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The Church of Scientology is a multinational network and hierarchy of numerous ostensibly independent but interconnected [1] corporate entities and other organizations devoted to the practice, administration and dissemination of Scientology , a new religious movement. The location at Gilman Hotsprings is private property and not accessible by the public. The RTC claims to only be the "holder of Scientology and Dianetics trademarks", but is in fact the main Scientology executive organization.

All Scientology management organizations are controlled exclusively by members of the Sea Org , which is a legally nonexistent paramilitary organization for the "elite, innermost dedicated core of Scientologists". Although in some countries it has attained legal recognition as a religion , [14] the movement has been the subject of a number of controversies , and has been accused by critics of being both a cult and a commercial enterprise. By that time, the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International HASI had already been operating since [16] [17] and Hubbard himself had already been selling Scientology books and technologies.

In he wrote to Helen O'Brien, who was managing the organization, asking her to investigate the "religion angle". The first Church of Scientology opened in in Los Angeles. Hubbard stated, "A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology.

The Scientology creed emphasizes three key points: Hubbard had official control of the organization until when this function was transferred to a group of executives. In May , subsequent to the sudden death of L. Although RTC is a separate corporation from the Church of Scientology International , whose president and chief spokesperson is Heber Jentzsch , Miscavige is the effective leader of the movement.

In , the Church of Scientology implemented the "Golden Age of Tech" tech pertaining to the entire body of Scientology religious techniques releasing a training program for Scientology auditors, while precisely following Hubbard's teachings.

It was followed by the launch of "The Golden Age of Knowledge" in , where Hubbard's announcements of milestones in the research and development of Dianetics and Scientology were released.

Between and , the church would complete its year program to restore and verify the church's "scriptures". The church released the second phase of the Golden Age of Tech on November , based on the original work of Hubbard. The Church of Scientology promotes Scientology, a body of beliefs and related practices created by Hubbard, starting in as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics. Scientology teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings who have forgotten their true nature.

Scientology's central mythology developed around the original notion of the thetan. In Scientology, the thetan is the individual expression of "theta", described by Neusner as "the cosmic source and life force". The thetan is the true human identity, rendering humans as "pure spirit and godlike". The religion's mythology holds the belief that "in the primordial past, thetans applied their creative abilities to form the physical universe".

Contrary to the biblical narrative that shows that the universe was created by a divine, sole creator, Scientology holds that "the universe was created by theta in the form of individualized expressions". The story of Xenu is part of Scientologist teachings about extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in Earthly events, collectively described as space opera by Hubbard. Scientology describes itself as the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others, and all of life.

According to the Encyclopedia of American Religions , it is "concerned with the isolation, description, handling and rehabilitation of the human spirit". One of the major tenets of Scientology is that a human is an immortal alien spiritual being, termed a thetan , that is presently trapped on planet Earth in a physical "meat body.

The thetan has had innumerable past lives and it is accepted in Scientology that lives preceding the thetan's arrival on Earth lived in extraterrestrial cultures. Descriptions of space opera incidents are seen as true events by Scientologists. Scientology claims that its practices provide methods by which a person can achieve greater spiritual awareness. Scientologists progress from "Preclear", to " Clear ", and ultimately " Operating Thetan ". Scientologists are taught that a series of events, or incidents , occurred before life on earth.

Hubbard's image and writing are ubiquitous in Scientology churches. Churches built after Hubbard's death include a corporate-style office set aside for Hubbard's reincarnation, with a plaque on the desk bearing his name, and a pad of paper with a pen for him to continue writing novels.

Scientology organizations and missions exist in many communities around the world. The Church of Scientology also has several major headquarters, including:. Hubbard moved to England shortly after founding Scientology, where he oversaw its worldwide development from an office in London for most of the s.

During Hubbard's years at Saint Hill, he traveled extensively, providing lectures and training in Australia, South Africa in the United States, and developing materials that would eventually become Scientology's "core systematic theology and praxis". In September 14, , he wrote: We are not very many here and as the sun never sets on Scientology we are very busy thetans.

It was delivered by Hubbard from March to December and "is considered the single most comprehensive and rigorous training course for budding auditors in the church". This became the worldwide headquarters of Scientology through the s and s. Hubbard declared Saint Hill to be the organization by which all other organizations would be measured, and he issued a general order still followed today for all organizations around the world to expand and reach "Saint Hill size".

