Unraveling the Mystery of Scientology: A Religion, Psychiatry, or Mafia-style Criminal Organization?

Scientology has had its share of controversy over the years. Last year, it was the focus of major news outlets for a significant amount of time. This year is shaping up to be similar, with defendants from the Danny Masterson rape case alleging that the organization engages in mafia-style tactics to silence its members and profit from illegal activities. Scientology has always been shrouded in mystery, making it difficult to understand exactly what it is and what it means to be a Scientologist. Depending on the source, Scientology is described as a religion, a path to mental health, a way to cure physical ailments, a cult, or a sophisticated version of the mob. To understand Scientology, it’s important to start at the beginning. It was founded in 1954 by writer L. Ron Hubbard, who was not an expert on religious matters but mainly wrote westerns, horror, and science fiction. Scientology was based on the concept that each individual has two parts of their mind – one rational and one not. Dianetics specifically describes the human mind as having a conscious “analytical mind” and a subconscious “reactive mind.” The reactive mind, according to Dianetics, houses traumatic and painful past experiences that can lead to mental health issues or physical ailments if left unchecked. Scientology offers a cure through a process called “auditing,” in which individuals are asked questions to locate and erase internal pain from their mind with the goal of becoming “clear.” The auditing process has raised eyebrows and put Scientology in the spotlight, as it comes with a fee. In 1958, the IRS revoked Scientology’s tax-exempt status due to their auditing processes being perceived more as mental therapy than a religion. This led to a battle with the IRS, culminating in the organization regaining its tax-exempt status in 1993, the longest investigation in the agency’s history. Scientology’s internal system is highly organized and designed to counter any negative press or attacks. Its headquarters is in Clearwater, Florida, with leaders primarily residing on ships called Sea Organizations. The leader of Scientology, David Miscavige, holds the title of Captain. The Scientology website describes the organization as a religion offering a path to understanding one’s spiritual nature and relationships. However, the internal doctrine of Scientology reveals more, as it explains the belief in past lives and the concept of Thetans, immortal beings who are released from their physical bodies when reaching a “clear state.” The secret texts of Scientology describe how an intergalactic ruler named Xenu destroyed billions of aliens on Earth, creating the Thetans that cause turmoil for humans until they are cleared. While Tom Cruise sees Scientology as a way to improve, these beliefs raise questions about the organization’s foundation and operation. Is Scientology simply a religion open to the fantasy aspects of belief, or is there a more sinister side to it?