Scientology [ ˌsaɪənˈtɒlədʒɪ ] is a New Religious Movement , whose teaching goes back to the writings of the American writer L. Ron Hubbard . In ideal terms, her teaching and practice are shaped by scientistic and psychotherapeutic components that were later expanded to include transcendent aspects.
The religious character as well as the methods of organization are highly controversial among the public . This is particularly true for Germany and France. In Germany, the Church of Scientology has been observed by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in several federal states since 1997 on the basis of a resolution by the Conference of Interior Ministers . The 2016 report says: "The SO (Scientology Organization) strives for a society without general and equal elections and rejects the democratic legal system."
In some other countries, such as the United States , the Church of Scientology enjoys tax-exempt religious group status after years of litigation.
The term Scientology is derived from the present participle active of the Latin verb scire (“to know”) or its nominalized form scientia (“knowledge”, “science”) and the Greek λόγος ( logos , including “word”, “speech” or “ Logic ”) and is translated by the Church of Scientology as knowledge about knowledge .
The Oxford English Dictionary traces the term back to the writer Anastasius Nordenholz , whose book Scientology - Science of the Constitution and Suitability of Knowledge was published in 1934. In fact, the term in the English spelling Scientology can be proven earlier.
In 1950 L. Ron Hubbard described in Dianetics (German: "Dianetics" ) a system of psychotechnics which he embedded in a thought system called "Scientology" in the following years. From 1950 to 1954 a number of diverse groups existed, some as short-lived formal organizations, trying to implement Hubbard's teachings. In 1953, Hubbard registered the Church of Scientology as a trademark and in February 1954 founded the first branch, the Church of Scientology of California . In the following period he expanded the Scientological thought system to include cosmological and metaphysical elements, systematized teaching and made the organization more hierarchical. In the years up to 1967 his Church of Scientology was able to obtain a quasi sole right of representation for Scientology, expanded in the USA and also expanded into the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and what was then Rhodesia . At the end of the 1960s, Scientology had reached the temporary climax of its success.
In the following decade, Scientology expanded less steadily; a branch for continental Europe was set up in Copenhagen , and Scientology tried to gain a foothold in Scandinavia , Germany and the Benelux countries. While the number of branches grew - one hundred missions were founded in the USA and Great Britain between 1971 and 1977 alone, and another thirty in continental Europe - Hubbard's Sea Organization ( Sea Org for short ), which was founded in 1967 and from then on became the de facto power center, moved away initially housed on a ship in the Pacific until 1975, increasingly from the base of other Scientology organizations. At the same time, Hubbard's style of leadership became increasingly autocratic . After some leading members of the Church of Scientology considered Hubbard's organization and leadership style to be too authoritarian, they founded independent groups in 1982, especially the Free Zone . From 1982 to 1984 there were increased resignations from Hubbard's organization.
After Hubbard's death in 1986, the organization stabilized under the leadership of the Religious Technology Center founded and directed by David Miscavige . Under Miscavige, Scientology has primarily devoted itself to product differentiation and formed a number of new sub-organizations. Scientology has also tried to expand geographically. With the fall of the Iron Curtain , religious movements opened up a new missionary area. Scientology tried to gain a foothold in the post-communist states and had mixed success. For example, in Russia it was possible to build a “larger following”; however, the Russian state is very repressive against Scientology organizations. Scientology had unexpectedly little success in East Germany .
Unlike most New Religious Movements , Scientology did not emerge from the counterculture of the 1960s; accordingly, their membership structure differs significantly from that of other movements. In Scientology, for example, married employees with an above-average level of education are recruited; the ratio of men to women is roughly three to two.
The number of followers of Scientology cannot be clearly determined because it is unclear who can be counted among the members of the organizations and who only belongs to the followers of the ideas of Scientology.
Scientology spoke of over 10 million followers in 2005. This number also includes people who only attended an introductory course. Serious empirical assumptions, also in 2005, assumed that there were hardly more than 100,000 followers.