The Church of Scientology has announced that the next two levels of Scientology teaching , OT 9 and OT 10 , will be released and made available to church members when all the major organizations in the world have reached Saint Hill size. Because the reported tenant was the "United Churches of Florida" the citizens and City Council of Clearwater did not realize that the building's owners were actually the Church of Scientology until after the building's purchase.

Clearwater citizens' groups, headed by Mayor Gabriel Cazares , rallied strongly against Scientology establishing a base in the city repeatedly referring to the organization as a cult , but Flag Base was established nonetheless.

In the years since its foundation, the Flag Land Base has expanded as the Church of Scientology has gradually purchased large amounts of additional property in the downtown and waterfront Clearwater area. Scientology's largest project in Clearwater has been the construction of a high-rise complex called the " Super Power Building ", or Flag Building, which "is the centerpiece of a million construction campaign. The multi-million cathedral is the new spiritual headquarters of Scientology.

The fifth and sixth floor contain the "Super Power Program", which includes specially designed machines that Scientologists believe allow users to develop new abilities and experience enlightenment. The building also includes a dining facility, course rooms, offices and small rooms for "auditing" purposes.

Los Angeles, California , has the largest concentration of Scientologists and Scientology-related organizations in the world, with the church's most visible presence being in the Hollywood district of the city. All these organizations are integrated within the corporation Church of Scientology Western United States.

The Church of Scientology successfully campaigned to have the city of Los Angeles rename one block of a street running through this complex "L. The street has been paved in brick. The ground floor of the Guaranty Building also features the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition , a museum detailing his life that is open to the general public. The Celebrity Centre was acquired by the church as the Chateau Elysee in , built to accommodate members in the arts, sports and government.

Another museum in the area is the Psychiatry: The headquarters of the Religious Technology Center , the entity that oversees Scientology operations worldwide, is located in unincorporated Riverside County, California , near Gilman Hot Springs and north of Hemet. Several Scientology executives, including David Miscavige, live and work at the base.

The Church of Scientology bought the former Gilman Hot Springs resort, which had been popular with Hollywood figures, in ; the resort became Gold Base. They are surrounded by floodlights and video observation cameras, [57] [63] [64] [65] and the compound is protected by razor wire.

The Church of Scientology maintains a large base on the outskirts of Trementina, New Mexico , for the purpose of storing their archiving project: An aerial photograph showing the base's enormous Church of Spiritual Technology symbols on the ground caused media interest and a local TV station broke the story in November According to a report in The Washington Post , the organization unsuccessfully attempted to coerce the station not to air the story.

The Freewinds was also used for other courses and auditing for those willing to spend extra money to get services on the ship. In April , the Freewinds was sealed, and work stopped on refurbishments, due to "extensive contamination" with blue asbestos. Starting in Miscavige began encouraging local groups to purchase larger facilities to use as churches. These building are known within the Church of Scientology as "Ideal Orgs". The church has also purchased buildings for the purposes of setting up Ideal Orgs, but which have been delayed or canceled.

In the UK, delayed Ideal Orgs have included Birmingham purchased in , [83] Gateshead purchased , [84] Manchester purchased , [84] [85] and Plymouth purchased It produces promotional materials for the Church of Scientology, as well as lectures, training films and other materials related to Hubbard.

Occupying , square feet, the dissemination center prints Church magazines and other Scientology materials in 15 languages. The center has a custom-built web press with a 55 thousand pages per hour capacity. According to a Church press release, the center's warehousing and shipping department is fully automated, with the capability to address and handle half a million items per week. The Scientology Media Productions media center was inaugurated on May 28, The five-acre complex, on the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood in Hollywood, California, has a foot communications tower marked with a Scientology symbol.

Originally built in , it was restored by the church for content creation and delivery in print, broadcast and online media. There are many independently chartered organizations and groups which are staffed by Scientologists, and pay license fees for the use of Scientology technology and trademarks under the control of Scientology management.

In some cases, these organizations do not publicize their affiliation with Scientology. The Church of Scientology denies the legitimacy of any splinter groups and factions outside the official organization, and has tried to prevent independent Scientologists from using officially trademarked Scientology materials.

Independent Scientologists, also known collectively as the " Free Zone " are referred to as squirrels within the Church. They are also classified by the Church of Scientology as suppressive persons "SPs" —opponents or enemies of Scientology.

