Monday, July 17, 2006

Is Scientology a Religion?

Mr. Irving Hexham, religious scholar, explains in this article why Scientology is in fact a religion. He gives the following definition on religion, which is:
"a set of institutionalized rituals identified with a tradition and expressing and/or evoking sacral sentiments directed at a divine or trans-divine focus seen in the context of the human phenomenological environment and at least partially described by myths or by myths and doctrines." This definition was given by Ninian Smart.

Then he defines a church as:
"1 A church is a conventional religious organization.
"2 A sect is a deviant religious organization with traditional beliefs and practices.
"3 A cult is a deviant religious organization with novel beliefs and practices."
These definitions were excerpted from Stark and Bainbridge's work A Theory of Religion.

Mr. Hexham states:
"When I was first asked to pass judgment on the religious nature of Scientology I conducted a small random sample survey of people participating in the activities of the Church of Scientology in Vancouver, B.C., Canada (1978). The results of this survey plus qualitative interviews with Ms. Davidson, a number of other local Scientologists, and an examination of a number of key texts published by the movement convinced me that in terms of Ninian Smart's definition Scientology is a religion. Looking at the data again it should also be noted that Scientology also qualifies as a religion in terms of Stark and Bainbridge's definition.
"Thus in terms of two standard and widely used definitions of religion there is no doubt that the Church of Scientology at that time qualified as a religion. I have no reason to believe that in the last twenty years things have changed. In fact, if anything the religious aspects of Scientology have increased."

Check out the full article

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