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Difference between revisions of "Church of Scientology"

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(Removed blatantly biased statement.)
(Steven please stop making sweeping changes to this article without discussing them on the talk page.)
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==Under attack in Europe==
 
==Under attack in Europe==
 +
===Germany===
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Germany has tried to suppress Scientology legally. In late 2007 the interior ministers of Germany's 16 states announced plans to give the domestic intelligence agency the task of preparing the necessary information to ban the organization, which has been under observation for a decade on allegations that it "threatens the peaceful democratic order" and is "unconstitutional"  Germany considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people. In 2007, it initially refused to allow the producers of a movie starring Scientology member Tom Cruise as Germany's most famous anti-Hitler plotter to film at the site where the hero was executed, although it did not expressly state Scientology as its reason. It later allowed the filming.<ref> See AP report, "Germany moves to ban Scientology," Dec. 7, 2007, at [http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/12/07/germany.scientology.ap/index.html]; and AP, "German official seeks to ban Scientology; Interior minister says Church of Scientology is 'unconstitutional'" Dec 10 2007 at [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22181602/]</ref>
  
  
 +
The Church has about 6000 members in Germany and operates eighteen churches and missions there; it remains "under observation" (as it has been since 1997) by the federal and seven state Offices for the Protection of the Constitution (OPCs), out of concern that Scientology's teachings and practices are opposed to the democratic constitutional order or violate human rights.  The states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, and Hamburg are particularly involved. The federal OPC's 2006 annual report concluded that the original reasons for initiating observation of Scientology in 1997 remained valid, although it noted that Scientology had not been involved in any criminal activity. Scientologists contended that OPC observation was harmful to the Church's reputation and continued to seek redress through the German courts.
 +
 +
The Catholic Church in Germany and, especially, the Evangelical Church have been public opponents of Scientology. Evangelical "Commissioners for Religious and Ideological Issues" have been particularly active in this regard.
 +
 +
In 2001, the federal government prohibited firms bidding on government training contracts from using the "technology of L. Ron Hubbard" in executing contracts, and some states and private businesses adopted variations of this anti-Scientology policy. In 2005, Scientologists continued to complain of societal and official discrimination. Since March 2005, applicants for German citizenship in Bavaria have been required to fill out a questionnaire regarding their affiliation with organizations under observation by the state OPC, including Scientology. The Church documented two cases involving persons whose naturalization requests were denied, allegedly because of membership in the Church.
 +
 +
Since the 1990s, four of the major political parties- the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Social Union, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP)-have banned Scientologists from party membership. Scientologists have unsuccessfully challenged these bans in courts. The U.S. State Department has pointed to the danger of suppressiong the religiousrights of the Scientologists.<ref> see U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, "International Religious Freedom Report 2006: Germany" at [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2006/71382.htm]</ref>
 
===Belgium===
 
===Belgium===
 
In Belgium in September 2007, a state prosecutor recommended that the Church stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10- year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.  A Belgian parliamentary committee report in 1997 labeled Scientology a sect and investigations were launched into the group's finances and practices, such as the personality tests conducted on new members. Investigators have studied how far Scientology went in recruiting converts after numerous complaints were filed with police by ex-members alleging they'd been the victims of intimidation and extortion.<ref>See AP report, "Scientology Faces Criminal Charges" Sep 09, 2007 at [http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8REMTI02&show_article=1] </ref>
 
In Belgium in September 2007, a state prosecutor recommended that the Church stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10- year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.  A Belgian parliamentary committee report in 1997 labeled Scientology a sect and investigations were launched into the group's finances and practices, such as the personality tests conducted on new members. Investigators have studied how far Scientology went in recruiting converts after numerous complaints were filed with police by ex-members alleging they'd been the victims of intimidation and extortion.<ref>See AP report, "Scientology Faces Criminal Charges" Sep 09, 2007 at [http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8REMTI02&show_article=1] </ref>

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Scientology is a religion begun in the 1950s by American L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986). He founded the Church of Scientology to teach his doctrines, many of which are very tightly guarded from the general public by church officials.[1]

Scientology does not descend from any of the major world religions. Hubbard devised the word using "scio" (knowledge), and the Greek λόγος "logos" (word), "the study of knowledge". He stated it was a system of belief that provided knowledge of life and clarity of mind through training in, and counseling using, the principles of the subject. Hubbard said that Scientology enabled individuals to know how to find the answers to whatever questions or problems they may face.

Scientologists assert that their doctrines are derived from a very large secret corpus, in excess of forty millions words, and practical applications derived therefrom. These are intended to guide individuals in a heuristic journey of increasing insights into the truth concerning the actual condition of mankind and its true potential, and to provide the skills to gradually bring about the latter. Scientologists see the religion as a way for individuals to increase understandings, abilities, and freedoms, and bring about predictable, subjective improvements in their life that increase their value to society. Critics, on the other hand, call Scientology a cult operated for the financial benefit of church leaders, who they say charge large sums for the secret training programs.