Hubbard himself stated in Ron's Journal '67 "That there were only seven or eight Suppressive Persons on the planet In , an exception to the rule was made specifically for the Nation of Islam , which is the only officially sanctioned external Dianetics organization and the first official non-Scientology Dianetics org since Minister Louis Farrakhan publicly announced his embracement of Dianetics, and has been actively promoting Dianetics, while stating he has not become a Scientologist.

He has courted a relationship with the Church, and materials and certifications are still required to be purchased from the Church of Scientology, and are not independently produced. The Scientology Missions International, the branch of the Church of Scientology devoted to Missions, was set up in According to the church's official website, the SMI is the "mother church" for all missions, with headquarters in Los Angeles.

In , there were forty missions. Currently, the church has grown to an estimated 3, missions, churches and groups. The Sea Organization often simply referred to as the "Sea Org" was incorporated under the name 'Operational Transport Committee' in the United Kingdom in for legal maritime registration purposes.

The Sea Org is an unincorporated fraternal religious order founded in by Hubbard as he embarked on a series of voyages around the Mediterranean Sea in a small fleet of ships staffed by Scientologists and hired professional seamen.

Hubbard—formerly a lieutenant junior grade in the US Navy—bestowed the rank of "commodore" of the vessels upon himself. The crew who accompanied him on these voyages became the foundation of the Sea Organisation. Ron Hubbard from Saint Hill Manor and overseas church missions. The purpose was to establish an effective base of operations for the OTC research voyages to assist LRH to verify his discoveries and research into past-lives.

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The thetan has had innumerable past lives and it is accepted in Scientology that lives preceding the thetan's arrival on Earth lived in extraterrestrial cultures. Descriptions of space opera incidents are seen as true events by Scientologists.

Scientology claims that its practices provide methods by which a person can achieve greater spiritual awareness. Scientologists progress from "Preclear", to " Clear ", and ultimately " Operating Thetan ".

Scientologists are taught that a series of events, or incidents , occurred before life on earth. Hubbard's image and writing are ubiquitous in Scientology churches. Churches built after Hubbard's death include a corporate-style office set aside for Hubbard's reincarnation, with a plaque on the desk bearing his name, and a pad of paper with a pen for him to continue writing novels.

Scientology organizations and missions exist in many communities around the world. The Church of Scientology also has several major headquarters, including:. Hubbard moved to England shortly after founding Scientology, where he oversaw its worldwide development from an office in London for most of the s. During Hubbard's years at Saint Hill, he traveled extensively, providing lectures and training in Australia, South Africa in the United States, and developing materials that would eventually become Scientology's "core systematic theology and praxis".

In September 14, , he wrote: We are not very many here and as the sun never sets on Scientology we are very busy thetans. It was delivered by Hubbard from March to December and "is considered the single most comprehensive and rigorous training course for budding auditors in the church". This became the worldwide headquarters of Scientology through the s and s. Hubbard declared Saint Hill to be the organization by which all other organizations would be measured, and he issued a general order still followed today for all organizations around the world to expand and reach "Saint Hill size".

The Church of Scientology has announced that the next two levels of Scientology teaching , OT 9 and OT 10 , will be released and made available to church members when all the major organizations in the world have reached Saint Hill size.

Because the reported tenant was the "United Churches of Florida" the citizens and City Council of Clearwater did not realize that the building's owners were actually the Church of Scientology until after the building's purchase. Clearwater citizens' groups, headed by Mayor Gabriel Cazares , rallied strongly against Scientology establishing a base in the city repeatedly referring to the organization as a cult , but Flag Base was established nonetheless.

In the years since its foundation, the Flag Land Base has expanded as the Church of Scientology has gradually purchased large amounts of additional property in the downtown and waterfront Clearwater area. Scientology's largest project in Clearwater has been the construction of a high-rise complex called the " Super Power Building ", or Flag Building, which "is the centerpiece of a million construction campaign. The multi-million cathedral is the new spiritual headquarters of Scientology.

The fifth and sixth floor contain the "Super Power Program", which includes specially designed machines that Scientologists believe allow users to develop new abilities and experience enlightenment. The building also includes a dining facility, course rooms, offices and small rooms for "auditing" purposes. Los Angeles, California , has the largest concentration of Scientologists and Scientology-related organizations in the world, with the church's most visible presence being in the Hollywood district of the city.

