by Taras Pano
translated from Russian text at Zerkalo-Nedeli.com April 8, 2006
There are not too many religious organizations in the world that could present their successes as bombastically and categorically as the Church of Scientology does. "The fastest-growing religion in the world." Celebrity followers. Dozens of books from the father-founder on best-seller lists. Never-ending Lawsuits. Controversy in the press. And "success stories" -- any number of them. "Everything in my life was ruined." "I had a hard time meeting girls." "Doctors threw up their hands in despair at me."
As people say wisely, everything that glitters is not gold. The lunatic's successes of the Scientologists basically exist on paper and in the appeals to the public by church management who are trying, in accordance with the marketing manual, to have their successes overshadow their losses, thereby creating a positive consumer image.
It's odd to talk about religious ideas as if they were goods. It's not only odd for us with our Christian patriarchal tradition, but the governments of whole countries in Europe periodically have doubts about the exclusively religious character of Scientology and so have begun to demand taxes. This is understandable. Scientology is an example of how a religion can make money. After all, the charm of a religious organization lies in what makes people give it money -- mainly persuading Pinnochio to part with his coins -- and the paper-pushers from the tax and other government agencies can recite the law on freedom of conscience by heart. The Scientology cult is actually a profit-making enterprise. Start with the fact that this is the only religion of its type that has the practice of patenting and licensing its "sacred scriptures," practices, symbols and even its name.
In the opinion of religious studies specialists, Scientology fits the definition of an "eclectic cult." In Scientology you'll find everything you want. It's similar to psychotherapy. Similar to confession. Similar to network marketing. Scientology is lucky that neither Christ nor Buddha ever took it into their heads to patent or license anything. An eclectic cult comes from a lack of imagination and a postmodern confidence that nothing new will ever come up. An eclectic cult is one more convenience in dealing with consumers.
It is significant that the experts and "official" Scientology itself keeps quiet about the existence of "enemies" in Scientology. Grisly stories about "suppressive persons" (people not susceptible to the teachings and practices, and who are difficult to impress) being dangerous for the advancement of Scientologists toward a "clear" state on a planetary scale; in articles by anti-Scientologists one can usually find citations from Hubbard's "fair game" rule (the merciless attitude toward these people). Scientology and the experts near to them maintain that this part of Hubbard's doctrine was "purged" from the teachings after his death, and since then they have been purely benevolent. First, the text on the pages of the Religious Technology Center has this analogy of an inquisition and at the same time they are the holder of the rights to the trademarks of Scientology and Dianetics. Secondly, it's a strange religion whose father-founder's texts are regarded so selectively -- we read here; we don't read there; we pay special attention there.
In the last half of the 1990s, Scientology, or rather, Dianetics, arrived in Ukraine. As we hear it today, people who practiced Dianetics and believed in the Scientology religion filled the corridors of law enforcement agencies and got close to the president of Ukraine.
A source in the Kiev police was told by observers how Scientology infiltrates the Ukrainian masses. For example, several trained agencies began their work with candidates whom they offered to test -- something like the "Oxford Test" of the Scientologists, which the candidate by Ukraine law is not obligated to take, but it was not made clear to the clients what was behind this test or why it was being given. Another method of infiltration is the introduction of Hubbard's management technology to Ukraine businesses. According to a contract with the boss of a company, they work with personnel -- they test, give courses and lectures, a result of which, as the managers say, is "increased effectiveness" for personnel, who from then on are supposedly ready to work more and demand less. According to the police official, that sort of work with an enterprise which has 100 employees will cost management nearly 50,000 dollars. There are no large businesses yet in Ukraine that have been inculcated with Hubbard's management technology, like in Russia, where those "processed" include GAZ while it was under B. Nemtsov and KamAZ. Nonetheless, not one organ of state power in Ukraine has come under the influence of Scientology (although there have been other influences). This could involve the Institute of Forensic Medicine, but they need an order, and corresponding funds, from the concerned state organ to operate. And no one is ready to pay for this sort of investigation yet.
-- Yekaterina Penkova, Public Affairs Officers for Church of Scientology Kiev.
- Why is the Church of Scientology not registered in Ukraine as a religious organization?
-- In 2004 we submitted documents to the city administration for registration and received a rejection. Just recently we tried to register with the State Department for Issues of Religion, but they took away the documents.
-- We understand that they refused us -- the situation for us is not favorable now. Unfortunately the decision in the Department was not very objective.
