Professor, Sociology of Religion
University of Lille III
Many Scientologists are managers, company directors, professional people, sportsmen and show business personnel. They have usually reached at least A level in their general education, often higher. The characteristics of Scientology which we have just described allow the members to feel at home because of the education they have already received. We can add that Scientology also speaks to the fears common in contemporary societyviolence, wars, nuclear threat, pollution, etc.
On the other hand, the life force required to achieve these goals is identified with God, which gives the movement spiritual legitimacy. During the Sunday services the chaplain announces that the ascension to Survival is in itself an ascension to God.6 We can find here an energetic vision of the divine common to many different metaphysical movements.7
Secondly, to Scientologists, the validity of Scientology comes from the workability of its technology. Scientology holds that the man who applies the ethics technology and uses Scientology will inevitably have a better life and increased well-being and healing which indicate success. An instance of the absence of positive results does not discredit the technology. Rather, any apparent failure invites the user to examine his own resistances, his relationship problems within society or his faulty use of the technology. In either case, he is invited to persevere because Scientologists believe there is always a technical solution to any problem. Scientology works if followed correctly. Standard technology can be consulted in Scientology texts. The application of the technology is strictly standardized; one need only follow the instructions step by step to achieve the desired result, learned by training in the religion. Certainty of the validity arises from experiencing the techniques.
Success proves the legitimacy of the technology and therefore also the applied religious philosophy and the spiritual concepts which go with it.
We wanted to know if the legitimation of Scientology as it is described in the official literature was the same as that used by the members. For this reason we interviewed 15 Scientologists. We asked them why they thought Scientology was true. The members interviewed had been in the movement for between five and 20 years. They were all highly educated. Their arguments can be divided into several categories.
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