By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - News of Tom Cruise's split with Katie Holmes and questions about any role that Cruise's status as a Scientologist may be playing in the divorce have a lot of people wondering: What is Scientology, anyway?
In a series of tweets on Sunday, News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch called the religion "a very weird cult" and said that Cruise is the "number two or three" man in the church's hierarchy.
Here are the basics about the religion. What other questions do you have?
What is Scientology?
Scientology describes itself as a religion that was founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard.
At the core of Scientology is a belief that each human has a reactive mind that responds to life’s traumas, clouding the analytic mind and keeping us from experiencing reality. Members of the religion submit to a process called auditing to find the sources of this trauma, reliving those experiences in an attempt to neutralize them and reassert the primacy of the analytic mind, working toward a spiritual state called "clear."
The process involves a device called E-meter, which Scientologists say measures the body’s electric flow as an auditor asks a series of questions they say reveals sources of trauma.
“Auditing uses processes - exact sets of questions asked or directions given by an auditor to help a person locate areas of spiritual distress, find out things about himself and improve his condition,” according to the Church of Scientology’s website.
The church goes on to to say, "Science is something one does, not something one believes in."
Auditing purports to identify spiritual distress from a person’s current life and from past lives. Scientologists believe each person is an immortal being, a force that believers call a thetan. “You move up the bridge to freedom by working toward being an ‘Operating Thetan,’ which at the highest level transcends material law,” says David Bromley, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. “You occasionally come across people in Scientology who say they can change the material world with their mind.”
Bromley and other scholars say the church promotes the idea of an ancient intergalactic civilization in which millions of beings were destroyed and became what are known as “body thetans,” which continue to latch onto humans and cause more trauma. Advanced Scientologists confront body thetans through more auditing.
Bromley says the church discloses that cosmic history only to more advanced Scientologists. The church’s media affairs department did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
In a 2008 CNN interview, church spokesman Tommy Davis was asked whether the basic tenet of the Church of Scientology was to rid the body of space alien parasites. "Does that sound silly to you?" laughed Davis. "I mean, it's unrecognizable to me. ... People should really come to the church and find out for themselves what it is."
Who was L. Ron Hubbard?
L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of Scientology. Born in Nebraska in 1911, Hubbard was the son of a U.S. Navy officer who circled the globe with his family, according to Scientology expert J. Gordon Melton, a fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies in Religion who writes about Scientology on the religion website Patheos.
Hubbard attended the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., but left before graduating to launch a career as a fiction writer, gravitating toward science fiction.
After serving in World War II, Hubbard published a series of articles and then a book on a what he described as a new approach to mental health, which he called Dianetics. His book by the same name quickly became a best-seller.
The success provoked Hubbard to establish a foundation that began to train people in his auditing techniques. In 1954, the first Church of Scientology opened in Los Angeles, with other churches opening soon after. Hubbard died in 1986. The church is now led by David Miscavige.
Why is the church so controversial?
Many groups and individuals have challenged Scientology’s legitimacy as a religion.
Scientologists have faced opposition from the medical community over the religion's claims about mental health, from the scientific community over its claims about its E-meters and from other religious groups about its status as a religion.
“It’s part therapy, part religion, part UFO group,” says Bromley. “It’s a mix of things that’s unlike any other religious group out there.”
For a long time, the Internal Revenue Service denied the Scientologists’ attempts to be declared a church with tax-exempt status. But the IRS granted them that status in 1993.
Many members say the church is largely about self-improvement. “What I believe in my own life is that it's a search for how I can do things better, whether it's being a better man or a better father or finding ways for myself to improve,” Tom Cruise recently told Playboy magazine. “Individuals have to decide what is true and real for them.”
What does Scientology teach about psychiatry?
L. Ron Hubbard rejected psychiatry and psychiatric drugs because he said they interfered with the functioning of the rational mind. Scientologists continue to promote that idea.
The Church of Scientology’s website says that “the effects of medical and psychiatric drugs, whether painkillers, tranquilizers or 'antidepressants,' are as disastrous” as illicit drugs.
How many Scientologists are there?
That’s a matter of considerable dispute.
The Church of Scientology says it has 10,000 churches, missions and groups operating in 167 countries, with 4.4 million more people signing up every year.
Scholars say that, despite the global proliferation of church buildings, the membership numbers are much lower than the church claims, likely in the hundreds of thousands. Some of the church's followers are celebrities.
if you've never seen my other Christian website, mudfall.com.
If you never visited my Christian website, prolapsed.net.
you don't believe in telepathically communicating with an imaginary diety that is no more real than any other stupid god in the history of man.
You are a fool if you think your fictional book makes any more sense than dianetics and that any truth can be found in its pages. Childhood brainwashing restricts a persons mind from reasonable thought.
Normally, I'm a huge fan of this blog and, especially, Dan Gilgoff. Not this time, I'm afraid.
L. Ron Hubbard was a terrific science fiction writer. His "Ol' Doc Methuselah" series captured my imagination when I was growing up and I was quite a fan.
