Globalization: Social & Geographic Perspectives

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Creolization of Scientology

March 16th, 2011 · 1 Comment
Creolization Essay - Assignment # 1

Scientology has been a part of one of the most controversial religious movements to appear during the 20th century.  Its original purpose was intended to be a new psychotherapy and was not expected to become a religion.  As a religion, the Church of Scientology was incorporated in Camden, New Jersey by creator L. Ron Hubbard. Scientology brings a method of spiritual rehabilitation through counseling known as auditing. This counseling aims to bring back painful or traumatic events in ones past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects. Reliving and conquering painful pasts will then bring the Scientologist to the thetan, or ones true identity as a spiritually free individual.

Even before Scientology was introduced as a religion the term “Scientology” was used and valued differently. In 1901, Allen Upward coined Scientology “as a disparaging term to indicate a blind, unthinking acceptance of scientific doctrine”. In 1934, Anastasius Nordenholz used the term to mean “science of science”. Now the term has a whole new meaning as a religion and has gained recognition worldwide. Countries like Australia, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Croatia, Hungary and Kyrgystan practice the religion of Scientology and even performances of marriages have been made in South Africa through the practice.

L. Ron Hubbard’s religious creation of Scientology has come a long way through the years spreading far away from its original location in New Jersey and has brought many followers as its recognition grows. In 2005, the Church of Scientology stated membership worldwide to be 8 million, but this included people who did not continue on after the introductory level. In 2007, 3.5 million members were reported in the United States. Membership reported decreased in 2008 to a low of 25,000 members, this may be a false count because the number reported represents how many people identified as Scientologists when asked their religion.

Although Scientology members have fallen to a smaller portion as it once did this does not hide the fact that the practice of Scientology has evolved. Scientology now operates 8 churches that are “Celebrity Centers” where entertainers as well as other people are welcome. This has caused controversy being that the Church of Scientology looks to converting celebrities to advocate the beliefs of the religion but I believe this is a smart method in order to get more members. Entertainers such as John Travolta, Kristie Allen, Lisa Marie Presley, Tom Cruise and Will Smith are just a few who have publicized Scientology.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1    Prof. Hala // Mar 26, 2011 at 9:49 am

    Very interesting essay, well-conceived and well-written. I found your point about the variations in the meaning of the term “Scientology” especially interesting. That idea of blind acceptance of scientific doctrine, these days, tends to be described as “scientism.” In terms of creolization, it’s also quite interesting how “scientific” values and claims were combined with “religious” ideas to create this new religion, which, rather than disavowing science as a basis for claim making, seized on science’s (now global) “legitimacy.”

    The membership size question is an important one. I’m not sure I understand why the 2008 number, which is based on self-identification, is considered a “false count.” Is it that the decrease is thought to be overstated, since the previous counts were the organization’s own numbers based on…who was on their mailing list? I ask because I have anecdotal evidence that their mailing list is significantly bloated with people who put their constant mailings straight into the recycling bin. These are people who might have used some coupon in a health food store, inquired into some random “New Age” product or literature, and then ended up on their list — and could never get off it, no matter how they tried. For example, my father, who I imagine checked off some box somewhere after hearing some generic pitch about “spiritual rehabilitation” — which to people who are curious or questioning about “official” religion or science or mental health approaches, etc., may be appealing — and they get on the list and can *never* get off! (My father died 12 yrs ago and they still mail stuff to my mother’s house. We call and write, but we can’t get off it.)

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