Scientology: A Religion in South Africa

David Chidester

University of Cape Town

South Africa



     1. Church of Scientology, A Description of the Scientology Religion (Los Angeles: Church of Scientology International, 1993): 2.

     2. E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, 2 vols. (London: John Murray, 1920): I:424; Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. Joseph Ward Swain (New York: The Free Press, 1965): 62. A useful multi-dimensional “map” for the study of religion has been developed by Ninian Smart in a number of publications, including The Religious Experience of Mankind (Glasgow: Collins, 1971); The Science of Religion and the Sociology of Knowledge (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973); The Phenomenon of Religion (London: Macmillan, 1973); and Worldviews: Cross-cultural Explorations of Human Beliefs (New York: Charles Scribners, 1983). For further discussion of defining religion, see David Chidester, Gordon Mitchell, Isabel Apawo Phiri, and A. Rashied Omar, Religion in Public Education: Options for a New South Africa, 2nd edn. (Cape Town: UCT Press, 1994).

     3. Emile Benveniste, Indo-European Language and Society (trans.) Elizabeth Palmer (London: Faber and Faber, 1973; orig. edn. 1969): 522.

     4. J. T. van der Kemp, “An Account of the Religion, Customs, Population, Government, Language, History, and Natural Productions of Caffraria,” Transactions of the [London] Missionary Society, Vol. 1 (London: Bye & Law, 1804): 432.

     5. W. M. Eiselen, “Geloofsvorme van Donker Afrika,” Tydskrif vir Wetenskap en Kuns 3 (1924/25): 84.

     6. Peter Harrison, ’Religion’ and the Religions in the Enqlish Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990): 39.

     7. David A. Pailin, Attitudes to Other Religions: Comparative Religion in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Britain (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984).

     8. F. Max Müller, Introduction to the Science of Religion (London: Trübners, 1873).

     9. In addition to the work of Harrison and Pailin cited above, recent accounts cf the historical emergence of the modern terms “religion” and “religions” have also been provided by Peter Byrne, Natural Reliaion and the Nature of Religion: The Legacy of Deism (London: Routledge, 1989); J. Samuel Preus, Explaining Religion: Criticism and Theory from Bodin to Freud (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987); Eric J. Sharpe, Comparative Religion: A History, 2nd edn. (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1986); and Michel Despland and Gerard Vallée (eds.) Reliqion in History: The Word, the Idea, the Reality (Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1992). For deep background, see Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1962); Michel Despland, La religion en Occident: Evolution des idees et du vécu (Montreal: Fides, 1979); and Ernst Feil, Reliqio: Die Geschichte eines neuzeitlichen Grundbeqriffs vom Frühchristentum bis zur Reformation (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1986). For an analysis of the historical production of the terms “religion” and “religions” in southern Africa, see David Chidester, Savage Systems: Colonialism, Religion, and Comparative Religion in Southern Africa (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, forthcoming 1996) .

     10. On the anti-cult movement, see David Bromley and Anson D. Shupe, The New Vigilantes: Deprogrammers, Anti-Cultists, and the New Religions (Beverly Hills, California: Sage, 1980). In academic analysis, anti-cult claims can reappear in theoretical models that depict new religions as psychopathology, entrepreneurial enterprises, or social deviance. See William Sims Bainbridge and Rodney Stark, “Cult Formation: Three Compatible Models,” in Jeffrey K. Hadden and Theodore E. Long, eds., Religion and Religiosity in America (New York: Crossroad, 1983): 35-53.

     11. G. P. C. Kotzé, et al., Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Scientology for 1972 (Pretoria: Government Printer, 1973): 208.

     12. G. C. Oosthuizen, The Church of Scientology: Religious Philosophy, Religion, and Church (Johannesburg: Church of Scientology, 1975): 11.

     13. L. Ron Hubbard, Creation of Human Ability: A Handbook for Scientologists (East Grinstead, Sussex: Publications Organization World Wide, 1968; orig. edn. 1954): 251.

     14. For an example of this approach, see Hendrik Kraemer, The Christian Message in a Non-Christian World (London: Edinburgh House Press, 1938).


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For further study on the Scientology religion:

  • Church of Scientology of Johannesburg
  • Church of Scientology International Spokesperson
  • Scientology Volunteer Ministers
  • Scientology Helped Me: Tom Cruise
  • Scientology Marriage Solutions
  • Church of Scientology Int'l on Religious Freedom
  • The Church of Scientology
  • Religious Tolerance: Church of Scientology
  • Studies in Contemporary Religion
  • The Religious Status of Scientology