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Religion Library: Scientology

Rites and Ceremonies

Written by: J. Gordon Melton

Four times a year, the entire church pauses to remember highlights of its history. Foremost, the church celebrates the birthday of its founder (March 13).This day is the most heralded celebration of the year, with invitations sent out beyond church membership and friends and family welcomed to local churches where a party-like atmosphere prevails.The birthday celebration at the different churches is often tied by television or video to a central celebration in Clearwater or Los Angeles and the announcement of wins by the church during the previous year becomes part of the celebration.In a similar manner, the publication of Dianetics, considered a seminal event in human history, is acknowledged annually on May 9.

Auditors, the counselors whose work is so integral to life in the church, are acknowledged annually on the second Sunday in September.This is a more internal celebration, as those outside the church have little understanding of the auditor's role.Auditor's Day, though held on a Sunday, is a separate event from the Sunday service that day.

Finally, On October 7, Scientologists acknowledge the work of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) in defending the religion from attacks launched by the media, governments, courts, or the cult awareness movement.Founded at a time of crisis, IAS has been kept busy by the ongoing controversies into which the church has been thrust.The IAS organizes an annual anniversary gathering at which its accomplishments over the previous year are celebrated and "Freedom Medals" awarded to individuals who have worked on various IAS issues.The celebration is broadcast via closed circuit television to the membership worldwide.

Besides these four main holidays, there are a number of additional days when lesser celebrations are held, commemorating, for example, the founding of various activities such as Narconon, Criminon, the Flag Land Base, or the Sea Organization.Sea Org Day, the celebration of which is largely limited to its members, provides a time for them, among other activities, to publicly renew their commitment to Scientology (the billion-year covenant).Another holiday acknowledges the work of the Celebrity centers, special churches established to assist people in the entertainment industry or who otherwise have a high profile attain Scientology services and/or express their religious sentiments outside the spotlight under which they live. Many well-known Hollywood celebrities practice their faith at one of the church's twelve (as of 2009) Celebrity centers.

Study Questions:
     1.    What is “The Background and Ceremonies of the Church of Scientology of California, World Wide,” and what does it teach?
     2.    What is the role of Sunday services within Scientology? Who attends?
     3.    Why do certain occasions have special services? What underlies and connects them?
     4.    What is significant about October 7th?
     5.    Describe a few of Scientology's holidays.


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