Having experienced rapid growth, Scientology set up churches and missions in most of the countries of the world.

The Church says that it continues to pursue Hubbard's vision, which he described as: "A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology." [2] The Church derives its income from various sources, including the sale of Hubbard's Dianetics and secret publications to converts. In recent years, Scientology ministers have provided assistance at national and international disaster scenes.

Sociology

Bainbridge and Stark (1980) note that by 1980 Scientology claimed to have raised over 16,000 members to a superhuman level of mental functioning known as "clear." They argue that "clear" has been transformed from a postulated objective state of being into a well-buttressed social status in the highly stratified social structure of the cult. Four strategies invented by the Hubbard encourage members to play the role associated with the "clear" status. The Scientology processes supposedly able to make people clear are examples of modern magic - mental and symbolic exercises undertaken to accomplish the impossible - and therefore are highly subject to empirical disconfirmation. Despite the momentary success of the cult's strategies to protect its magic, Bainbridge and Stark suggest that Scientology may be forced to promise supernatural rewards obtainable only in a world beyond the senses.

Under attack in Europe

Germany

Germany has tried to suppress Scientology legally. In late 2007 the interior ministers of Germany's 16 states announced plans to give the domestic intelligence agency the task of preparing the necessary information to ban the organization, which has been under observation for a decade on allegations that it "threatens the peaceful democratic order" and is "unconstitutional" Germany considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people. In 2007, it initially refused to allow the producers of a movie starring Scientology member Tom Cruise as Germany's most famous anti-Hitler plotter to film at the site where the hero was executed, although it did not expressly state Scientology as its reason. It later allowed the filming.[3]


The Church has about 6000 members in Germany and operates eighteen churches and missions there; it remains "under observation" (as it has been since 1997) by the federal and seven state Offices for the Protection of the Constitution (OPCs), out of concern that Scientology's teachings and practices are opposed to the democratic constitutional order or violate human rights. The states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, and Hamburg are particularly involved. The federal OPC's 2006 annual report concluded that the original reasons for initiating observation of Scientology in 1997 remained valid, although it noted that Scientology had not been involved in any criminal activity. Scientologists contended that OPC observation was harmful to the Church's reputation and continued to seek redress through the German courts.

The Catholic Church in Germany and, especially, the Evangelical Church have been public opponents of Scientology. Evangelical "Commissioners for Religious and Ideological Issues" have been particularly active in this regard.

In 2001, the federal government prohibited firms bidding on government training contracts from using the "technology of L. Ron Hubbard" in executing contracts, and some states and private businesses adopted variations of this anti-Scientology policy. In 2005, Scientologists continued to complain of societal and official discrimination. Since March 2005, applicants for German citizenship in Bavaria have been required to fill out a questionnaire regarding their affiliation with organizations under observation by the state OPC, including Scientology. The Church documented two cases involving persons whose naturalization requests were denied, allegedly because of membership in the Church.

Since the 1990s, four of the major political parties- the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Social Union, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP)-have banned Scientologists from party membership. Scientologists have unsuccessfully challenged these bans in courts. The U.S. State Department has pointed to the danger of suppressiong the religiousrights of the Scientologists.[4]

Belgium

In Belgium in September 2007, a state prosecutor recommended that the Church stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10- year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization. A Belgian parliamentary committee report in 1997 labeled Scientology a sect and investigations were launched into the group's finances and practices, such as the personality tests conducted on new members. Investigators have studied how far Scientology went in recruiting converts after numerous complaints were filed with police by ex-members alleging they'd been the victims of intimidation and extortion.[5]

Bibliography

  • Bainbridge, William Sims, and Rodney Stark. "Scientology: To Be Perfectly Clear," Sociological Analysis, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Summer, 1980), pp. 128-136 in JSTOR
  • Bednarowski, Mary Farrell. New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America. Indiana U. Press, 1989. 175 pp., chapter on Scientology
  • Harper, Charles L. "Cults and Communities: the Community Interfaces of Three Marginal Religious Communities." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 1982 21(1): 26-38. Issn: 0021-8294 Fulltext: in Jstor
  • Melton, J. Gordon. The Church of Scientology (2000), 80pp; by a neutral scholar. excerpt and text search
  • Wallis, Roy. The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology (Columbia University Press, 1977)

See also


notes

  1. photograph of Scientology's doctrine
  2. Aims of Scientology
  3. See AP report, "Germany moves to ban Scientology," Dec. 7, 2007, at [1]; and AP, "German official seeks to ban Scientology; Interior minister says Church of Scientology is 'unconstitutional'" Dec 10 2007 at [2]
  4. see U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, "International Religious Freedom Report 2006: Germany" at [3]
  5. See AP report, "Scientology Faces Criminal Charges" Sep 09, 2007 at [4]