By far the greatest number of Scientologists live in the United States. 50,000 to 100,000 followers were suspected there as early as the mid-1960s. In 1990 a representative survey of Americans showed only 45,000 Scientologists. 2004 estimates saw a consolidation to 55,000 American followers (about 0.018% of the total population). In 2012, the US Census Authority only accepted around 25,000 active Scientologists in the US, citing a study published in 2008 by Trinity College , Hartford .
In Germany, where the Church of Scientology put the number of its followers at 12,000 in 2004, according to sources from the Bavarian Office for the Protection of the Constitution (as of 2016) there are 4,000 Scientologists, although the inner circle is estimated to be significantly smaller.
In 2015, after Berlin and Hamburg, the third “model center” (Ideal Org) in the German-speaking area was built in Basel . The local population is preparing for “long-term resistance”, according to the Tages-Anzeiger . The number of Swiss members is given as 5,000, who are looked after by 300 “full-time members”.
In 1993 there were about 5,000 Scientologists in Hungary ; that is around half a per thousand of the total population. The geographic stronghold of the movement remains the United States, especially the west coast . In addition, the sociologist William S. Bainbridge suspected on the basis of websites of Scientologists in 2004 other focuses in Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Russia, France and Mexico.
Doctrine and Practices
The heart of Scientology teaching is the idea that the immortal being of every human being, the thetan , was massively impaired in its functioning through traumatic experiences and in particular two events millions of years ago. Scientology technologies, especially auditing , could at least partially restore the thetan's functions . It is the stated goal of Scientology to improve the life of the individual in this way, to increase his mental and physical well-being, and to earn more money. On a social level, the main goal is the turning of all people to the thoughts of Scientology, in addition, the abolition of psychiatry is primarily called for.
An important starting point of the Scientology model of reality is the physical universe , which, according to Scientology, consists of Matter , Energy , Space and Time (MEST; Eng .: matter, energy, space and time). Parallel to this model, according to Scientology, humans are made up of three parts, the thetan , the mind and the mortal body .
The thetan named after the Greek letter theta (Θ) is, according to Scientology, the immortal being of a person, i.e. his soul or spirit. The thetan initially possessed a number of abilities, but lost them in the course of history through traumatic experiences. Similar to the worldview of Hinduism , thetans would reincarnate in various physical forms over several million years .
According to Scientology, the universe is a creation of the thetan ; it has no independent existence, but only gains its reality by the fact that most thetans ascribe this existence to it. The MEST universe ( Matter, Energy, Space, Time ) is only an illusion in which the thetan , who now perceives himself as a mortal body , who has forgotten his original nature, is trapped.
A central problem of the earthly thetans is explained by the Xenu myth, which deals with an intergalactic ruler who embodies "evil", who abducted thetans from distant planets to earth and traumatized them there through violent procedures so severely that they cling to other people as disembodied clusters (called body thetans ) and impair their possibilities. For most Scientologists, however, this myth , which is introduced late in Scientology training and may have a more symbolic meaning, hardly plays a role; however, some representatives of the Free Zone attach more importance to it, and it is central to the discourse of many Scientology opponents.
The reason mediated by scientologic gauge between Thetan and body , it was made up of an "analytical" and a "reactive" part. The analytical mind consciously solves problems and stores experiences for later problem solutions as mental images. In contrast, the reactive part independently stores physical or emotional pain as so-called engrams in a separate memory. Engrams would further limit the thetan's creative ability; the more engrams that accumulated, the further a man was from his true nature. Avoiding this fate is the Scientologist's goal. The methods of Dianetics are intended to resolve these engrams, free the Scientologist from their inhibiting influence and restore him to the certainty that he is a thetan , a spiritual being.