- Why don't you take them to court?
-- We don't want to. It is expensive and takes a long time. Indeed, our court system is not very perfect -- we understand that we would have to go through all the court hearings and that the result would be incomprehensible. For example, the Moscow Church had to go to the European Court for Human Rights. The judgment is supposed to be released next year. We'll be waiting for it, and because it's a European court, its decision will undoubtedly reflect on the situation in Ukraine. We are ready to cooperate and work within the framework of the state's requirements. But we were asked about our registration. You are there, and we don't bother you. It's not essential to register under Ukraine law.
- So why aren't you registered? You are there and nobody is bothering you.
-- We would like to get the status of legal person. Then we would have more opportunities. We would be able to rent a respectable office, and print material. Not have problems with getting packages from overseas. Sometimes books arrive at the customs office and we, not being a legal person, are not able to retrieve them.
- So far as we know, the Church of Scientology operates not only as a church, but also the Dianetics Center, which has the status of social organization. Are they in a position to fulfill the necessary legal formalities?
-- This is not correct. We are still a religious, not a social, organization. The practice of registering religious organizations as social organizations exists in Russia, where there is a common law for religious and social organizations. We are a religion and should be registered as religion. We have a religious cult -- we conduct baptismal ceremonies, funerals, weddings and we practice auditing. This is a spiritual practice. This, by the way, is written in the expert opinion of the Institute of Philosophy, Ukraine National Academy of Science.
- And who commissioned the study?
- This study was done for the Church of Scientology. We did it in preparation to submit documents for registration. We were told that the matter first had to be researched. The city administration told us that the expert appraisal would not happen -- we did not have a chance. So we took it to the Institute of Philosophy.
- Are there many Scientology communities in Ukraine?
-- In Ukraine Scientology, despite the official non-acknowledgment, is spreading energetically. We have 20 religious communities in various Ukraine regions. Those are only the communities of the Church of Scientology. The biggest ones are in Kiev, Kharkov, Kremenchug, Odessa and Uzhgorod. There are nearly 3,000 practicing Scientologists in Kiev, and several thousand in Kharkov. Besides that we have social organizations that are engaged with a few other operations. It's important that you understand the difference: there is the religion of Scientology and then there are social organizations that are built on the methods of Lafayette Ron Hubbard in different areas.
- And what kind of people go to Scientology?
-- All kinds. Scientologists are relatively young, on the average between 20 and 50 years old. Basically, of course, these are people with a high level of education, since Scientology, although it is for everyone, but not everyone can read a book and delve into the terminology.
- What social organizations associated with the Church of Scientology operate in Ukraine?
-- Narconon, for example. This organization is involved in giving lectures about harm from drugs in schools and universities. Now these lectures have received approval in the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry for Youth Affairs and the Ministry of Health. We've received excellent press. Everybody recognizes their effectiveness. Statistics show that in the Kharkov region where the lectures are given, the level of drug addiction is receding compared to other regions. These lectures -- and they are being given in all the Kharkov schools -- are based on the methods of Lafayette Ron Hubbard.
- When these lectures are given with the ministry's approval, are people told these are the methods of Ron Hubbard?
-- Well, these are not entirely Hubbard's methods. The lectures are based on the methods of Ron Hubbard. There is a spot in the lectures that talks about this. Experts rate it highly.
- An odd imbalance of the state machine: on one hand you are denied registration as a religious organization, but on the other, your organization has received approval to operate, including in children's institutions.
-- This is difficult to explain.
- Are the Dianetics associations, which number more than a few in Ukraine, associated with the Church of Scientology?
-- Yes, they are associated with us. But in Ukraine there are only a few.
-- These associations are mainly involved in distributing books, giving seminars and training. But at the moment we would not want them to be religious associations in the full sense. Distributing books and training is a small part of operations. Religious communities, with a broader range of operations, can do all that too. Dianetics Centers are a part of the structure of the Church of Scientology and should be considered religious organizations.
- Are all organizations that use Dianetics located in your structure or are there people who use it for themselves?
-- That's how it is. In Kiev several organizations use the methods of Dianetics and Scientology illegally. Since all our methods -- the modern technology -- were created in the 1950s by Ron Hubbard, who copyrighted his material, there are patents and trademarks. They are all the property of the Church of Scientology. Only the church can print and distribute books and use the technology. In Ukraine we keep the copyrights on the books and the technology. There are copyright pirates who steal this technology and use it in their own way. They can also alter it and change it. We, of course, take a dim view of this. Here is how they do it sometimes: we publish the book, they buy it, remove the page with the address of our organization and paste in their own.
