarnation is emphatically denied by basic Christian beliefs. "It is appointed unto man once to die, but after that the judgement," Heb. 10:27.
This is the standard that comparability between Christianity and other religions must be judged. Do their core beliefs contradict or stand in opposition to these tenants?
Scientology has claimed that its beliefs in no way stand in contradiction to Christian teaching. Before we can make any comparisons we must first look at Scientology and examine their various teachings. Where are the repositories of their divine teachings to be found? How do they study them and how does it influence their lives? Just what is their system of knowledge of God or gods? What rewards can they expect and what punishments do they fear? In short, what is their theology?
Hubbard's book described a new line of thought, he said, in the field of mental research. The mind he said, was divided into two parts, the analytical mind where we make rational decisions and the "Reactive" mind, somewhat similar to Freud's sub-conscious mind, where problems are dealt with instinctively according to similar circumstances previously encountered. In the reactive mind pictures of past events are kept called "Engrams." Most of these engrams, all of them in fact, are the result of some early mental trauma and their general effect on people was harmful. They prohibit people from any sort of mental growth or understanding of the world around them. These engrams though, can be eliminated by a proper understanding of the conditions from which they arose. In his book Hubbard began his lifelong work on how best to eliminate the reactive mind, a person no longer afflicted with this harmful vestige is termed "Clear." It is the goal of every person involved with Dianetics to reach this desired state. Hubbard also claimed that a Clear would have a higher IQ than formerly, and suffer no disease of a psychosomatic nature. He made many medical claims, evidently he considered most if not all disease to have a mental origin. These claims were later to involve him and his adherents with considerable trouble from medical groups and governmental agencies. Hubbard also claimed that a Clear would enjoy a perfect memory. This claim was soon called into question when skeptical newsmen, who were watching a public display of the "Powers" of Hubbards first Clear, asked her what color of tie he had on. She was unable to make a reply to the acute embarrassment of Hubbard and his followers.
The process in which these engrams are removed from the mind is called "Auditing." a series of question are asked to which the subject replies. During this process a device, called an "E-METER" is used to test the responses. This battery run device is generally a small rectangular box about the size of the proverbial bread box, (The new plastic ones are far more stylish than earlier ones) from which two wires extend that are connected to metal cylinders about the size of small tin cans. The box has a dial on it that is calibrated to react to various conditions. One cylinder is held in each hand by the person being audited. The person doing the auditing, called in fact an "Auditor," sits across from the subject and asks questions, looking at the dial and noting the replies.
Hubbard asserted that these engrams had actual physical weight and that their removal would result in less mass for the small electrical current to pass through. This decrease in mass would be indicated on the e-meter. He said that "As much as thirty pounds," could be added to a person's body by negative emotions. Critics have heaped scorn upon this notion of thoughts having detectable weight. Hubbard remained firm in his assertions concerning the value of this device and praised it highly: "If the truth be known the invention of the e-meter dwarfs inventions like that of the microscope." He never published the results of any of his research in any scientific journals or substantiated his claims concerning the e-meter or auditing. The use of the e-meter is unknown today in scientific circles.
At some point in the 1950's Hubbard turned what had been, at least from his point of view, a science, into a religion. This was the birth of Scientology. The reason for this is obscure but there are those who say it was purely a stratagem to escape government scrutiny of his doings, financial and otherwise. Religion, the part of life that deals mainly with the spirit, usually holds beliefs that are not susceptible to academic or scientific analysis. So auditing, which heretofore had been a purely secular activity was now a religious exercise.
Auditing has always been an arduous proposition. The fact that there are only some 50,00 persons made Clear in 46 years says something about the degree of difficulty. Not only are years of auditing required to reach this goal the cost is staggering. Prices differ according to where and when you take the courses but many people spend in excess of $100,000 to get there, some pay much more. The cost of ALL Scientology courses is around $350,000. Yet Scientologists are confident that they will eventually "Clear the planet" and that their prices are affordable. Scientologists say that they have eight million members worldwide, critics say that they are still working on their first million and that a 100,000 active members worldwide would be a generous estimate of their numbers.
