Faith Special Section

Stranger things: 4 facts about Scientology


According to the beliefs of the Church of Scientology, each human’s body is controlled by an eternal being called a Thetan, which passes from body to body forever. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As a diverse and populated city, Houston is home to many religions — from the mainstream to the downright weird.

It’s no surprise that the Church of Scientology, which became an official U.S. religion in 1993 by receiving tax-exempt status, set up an establishment on Fondren Road for curious Houstonians.

We reached out to the Houston mission with request for an interview or comment but have not heard back. In the meantime, here’s four things you probably didn’t know about Scientology.

It’s still a small religion

Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard, a sci-fi writer who holds the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of books written and published by one person.

In 1950, he published “Dianetics,” which describes the process of talking out feelings and experiences to achieve a status known as “clear.” Although discredited by psychologists and therapists, the book was popular with the general public, and Hubbard began charging people to become trained as “auditors,” or people who listen to another.

Those concepts and trainings expanded into the religion known as Scientology, which decades later has only roughly 25,000 members in the U.S., according to the American Religious Identification Survey. This is despite the church’s claims that it is experiencing “explosive growth” and claims to have 8 million members worldwide.

They believe we’re all Thetans

According to the Church of Scientology, each human body is controlled by an eternal being called a Thetan, which passes from body to body forever.

Once Hubbard’s book “Dianetics” grew popular, he expanded beyond “clear” and said people could achieve a higher level of themselves known as an “Operating Thetan.” The process, which involves paying for courses and auditing sessions, is called “The Bridge to Total Freedom.

Former Scientologists say the auditing sessions feel therapeutic at first, but as you climb higher into the levels of the religion, you become susceptible to some of Scientology’s stranger and more rigid ideologies.

Scientologists believe in God, but they aren’t Christian

Despite numerous Christian parallels, such as a cross-like symbol, Sunday services, ministers and being a “church,” the Church of Scientology isn’t Christian.

They don’t follow the Bible or any other books except the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, which have been revised numerous times since the religion’s inception. Instead, spokespeople for the religion say their Supreme Being can be from any other religion.

Scientologists liken themselves to Buddhists: It’s not what you believe — it’s what you do that makes you a member.

Only high-level officials believe in Xenu, the alien who founded Earth

The Church of Scientology has never publicly acknowledged its origin story because it is supposed to be unlocked once reaching the third tier of Operating Thetan, or “OT 3.”

Tom Cruise, who has said he is the third highest-ranking Scientologist, reached this level a few years ago.

They believe that 75 million years ago, Xenu, the leader of a Galactic Confederacy of dozens of planets, including Earth, tricked billions of his alien citizens, then froze and detonated all the creatures. The souls of those murdered aliens, or Thetans, are said to inhabit all humans on Earth today.


  • What a load of absolute bullcrap!

    Why is it that so many people in the media think they know ALL about Scientology when they know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

      • Rick, they can indeed. I would urge anyone wishing to do so to read what Hubbard wrote or listen to lectures he gave DIRECTLY.

        • This makes no sense. Hubbard has been consistently debunked as a fraud. In fact, Hubbard himself stated that he wanted to found a “church” because that’s where the money is.
          So why should people wanting to know about scientology consult Hubbard’s “works? Is it really necessary to give money to Bernie Madoff in order to fully comprehend that he’s a fraud? Do you really have to join an extremist party first in order to be able to say that you are informed enough to denounce it? Do I really have to join the flat-earth society before comprehending their scientific standing? Of course not!

          • Robert, my old nemesis, funny you mention the flat-Earth society. I thought you were the founding member!

        • Like the audio recording where he discusses Xenu, the Daily Mail newspaper interview where he says he’s visited Venus and Heaven, the extract where he describes homosexuals as ‘covertly hostile’, the World in Action interview where he flat-out denied one of his marriages and claimed (in the late 60s) that he wasn’t actively involved in the organisation any more and they owed him money, yet he didn’t know how much he had in a Swiss bank account?

          Yep, people, including you, really should read and listen to Hubbard’s own words directly, not just those since sanitised by scientology; they are the words of an intolerant, paranoid, egomaniac lunatic.

          • I wonder if you have ever been around gays very much.

            I’m not saying anything good or bad, but I would say that “covert hostility” is a very, very common attitude for gay people. They cut each other to ribbons, smiling all the while.

            I recall a part time job I did while I was at uni in London, more years ago than I care to think. The show was Jesus Christ Superstar and one of the lead singers, Maxime Nightingale was a Scientologist. But that’s nothing to do with the story.

            An actor had goofed a line and was sitting in a black cloud at the side of the stage. Another actor, a very, very gay guy came up to him. He spoke in a voice dripping with sympathy, “Don’t worry,” he said, “I know the rest of the cast think you’re rubbish, but I believe in you.”

            A broad smile with a knife behind his back.

            Covert hostility.

            • And then there are the chronically unemployed blacks, and the greedy Jews, and the…

              Good to see that cult affiliation and blind trust in the debunked opinions of a hack sci-fi writer still promotes astounding bigotry.

            • You truly astound me. It seems to me you’ll forgive everything of Hubbard because he was a bigot and expressed a prejudiced sentiment which you wholeheartedly embrace. You really do deserve each other.

            • Do you have any insider info about when Maxime left the cult? Apparently, she did so quietly to avoid the infamous revenge attacks. Some “church” that shudders former marks into silence!

