Scientology has been popularised through well-known adherents such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise and is one of the more recent, popular cults. Scientology began in the 1950s through the religious writings of popular science fiction author and occultic practitioner, L. Ron Hubbard, to amass several hundred thousand followers worldwide today. It regards people as immortal beings who need to revisit their painful past experiences in order to free themselves of their effects. The spiritual healing process through which adherents are counselled is termed ‘auditing’, and this evolved from Hubbards earlier system known as ‘dianetics’, publicised in his 1950 book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.
Scientology teaches that the Bible is a by-product of the Hindu Scriptures, but regards Hubbards writings (since Dianetics) as its own scripture. Scientology’s lack of social concern reduces it to a religion of psycho-therapy intent on promoting personal satisfaction and self-improvement.
Although it spread across the world, including into Australia, Scientology incurred bans for practices such as ‘command’ hypnosis. It currently has legal recognition and tax exemption ion many countries, including Australia. Scientology is typically very litigious and also financially strong (through business ventures, pyramid schemes and real estate holdings). Members are encouraged to disconnect from family and friends who are antagonistic to Scientology practices, Allegations of intimidation, improper use of information, coercion and blackmail have continued to surround Scientology and ensure ongoing scrutiny globally.
Its cross has eight arms representing the eight dynamics of existence: self; sex; society; humanity; life; matter; spirit; and infinity. The horizontal bar is said to represent the material and the vertical bar the spiritual dimensions. The prominent use of the cross followed controversy over Scientology’s legitimacy as a religion.
Scientology acknowledges the existence of multiple gods, despite the Bible saying there is one (Isaiah 43:10-11 and 44:6) and does not recognise Jesus as God or, in fact, as any more than a fable (despite 2 Peter 1:16 and Colossians 1:15-17, etc.). Despite Jesus having come to call sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17) and stating that He was the only way to God (John 14:6), Scientologists deny the existence of Hell and the need for personal salvation and they affirm the universal validity of all religious faiths.