- Why don't you go after them with a court order?
-- We cannot do that while we do not have the status of a legal person. That is why we are still trying to get this status.
- So far as one can understand the holder of the copyrights is the Religious Technology Center. If Microsoft can defend its rights on Ukrainian soil, why can't they?
-- We're planning to. Now we are in negotiations with the legal people and before long, I think, we'll do it. People need to get our technology without distortion, in a pure form.
- Altogether strange - most religions, on the contrary, try to get as wide a distribution as possible for their books and teachings. Nobody uses copyright to protect the Bible, for instance.
-- But if you ask Orthodox or Catholics how they regard a group which assembles for the sake of studying the Bible, they say it is a sect.
- It's possible. But they have nothing against the distribution of the Bible. In particular, against distributing it for free. Nobody is being threatened in court for distributing Bibles.
-- We are also for the distribution of our books, but for the legal distribution. Not removing the pages and not pasting in another's advertisement.
- So, if we publish this book and distribute it, you will have nothing against that?
-- We will. Because of the copyright you would be violating. Only the Church of Scientology may publish and distribute books on Dianetics and Scientology.
- What position does the Church of Scientology in Ukraine take on the Free Zone, which has been distributing Dianetics in our country for a long time?
-- That is an organization that uses Scientology illegally. We do not support them and are not connected with them. They steal our technology. In certain cases they distort it -- "Russian Dianetics" and so forth. Of course only we have the possibility of operating in the area of trademarks and copyrights. We are making an attempt to influence this.
- Copyright is a question of money. And in the case of the wide distribution of technology that's a lot of money. Is that why they call you a commercial cult?
-- Every church has a way of financing itself. Some use tithes, some lease pews and others use donations. Different ones have different abilities. For us financing happens because of services rendered -- psychological auditing and the study of Ron Hubbard's philosophy.
- But a donation is simply that, and not for a service. If it is for a service, that is a payment.
-- No, in our doctrine there is such a concept as exchange. If a person receives something, he should not receive it as a gift, otherwise this could end badly. He needs to give something in exchange. According to our doctrine there are four types of exchange in society: criminal, when you take and give nothing in return; incomplete exchange, when you are given less than the promised value; a full exchange, when the exchange is equivalent; and exchange with excess, when you get more than you gave in exchange. We believe there should be an exchange. This is our philosophy. And when people get auditing or study something, they give a donation. This is the way we finance ourselves.
- Is the practice of auditing a necessary part of the Scientology way of life?
-- What does "necessary" mean? We don't force anyone to do anything, auditing included. We say that this would be very desirable. We believe that with the help of auditing a person goes up to a higher level of spiritual existence.
- That is if you are a Scientologist, you feel the necessity of doing this, even if no one is forcing you? Like Christians and confession?
-- Yes. And this is really very similar to confession. Auditing is also performed by a minister in a question-and-answer form.
- Still in Ukraine most churches consider themselves to be Christian. What posture do you take towards Christian churches?
-- We recognize the right of a person to practice any religion. Scientologists can practice any religion, too. This is written in the Creed of Scientology.
- But any religious doctrine will eventually come into conflict with other religious doctrines -- this is unavoidable. It's not possible for one person to have two faiths.
-- We, the Scientologists, believe that this is possible. You can be a Christian and profess Scientology. We have practicing Christians in church who study Scientology.
- And no discrepancies in doctrine come up?
-- They come up, but then they stop. Besides that, there are different Christian churches. Many Protestants, including church leaders, think well of Scientology.
- Precisely which ones, if it's not a secret?
-- I would not like to name them.
- It has become fashionable in politics for a person to keep his religion to himself, but those in Scientology have been in the news a lot. Are there followers of Hubbard's doctrine among our stars or top people?
-- Absolutely there are. And these people who have accepted Scientology in their lives are well enough known. There are people who study Scientology, but I don't know if they would consider themselves Scientologists or whether I have the right to give their names to the press. That could be unpleasant for them.
- But are there politicians or government officials who use Scientology technology in their professional activities?
-- Yes, they apply Ron Hubbard management technology. Although it is very difficult to introduce something new into our country the situation has started to change with the ethics of management.
- Are you speaking about a certain system of management?