All these organizations are integrated within the corporation Church of Scientology Western United States. The Church of Scientology successfully campaigned to have the city of Los Angeles rename one block of a street running through this complex "L.

The street has been paved in brick. The ground floor of the Guaranty Building also features the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition , a museum detailing his life that is open to the general public.

The Celebrity Centre was acquired by the church as the Chateau Elysee in , built to accommodate members in the arts, sports and government. Another museum in the area is the Psychiatry: The headquarters of the Religious Technology Center , the entity that oversees Scientology operations worldwide, is located in unincorporated Riverside County, California , near Gilman Hot Springs and north of Hemet.

Several Scientology executives, including David Miscavige, live and work at the base. The Church of Scientology bought the former Gilman Hot Springs resort, which had been popular with Hollywood figures, in ; the resort became Gold Base.

They are surrounded by floodlights and video observation cameras, [57] [63] [64] [65] and the compound is protected by razor wire. The Church of Scientology maintains a large base on the outskirts of Trementina, New Mexico , for the purpose of storing their archiving project: An aerial photograph showing the base's enormous Church of Spiritual Technology symbols on the ground caused media interest and a local TV station broke the story in November According to a report in The Washington Post , the organization unsuccessfully attempted to coerce the station not to air the story.

The Freewinds was also used for other courses and auditing for those willing to spend extra money to get services on the ship. In April , the Freewinds was sealed, and work stopped on refurbishments, due to "extensive contamination" with blue asbestos. Starting in Miscavige began encouraging local groups to purchase larger facilities to use as churches.

These building are known within the Church of Scientology as "Ideal Orgs". The church has also purchased buildings for the purposes of setting up Ideal Orgs, but which have been delayed or canceled.

In the UK, delayed Ideal Orgs have included Birmingham purchased in , [83] Gateshead purchased , [84] Manchester purchased , [84] [85] and Plymouth purchased It produces promotional materials for the Church of Scientology, as well as lectures, training films and other materials related to Hubbard.

Occupying , square feet, the dissemination center prints Church magazines and other Scientology materials in 15 languages. The center has a custom-built web press with a 55 thousand pages per hour capacity. According to a Church press release, the center's warehousing and shipping department is fully automated, with the capability to address and handle half a million items per week.

The Scientology Media Productions media center was inaugurated on May 28, The five-acre complex, on the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood in Hollywood, California, has a foot communications tower marked with a Scientology symbol. Originally built in , it was restored by the church for content creation and delivery in print, broadcast and online media. There are many independently chartered organizations and groups which are staffed by Scientologists, and pay license fees for the use of Scientology technology and trademarks under the control of Scientology management.

In some cases, these organizations do not publicize their affiliation with Scientology. The Church of Scientology denies the legitimacy of any splinter groups and factions outside the official organization, and has tried to prevent independent Scientologists from using officially trademarked Scientology materials. Independent Scientologists, also known collectively as the " Free Zone " are referred to as squirrels within the Church. They are also classified by the Church of Scientology as suppressive persons "SPs" —opponents or enemies of Scientology.

Hubbard himself stated in Ron's Journal '67 "That there were only seven or eight Suppressive Persons on the planet In , an exception to the rule was made specifically for the Nation of Islam , which is the only officially sanctioned external Dianetics organization and the first official non-Scientology Dianetics org since Minister Louis Farrakhan publicly announced his embracement of Dianetics, and has been actively promoting Dianetics, while stating he has not become a Scientologist.

He has courted a relationship with the Church, and materials and certifications are still required to be purchased from the Church of Scientology, and are not independently produced. The Scientology Missions International, the branch of the Church of Scientology devoted to Missions, was set up in According to the church's official website, the SMI is the "mother church" for all missions, with headquarters in Los Angeles.

In , there were forty missions. Currently, the church has grown to an estimated 3, missions, churches and groups. The Sea Organization often simply referred to as the "Sea Org" was incorporated under the name 'Operational Transport Committee' in the United Kingdom in for legal maritime registration purposes. The Sea Org is an unincorporated fraternal religious order founded in by Hubbard as he embarked on a series of voyages around the Mediterranean Sea in a small fleet of ships staffed by Scientologists and hired professional seamen.

