Professor, Sociology of Religion
University of Lille III
Scientology has the characteristics of a religion. It has a theology, a set of exercises making it possible to reach the spiritual part in every human being, a very bureaucratized church structure, and religious rites. Several authors before us, even the most critical, have not doubted of its religious nature: Michel de Certeau, Roy Wallis, Bryan Wilson, Harriet Whitehead, Lonnie D. Kliever, Frank K. Flinn.
We find the following characteristics:
(1) It has techniques which are meant to make a path towards freedom as a healthy spirit in a healthy body. L. Ron Hubbard and Scientologists carry very far the rationalization of religious life and its instrumentalization. Most often it has been rightly compared to Buddhism. Some have described it as a technological Buddhism. Others have seen a resemblance with Methodism due to the systematic character of auditing (pastoral counseling).
(2) It enables the follower to give sense to cosmic, historical and personal events; it offers the believer the conviction that he holds the solution to personal and group salvation; it enables the individual to be at cause in his life and not the effect of external causes.
(3) L. Ron Hubbard is not a prophet who claimed a salvation path stemming from a revelation; he appeared as a spiritual researcher who progressively set up a salvation method, which is a path to achievement.
(4) It rests on a personal experience, somewhat mystical, which enables one to contact his own spiritual nature. It implies a religious virtuosity, i.e., an important self-commitment, and thus it is not a religion of mass worship.
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