Dex: “Scientology”, depending on the context, could refer to the counseling techniques and principles developed and/or practiced that are connected with the term, or the organization that calls itself “The Church of Scientology ® “, or both. Those more familiar tend to distinguish between the two, and those less familiar tend to lump the two together as though they are all one subject.
(A) Techniques and Principles related to Scientology:
There are many techniques for addressing unwanted conditions, desired states and goals many of us seek. Many of these can be very effective.
The original principles of Scientology were evolved in the early 1950’s, as expressed in the book, “The Phoenix Lectures”, which articulates the most basic principle of enlightenment and resolution of all that is undesirable, “Abandon the use of force”. The organization known as “The Church of Scientology” discontinued publication of the book The Phoenix Lectures; for decades, it has been out of print.
(B) The organization that calls itself “The Church of Scientology”
The organization incorporated as a church around 1954. L. Ron Hubbard, from this time until approximately 30 years later, when he became ill and passed away, held absolute authority, and over time, increasingly forcefully. Hubbard wrote thousands of policy letters defining such things as the structure of the organizations, the duties of each position, the exact procedure for executing every function, the terms for being accepted as a worker and as a customer or participant, and penalties for infractions.
1965 was a critical time for the evolution of the organizations, as Hubbard issued a very emphatic and forceful policy as the basis and mantra of all Scientologists who wanted to remain acceptable to the organization, “Keeping Scientology Working”. In this strident and angry manifesto, Hubbard declared that he alone had developed every technique and principle in use by the organization; this was not true, in fact quite a few capable people participated in developing the techniques and principles that came to be “The Grade Chart”, or “The Bridge”, a sequence of techniques, grouped in ascending steps (“Levels”). “Keeping Scientology Working” articulates Hubbard’s “10 commandments” for Scientologists, imposing the “necessity” of dedicating oneself to totally perfectly assimilating all of, and only Hubbard’s instructions, “hammering out of existence” any independent “new ideas”. Followers are exhorted to be uncompromising, and to be completely intolerant of “squirrels” (those not in total compliance). Eventually, the other substantial contributors were maligned and discredited by Hubbard and driven away.
It is also true that at times Hubbard demonstrated admirable qualities. At his best he was a remarkable person. I have friends and acquaintances who personally observed and experienced this.
How was it that Hubbard demonstrated such extremes of attitude and behavior? Well, nobody is as “all bad’ or “all good” as they might appear, and when you combine such extreme power as Hubbard came to wield over his flock, and thus the loss of external restraint, with extreme fame or visibility, you get some interesting extremes of attitude. Many of us could speculate beyond that, but for our purposes here, this is an actual man, not a simple fictional character, and our focus is on the organization, and so his impact on it bears mentioning.
The first thing one must understand about “Scientologists” as defined by Hubbard is that they have agreed to conform with the attitudes of “Keeping Scientology Working”. This forceful attitude characterized the direction the organization has increasingly taken over the decades.
Also in 1965, Hubbard published a list of the characteristics of “Suppressive Persons”, basically enemies to be opposed and/or eliminated, a list of “ethics penalties” and increasingly characterized more and more people, organizations and governments as “enemies of mankind” (enemies of Scientology).
The world of the Church of Scientology has been ruled by David Miscavige since approximately 1981. He has given himself the title of “COB” (“Chairman of the Board”), and that is how he insists on being referred to. He rules with an iron fist, and under his authority, there is much brutality toward Scientology staff and anyone critical of him or the organization who gets his attention, fees for services continue to increase dramatically, and the Church of Scientology’s practice of enforced disconnection is in more use than ever, both as a threat against anyone who is in any way disobedient, and as a practice.
Although the organization so transparently denies it, disconnection is their policy of ordering adherents to shut out of their lives completely anyone they know, including their friends, their parents, their children and divorcing their husband or wife. Those who come to be so indoctrinated as to accept the threat “You will lose your eternity forever” if they are denied acceptance by the “Church of Scientology” are pressured with this threat themselves if they refuse to disconnect, as ordered by the organization, from anyone that becomes regarded as unfriendly to the organization.
At one time, in the 1970’s there may have actually been as many as hundreds of thousands of participants involved with the organization. Today despite absurd claims of “millions”, between defections and expulsions, the actual amount of people actively participating with the “Church of Scientology” is probably less than 10,000. (For more detail, see “The Story of ‘The Church of Scientology’ ” on the ‘Articles’ page of this website)
Perhaps it can best be summed up this way:
The original basis of Scientology-related techniques includes the principle of “Abandon the use of force”.
The organization calling itself “The Church of Scientology” is pervaded by the use of force.