Although auditing is the central activity of Scientology other courses are offered as well. Some are in basic communication skills; one is in obtaining better study skills. There is even one for episodes of mental illness, a "Psychotic break" in their parlance (the lexicon Hubbard created for Scientology is extensive) called "Isolation run-down." Not every person who takes a course becomes a Scientologist although a free six month membership is offered to just about anybody who avails themselves of any of their services, even just buying a book.
The primary way in which people are requited for courses is the offering of a "Free personality" course. Members, termed "Body routers," will stand on street corners and try to persuade people to take this test. Ads offering this same test are frequently seen in magazines and newspapers. Of course certain personality flaws are always uncovered and auditing is offered as a way to cure this. Critical ex-members call this free test the most expensive thing they ever did in their lives.
The auditing is delivered by members of the staff who have usually joined in order to receive the otherwise expensive auditing either free or at a very reduced rate. Foremost among the people responsible for delivering the "Tech", which is auditing in particular but seems to embrace all of Hubbards works and dictums, is the Sea Organization, a religious order whose members wear mock naval uniforms. Hubbard's infatuation with the US navy is everywhere apparent in Scientology. These members work long hours for room, board and a very small salary. There are about 1,200 members of the Sea Org. In Clearwater, FL, lesser numbers elsewhere depending on the size of the particular church and its administration.
Scientologists are either "Staff" or "Public". The public members hold jobs as ordinary citizens although they are often to be found banded together with other Scientologists for business enterprises or in Scientology groups who do not advertise their links with Hubbards followers. Critics call them "Shell corporations," or "Front groups." There are thought to be hundreds, maybe thousands, of these allied groups and businesses. Criminon and Narconon, two groups that deal with criminal and drug rehabilitation respectively, are run by Scientology.
Being a member of the Sea Org is not for the uncommitted. Even Scientology sources admit that it is difficult work. You are expected to work hard and make sure others do too. Anyone failing to do their job may expect to be severely reprimanded and loss of their few pleasures is a common punishment. Those who resist or are suspected to hold anti-Scientology sentiments, whether openly expressed or not may find themselves assigned to the RPF (rehabilitation project force) and made to wear special uniforms denoting their lowly status. They are berthed separately from others under the charge of a bos'un and they are to be seen running full tilt from one job to another. In Clearwater there are always 12-15 members assigned to this at any time, witnesses say that seeing them being herded down the street to a waiting bus is an experience that one is not likely to forget. Critics term the RPF a prison system that exists not only to punish but to keep members from leaving. Among ex-members horror stories concerning abuse to church members are rampant.
Members are taught early on how to make up a "Knowledge Report" on the failings of others and submit these to proper authorities. Any crime against the organization or doubt about the value or practice of Scientology is a matter to be reported. Most offenses are considered "Ethics" offenses, the definition of "Ethics" in Scientology is loyalty to Scientology. It does not relate in any way to the dictionary meaning of the word. Scientology members are also told that the prime directive is to "Keep Scientology Working," at all costs and under all conditions. This allows them a lot of latitude for Hubbard admonished his followers to "Never be afraid to hurt another in a just cause."
While the "Spiritual" center of Scientology is in Clearwater the Administration is centered in Los angles, CA. Around the world there are some 350 full churches and missions. They range in size from a mere handful of members to several thousand. The industrial nations of the world have always been targets for Scientologist expansion, poorer countries have little, if any, contact with this group. There is no such thing as giving auditing to the poor and needy. The less fortunate, even the handicapped, are considered "Downstat", meaning unproductive, and get little attention from Scientologists.
These upper level courses, available only to Clears are extensive and costly. They are taught only at Clearwater, The Saint Hill center in Los Angeles and on the Scientology-owned cruise ship Freewinds that sails mainly in the Caribbean.
