Scientology: The Marks of Religion

Frank K. Flinn, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor

in Religious Studies

Washington University

Saint Louis, Missouri



     (c) Thirdly, the dedicated aim of Scientology is to assist enough people to attain the status of “Clear” so that the tide of civilization may turn to the better. This aim has the character of an ultimate concern and commitment. Each of the great historic religions has a central core of teaching which provides its followers a compelling motivation to fulfill its religious mission on a worldwide scale and with a sense of urgency and ultimacy.

     For the Buddhist that core teaching is summed up in the religious notion of “release” (moksa) from the entangling bonds of craving and the bestowal of bliss in egoless thought (nirvana). The Buddhist scripture, The Dhammapada, has the Buddha declare: “All the rafters [of my old house] are broken, shattered the roof-beam; my thoughts are purified of illusion; the extinction of craving has been won” (section 154). The ultimacy of this awakening is what motivated and motivates every Buddhist monk and missionary.

     As I have noted above, the Scientology belief in past lives is closely related to the Buddhist idea of samsara; likewise, the Scientology notion of “Clearing” has close affinities with the Buddhist belief in moksa. As Buddhist missionaries in the past sought to make available to all sentient beings “release” from the cravings of existence, so also the Scientologist missionary strives to make available to one and all the opportunity to be rid of engrams which impede universal survival, peace and abundance by becoming “Clear.”

     Zen Buddhists in Japan seek to attain satori, or “sudden enlightenment,” for all humanity, and the strength of this belief has led them to establish monasteries in the Americas and Europe. The Muslim conviction in the ultimacy of the word of the Prophet Muhammed—summed up in the great shahada: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammed is his prophet"—gives the missionaries of Islam the strength of conviction to seek converts on a worldwide scale. In the Biblical tradition, the most compelling core belief which motivated and still motivates missionary activity is the firm trust that God desires the ultimate salvation and universal redemption of all humankind. Thus the biblical prophet Isaiah saw God’s salvation of all the nations as the new creation of a heavenly Jerusalem on earth in which all flesh would worship the one, true God (Isaiah 66:22-23).

     In the New Testament the redemption wrought by God in Jesus the Christ is viewed by the Apostle Paul not simply as the salvation of Christians, or even of all humanity, but as the pledge of universal liberation, restoration and re-creation of the cosmos itself (Romans 8:19-23). In this context the Scientology belief in the mission of “Clearing the planet” to bring about a renewed civilization corresponds in like kind to the ultimacy of conviction which characterizes the motivation and faith of the world’s great historic religions.


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