-- Yes, this is the technology of Lafayette Ron Hubbard for business administration. In the 1950s after the Dianetics book was published in America, centers for the study of Dianetics spontaneously began to spring up. Then Ron Hubbard realized that this would all need to somehow be organized, and he started developing methods of management. His technology is very effective. Many businesses, in the USA as well as in Europe and in Russia use this technology in business. For example, everyone knows that the KamAZ plant in Naberzhniy Chelniy uses this method with great success.
- Are there businesses like that in Ukraine?
-- Yes, there is the very large business, "Gerold-Master" which produces badges and awards. This was a very small business that started five or six years ago, then grew when it used Ron Hubbard's technology. Now it's the most successful in its field. It's taking many orders, including at the government level. We have schools where they study Ron Hubbard's management methods for business managers.
-- Vladimir Petukhov, psychologist, chairman of the board for the Family and Personality Protection Society and FECRIS member
- How far has Dianetics and Scientology spread in Ukraine?
-- It's spread enough through the Dianetics centers. Besides that, once people start taking Dianetics courses, they do their best not to let them out again. You can pay until it hurts. Once your money is gone, you have yourself to offer, your labor.
Our Church of Scientology reports to Moscow. That is a very strong organization. Those who have been to training in the Moscow center say that there is nothing more to do even in New York after studying in Moscow. In Ukraine the Church of Scientology is still in the formative years as a religious organization. But don't let that deceive you. The organization has a definite strategy of infiltration. Like here they've begun to infiltrate in the capacity of Dianetics centers that are engaged in introducing Hubbard's technology on administration. The first wave of infiltration and entrenchment are people in the areas of business or who are acquainted with politicians, that way they can exemplify them as products of their technology. At the next level there is the creation of Dianetics centers, which operate as social organizations. And then the first Church of Scientology appears and begins carrying out a complex program.
- There is this "standard model" of infiltration, so how can the Church of Scientology operate under diverse circumstances in each individual country?
-- That is the point, they can't. They have a strategy and technology to infiltrate society. Everything is licensed. Everything is arranged by the Religious Technology Center. And nothing will be done, written or distributed without a resolution from that center. The Church of Scientology has a strict, hierarchical structure. At its center is the Sea Organization, a small elite -- Religious Technology Center, which controls the right to the "Dianetics" and "Scientology" trademarks, the Church of Scientology International, the international mission and the local missions. But this rigid structure is awash in a mass of associated programs. For example, the program to fight psychiatry is opening up. Its registered as a social organization, distributes information about abuse by psychiatrists, says its goal is fighting them and calls this "fighting for human rights." It should be said though that at the same time a different division of the church would not scorn psychiatrists who published positive results about their work if they were to succeed in obtaining such a result. In Russia, for example, an independent psychiatric center writes laudatory articles about them, but the Serbskiy Institute criticizes their activities. It does not make sense here to uncritically believe all psychiatrists.
- In Ukraine are the Dianetics centers all associated with the Church of Scientology and do they openly admit this? Is it possible that people do not know what is behind this religion when they run into Scientology?
-- There are courses based on Hubbard's technology not within the framework of the Scientology organization. If this is their course, sooner or latter they will reveal their relationship to the Church of Scientology.
- They say that Dianetics technology works.
-- One of the forums said it well, so what other technology have you tried besides Dianetics? So try it. Could it work worse? They promote Narconon as an effective program to fight drugs. However scientific research shows there is nothing particularly effective in it. Nevertheless they managed to get a decision from the Ministry of Education and Scientology that their preventive lectures would be good to read in Ukrainian schools.
- Does Narconon try to hide its connection to Scientology?
-- They say they have a purely preventive program. In their program of eight stages detoxification is actually in last place. They put the emphasis on their preventive educational measures. In Kharkov the Institute of Postgraduate Education, which makes expert opinions on school programs, gave a negative review to the Narconon program. But the team from regional administration acted to authorize it. The initiator of the program, Marina Gribanova, herself actually believes in it and is very sincere. This is awful, because blind faith does not give room for doubt or for departure from the general line. That is why we call this sort of organization totalitarian.
- How do you rate the expert conclusion created by the staff of the Institute of Philosophy, National Academy of Science?
-- At first glance this research was completely to Scientology's advantage, but at the same time - a delayed-action mine placed under them. Everything depends how it is read - there is much truth in it.
- The Church of Scientology is much more visible in the world than here -- celebrities are for it, courts are against it.