Will to survive and ethics
Another central concept in the Scientology worldview is the will to survive. This finds its expression on eight levels, which are referred to as "the eight dynamics". The first dynamic corresponds to the individual's will to survive, the second dynamic to the level of the family and sexual reproduction. The third and fourth levels deal with social groups or humanity as a whole, the fifth with all forms of life, and the sixth with the physical universe. The seventh dynamic is the spirit or spirituality, the eighth is infinity, solitude or God. The Scientological concept of ethics, which is based on these eight dynamics, emphasizes that rationality versus morality is “good”, which promotes survival on the largest possible number of these levels and impairs survival on the smallest possible number of levels. The eight-pointed Scientology cross symbolizes the eight dynamics.
The Scientological worldview assumes that humans are basically good. Nonetheless, Hubbard postulated that apart from social personalities committed to the common good, there are also suppressive persons . Oppressive persons have a detrimental influence on social development, and dealing with them harms the individual's spiritual development.
Opponents of Scientology - especially ex-Scientologists who publicly oppose Scientology - are declared "suppressive persons", and Scientologists usually break off all friendly relations with them. Persons who maintain contact with "suppressive persons" are identified internally in Scientology as potential trouble sources .
Scientologists strive to regain the original abilities of a thetan . At the beginning of their life, every person is a pre-clear and can ultimately achieve the clear status through physical and mental cleaning and processing processes . In this desired state, which can be achieved by going through a detailed program, the person is freed from their “reactive mind”, which previously forced them to act on the basis of traumatic experiences. The liberated mind can now get a handle on all problems with internal states, other people or objects.
After a member has reached the state of Clear , the path to complete liberation leads via currently eight Operating Thetan levels (short: OT levels) to the goal of the freely operating thetan ; this is no longer bound to matter , energy , space and time .
While the Clear levels deal with dealing with traumatic events in this world, the OT levels also concern transcendent areas. Among other things, the attempt is made to deal with the body thetans and to remove their disturbing influence. The entire program of courses and levels to be completed is referred to within Scientology as the "bridge to complete freedom".
The auditing is a key technology for achieving Clear . What is meant is a special form of conversation between the auditor and the pre-clear who is being "audited". The aim of the conversation is to reduce the negative effects of the “reactive mind” .
The most important technical tool when auditing the place E-Meter application. This device has two cylindrical electrodes that the auditee holds in his hands during auditing and a pointer that shows changes in electrical resistance between the electrodes.
The aim is to identify past "events" (e.g. experiences associated with emotional and physical pain) which are believed to be the basis of most psychological difficulties. These events should be relived narrative until their "charge" (emotional tension) disappears. The auditor aids this process by giving directions, asking questions, and watching the meter readings to seek out such engrams . The utopian goal of Scientology is an enlightened age in which every person is clear , that is, freed from his engrams ("clear the planet").
In addition to auditing , Scientologists should internalize Scientology's ethical and moral teachings, which are based on the ethical standards of the major world religions.
Pre-Clears , but also participants of the Scientology anti-drug program Narconon , are also recommended a Purification Rundown , in which physical exercise , vitamin preparations and frequent sauna visits are supposed to detoxify the body.
A so-called Oxford Capacity Analysis ( English Oxford Capacity Analysis, OCA ) is used as a standardized alleged personality test applied. The test has no connection with the University of Oxford , but there is a suspicion that the name was deliberately chosen to suggest such a connection.
In a survey of those affected, the guided imagination and the induction of trance states were named as further psychological and social techniques .
The role of L. Ron Hubbard
Even before his death, the Scientology founder rose to become a mythical figure. He was the youngest elite boy scout in the United States, leader and organizer of many research expeditions, was considered one of the best glider pilots in the country, was a daring stunt pilot and explorer of aviation history. He also published university magazines, received literary prizes and was a recognized photographer and important screenwriter in Hollywood. Today Scientology has an office for Hubbard in each of its churches and organizations , which is permanently vacant.
