What is Scientology?

Welcome to I Am Your Target Demographic. Every Wednesday we cover an interesting topic,
hobby, or something else that people might feel like they’re uneducated about. Today we’re diving into a religion for the
first time, focusing on Scientology. I’m going to try to remain unbiased and
give you a look at what the Church of Scientology says, what other people might say about it,
and hopefully it’ll give you an idea of who they are and what they believe. I will bring up controversies about Scientology
but by doing so, I’m not agreeing with or endorsing any arguments. Before we dive in, I also want to clarify
that Scientology is not the same as Christian Scientists, as they’re often confused. So let’s start at the beginning. Scientology was developed by an author named
L. Ron Hubbard. This is important and is the first controversy
already, as L. Ron Hubbard was an established author, known for works of fiction, mostly
science fiction. Over his lifetime, he published over 600 fiction
pieces, including both short stories and novels and he holds the Guinness World Record for the author
with the most published works. So as we get into the religion aspect of Scientology,
you can see that people might not believe the religious texts he wrote, following so
many works of science fiction. Hubbard was a United States veteran, serving
as a Navy officer during World War 2 and commanding two ships but was removed from his post because
his superiors found him incapable of command. In one of these instances, he fired upon a
Japanese submarine that no one else saw and could later find no proof of, and the other instance
involved him firing upon an island that turned out to belong to Mexico, an ally of the US. The Church of Scientology gives a lot of weight
to his military career, as his injuries and near-death experiences were partially responsible
for his ability to see the truth of things and create the foundation for their belief
set. The Church of Scientology also disputes a
lot of records about Hubbard, including medical records and even says that sections are falsified,
to protect his possibly secret activities as an intelligence officer. These Navy records also dispute many of the
injuries he claims to have suffered. We move forward in time, where throughout
the 1930s and 40s Hubbard continued to write but also began to experiment more with the
occult, including practicing as a hypnotist and diving into other religious acts, some
pretty unconventional. And in 1950 we have the arrival of his book
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. This year is crucial for Scientologists, the
beginning of everything. Dianetics is focused on a technique still
used today in Scientology called “auditing.” Either through conversation or through a machine
called an “e-meter,” these professionals would help the patient recall past traumas
and get through them or over them, removing the emotional trauma of past memories in a
process called “clearing.” The e-meter picks up on signals from the body,
in the same way a polygraph lie detector might, and tell the auditor what phrases or memories
trigger negative feelings and when they can conclude certain conversations. They hoped to get this process approved in
the larger world of medicine but these proposals were rejected. At this time, Hubbard also coined a term called
“thetan,” which is essentially our soul but it’s immortal and allows us to tap into
past lives (and potentially past traumas from those lives that still might affect us). Dianetics is part of Scientology, but Dianetics
in itself is not the religion, but rather one way to enhance the religious experience. “The average man is up against certain problems, he’s asking himself certain questions.” “How can I make more money? How can I make my wife faithful? How can I make my children grow up?” “Well… In other words, how can I live a better life?” “How can I make things uh… more even… more stable for my family?” “How… You know, how how how how. And what am I up against?” “What is happening to me in my life, what is my purpose in life, and so forth.” “These questions in actual fact absorb a tremendous quantity of his energy and he himself is not able to go out and do anything very progressive about it.” “So the best things for him to do is go out and do something about it but he CAN’T do anything about it because he is so immersed in it.” “So actually in Scientology processing, he resolves these questions. He understands what he’s doing. He know what he wants to do.” “He makes up his mind and he goes ahead and he does it and he turns from a man who is simply a puzzled static being into someone that is more dynamic and will accomplish something.” At this point, he pivoted to Scientology and
made the argument that this whole process is a religion, not a science. With this came his idea to monetize, charging
(at the time) $500 for an entire 24 hours of auditing. This created a wave of churches being formed
across the world, including the central headquarters in Washington DC, which now still stands as
a museum. The headquarters now exists in California,
in Riverside County. About 1000 people live on the property and
it’s well protected, including high fences and constant security. There is a public road that drives through
it, though it’s constantly recorded and monitored. The Church requested that the road either
be closed to the public or even moved to go around the property but both requests were
denied. There are many rumors about living at this
space that are hotly debated, including subpar working wages, pursuit teams that bring people
back and don’t allow them to leave, and required confessions if they hear of other
people in the compound talking or gossiping about the church or its members. I say this is debated because no one inside
the base will complain or make a statement to the police about their experience there. Only a few have made complaints after they’ve
left the Church and those cases have all been tossed out or not taken seriously due to lack
of information or evidence. Let’s back up and focus on what Scientologists