-- It's not that serious in Ukraine. For the time being they are more afraid of what they can do. They are not coming out into the open, they are trying not to be involved in public scandals and to not start court proceedings. This would be disadvantageous for them. They are having problems and not enough support right now. The organization is materially deteriorating, no competence at all. If they went public now, all this would be exposed.
- Have you come across people in your work who have fallen into dependency on Scientology?
-- Yes, there is a system that brings people into a state of dependency. But with us this work is very complex. The point is that, for instance, in America they talk about cults and the consequences of their actions, and they can study them freely. But here we constantly have to get our bearings - like we have to be careful what we say. And with us, too, the cult is often connected with politics, crime or finance, and this complicates the problem all the more. Following up all this activity in Ukraine is very difficult. For example, if I were to call up the authorities and say: guys, this religious organization stole millions from the government and these millions are lying in a safe at such-and-such an address, then the guys would go and get into the safe without delay. But to know where these millions might be lying about you have to work like crazy, whether this is a religious organization or not. And then there is the spiritual sphere. From that area the men with the badges don't like to hear anything. In a case like that the officers begin to think about these organizations having different statuses in different countries. Somewhere it might be religious, somewhere else social. Somewhere it is profit, somewhere else non-profit.
- How does a person usually get into the Church of Scientology or into Dianetics courses?
-- For instance, I dropped in at the supermarket in Kharkov. On the counter were books, 70% of them by Hubbard. They grabbed my sleeve and pushed "Dianetics" into my hand. "Do you have higher education?" Yes? Look here, everything you studied is unimportant. You'll find everything in this book, and understand that this is true science. Not a single word about religion. Nobody can tell you this is religion. Besides that, in most cases, if you say they are dealing in religion they'll say we are the Dianetics center. We are a social organization! And the rank-and-file are perfectly sincere. And in this case there is one manager. Sometimes you hear something like, "We are only taking advantage of what Hubbard wrote, but we are not Scientologists." They try to create the impression that Scientology is one thing, but Hubbard's book are another. But that's a lie. They are overstocked. The Hubbard Institute makes the arrangements and the Religious Technology Center stands behind the purity of technology.
- What about the "Free Zone"? It seems to us they don't have too good a relationship with the Church of Scientology.
-- That organization was one of the first to appear and is mainly engaged in using the commercial version of the technology. They had a consensus with the Church of Scientology worked out a long time ago. The Free Zone does without the religious doctrine and is directed towards people who have a pragmatic view of these things. But the ones who are behind all of this are the same ones. It is just a matter of under which roof they are operating. For example, as a social organization they operate in breach of law. They covertly rent a room and turn it into a Dianetics center. 700 griven a book. Is that a good social organization? And people buy them! And they have another program to process clients -- they say that you have to have this book. You buy it if you are persuaded that this book will solve all your problems. Why shouldn't the solution to all your problems cost 700 griven? People come under the influence and the methods of influence are well-known, described and widely adapted, especially group influence. In Scientology this sort of influence is set up as an assembly line. Unfortunately most people do not readily recognize it in context.
- Why do people go there?
-- This is a club of interests. Whatever reason people have, there is only one purpose, as in any totalitarian organization. They can serve this up to you with any sauce you like depending on your mental state of mind, education or scientific worldview. Whatever it takes to snag you, they snag. For example, if you have an interest in psychology, they "snag" you for testing. Psychology recognizes their "Oxford test" as invalid. Naturally, they don't tell you that. Same as they don't talk about the experiments with engrams that were conducted with the support of the Church of Scientology itself. There they explained there are no engrams. But people go there and will continue to do so. Because someone needs this.
-- Money and power. Old as dirt, but it works. In this organization you can actually have a sense of yourself as a superhuman.
We went to the head of the office for religious affairs for Kiev's city administration, Anatoli Lysenko, with questions about the official status of the Church of Scientology in Kiev city.
- Why exactly was the Church of Scientology turned down for registration?
-- At the time the matter about registering the charter of the Church of Scientology with Kiev city was being examined it came to light that from 17 to 18 May 2003, with the assistance of the Russian structural unit of the Church of Scientology ("IHELP" 19-a Galushkina St., Moscow), a management skills training seminary was given in the conference auditorium of the "Turist" hotel complex (2 R. Okipnoi St.)