Parallels to other worldviews
Although Scientology did not emerge directly from any other worldview, but is one of the few new creations in the religious field, some of the sources from which Hubbard drew can be traced. As far as influences from Western philosophy are concerned, there are clear parallels to the work of Will Durant , to whom Hubbard dedicated the book Dianetics , and to Sigmund Freud's psychology , which was widely received in popular science in the 1930s and 1940s. Even the work of Alfred Korzybski has left its mark in Hubbard's ideas; Hubbard was friends with A. E. van Vogt , whose science fiction novels did much to popularize Korzybski's “General Semantics”, and Korzybski's “Anthropometer” may have been the inspiration for Hubbard's invention of the e-meter.
In general, scientistic lines of thought should be mentioned, which have been established by observers with otherwise very different opinions about Scientology. Scientology claims to be an empirical science and wants to renew the functionality of the thetans with immanent "technologies" . A number of authors also point to borrowings from the values of “US American” culture, in particular the belief in individualism, democracy and freedom. The Scientological "creed" is therefore only a reformulation of the UN Convention on Human Rights, the roots of which can be found in the (Western) Enlightenment . Accordingly, in the course of anti-Americanism , Scientology is also understood as a cultural imperialist movement in many countries .
On the other hand, borrowings from world religions can usually only be identified indirectly. Hubbard himself claimed to have borrowed from Eastern religions. So he ties in with Vedic religions; however, it quickly turned out that he had only very superficial knowledge of these. Even so, some researchers draw parallels with Buddhism , Jainism , Hinduism , Taoism and Gnosticism .
Scientology's organizational structure is dominated by the semi-official Scientology organizations associated with the Church of Scientology ; there are also some smaller groups, in particular the Free Zone , which have split off from that organizational conglomerate.
The organizational cluster around the Church of Scientology has a complex hierarchical organizational structure, at the top of which the Religious Technology Center practically exercises the highest authority within the network of organizations, but has no formal claim to leadership. Below the Religious Technology Center there are three main organizational pillars, the Church of Scientology International with its worldwide branches, the ABLE network , which includes a number of topic-specific organizations, and the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), an umbrella organization for companies and individuals who Apply Scientology administration and management methods. There are also a number of small organizations.
The Church of Scientology International organizes, distributes and markets Scientology-specific products and techniques; especially auditing . In many countries it maintains so-called missions and churches in which Scientology training courses are held, whereby " churches " have a broader range of services; for prominent Scientologists there are also eight “ Celebrity Centers ”, which are more luxurious than the normal branches. The highest training levels are offered in five “ Advanced Organizations ” worldwide . Two of the “Advanced Organizations” are in Los Angeles , the rest in East Grinstead , Copenhagen and Sydney . The first branches were established in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the early 1970s. The organization has twenty-four (ten churches, fourteen missions) in Germany, five in Switzerland and two in Austria.
The ABLE network set up alongside the Church of Scientology is an umbrella organization for various topic-specific groups that are particularly dedicated to public relations. The oldest of the ABLE groups is the Narconon , founded in 1966 , a nine-stage drug rehabilitation program that is medically unsustainable and that uses, among other things, a bundle of measures consisting of sauna, physical exercise and food additives, especially vitamins , to cleanse the body of drug residues. The Criminon criminal rehabilitation program emerged from this program . This Scientology volunteer-run program uses a regiment similar to Narconon. The association “Say NO to drugs - Say YES to life” is active in German-speaking countries. Applied Scholastics offers a "Learn How to Learn" program. This program focuses on the simplest grammar and word definition exercises, which aim to recognize the “correct” definition of words in order to enable the “correct” communication; it is used in some private schools, particularly in the United States, and is also offered in elementary schools in third world countries. The ZIEL learning aid organization exists in German-speaking countries. The Way to Happiness Foundation sells a brochure that represents a generic moral code that Scientology believes is “non-religious”; this is also used in the Narconon program to put convicts on the "morally correct" path.