The OT (Operating Thetan) levels and the NOTs (New ERA Dianetics for Operating Thetans) comprise the upper levels of Scientology. Exactly how many levels exist, Hubbard probably didn't live to finish them all, is a matter of some conjecture.
A few years ago an anonymous poster put a great many, if not all of the secret teachings actually in use, on the Internet. Scientology immediately sued the people who copied this anonymous listing and put them on their web pages. Claiming both copyright infringement and trade secret violations they were able to close down many of these sites. However, in some instances, notably in Norway, they met with less than total success. This is still going on, critics put the teachings up and Scientology lawyers pursue them. This became known as the "Scientology war against the Internet." A massive spamming campaign (spam means junk mail) was also launched against the newsgroup alt. Religion.scientology , a newsgroup comprised mainly of Scientology critics. Eventually this attempt to overwhelm this newsgroup with unwanted mail was abandoned. There is no proof that Scientology was behind this but critics point to Scientology's past behavior in attempting to silence its enemies.
There is nothing new in the idea that not all scriptures can be given to initiates. The practice of withholding key doctrine from neophytes is more prevalent though in the east than the west. In India spiritual teachers such as gurus are sometimes reluctant to take on a pupil unless that person has shown sufficient mastery of basic concepts and has shown the requisite devotion by lengthy study. Then too the teacher assumes the karma of the student, something not to be taken lightly. One's karma can be burdensome in itself much less the responsibility of someone else's. Classes in such situations are usually small.
Such practices are not unknown among Christian fringe groups but in mainline Christianity all scriptures are available for anyone to study.
Scientology holds that the premature exposure to their secret teachings puts the person at risk, various ailments are claimed to attend their premature study. Critics point out that since they were put on the Internet there have been no widespread reports of mysterious diseases.
The most interesting and perhaps the most crucial secret teaching in Scientology is OT III. Hubbard said the finding of this information involved a great deal of risk to him personally, he is said to have barely survived in fact. He went through a "Wall of fire" to obtain them, a description often used in Scientology sales pitches urging Clears to take the course.
The story involved in OT III which I will give in summary form is an interesting one:
A long time ago, 75 million years ago in fact, a galactic empire was ruled by the emperor Xenu (pronounced zee-new), who was faced with a difficult problem insofar as the overcrowding of his planets went. He decided to send the surplus to earth, then known as Teegeeak. He removed the population here in spaceships that resembled DC8's, only they had more advanced engines under their wings. Once they were here, billions of them, he killed them off by means of atomic bombs exploded from the tops of volcanoes. Hubbard listed the volcanoes used in their destruction. The story does not stop here though, for the wily Xenu knew that while he could kill their bodies he could not kill their immortal Thetans or souls who would be reborn. So he set up large electronic devices, grids of some sort to catch their souls as they went whizzing by. Like flies on flypaper he caught them. Then the were taken off to be brainwashed into believing all sort of things, the results of which plague the world today. You see all of us are now infested with these Thetans, now called "Body Thetans" because, unaware of what they really are due to the efforts of Xenu, they think the ARE the body. An example of this would be a pain in your elbow, chances are that it is really a Body Thetan (one of them who is awake anyway) thinking it IS your elbow, hence the pain from your elbow being invaded by this spiritual pest. Everyone, Clear or not, is invested with these beasties, hundreds of them, thousands perhaps. Some are singly present, some in clusters, most sleeping, a few pesky ones awake. The danger is, of course, than an inexperienced person messing around with these Body Thetans could wake them up and be unable to get rid of them causing a terrible result.
Perhaps their motto should be to "Let sleeping Body Thetans lay." It should be noted that Xenu was eventually captured and imprisoned in an extinct volcano. He could still be there.
How does one be rid of these spiritual fleas? Well, more auditing. If a Body Thetan knows what it truly is (a spirit, not a body) it will simply get up and depart. There is a very involved and rigorous procedure to audit these vermin away. Perhaps I am wrong in disparaging these souls, after all, they were once very much like you and me.
