By Amanda Awanjo
“Here’s the problem. You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do…Matt, Matt, Matt, you don’t even — you’re glib”. These are the infamous words that officially introduced Scientology into the mainstream. With Tom Cruise’s infamous verbal standoff with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, the unconventional religion shot from obscure to front page. As per custom to any belief outside of the mainstream, scientology was met with distrust, only made worse by its growing celebrity following. A following subsequently the Church of Scientology actively searches for with its launch of Project Celebrity in 1955, as well as its Celebrity Centers. Scientology became a poster for off the wall behavior and radical ridiculous beliefs. Admittedly Pirate Latoya Hinds admits, “Most of my information about scientology comes from South Park.” Scientology is one of the only religions to rise to the mainstream in the twentieth century, with head quarters all over the country (including right here in Macon), scientology is proving to be more than just a fad among the country’s richest and most popular. Scientology was founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard as an advancement of his earlier self help teachings, Dianetics. Through the publication of his book, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health”, the practices and techniques ascribed in the book found a following, resulting in the opening of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, which later became the Church of Scientology, after the concept of the soul of the “thetan” was created to explain feelings of reincarnation within members of the church. Since its founding the Church of Scientology has experienced much criticism, the church was granted tax exempt privileges available to other religious groups and institutions only to have it later revoked, the Food and Drug Association raided scientology churches in 1963, and seized E-meters used for psychotherapy on members on the grounds that these were “illegal medical devices”, their level system of membership and the potential money that changes hands to reach these levels, that belief that humans were transported to earth by Xenu(tyrannical unearthly ruler), and of course the repeated claims that scientology is a cult that exploits its members. Despite the claims, scientologists have fought rigid legislation and criticism through lawsuits and smear campaigns with a fierceness that is indicative of warfare. This new religion seems bizarre to many Aisha Coles states, “I’m all for finding your inner person but it seems that scientology is more of a get rich quick scheme as opposed to finding inner peace.” Despite the feelings of any outsider looking in, should we pre-judge this religion based on oddities found in their belief system? Is Scientology too late to compete with other mainstream religions? If religion really is just the opiate of the masses, does it matter how people take their drug as long as it works for them? If anything is certain about this abstract controversial religion, it is that scientology is nowhere near the end of its fifteen minutes of fame, and with growing membership and its aggressive need for a foothold in spirituality of all those seeking self improvement and enlightenment the Scientology Church issues this statement, “Scientology works 100 percent of the time when it is properly applied to a person who sincerely desires to improve his life”. Good to know.