The third organizational pillar is WISE, an umbrella organization of private companies, institutions and individuals who, as customers and licensees of Scientology, use Scientology administration and management technology in their business operations. WISE promotes economic networking and offers its members the opportunity to resolve disputes using Scientology's "ethics" standards.
In addition to the three main organizational pillars, there are a number of other organizations, of which only the most important are listed here. The Rehabilitation Project Force runs three or four "reform camps" for senior Scientologists (members of the Sea Org ) who, in the Church of Scientology's view , have committed ethical misconduct. It is best known for its vehement external criticism. Another focus of criticism is the anti-psychiatry group Citizens Commission on Human Rights . This group, which operates in German-speaking countries under the name of the Commission for Violations of Psychiatry Against Human Rights , conducts lobbying work against the psychiatric professions in the form of petitions and demonstrations; it also tries to work with human rights groups. The Office of Special Affairs (OSA) is officially responsible for Scientology legal affairs. However, journalists as well as some government agencies, for example the city of Hamburg, accuse him of being a kind of Scientological "secret service". In particular, it is criticized that the OSA, with the help of private detectives and, to an increasing extent, lawyers, conducts abuse campaigns against Scientology critics. In contrast to its predecessor organization, the Guardian Office, which existed until 1983 (see Operation Snow White ), the OSA should move within the legal framework. Finally, there are New Era Publications and Bridge Publications, which publish Hubbard's writings.
The internal structures of Scientology organizations are very bureaucratic, with detailed coordination of all activities and the collection of "stats" (performance indicators) to measure personal as well as organizational performance. Organizational budgets are performance-based and are subject to frequent reviews. Scientology organizations also have an internal system of justice, the "ethics" system. Ethics officers are present in every Scientology organization; It is their task to ensure the correct application of Scientology technology and to punish misconduct such as deviations from standard procedures or other behavior that adversely affects performance. Crimes considered as such by the organization are defined by internal documents.
In the early 1980s, after management struggles, the Free Zone was founded , which consists of splinter groups outside the Scientology organization. These groups use the same technology as the Church of Scientology but, from the latter's point of view, make incorrect modifications to the technology. Conversely, Free Zone officials declare that they are using Hubbard's original materials and accuse Scientology organizations of altering them after his death.
The public image of Scientology is shaped by its opponents. This is especially true for the German and French-speaking discourses in which state authorities also take an active role against Scientology. A study by the French National Assembly from 1995 classifies Scientology as a “cult with dangerous properties”. In Germany, several constitutional protection agencies are monitoring the Church of Scientology . In the Anglo-Saxon region, too, Scientology has at times encountered government resistance. In 1965, a report prepared for the government in Australia found Scientology to be “ evil ” and “dangerous to the mental health” of its followers. In the United States, Scientology was, alongside the Mormons of the 19th century, the ideological organization with the worst repute in the 1970s and 1980s. In the mid-1990s, too, a survey of American journalists showed that they generally distrusted Scientology.
In addition to Christian churches and state actors, private networks of opponents of new religious movements come to the fore in the public discourse; From the point of view of the religious scholar Hubert Seiwert, these groups successfully staged Scientology in the 1990s as the epitome of the threatening danger emanating from all sects . The criticisms of Scientology are manifold, ranging from allegations of totalitarianism to the dubiousness of Scientology medical practices.
The question of whether Scientology is to be recognized as a religion is controversial. It depends on the one hand on the underlying concept of religion, but on the other hand also on whether the characteristics by which Scientology fulfills the criteria of a religion definition are judged to be essential for Scientology or merely simulated characteristics.
The majority of religious and social scientists who have dealt with the subject affirm that it can be classified as a religion, which has been reflected in corresponding scientific reports in defense of the Church of Scientology in legal and political processes. Christian theologians such as Friedrich Wilhelm Haack and religious scholars such as Irving Hexham emphasize that this classification does not yet answer the question of whether Scientology is to be assessed as a “good” or “bad” religion.