This, in abbreviated form, is the story of OT III. It involves more than the mere tale, the tech to audit away the body Thetans is an integral part of it. The reward for undergoing this is immense. Testimonials found frequently in Scientology periodicals claim the ability of precognition, ESP, mind reading and the ability to move around in time. One reader reported that he was saved from certain death under the wheels of a speeding truck but was saved by the simple expedient of moving himself back ten seconds in time. Instead of being run over he found himself back on the porch that he had just left! Even ordinary auditing is claimed, again by testimonials published by Scientology, to cure everything from lung cancer to heart disease so it is logical that the results of taking these advanced courses must lead to incalculable powers. Critics point out though that there is a conspicuous lack of super-men and super-women in the ranks of Scientology.
The issue of secret doctrines is an interesting and difficult subject. The obvious drawback is that is you do not know what lies ahead when you join a religion, Scientology or another, you could find the end result very unpleasant. What if you find out, that after years of study and expense, the sacred doctrines are trivial or an insult to anyone's intelligence?
Most people who hear for the first time an explanation of the secret teachings of Scientology are incredulous that anyone could believe it. Or they question if these are in fact the real teachings and not a fabrication designed to smear the reputation of this group. The fact that Scientology has zealously pursued persons engaged in disseminating these doctrines seems to argue strongly for their legitimacy. They have never alleged, as far as I can determine, that these unauthorized posting were false or scurrilous. Ex-members who have taken these courses, and it may be one or more of them who "Stole" them for publication, attest to their accuracy. There are many indications from numerous hints given in Hubbards writings that would also seem to confirm that these teachings are, indeed, his work.
Certain scholars seem to think so. In Scientology's official web page the opinions of a number of religious scholars is given. Generally they conclude that auditing is a genuine religious exercise because it could conceivably lead to some personal, hence spiritual, development.
On the face of it there are some serious objections that could be raised against that line of thought. Hubbard himself never claimed any Divine inspiration or commission form God when he developed auditing. On the contrary he held it to be a science. Auditing started out as a purely secular activity in Dianetics before becoming the religious activity of Scientology. What were once fees are now fixed donations. Ex-members have on occasion set up shop doing auditing on a purely business level. It is difficult to see what it is in auditing that has any relationship whatsoever to religion. To sum up there is no sense attempting to analyze the theology of this group because there is not a vestige of one to be found, even a rudimentary one. Yes, they believe in reincarnation but it is not meddled in by God. The only humans who had any influence in this matter were Xenu and Hubbard.
The argument could be made that any company could claim to be a religious group and apply for tax exemption using Scientology as an example. Microsoft for instance could proclaim a general belief in God. Bill Gates could hand out some clerical collars to his sales staff and hold sales meeting on Sunday mornings. The product sold, software, could be held to be of benefit to humanity and hence, spiritually enlightening. The process of developing software could, like auditing, be termed some sort of spiritual quest or duty. Employees could wear some zany uniforms if that were thought important. A complex cosmology could be made using a duality of good and evil. It could be said that their divine commission revolved around saving humanity from the dark and evil forces of Apple, one of their competitors. But would this constitute a religion? No, it wouldn't. It would fail the duck test - "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, then it IS a duck." We could say here that if it looks like a business, acts like a business, and makes money like a business, then it IS a business.
Yes, there are a few experts who will claim that Scientology is a religion but they fail dismally to identify a theology. They have taken a group who have no real interest in God and attempted to accredit it with purpose it does not have. But then experts do commonly disagree with each other and sophistry aside, the pro-Scientology arguments are singularly unconvincing.
But, you might ask, could not the OT levels constitute a theology? The problem with this is that only a relative handful of Scientologists ever take these upper level courses, they are for the most part unknown to the membership. It is possible to have secret teachings but not a secret theology. Unless, of course you are willing to make the argument that living in the expectation of possibly someday obtaining a theology is, in itself, a theology.