Hubbard—formerly a lieutenant junior grade in the US Navy—bestowed the rank of "commodore" of the vessels upon himself. The crew who accompanied him on these voyages became the foundation of the Sea Organisation. Ron Hubbard from Saint Hill Manor and overseas church missions. The purpose was to establish an effective base of operations for the OTC research voyages to assist LRH to verify his discoveries and research into past-lives.

Hubbard was also keen to see if he could recover any deposits of treasure that he believed that he had hidden in dozens of locations around the Mediterranean region.

Teams of divers and metal-detectorists were dispatched to remote locations to dig for these alleged deposits. There is evidence of some success in locating identified targets, but only two probable eye-witness testimonies of any artifacts being recovered.

One from under a temple complex on Sicily and another from an underwater temple at Carthage. Witnesses have claimed to have seen small craft unloading gold bullion onto the 'Athena' vessel and later seen in Hubbard's personal hold aboard The Apollo Flag ship in by staff members. The Sea Org is described by the church as forming an elite group of the most dedicated Scientologists, who are entrusted with the international management of Scientology and upper level churches such as the Advanced Organization Los Angeles, American Saint Hill Organization, Flag Service Organization and Celebrity Center International.

The organization is known as the "monastic wing of Scientology. Scientologists who are qualified to do so are often encouraged to join the Sea Org, which involves a lifetime commitment to Scientology organizations in exchange for room and board, training and auditing, and a small weekly allowance. Members sign an agreement pledging their loyalty and allegiance to Scientology for "the next billion years," committing their future lifetimes to the Sea Org.

Critics of Scientology have spoken out against the disciplinary procedures and policies of the Sea Org, which have been a source of controversy since its inception and variously described as abusive and illegal. Former Sea Org members have stated that punishments in the late s and early s included confinement in hazardous conditions such as the ship's chain locker. In , Hubbard established the Rehabilitation Project Force or RPF as a subunit of the Sea Org, in order to provide a "second chance" to members whose offenses were considered severe enough to warrant expulsion.

RPF members are paired up and help one another for five hours each day with spiritual counseling to resolve the issues for which they were assigned to the program. They also spend 8 hours per day doing physical labor that will benefit the church facility where they are located. On verification of their having completed the program they are then given a Sea Org job again.

In practice, there have even been reports of child labor and for considerably longer than eight hours a day. My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape , has stated that as a child she often worked 14 hours a day and only got to see her parents once a week, and sometimes even more seldom.

The Church of Scientology began its " Volunteer Ministers " program as a way to participate in community outreach projects. Volunteer Ministers travel to the scenes of major disasters in order to provide assistance with relief efforts.

According to critics, these relief efforts consist of passing out copies of a pamphlet authored by Hubbard entitled The Way to Happiness , and engaging in a method said to calm panicked or injured individuals known in Scientology as a " touch assist.

Around all of the Hubbard's intellectual property was transferred to a newly formed entity called the Church of Spiritual Technology CST and then licensed to the Religious Technology Center RTC which, according to its own publicity, exists to safeguard and control the use of the Church of Scientology's copyrights and trademarks. The RTC employs lawyers and has pursued individuals and groups who have legally attacked Scientology or who are deemed to be a legal threat to Scientology.

This has included breakaway Scientologists who practice Scientology outside the central church and critics, as well as numerous government and media organizations. This has helped to maintain Scientology's reputation for litigiousness see Scientology and the legal system. The Citizens' Commission on Human Rights CCHR , co-founded with Thomas Szasz in , is an activist group whose stated mission is to "eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections.

Many other Scientologist-run businesses and organizations belong to the umbrella organization World Institute of Scientology Enterprises WISE , which licenses the use of Hubbard's management doctrines, and circulates directories of WISE-affiliated businesses. WISE requires those who wish to become Hubbard management consults to complete training in Hubbard's administrative systems; this training can be undertaken at any Church of Scientology, or at one of the campuses of the Hubbard College of Administration , which offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree.

In order to facilitate the continued expansion of Scientology, the Church has made efforts to win allies in the form of powerful or respected people. Though it has attained some credibility as a religion in many countries, Scientology has also been described as both a cult and a commercial enterprise. For example, it has been noted to engage in harassment and abuse of civil courts to silence its critics, by identifying as Fair Game people it perceives as its enemies.

In , several Scientology members were convicted for their involvement in the church's Operation Snow White , the largest theft of government documents in U. In his book World Religions in America , religious scholar Jacob Neusner states that Scientology's "high level of visibility" may be perceived as "threatening to established social institutions".