Canadian religious sociologist Stephen A. Kent admits that many social scientists conclude that Scientology is a religion. A more expedient assessment, however, would be to see Scientology as a “multi-faceted transnational organization” in which religion only constitutes one component alongside “political aspirations, economic ventures, cultural productions, pseudo-medical practices and pseudo-psychiatric claims”. Cult advisors do not see Scientology as a religious worldview, but as "spiritual magic" or speak of a "psycho group with an ideological background". According to the evangelical theologian and publicist Werner Thiede , the question of whether Scientology is a religion has been contradicting itself for decades: While the judgment “is academic with the phenomenon of the 'religion of religions', like its spiritual father L. Ron Hubbard it once mentioned, those concerned tend to turn out favorably, those who deal with it more practically and empirically see in it a religiously camouflaged, but essentially more or less secular magnitude. "
In the case of state and legal assessments, the question of the character of religion is primarily connected with the question of whether it is worthy of protection and promotion as a religion and the question of the legal treatment of the members. Although there are no official recognition procedures for religions in many countries, one can infer from the actions of many Western European countries that they do not regard Scientology as a religion; a survey for the French National Assembly categorized Scientology, for example, as a "sect" or "cult" (secte) .
The Federal Administrative Court decided in 2005 that individuals can practice Scientology as a religion within the meaning of the Basic Law. Regardless of this, inheritance and labor law consequences can be linked to membership of Scientology in Germany. In Germany, the question of membership of Scientology in job interviews was considered permissible, and there was an obligation to answer truthfully. After the General Equal Treatment Act came into force in August 2006, however, there is legal uncertainty that has not yet been finally clarified by case law.
Russia has denied the Church of Scientology religious community status; In the case of the Moscow branch, however, this decision was found to be illegal by the European Court of Human Rights . In contrast, the United States granted Scientology the status of a tax-exempt religious community in 1993 after years of litigation. In Australia, the religious character of Scientology was expressly confirmed by the High Court of Australia in 1983. Other countries where Scientology is recognized as a religion are Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, New Zealand, Taiwan and Great Britain.
Sole validity claim
Although Scientology sometimes describes itself as non-denominational and this is particularly emphasized when recruiting new members, it ultimately represents a sole validity claim. Since Scientology is in contradiction to the central beliefs of the established Christian churches in particular, double membership is not possible from their point of view either.
Pursuit of profit
The product character of Scientology is shaped economically. The profit orientation is often brought forward as a reproach by opponents. This profit orientation is contrary to the "occidental understanding of religion". In 1998, the German Federal Government agreed with the 1995 Federal Labor Court's opinion that Scientology is neither a religious community nor a belief community. The aim of the organization is therefore to make a profit , which is incompatible with the status of a religious or ideological community. According to Stephen A. Kent in 1999, Hubbard only put on Scientology the guise of a "religion" in order to save taxes and make it more attractive to potential members. Kent suspects that many members view their engagement as religious.
In the German case law, the Mannheim Administrative Court found in 2003, with reference to scientific findings, that “there were no tangible indications that the teaching of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is being used as a mere pretext for economic activity”. Renate-Maria Besier and Johannes Neumann (2004) state “more and more conflicts between political decision-making and the judiciary”.
Scientology products and services are often criticized for being overpriced, even though most Scientologists place this value on them. An e-meter cost about $ 4,000 from the Church of Scientology in 1998 . Introductory and demonstration auditing cost the equivalent of around 200 euros for 12½ hours in 1990; at a higher level it can be 3,500 euros or more. According to the religious psychologist Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi (2003), who quotes a press source from 1998, the path to "complete freedom", ie up to the highest OT level , costs the Scientologist $ 376,000 ( around € 497,000 adjusted for inflation ).
The biologist, representative of the “ new atheism ” and the Brights movement Richard Dawkins counts Scientology to the religions. Scientology is one of the few religions that were deliberately conceived as such.
