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Religion Library: Scientology


Written by: J. Gordon Melton

L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) is the founder of the Scientology religion. The word Scientology, coined by L. Ron Hubbard, comes from the Latin scio, which means "knowing, in the fullest meaning of the word" and the Greek word logos, which means "study of." Scientology is further defined as "the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, universes, and other life." 

Scientology emerged in several stages in the decade following World War II.After his discharge from the U.S. Navy, L. Ron Hubbard began to study the functioning of the human mind. These reflections led to a series of short publications on Dianetics, the name he gave to his new approach to gaining mental health.A monograph, Dianetics: The Original Thesis appeared in 1948.The original treatise produced Hubbard's first converts, including John W. Campbell, Jr., editor of Astounding Science Fiction, a popular newsstand periodical for which Hubbard had written over the years, and a physician, Joseph Winter.

With this early support, Hubbard created the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, headquartered in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Shortly thereafter, Hubbard published his article, "Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science," in the May 1950 issue of Astounding. The positive response to that article was magnified by the publication of Dianetics: The ModernScience of Mental Health, which appeared just weeks after the Astounding article. Though released by a relatively obscure publishing house, the book soon hit the New York Times best-seller list and remained there for the rest of the year.

Through the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, Hubbard began to offer classes that trained students to be "auditors," people capable of guiding Dianetic sessions for individuals, and he toured the country to lecture on the new science.Dianetics concentrated on the mind, believed to be the mechanism that received, recorded, and stored images of experiences.By exploring one's mind, Hubbard maintained, a variety of widely-experienced dysfunctional conditions, today referred to as stress-related disorders, could be alleviated.The auditors assisted individuals by listening to and directing the exploration of their minds.

From his lecturing across the United States on the principles presented in Dianetics, Hubbard became the leader of a fast-growing movement that, at the time, lacked much centralized organization. The early movement grew faster than Hubbard could oversee, and a number of competing organizations arose, each with its own variation on Hubbard's ideas and practices.People who purchased Dianetics were not waiting for his assistance before beginning their own self-auditing. Hubbard responded to the chaotic situation by training professional auditors and, in 1952, authoring two additional texts -- Science of Survival and Self-Analysis.


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