That event was a violation of art. 24 of Ukraine Law "On freedom of conscience and religious organizations," where it says that clergymen, religious preachers, instructors and other representatives of foreign organizations in which citizens of other countries appear and which take place in Ukraine, may engage in preaching religious beliefs, carrying out religious rites or other canonical activity only in those religious organizations from whom they have received an invitation, and with the official coordination of state organs with whom the charge (status) of the corresponding religious organization has been registered.
That event took place without informing the appropriate state organs and without their permission.
On February 18, 2004 Kiev citizen V.M. Pushkin filled out an application in the city government administration in which he asked that the activities of the Scientology center be stopped, and he based this on the negative influence the Church of Scientology activities had had upon his daughter. After taking courses at that church she gave the director of the center 1,500 griven. After her father intervened and appealed to the Denprovsky district prosecutor of Kiev city, the money was returned to the family.
In this way, one may consider that the establishment of a fixed sum of payment for receiving auditing and study of Scientology scripture in agreement with established church fees are a compulsory imposition upon believers and a violation of art. 18 of the Ukraine Law "On freedom of conscience and religious organizations."
Art. 4 of the Ukraine Law "On freedom of conscience and religious organizations" proclaims equal rights for citizens regardless of their attitude toward religion. Restrictions for the citizen who expresses a desire to attain a higher level of perfection through Scientology but who does not have the means to pay the Church's "voluntary donations" puts him in an unequal position to other people and violates his right to freedom of conscience, this is proclaimed in art. 3 of Ukraine Law "On freedom of conscience and religious organizations."
Taking into account the interpretation provided by article 15 of the Ukraine Law "On freedom of conscience and religious organizations," Kiev's city government administration passed order No. 1774 of September 23, 2004 "On the denial of registration for the charter of the religious community 'Church of Scientology City of Kiev."
The order does not violate the citizen's rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine, the Declaration on State Sovereignty of Ukraine or the standards for international rights recognized by Ukraine, the social justice, equality and protection of rights and legal interests of citizens regardless of their attitude toward religion, and provides for the observation of the obligations of religious organizations by state and society.
- The Church of Scientology has received a quite positive expert opinion from the religious studies department of the Institute of Philosophy of Ukraine's National Academy of Science. Could this influence the decision for registration?
-- In response to inquiry No. 015-1012 of 14 December 2005 from deputy chairman V. Ilgova of Kiev's city government administration to correspondent-member National Academy of Science (NAS) Ukraine, the director of G. Skovorody Institute of Philosophy NAS Ukraine, doctor of philosophical science professor M. Popuvich with regard to the official conclusion of G. Skovorody Institute of Philosophy NAS Ukraine about the religious and cult practices of the Church of Scientology, an answer was received from the deputy director of the department of religious studies of the G. Skovorody Institute of Philosophy NAS Ukraine, A. Kolodny, of July 2, 2005, ser. no. 37, that said Scientology was a complicated phenomena, but in its operations Scientology went beyond the limits of that which would be called a religious cult. Thus a definitive determination on the Church of Scientology as a religious community in Ukraine does not exist.
- Don't they consider the operations of this religious organization as those of a destructive cult?
- The terms "totalitarian sect" and "destructive cult" do not exist in the legislation of Ukraine, so therefor the answer to your question does not fit in the competency of the main administration.
Vitaliy Konstantinov, psychiatrist
- Could Dianetics be used for the treatment of mental illness or as a method of psychological correction?
-- Dianetics categorically cannot be used to treat mental illness as that requires, first of all, medicament intervention. At the present stage of the development of medical science pharmacotherapy is yielding the best results. Unfortunately, in my practice cases have not been observed in which serious mental illness has been cured without drugs.
As to using Dianetics for psychological correction, I give preference to academic psychotherapy as the most justified for attaining prolonged remission (improved state of health) for patients. The positive results that Dianetics promises those under its care could have only a temporary effect. Afterwards a worse condition ensues, and sometimes a course of illness. The desired "state of clear" is attained by extremely inaccurate and destructive methods that, for the person involved, hide the way to genuine recovery. They've made commerce out of this science, and that might explain its popularity. Every individual would like to attain the perfect "state of clear" and have uncommon abilities but, alas, this is impossible. Because often in the mentality of a person one quality predominates while others are lacking, and this gives an impulse to development. For example, often a person, who is in the medical profession, does not himself know what to study to sort out his personal problems. I would advise selecting a specialist who uses time-proven methods of psychological correction.
