There is no religion more controversial and misunderstood than Scientology. Everyone has an opinion, even when so few are able to relay accurate information besides the standard stock responses. Consequently, it can be challenging to locate factual data on the subject. Scientologists have an annoying tendency to exaggerate their accomplishments, while antagonists automatically tear up everything the religion claims without further evaluation.
To gently investigate this fiercely debated theology, here are five generally unknown facts about Scientology. With a bit of a prod, this article may assist a healthy growth in knowledge, and hopefully, we can move forward with less outrage and defensiveness.
1. L. Ron Hubbard Is a Multiple World Record Holder
One of the more potent weapons anti-Scientologists wield against the religion deals with its founder, L Ron Hubbard. They rightfully point out that the man was originally a science fiction author. How can we trust a doctrine by someone with such an evident imagination? When scrutinising the art of spinning false tales, surely this profession is the most suspicious? It is a fair query. However, to consider Hubbard just your average storyteller would be to underestimate the man. Rather, he is officially the most prolific author the medium has ever seen.
Recognised by the Guinness World Records, L. Ron Hubbard’s 1,084 books earned him the Most Published Works by One Author title. He also holds the records for Most Audio Books Published for One Author, Most Translated Author in the World, and Most Translated Author, Same Book (with The Way to Happiness).
“You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.” — L. Ron Hubbard (ref: Wikiquote)
2. There Are Celebrity Scientologists Beyond Tom Cruise and John Travolta
An integral element of L. Ron Hubbard’s strategy was to recruit celebrities. And as Scientology boasts names as famous as Cruise and Travolta, we already know they’ve enjoyed impressive triumph on this front. However, there are other noteworthy stars involved with the Church. These include:
- Kirstie Alley (actress)
- Nancy Cartwright (voice actress for Bart Simpson in The Simpsons)
- Jenna Elfman (actress, Dharma & Greg)
- Isaac Hayes (soul singer; voice actor for Chef in South Park)
- Danny Masterson (actor, That 70s Show)
- Sonny Bono (singer, Sonny and Cher)
However, an equally lengthy A-list of celebrities have (oft-quietly) moved on from the faith. Some examples are Beck (musician), Jason Lee (actor), Lisa Marie Presley, Katie Holmes (actress), William S. Burroughs (author), Neil Gaiman (author), and Juliette Lewis (actress/singer).
“Celebrities are very special people and have a very distinct line of dissemination. They have communication lines that others do not have and many medias to get their dissemination through.” — L. Ron Hubbard (ref: Newstatesman)
3. Scientology Is a Religion or a Cult, Depending on Where You Are
Scientology does not have an accepted global classification. In 1993, the group was granted tax-exempt religion status in the United States. In Australia, Portugal, and Spain, the organisation enjoys similar recognition. Conversely, other governments write Scientology off as a dangerous cult. These nations include Chile and France, as well as Germany, who have labelled it an “anticonstitutional sect”. This definition has led to restrictions on activities or even outright banning. In addition to these categories, we also have those who regard Scientology as a business, and often a criminal one at that.
Hubbard pushed for Scientology as a religion but was careful to keep it denominational-inclusive to easier lure those from previous belief systems.
“We are all-denominational rather than non-denominational, and so we should be perfectly willing to include in our ranks a Muslim or a Taoist, as well as any Protestant or Catholic.” — L. Ron Hubbard (ref: The National)
4. Scientology Runs the Most Successful Rehab Centre in the World (According to Themselves)
Known as Narconon, this Scientology division addresses substance abuse and addiction. L. Ron Hubbard strongly opposed recreational drugs, claiming they become lodged in a person’s fatty tissue, damaging them physically, mentally, and spiritually. Using Hubbard’s unorthodox teachings, Narconon treats patients with extended sauna sessions and a high intake of the niacin vitamin.
As a result, numerous professionals have deemed the procedure risky and fraudulent. That said, Narconon boasts a 75% success rate, higher than any alternative rehabilitation institution globally. Of course, enemies of Scientology are quick to dispute whatever the religion declares. For example, a Swedish investigation reported a vastly lower 6.6% recovery percentage, while other articles prefer to focus on the several deaths that have taken place within these facilities. Narconon operates under various names to distance itself from such quarrels.
“Drugs are a rotten business. But when you pass a law against them they become a profitable business.” — L. Ron Hubbard (ref: The Doomed Planet: Mission Earth Volume 10)
5. Scientology Was Originally a Therapy
The extensive Scientology bibliography starts before Hubbard founded the religion, with Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health standing as Book One. Dianetics teaches that mental and physical problems are merely bad memories (called engrams), and each can be removed by repeatedly recalling these traumatic incidents. The study was initially well-received and has gone on to reportedly sell over 20 million copies.
As Dianetics evolved to incorporate past lives and spiritual elements, the religion was born, and criticisms quickly disregarded everything related to it. However, plenty of people use Dianetics outside of the faith, including the Nation of Islam (NOI) organisation.
“Nothing in Scientology is true for you unless you have observed it and it is true according to your observation.” — L. Ron Hubbard (ref: Scientology.org)