Position on the health professions
Scientology is a proven opponent of psychiatry and, in the opinion of its critics, supports health practices that do not correspond to the state of medical research, for example the "silent birth", in which the birth process takes place in the greatest possible silence. This is viewed critically (here according to a source from 1976) in particular by associations of the health professions.
According to George D. Chryssides, Scientology strictly rejects the use of psychotropic drugs . For example, in the 1980s the association launched a campaign against the prescription of Ritalin for children with attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Probably the best known case of alleged Scientology misconduct in the field of medicine is the death of the American Scientologist Lisa McPherson , who is said to have not received sufficient medical care from members of the organization after a traffic accident. Legal proceedings ended in a confidential settlement.
The organization tries to recruit actors and other public figures in particular, and is also successful in the USA (e.g. Tom Cruise acts as a representative of Scientology). A number of other public figures, such as John Travolta , Juliette Lewis , Lisa Marie Presley , Laura Prepon , Nancy Cartwright, and Kirstie Alley , perform similar services for Scientology. Franz Rampelmann's Scientology membership is known in German-speaking countries .
Scientology operates Celebrity Centers that specifically look after artists and people who are in public. Hubbard believed that artists are the kind of people who have made a significant impact on the world to come. Ursula Caberta (1997) sees this as a “recipe for advertising with famous names” borrowed from totalitarian systems .
After 35 years of membership, director Paul Haggis left Scientology in 2009, mainly because Scientology had insufficiently advocated gay rights in connection with California's Proposition 8 , which made same-sex marriages unconstitutional.
Other dropouts are, for example, the Americans Gerald Armstrong , Jenna Miscavige Hill and Leah Remini . In the German-speaking world, the Austrian Wilfried Handl is a well-known dropout and active critic of Scientology.
Allegations of manipulation
Scientology's practices are viewed by critics as manipulation techniques. Scientology recruiting efforts, so one allegation, concentrate in part quite consciously on people who find themselves in a crisis situation in their life and are therefore particularly susceptible to recruitment efforts.
So-called brainwashing theories are central to the critical Scientology discourse . It uses a psychological theory of behavior change among prisoners of totalitarian regimes to explain the alleged loss of individual autonomy among members of Scientology (and other " new religious movements "). Although the Enquete Commission of the German Bundestag on “so-called sects and psychogroups” expressly rejects this concept, it nonetheless uses it as an explanation.
Scientology is less often criticized for its use of hypnosis techniques . While Hubbard disapproves of hypnosis in Dianetics , the report for the Australian government in 1965 spoke of the use of hypnotizing techniques in auditing.
The OCA test is free, but pseudo-scientific and only serves to recruit members. It does not offer an actual "analysis", but always ends with the result that the person tested has potential for improvement. Due to some of the aforementioned practices, among other things, the Church of Scientology in Paris was found guilty of organized fraud by a criminal court on October 27, 2009 and sentenced to a fine of 600,000 euros; four leaders of the organization were sentenced to terms of up to two years in prison. The court stayed under the indictment's motions and also rejected a ban on Scientology. Former members had accused Scientology of taking advantage of their emotional distress, which was based on a life crisis. As a result, easily influenced and gullible, they were forced to spend a lot on courses, books and medicines. The Church of Scientology described the judgment as a "modern inquisition" and announced that it would appeal.
Allegations of anti-democratic tendencies
The accusation that Scientology is a totalitarian ideology with an anti-democratic thrust is shared by numerous opponents of Scientology in German-speaking countries, including, for example, the Swiss Justice Department . Among other things, the Rehabilitation Project Force is the focus of criticism. Günther Beckstein sees “ conditions similar to concentration camps” in the camps of the project ; a brochure published by the city of Hamburg compares them with “ gulags ”. According to Stephen A. Kent, "Articles 9 and 10 of the Declaration of Human Rights " would almost certainly be violated there. Kent particularly criticizes the fact that Scientologists who want to leave the Rehabilitation Project Force are often burdened with debts in the five-digit dollar range (freeloader debt), i.e. subsequent payment for all courses that they were allowed to take for free as members of the Sea Org , and - at least in earlier times - were forced to sign self-incriminating declarations before they were released.