In Theology as in other areas of thought it is difficult to believe simultaneously two contradicting principals. To do so shows confusion of thought or worse. Sometimes people will, usually for purposes of gain, perform the required mental gymnastics to accomplish this but in the end it is fundamentally dishonest. One is reminded of the old woman who sold pies. When asked by a man if they were sweet or sour she tried to have it both ways by saying that they "Were tart but inclined to be very sweet."
Reincarnation, the one belief in Scientology that is easily found and prevalent in their literature, is contrary to Christian belief. It has been alleged that some early Christians believed in this doctrine but I have been unable to find any references that show it to be widespread belief or one ever taken very seriously. It is so inherently contrary to Judaism, and later Christianity, that it is difficult to believe that anyone who has studied this matter could maintain this proposition.
I have no problem in understanding how a Hindu, or a follower of Confucius for that matter, could be a Scientologist. But it seems well nigh impossible for a good Christian to be one. It is possible, likely in fact that there are to be found in Scientology people who still claim to be Christians. They may well claim that they are Catholics or Baptists, even Lutherans or Episcopalians. But then again some people are surprisingly ignorant of the teachings of their religion. One can be a Scientologist, or a Christian, but to be both is a "House divided against itself."
This brings us back to the original question. Why the cross of Scientology? There is no discernible relationship between these two religions, only differences.
Not everyone who has used the Christian cross in its ceremonies or literature has done so for a good purpose. Unscrupulous persons, some of them wrapped in clerical authority, have abused the higher purpose of this symbol. History past and present is full of such abuse. We also see it used among those who have worshiped dark powers. In the "Black Mass" it has been used, albeit inverted, as part of sacrilege. Among Satanists it is used to mock the very purpose that it exists. The worship of Satan in the middle ages was serious business, according to the chronicles of their times. Nowadays when it occurs it seems more often than not the work of ignorant teens simply aping the more serious blasphemies of earlier times and reveling in the attention they receive. Still, serious or foolish, the practice still survives.
Alister Crowley (1875-1947), a British mystic and writer, was notorious in the 1930's for his sensational lifestyle. A practitioner of the occult, drug addict and self proclaimed reprobate who called himself "The Beast" referred to in the Bible, also used a cross roughly like the Christian one. The cross used by him and his followers is very close to the one used by Scientologists. Several writers have found a close connection between Hubbard and Crowley's followers and the charge has been made that the Cross of Scientology owes more to Crowley's "Magicians cross" than to the Christian crucifix.
The lack of any plausible relationship between Scientology and Christianity must then draw into question the motivation for the Scientologists apparent suborning of this symbol. Critics say that this is nothing less than a calculated effort to deceive people and make Hubbard's crackpot religion look more respectable and more palatable to Society at large, the majority of whom by either upbringing or conviction are Christians. A good friend of mine told me that he had always thought Scientology to be like the sect Christian Science. He was astounded to learn otherwise. I doubt if he was the first that ever thought that.
There is always danger attending to ascribing motivation for someone's actions for obvious reasons. But here the most charitable thing that can be said in this particular instance is that Hubbard and his adherents chose the Christian symbol out of sheer ignorance, perhaps thinking that it was some sort of generic religious icon available for anyone to use. Given Hubbard's travel, his wide interests in many parts of human endeavor and his shrewd manipulation of people, I would have to discount any suggestion that he did this out of naivety.
To conclude I must say that it certainly looks like there is something unsavory going on here. It's almost like the old "Bait-and-switch" in sales. This is where an item is advertised to look very appealing to the consumer but is only used to lure people into the store where something higher priced can be sold to him. Using this line of thought some interesting observations could be made. The public gets baited by Dianetics, which sounds like a science, then they get switched to Scientology, which says that it is a religion.. They get baited with the cross like that of Christianity, then they get switched to reincarnation and Xenu.
I am surprised that Christians everywhere wouldn't be more upset over the use that the cross is being put to. It appears to be used in the promotion of a group that can claim no legitimate relationship to Christianity. A reasonable question too is whether the actions of Scientology can be considered at all "Christian."
There are many web sites on Scientology, here are a few: