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Religion Library: Scientology

Exploration and Conquest

Written by: J. Gordon Melton

Without a doubt the most controversial effort to deal with society's social ills has been Scientology's crusade against psychiatry, especially focused on the use of psychoactive drugs like Ritalin and Prozac.The disagreements with psychiatry go back to the beginning of Dianetics, which was seen in part as a way to avoid psychiatric care.As Scientology developed, Hubbard contrasted it and its focus on the human spirit to psychiatry and its spiritless understanding of humanity.Over the years he had come to believe that the major drugs used by psychiatrists were no different than the illegal narcotics being used by drug addicts.Many were addictive and had similar negative side effects.Scientologists have also complained about the millions of children given drugs to handle either poorly diagnosed diseases or simple behavior problems in school.

While many people who would not support Scientology otherwise could and do praise their Narconon and illiteracy programs, the effort against psychiatry, focused in the Scientology-sponsored Citizens Commission on Human Rights, draws very mixed reactions.The issue has found some traction in the Commission's publicizing of the relationship between youth on prescribed drugs and recent shooting incidents in the public schools, but overall, the church/Commission has not been able to mobilize much public support to attack psychiatry in general.

The development of its several social betterment programs, now coordinated through the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), a structure the church set up to liaise with the several social betterment organizations, provides the church a means to affect the larger society and support what it sees as major values that are threatened in the modern world.

Study Questions:
     1.    Why is Scientology a notable New Religious Movement?
     2.    How has Scientology indirectly taken a political stance?
     3.    Why is literacy a skill taught by Scientologists?
     4.    How does Scientology clash with modern medicine?


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