But Ron Hubbard's inclination to cheat on his income taxes led to a costly run-in with the IRS.
Ron Hubbard retaliated by founding his own religion to take advantage of that loophole using his vivid, sci-fi imagination. Scientology was born.
Ladies and gentlemen, it was all a hoax. Scientology is L. Ron Hubbard's tax scam. He must be laughing somewhere out in the ether as Dan gives Scientology a serious, detailed assessment.
All this "you might be" crap is getting tedious.
You might be right but the chances of stopping them are about as likely as stopping Atheism is..good luck. I think the only time he/she takes a break is to eat, crap or get another gin and tonic.
The Higgs Boson rules.
the truth weighs heavy on you
Quite right. They engage in " bumper sticker " sayings as if that somehow passes for genuine discussion. Sad.
you might be an atheist if
It's a comfortable weight, like heavy quilts on you bed during a cold winter night. You should try it! Once you find the truth, that is.
God is Truth , absolute, 100% pure Truth and available to thinking men and women the world over.
God is derp.
God is love, Pure 100 % pure agape love and available to caring men and women the world over
God is derp. Pure, 100% derp.
If god is 100% pure love, then that's not the god of the bible–as the god of the bible DOES NOT show himself as 100% pure love.
The God of the Bible is 100% pure love
No, the god of the bible is NOT "100% love," because if another being did many of his acts, you would not label it "100% love." You merely apply the term to the god of the bible so that you can excuse his deplorable behavior where you do not want to call it like it is. You don't get to torture people and slaughter them and call your actions "100% love," no matter who you are–even if you're god.
Ah! Which of the gods? You mean that old time religion gods, like zeus, mars, dionysus, hades, etc? Or the new breed of prophets/gods, hubbard, smith, schuller, henderson, etc. be specific, gods and or shiesters are a dime a dozen and they all manage to find enough followers to keep the cash flow going. Hell, I will even offer you eternal salvation , just send your cheque to.....
From the creators of Derp, and Tum Ti Teedily Tum Tum, comes Jesus Christ in Der Derp Di Derp Di Tweedily Doopy Derpy Dum.
I mean hear o Israel our God is one , the God of Abraham Issac and Jacob, Jesus of Nazareth , the Holy Spirit ... God
There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that God is not a God of love
There is nothing in the Bible that makes me think god has anything to do with love.
For God so" loved" the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life.
@truth be told: “For God so" loved" the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life.”
And Moses said unto them “Have ye saved all the women alive?... Now therefore Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him, but all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” Num 31:1-2, 9-11, 14-18
They've found Higg's Boson. Religionists, pack your bags.
Wonderful day for the scientific world. Now if we could just get them theists to believe it but somehow they'll deny this also....facts scare them.
Silly atheists. Celebrating the discovery of God’s fingerprint on the universe. How confused are you fools?
Did you hear the one about the Canadian minding its own business?
You won't, the ass hole can't help itself from butting into other peoples business
Funny, last week it was the lack of finding the Higgs boson that was evidence for your God. You guys are quick with resetting your propaganda, aren't you?
you think Gods name is Higgs Boson
Dodney: How is commenting on something that was discovered in the UK intruding on the USA? You're just a tad bit of a hypocrite on this one. That's okay...we understand the mental disease you have...most schizophrenics like you have multiple personalities (ie; Atheism is not Healthy, you might be an atheist if, and Captain America being just a few of your other personalities). The asylum called...they have your meds ready.
I simply couldn't leave your web site before suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the usual info an individual supply in your visitors? Is gonna be again continuously to check out new posts
Buying your way up the Scientologist ladder isn't too different to the sale of indulgences.
Or supplying your pastor with a new Bentley.
Reblogged this on ♫ Music Oasis ♫.
It's pure, unadulterated fiction, like Hubbard's books.
Wasn't this originally a bet between Hubbard and a friend of his? Like any other religion, he saw money to made and gullible minds to over take.
Did anyone hear the one about the Canadian that minded its own F'n business?
You won't, those ass holes can't help themselves when it comes to butting into someone else business !
Why are Canadians not allowed to comment? What makes any of these issues exclusive to America? No I am not Canadian.
Dodney: This is an international website that has an article about a well known author who happened to form a cult is not exclusive to the USA. You shouldn't be commenting either dolt. I'm guessing you've never read a book outside of the buybull.
You just aren't wanted or needed no matter where you are. It is a personal thing , you are useless , your philosophy sucks and in all probability your breath stinks. Not my fault you are who you are. Quit annoying the rest of the world about it.
@You Might Be Cap'n Sayin Atheism Isn't an Angry Pervert Rangerfield Fresh Air
Time to get a new hobby. You're repeti/tive. And redundant. And say the same things over and over. Pleonasms give you or/gasms.
Doddering, you say it's a 'personal thing', and then proceed to proclaim that the rest of the world agrees with you.
Not so. You can only guess what the world is like outside that cell of yours.