The film Going Clear , based on the book by the same name, also documents the controversies surrounding the organization. From until , Scientology was administered by an organization called the Hubbard Association of Scientologists HAS , established in Arizona on September 10, In , the IRS stripped all US-based Scientology entities of their tax exemption, declaring Scientology's activities were commercial and operated for the benefit of Hubbard.

Controversy followed the church on those years, but its growth continued in the s. New churches were formed in Paris , Denmark , Sweden , and Germany In the s the religion spread through Europe: Centers of Scientology were in 52 countries by the time the 80s came in and grew to 74 by Scientology cites its tax exemption as proof the United States government accepts it as a religion.

State Department has criticized Western European nations for discrimination against Scientologists in its published annual International Religious Freedom report, based on the International Religious Freedom Act of In some countries Scientology is treated legally as a commercial enterprise, and not as a religion or charitable organization.

This exemption, however, is related to a German-American double-taxation agreement, and is unrelated to tax-exemption in the context of charities law. In several countries, public proselytizing undergoes the same restrictions as commercial advertising, [ citation needed ] which is interpreted as persecution by Scientology.

Although the religious nature of Scientology has been questioned both in the United States and around the world, Scientology has been acknowledged as a new religion as manifested in the Church's court victories and the gain of religious rights and privileges that are exclusive to legally established religious bodies. Unlike many well-established religious organizations, Scientology maintains strict control over its names, symbols, religious works and other writings.

The word Scientology and many related terms , including L. Ron Hubbard is a registered trademark. Religious Technology Center, the owner of the trademarks and copyrights, takes a hard line on people and groups who attempt to use it in ways unaffiliated with the official Church see Scientology and the legal system.

Under The Guardian's Office later renamed the Office of Special Affairs or OSA , Church members and contracted staff from Bureau One later organized and committed one of the largest penetration of United States federal agencies ever perpetrated by an organization not affiliated with a foreign government that is, one such as the KGB. This operation was named Operation Snow White by Hubbard.

The crime committed by these defendants is of a breadth and scope previously unheard of. No building, office, desk, or file was safe from their snooping and prying. No individual or organization was free from their despicable conspiratorial minds. The tools of their trade were miniature transmitters, lock picks, secret codes, forged credentials and any other device they found necessary to carry out their conspiratorial schemes.

The Church has also in the past made use of aggressive tactics in addressing those it sees as trying to suppress them, known as Suppressive Persons SPs first outlined by Hubbard as part of a policy called fair game. This action was known as Operation Freakout. Using blank paper known to have been handled by Cooper, Scientologists forged bomb threats in her name. The Church's plan was discovered at the same time as its Operation Snow White actions were revealed.

On January 22, , attorneys for the organization, as well as some of its members, reacted toward the CNN News Group for its airing of a story covering the release of a book published by a former member, entitled 'Going Clear', published earlier the same year. CNN News Group then chose to publish the reactionary correspondence, with confidential information redacted, on its web site.

Unfortunately, the church continues to be confronted with it. And the ironic thing is that the people being confronted with it are the people who wiped it out. And to the church, that's a very frustrating thing. According to a Los Angeles Times article, in the s the Los Angeles branch largely switched from using church members in harassment campaigns to using private investigators, including former and current Los Angeles police officers.

The reason seemed to be that this gave the church a layer of protection. The Scientology organization has continued to aggressively target people it deems suppressive.

In , regarding its announcement that it had hired a private investigator to look into the background of a Boston Herald writer who had written a series on the church, Robert W. Thornburg, dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University , said, "No one I know goes so far as to hire outsiders to harass or try to get intimidating data on critics.

Scientology is the only crowd that does that. In LA, the moment our hire car left the airport we realised we were being followed by two cars. In our hotel a weird stranger spent every breakfast listening to us. Sweeny subsequently made a follow up documentary, The Secrets of Scientology , in during which he was followed and filmed on multiple occasions and one of his interviewees was followed back to his home. Some key activities of the Church of Scientology carry risks for members, and the deaths of some Scientologists have brought attention to the Church both due to the circumstances of their demises and their relationship with Scientology possibly being a factor.

Following the collision, she exited her vehicle, stripped naked and showed further signs of mental instability, as noted by a nearby ambulance crew that subsequently transported her to a nearby hospital. Hospital staff decided that she had not been injured in the accident, but recommended keeping her overnight for observation.