The politicians Freimut Duve and Daniel Cohn-Bendit as well as the sociologist Antonia Grunenberg speak more cautiously of “camp-like institutions” and “totalitarian structures”. Even without resorting to the Rehabilitation Project Force , the political scientist Hans-Gerd Jaschke attested in 1995 in a commissioned work for the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of the Interior Scientology "totalitarian principles" - an accusation that the German Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth also made in 1998 connected. One of the few scientific papers on Scientology's position on democracy also comes to the conclusion that it is an extremist ideology. According to the prevailing opinion in German jurisprudence, Scientology presumably pursues objectives contrary to the constitution .
As a result, the Church of Scientology in Germany has been monitored by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and by some State Offices for the Protection of the Constitution since 1997 on suspicion of "efforts against the free democratic basic order". In the Saarland, observation with intelligence services was forbidden in 2003 for reasons of proportionality in the last instance.
Although the accusation of hostility towards democracy is particularly widespread in German-speaking countries, Greece also declared Scientology to be an "enemy of the state" in 1993.
Allegations of secret attempts at power
Scientology's strategy of gaining social influence - so a further reproach - makes extensive use of often short-lived cover organizations and the targeted infiltration of existing organizations. The sociologist of religion Roy Wallis compared the way Scientology works in this regard with that of communist parties. According to Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, this secret approach is a sign that the organization has something to hide.
For example, a plan drawn up by Hubbard in 1960 would have aimed to infiltrate the US tax and judicial authorities and the media; The Scientologists managed to infiltrate the tax authorities temporarily in the 1970s. Other organizations that have been targeted are the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund . One of the numerous front organizations is Beit-Hallahmi u. a. Narconon, ABLE, Applied Scholastics International, Scientology's "World Literacy Crusade" and the Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education (FASE), which is supported by large companies such as IBM and McDonald’s . The political influence of these front organizations is mainly limited to the United States, but some of the organizations concerned reflect, according to Stephen A. Kent, "a totalitarian ideology aimed at global dominance".
Scientology launched targeted campaigns around the world such as "Clear Europe" and "Clear Germany" (1994) in order to gain influence on business associations and politics by filling key positions with Scientologists. The then spokesman for the German Scientologists said in 1995: "Such accusations are cheap propaganda to create hysteria."
Positive external views
Positive outside views of Scientology are rare. An exception is a study from 2003 on the development of Scientology in Kharkiv , Ukraine , according to which the Scientology offshoot there probably helped participants to find their way around post-communist everyday life. On the one hand, Scientology, as a “cult-like organization”, is particularly attractive to people in a transformation crisis, to whom the totalitarian system of the Soviet Union, which has fallen away, had offered a hold; on the other hand, the organization only finds positive feedback where it hides religious aspects of its own orientation from people.
Alleged discrimination in Germany
Scientology representatives have repeatedly accused the organization or members of it being victims of discrimination in Germany. Similar allegations were made in some cases by official bodies in the USA. In the annual human rights reports of the US State Department, the situation of Scientology and members of the organization in Germany was repeatedly discussed. Emphasis is placed on practices such as a so-called "Scientology filter" in applications, which is specifically intended to prevent the recruitment of Scientology members, factual professional bans against Scientologists, the collection and exchange of information about Scientologists by government agencies and more.
In 1997, an asylum application from a German Scientology member who claims to have been discriminated against in Germany because of his religion was approved by a court in the USA.
Primary literature (selection)
- L. Ron Hubbard : Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Hermitage House, New York 1950.
- L. Ron Hubbard (Ed.): The Organization Executive Course. An Encyclopedia of Scientology Policy. The American Saint Hill Organization, Los Angeles 1974.
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