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Religion Library: Scientology

Early Developments

Written by: J. Gordon Melton

Once reorganized, the church attempted to put its problems behind it, but controversy continued. Through the 1980s, the cult awareness movement, which consisted of a number of diverse organizations and individuals who opposed the many new religious groups that were developing at the time, included Scientology among those groups popularly referred to as a brainwashing cults, and the church had to respond to several multimillion-dollar lawsuits. The litigations concerning brainwashing were largely terminated when a federal judge refused to hear expert testimony on brainwashing in a 1990 case involving a former Scientologist.

In 1995, Scientologists became involved in a lawsuit brought by a person who had been unsuccessfully deprogrammed against the individuals who had attempted to separate him from his church. This led to the bankruptcy of the Cult Awareness Network, the activist wing of the cult awareness movement.Even as Scientologists moved to bring down the Cult Awareness Network, they also finally succeeded in ending their lengthy battle with the Internal Revenue Service, which in 1993 granted all of the United States corporations of the church tax-exempt status.

Study Questions:
     1.    Why did Scientology struggle for tax-exempt status?
     2.    Where was Scientology banned? How did it reorganize?
     3.    Describe Scientology's acquisition of land throughout its development. Did this hinder or help the movement? Why?
     4.    What is Sea Org?
     4.    How have legal matters shaped Scientology throughout its history?


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