Following intervention by fellow Scientologists, McPherson refused psychiatric observation or admission at the hospital and checked herself out against medical advice after a short evaluation.

She was taken to the Fort Harrison Hotel , a Scientology retreat, to receive a Church sanctioned treatment called Introspection Rundown. She had previously received the Introspection Rundown in June of that year. She was locked in a room for 17 days, where she died.

Her appearance after death was that of someone who had been denied water and food for quite some time, being both underweight and severely dehydrated. Additionally, her skin was covered with over one hundred insect bites, presumably from cockroaches. The state of Florida pursued criminal charges against the Church. The Church has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and now makes members sign a waiver before Introspection Rundown specifically stating that they or anyone on their behalf will not bring any legal action against the organization over injury or death.

Eight years later, Elli Perkins , another adherent to Scientology's beliefs regarding psychiatry , was stabbed to death by her mentally disturbed son. Though Elli Perkins's son had begun to show symptoms of schizophrenia as early as , the Perkins family chose not to seek psychiatric help for him and opted instead for alternative remedies sanctioned by Scientology.

The death of Elli Perkins at the hands of a disturbed family member, one whose disease could have been treated by methods and medications banned by Scientology, again raised questions in the media about the Church's methods.

In addition, the Church has been implicated in kidnapping members who have recently left the church. In , Martine Boublil was kidnapped and held for several weeks against her will in Sardinia by four Scientologists. She was found on January 22, , clothed only in a shirt. The room she was imprisoned in contained refuse and an insect infested mattress.

Her friends and co-inhabitants claim she was in good spirits and showed no signs of a mental breakdown, but the report from the Church of Scientology said she was "depressed, irresponsible, hyper-critical and lacking in harmony". A few hours later she committed suicide by jumping from her balcony at her dorm room leaving a note telling her family she was sorry for not "being good for anything".

The incident has brought forward heavy criticism against the Church of Scientology from friends, family and prominent Norwegian politicians. Members of the public entering a Scientology center or mission are offered a "free personality test" called the Oxford Capacity Analysis by Scientology literature.

The test, despite its name and the claims of Scientology literature, has no connection to Oxford University or any other research body. Scientific research into three test results came to the conclusion that "we are forced to a position of skepticism about the test's status as a reliable psychometric device" and called its scientific value "negligible". Further proselytization practices - commonly called "dissemination" of Scientology [] - include information booths, flyers and advertisement for free seminars, Sunday Services in regular newspapers and magazines, personal contacts [] [] and sales of books.

Recent legal actions involving Scientology's relationship with its members see Scientology controversy have caused the organization to publish extensive legal documents that cover the rights granted to followers.

It has become standard practice within the organization for members to sign lengthy legal contracts and waivers before engaging in Scientology services, a practice that contrasts greatly with almost every mainstream religious organization.

In , a series of media reports examined the legal contracts required by Scientology, which state, among other things, that followers deny any psychiatric care their doctors may prescribe to them. I do not believe in or subscribe to psychiatric labels for individuals. It is my strongly held religious belief that all mental problems are spiritual in nature and that there is no such thing as a mentally incompetent person—only those suffering from spiritual upset of one kind or another dramatized by an individual.

I reject all psychiatric labels and intend for this Contract to clearly memorialize my desire to be helped exclusively through religious, spiritual means and not through any form of psychiatric treatment, specifically including involuntary commitment based on so-called lack of competence.

Under no circumstances, at any time, do I wish to be denied my right to care from members of my religion to the exclusion of psychiatric care or psychiatric directed care, regardless of what any psychiatrist, medical person, designated member of the state or family member may assert supposedly on my behalf.

It is difficult to obtain reliable membership statistics. In , the German national magazine Der Spiegel reported about 8 million members worldwide, about 6, of them in Germany, with only members in Berlin. The organization has said that it has anywhere from eight million to fifteen million members worldwide.

Gordon Melton has said that the church's estimates of its membership numbers are exaggerated: Ninety-nine percent of them don't ever darken the door of the church again.

The Church of Scientology and its large network of corporations, non-profits and other legal entities are estimated to make around million US dollars in annual revenue. Scientologists can attend classes, exercises or counseling sessions for a set range of "fixed donations"; however, membership without courses or auditing is possible. According to a sociological report entitled "Scientology: Critics say it is improper to fix a donation for religious service; therefore the activity is non-religious.