Can be dismissed without proof
consider yourself dismissed Doc Vestibule
Your opinion is worth less to US than your foreign hide.
Go steal anther pig tommy
You poor thing.
Don't need your sympathy go steal your f'n pig.
Prayer changes things .
Religion retards a childs ability to reason.
Science provides knowledge for an open mind.
Religions creation myths and their various and sundry gods have always been man made fantasies and are on the way out, finally. The Higgs Boson, rules.
you don't know God gave science to man
@ You might
Funny thing about that, if god gave man science, please explain why organized reigions tried to bury scientific discoveries and persecute scientists over the history of mankind? If it was all done under gods benovelent guidance the chuch was denying their own gods will. You guys make the rules up and change your dogma when it becomes to stupid to justify. What a joke.
you are dumb enough to believe a god gave science to man
you do not recognize the creator in the creation
you are too stupid to understand that your god can't be proven to exist and that no creator is needed
you think you can avoid judgement by pretending the judge isn't there
you think people are convinced by your weak minded att.itude...if you are too retarded to understand that religion is fear mongering and therefore child abuse
You do not recognize that to deny a child eternity in Paradise is the worst form of child abuse
"Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck." - George Carlin
Makes sense to me.
you let some dead used to be part time funny guy do your thinking for you
You might be a Christian (Muslim, Jew, Retard) if you let books between 1,800-5,000 years old do your thinking for you.
you think that the Bible is the only source of enlightenment a Christian has
you think the bible is true and that a god inspired it
you do not recognize the author for who He is.
you make claims without evidence to back them
you can ignore creation, the advent and millions of witnesses over thousands of years
you are too retarded to understand that creation means in.cest and that evolution makes more sense
you think evolution deposited a vast amount of different people on the planet at the same time.
I know a woman who paid more than $150,000 for courses . Her life was full of credit card debt . She lost her house and her car.
Every week she will get phone calls from the "church" to donate money for different causes . The more money you give to them the more money they want from you. ......
From p. 1:
And the con games continue. E-meters? Were they delivered by angels? They were not? How shocking!!!
Some other religion cons and some victims of said cons:
Joe Smith had his Moroni. ( a victim ? M. Romney)
"Latter-day Saints like victim M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."
Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;
Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).
Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. ( some victims? BO and his family)
The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.
Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of
cut and paste senseless drivel whenever possible
all you have to back you in the bible
you have trouble communicating a coherent thought, such as all I have to back me in the Bible... is what?
Some added references to the "tink-erbell" cons
"Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."
Apparently hallu-cinations did not stop with Joe Smith.
"The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:
"TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."
And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:
"In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."
"The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "
"The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "
Total bull sh it alert Danger avoid reality at all costs life is too short to waste on reality drivel
She has finally woken up and is thankfully. =D
you think you have cornered the market on thought and do not notice that the creator of all things has freely shared with His followers and that all advancement in all fields comes through Him
you do not recognize the divine spark in thought
you are so anxious to meet god but do not comprehend that no heaven exists outside the bible (take your leave from this world...you'll be dead, nothing more but you'll have done the world a favor by not polluting it with your braindead thinking)
you do not realize that the Christian has already met God
Sad but good video:
you let some hack video do your talking for you
you have given up on reality and are incapable of thinking for yourself...if you are too blind to see the damage a belief in any deity causes...if you talk to thin air...if you can't find numerous sources to back your claim and do not understand the difference between faith & the scientific method...if you accept the catholic church as being superior
You think God is not reality.(Eternity with God is more real than the wisp of time that is earthly life.)
you too lazy to think for yourself
You keep repeating the same lame arguments that someone else gave you.
if you have no proof and keep repeating the same garbage over...use threats of eternal torture and only judge people based on a 2000 year old book written by man that tells you how to think (eg; hate ho.mo.se.xuals)...if you are too dumb to realize that no-one has ever gotten pregnant as a virgin...too dumb to understand that a global flood is scientifically impossible...that stoning children is not decent...that the bible promotes inc.est...that the bible promotes murder...that the bible violates basic human rights...if you are too dumb to comprehend that there is no evidence to back you
All organized religions use faith instead of reason.
it's all snake oil. no difference.
A young xtian told me he thought other religions were weird. I thought to myself "what the heck are YOU talking about?"
you do not know the difference between sh it and shineola
That's my boy Bootyfunk. Tell them like I taught you.
you've let satan do your thinking for you
If you are atheist, you don't believe in old pointy tail, either.
you are too stupid to understand that atheists don't believe in god and therefore do not believe in satan
You might be incredibly stupid if you think that a person who denies your entire belief system believes in the negative aspects of it (i.e., satan/hell).
You are so deceived by satan as to believe it does not exist
you are a horrible person who wishes pain upon another for not believing as you do...you fail to understand that not all people are weak minded like you and satan does not exist
you are a horrible person who wishes pain upon another for not believing as you do... you fail to understand that not all people are weak minded like you and that God Is
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.