            • It is definitely worth noting that the Emotional Tone Scale that Hubbard postulated is like the rest of scientology: It is made to sound scientific, yet is absolutely devoid of any verifiable evidence of even sound method. If that were all there is to it, one could say “no harm done” and lump it in with mood rings and other novelties.

              Unfortunately, in Hubbard’s fascist thinking people are assigned a numeric grade to go with their place on said Tone Scale. In this case a 1.1.

              According to Hubbard’s directive in “Science of Survival,” those who are “below 2.0 on the Tone Scale” should have no rights whatsoever. And given the cult’s human rights atrocities, it is obvious that when they say “no human rights,” they mean it! As hundreds of examples prove, cult members are all too ready to bring Ron’s will to bear and terrorize those who are outside of their/his favor.

        • As I recall the handwritten notes of L. Rong Hubbard explaining his OT3 outer space aliens claims and the effect of their residue in the form of body thetans (BTs) is available online. Anyone can Google and review the notes and see what Hubbard said. Scientology websites do not have this material posted and keep it a secret until you pay your way up to OT3. But it’s now available online for free.

            • Sorry, but Hubbard meant it to be accepted as a historical fact, which he recounted to explain the human condition. It was not a parable for Hubbard and he did not mean it to be a parable for Scientologists.

              Scientology may eventually spin Xenu as a parable one day, but Scientologists certainly have not done that to date.

    • This is the same old argument you (and others in the cult) have peddled so many times: Nobody else understands scientology; only “we” do. I get it that you think of yourselves as superior to humanity. But since you have nothing to back up your self-deception, it’s safe to say that your “argument” does what it has always done: If ails!

    • Don’t you believe you are a thetan?

      Why is it scientologists keep pretending that non-scientologists can’t have a good understanding of the organisation by watching and reading well-researched films/books as well as Hubbard’s own interviews and writings that are available on the Internet, and actually listening to the experiences of former members instead of pre-judging them to be liars?

      • Probably for the same reason that to really understand Bach, you need to play his music on some instrument or other. You could get some idea from listening to a lot of Bach, but you never would really know Bach until you actually put fingers to keyboard. And if, instead of playing his music or listening to it, you just read negative criticisms of it, you never would understand it.

        I realise this is a little cerebral, but if you can drag your head around it the analogy works well.

        • The problem with this theory/analysis is all the former members of Scientology (probably more former members than current members) who debunk and expose Hubbard’s teachings and training. Many spent decades in Scientology and some reached the higher OT levels before they left.

          To put a fine point on it. No one, according to active Scientologist can responsibly and meaningfully criticize Scientology unless they are an active Scientologist in good standing or someone exposed to its courses or training with a friendly positive view.

          Former members and/or critics, no matter how much they know are apt to be dismissed as SPs (Suppressive Person) and essentially relegated to non-existence. and if you associate yourself with an SP you risk being labeled a PTS (Potential Trouble Source). Not a good thing.

          Scientology thus controls information, discussion and can potentially isolate its members socially through this process of handling.

        • Bach and Hubbard compared? You’re a funny guy!

          But following your “cerebral” emission, one would have to write fraudulent “research,” start a cult and brag about it, and get found out and debunked in order to really understand Hubbard. OK…

        • And what if you’ve heard Bach’s music, read the manuscript, played it a bit to yourself on your piano at home and decided that you thought he was an over-rated charlatan who only composed advertising jingles (some of which he even copied from others) to make a fast buck? What if former maestros, who had lived and breathed Bach, said he was astoundingly over-rated? Why would everyone except the devout Bach fan, blind to any and all his faults, have to be wrong?

    • How dumb do people have to be, as to think a science fiction writer ” L Ron Hubbard knows the meaning of life. Some dude who looks like he never brushed his teeth. Ya I would believe him. lol

  • It is very expensive to pay your way up the Operating Thetan levels. Not everyone can easily afford the ride, like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, who reportedly have reached OT7.

    Some Scientologists may pay and pay for years of courses and auditing and never reach OT3, which reads more like Science fiction that theology.

    L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology who wrote OT3, was known as a Science fiction writer not a theologian.

    Weird isn’t it?

    What legitimate religion would require specified payments billed for hours of spiritual counseling and courses before revealing its truth or a doctrine that forms the foundation of its faith. This would be the equivalent of Christians withholding information about the virgin birth or Jews refusing to talk about Moses until people paid pastors, priests and rabbis enough money for counseling and/or indoctrination.

    Of course due to the World Wide Web anyone with a Internet connection can use an electronic device to find out all about Scientology for free. Scientology can no longer keep its teachings and training techniques secret.

    Google whatever you want to know about Scientology and find out for free. You can find out what Scientology says publicly and then explore issues further through the testimony of former members and researchers.

  • the greatest number of books written and published by one person.

    The above is nonsense as even Asimov who was a writing Robot himself “only” turn out a little more then 500 books in his long live along with 1600 essays.

    At best Hubbard was a third rate science fiction author of the early Campbell period 1940s-1950s not known for any great amount of output.

    Love to know where Guinness came up with the numbers that they did for the man as something is not right in the number they gave to say the least.

    • Most likely, they were lobbied by the “church” to consider Hubbard for that record. The only problem is that the cult controls LRH’s “works.” Therefore, they can claim just about anything when it comes to these numbers, and no one can know for sure.
      Considering that this is the “church” that claims 14,000,000 members while independent research puts the numbers closer to 30,000 (or 0.02% of the claimed figure), or the same church that had an event (SMP opening, Hollywood) where they claimed 10,000 attended, and yet there were only chairs set up for 1,000, their credibility is rather low!

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