Scientology points out many classes, exercises and counseling may also be traded for "in kind" or performed cooperatively by students for no cost, and members of its most devoted orders can make use of services without any donations bar that of their time. A central tenet of Scientology is its Doctrine of Exchange , which dictates that each time a person receives something, he or she must give something back.

By doing so, a Scientologist maintains "inflow" and "outflow", avoiding spiritual decline. While a number of governments now give the Church of Scientology protections and tax relief as an officially recognized religion, [] [] [] other sources describe the Church as a pseudoreligion or a cult.

Early official reports in countries such as the United Kingdom , South Africa , Australia and New Zealand have yielded unfavorable observations and conclusions.

There is currently no legal restriction in Australia on the practice of Scientology. In the High Court of Australia dealt with the question whether the Church of Scientology is a religious institution and as such not subject to payroll tax. The Court unanimously confirmed the Church of Scientology to be a religious institution.

Under parliamentary privilege in the Senate , Xenophon declared that the Church of Scientology is a criminal organization. In September , a Belgian prosecutor announced that they had finished an investigation of Scientology and said they would probably bring charges. The church said the prosecutor's public announcement falsely suggested guilt even before a court could hear any of the charges. In December , Belgian officials completed their file on Scientology and brought charges of extortion, illegal medicine, various breaches of privacy, and fraud.

In France, a parliamentary report classified Scientology as a dangerous cult. Fourteen others were convicted of fraud as well. In an interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation current affairs radio program The Current with Hana Gartner , former high-ranking Scientology official Mark Rathbun commented that the decision to convict the Church of Scientology of fraud in France would not have a significant impact on the organization.

They've got literally nearly a billion dollars set aside in a war chest," said Rathbun. In Germany, official views of Scientology are particularly skeptical. The legal status of the Church of Scientology in Germany is still awaiting resolution; some courts have ruled that it is a business, others have affirmed its religious nature. As in most European countries, the Church of Scientology is not officially recognized in Ireland as a charitable organization, but it is free to promote Scientology beliefs.

In Israel, according to Israeli professor of psychology Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "in various organizational forms, Scientology has been active among Israelis for more than thirty years, but those in charge not only never claimed the religion label, but resisted any such suggestion or implication.

It has always presented itself as a secular, self-improvement, tax-paying business. On October 17, , a Dutch court ruled that "the Amsterdam arm of Scientology is a charitable organization and exempt from paying taxes. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in April that Russia's denial to register the Church of Scientology as a religious community was a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights freedom of assembly and association read in the light of Article 9 freedom of thought, conscience and religion ".

Petersburg City Court closed down that city's Scientology center for violating its charter. The administrative tribunal of Madrid's High Court ruled that a justice ministry decision to scrap the church from the register was "against the law.

The UK government's official report into Scientology was highly critical, [] but concluded that it would be unfair to ban the Church outright. The UK government does not classify the Church of Scientology as a religious institution and it is not a registered charity.

In December , the UK Supreme Court officially ruled that Scientology is a religion, in response to a 5-year legal battle by Scientologist Louisa Hodkin to marry at the Church of Scientology chapel in central London. With the new ruling, the Registrar General of Births, Marriages and Deaths now recognize weddings performed within Scientology chapels and redefined religion so that it was "not In Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue Hubbard , along with ten other highly placed Scientology executives were convicted in United States federal court regarding Operation Snow White , and served time in an American federal prison.

In , however, the United States IRS recognized Scientology as a "non-profit charitable organization," and gave it the same legal protections and favorable tax treatment extended to other non-profit charitable organizations. The following actions will be considered to be a material breach by the Service: The issuance of a Regulation, Revenue Ruling or other pronouncement of general applicability providing that fixed donations to a religious organization other than a church of Scientology are fully deductible unless the Service has issued previously or issues contemporaneously a similar pronouncement that provides for consistent and uniform principles for determining the deductibility of fixed donations for all churches including the Church of Scientology.

In a legal case involving a married couple attempting to obtain the same deduction for charity to a Jewish school, it was stated by Judge Silverman: If the IRS does, in fact, give preferential treatment to members of the Church of Scientology—allowing them a special right to claim deductions that are contrary to law and rightly disallowed to everybody else—then the proper course of action is a lawsuit to put a stop to that policy.

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