believe. As a religion, what are their beliefs? They believe that their soul, the thetan,
is immortal and our lives are not confined to this single lifetime. They also believe we are capable of anything,
even if we haven’t been able to realize it yet. They do believe in a God-like figure called
the Supreme Being, that its members learn about and discover on their own unique journeys. There are eight “dynamics” that drive
us forward, including the urge towards infinity, which includes discovering God. Other dynamics include the urge to protect
animal life, the urge to exist as a peaceful community, and the urge to exist as one mankind
across all races. When speaking about Scientology, words like
faith and belief are often avoided, in lieu of concrete terms based on science and technology. Once you are “clear,” meaning you’ve
been cleansed of traumatic memories and feelings, you are able to climb the ladder to more meaningful
and powerful positions. After clear comes a state called Operating
Thetan, or OT for short. This allows you to control the world around
you, including life, energy, and matter. They also can leave their bodies, as the thetan
itself is not confined to it. There are many levels of Operating Thetan
and it costs money through the auditing process to progress. The cheapest level is $2,750 and that’s
assuming you’re free of those memories and feelings, otherwise you’ll have much more
auditing to do before this. The third level of OT involves a major discovery
that Hubbard discovered after Scientology had been founded. While people reaching this level have signed
confidentiality agreements, some of these documents have been released to the public
and it tells a story that again causes a pretty major controversy. Okay, bare with me. 75 million years ago, an ancient being called
Xenu was a dictator of something called the Galactic Confederacy. He brought humans to Earth, dropped them into volcanos, and killed them, releasing their thetans into the environment. These thetans are angry and upset, causing
us now to be infected and affected by these negative emotions. To overcome these negative emotions from this
traumatic event is how you can reach OT level III but it’s dangerous. L. Ron Hubbard claims that it’s a tough
thing to do and many illnesses might plague people attempting to conquer it. The Church doesn’t enjoy the telling of
this story and will go out of its way to block its telling, so if this video disappears or
if I go missing, that may be the reason why. This story was the focus of an episode of
South Park centering on Scientology. “What is the most secret part of Scientology or thing they worry about leaking?” “Um well… You know, that stuff about the aliens and the volcano, you know…”
HOST: “I don’t know, what is that?” “Oh gosh…”
3rd Man: “It’s like the whole basis of Scientology.” “Yeah, well you don’t know about that when you’re in Scientology until you reach a certain level.” “Like you have to receive a certain amount of training and counseling and it can take years and the Scientologist has to pay a lot of money before they get there.” The total to get to this point through the
process of auditing is around $100,000. If you don’t become enlightened and don’t
solve these life mysteries, you must pay to try the process again. “By the way, most Scientologists don’t even get to this point.” Host: “Most.”
“Right, most don’t.” Host: “Right, because you have to be wealthy to get to this.” “Not only do you have to be wealthy, but a lot of times what they do, the new scam is…” “You gotta… you get to a level and they go ‘Oh, we messed that up, you gotta go back down, at your expense.” While
the church doesn’t come out and discuss Xenu and this incident, volcanos do feature prominently on the covers of Dianetics. Now another controversy arrives in the form
of taxes and if Scientology should actually be considered a religion by the IRS. The IRS tried to claim back taxes in the 60s
but the Church responded with thousands of lawsuits against the IRS, resulting in about
25 years of back and forth litigation, eventually resulting in the decision that Scientology
was indeed a church and exempt from taxes. Now by the time this landmark decision was
made, L. Ron Hubbard had passed away. The Church’s official statement was that
he no longer needed his physical body and continued to write and research without it. This was in 1986 and a man named David Miscavige
took over the Church. A lot of claims have come out against Miscavige,
including violence and abuse towards church members, but nothing has been substantiated. Something notable that happened around the
time of the leadership change was the rise in the “celebrity” Scientologists, prime
examples to help recruit others. First came John Travolta, then Tom Cruise,
and they are the two most well-known, but many other Hollywood types came to Scientology,
able to pay for these auditing sessions that could relieve them of past traumas. But what people don’t think about… is that
these auditing sessions, essentially counseling, covering their deepest darkest secrets,
are all kept in records, so each member of the church has a file that can be used at
any time to either discredit them or blackmail them. This might be the reason that people stay
in the church or don’t tell the truth when asked. Now this already a long video but if you’re
interested in more supposed testimony, there are a few documentaries that go into much
more depth, including Going Clear, available now on Amazon Prime. So as you can see, this is complicated, an
international network that is given religious status in the US but in other countries is
defined as a dangerous cult. We’ve got former members of the Church claiming
some horrible things but there is no evidence. They believe in the immortal soul and its
endless capability, but beyond that are some pretty bizarre extraterrestrial origins that
people can find difficult to believe. In the comments, let me know your thoughts
about Scientology. And we’ll see you next week for another
What Is video about an interesting topic.

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