The Church of Scientology appeared in the United States of America under science fiction writer Lafayette Ronald Hubbard after the release of his book, "Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health" (1950) and consolidated by admirers of the self-improvement methods Hubbard made up. The Church of Scientology was founded in 1954.
In the system of Scientology practices Dianetics is a method or technology of Scientology. It proceeds from the assertion that the human mind fixes on and conceals recordings of trauma (engrams), the aggregate of which is the "reactive mind," as though this was the reason for all problems in life, mental as well as physical. By applying the technology of Dianetics it is alleged to be possible to rid oneself of these traumata and attain a state of "clear" and to fully uncover one's potential.
Dianetics includes auditing, a face-to-face discussion between "preclear" and auditor in which engrams are located with the help of an "electropsychometer" ("e-meter"). Engrams are supposed to disappear as a result of successful auditing. After clearing away all the engrams the person supposedly turns "clear" and can continue self-improvement and be freed from the restrictions of the material world up to the state of "operating thetan."
A believer's position in the church hierarchy proceeds from the level of advancement. Each step has improvement courses that have to be learned to proceed on to the next step.
The rites and ceremonies of the Scientologists, in expert opinion, most resemble those of Christianity -- services once a week with a sermon, reading of the "creed" and group auditing. There are also rituals for weddings, naming babies, funerals and ordinations that are conducted by chaplains or Scientology ministers.
Scientologist holidays are: L. R. Hubbard's birthday, a day giving thanks to the clergy, the day the "Dianetics" book was released, the day the IRS recognized Scientology as religion and the day the International Association of Scientologists was created.
The structure of the Church of Scientology is a strict hierarchy. At the lower levels are clergy and auditors who work "in the world." Next higher are the Scientology missions. Next higher are the "class 5" churches, which have to right to ordain ministers. The next step are Saint Hill organizations. There are four of them, in England, Denmark, the USA and Australia. The next highest is the largest church of Scientology in the world, the Flag Organization in Clearwater, Florida. And finally, there is the "flagship," which plows the Caribbean Sea. Each step corresponds to the level of religious service permitted and to the level of auditor training. The highest religious courses, for example, can be given only on board the "Freewinds" flagship. There is also a leading church, Church of Scientology International, which is involved in coordinating operations for all lines and propagating Hubbard's teaching throughout the world.
Then the Scientology organization system also has the Religious Technology Center, whose function is to protect the technology. Hubbard gave this organization all his author's rights and trademarks. This organization watches out for the purity of teachings and for the interests of Scientologists.
Besides the Church of Scientology there is also the so-called "Free Zone of Scientology" (also known as "Ron's Organizations," whose members do not identify themselves with the official church of Scientology, but who practice Dianetics and Scientology in life and in business. Members of this movement do not regard Hubbard's teachings as religious. They use the technology as training to develop human ability and business organization.
The Church of Scientology acts through Dianetics centers (which appear as profit, non-profit or religious organizations), through social organizations and movements, and also as Narconon, Criminon, the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, a Commission to promote "Psychiatry against human rights" and the Association to study life and education.
Ukraine has an official Church of Scientology as well as "Free Zone" organizations. Scientology is widespread throughout Ukraine in Dianetics Centers in Kiev, Kharkov, Kremenchug and Kherson. According to expert estimates more than 50 centers operate in Ukraine. In 2004 the Church of Scientology tried to register its religious community in Kiev but was refused.
Specialists from the department of religious studies of G. Skovorody Institute of Philosophy NAS Ukraine wrote a conclusion (published in the "Scientology in Ukraine" brochure) about the activities of the Church of Scientology. The experts considered that Scientology centers could be fully considered religious communities whose operations do not contradict Ukraine legislation. The research, signed by respected religious studies experts, contains a number of contradictions and, according to a clarification by religious studies department director A. Kolodny, cannot be considered definitive for making a decision about the registration of the Church of Scientology as a religious organization in Ukraine.
Doubt about the advisability of registration of Scientologist communities as religious organizations are evoked mainly by the activities of the church, which critics view as commercial, and by a large number of lawsuits Scientology has been and still is engaged in Europe and America. Governments of various countries have periodically begun to doubt that Scientology can be regarded as religious but some Scientology communities do not have to pay taxes.
SECOND ARTICLE - Translated from Russian
AIF Petersburg - (Arguments & Facts, St. Petersburg, Russia)
No. 15 (660) of April 12, 2006
Uncle Ron's Cabin
by A. Kostyukovski
Every blessed day, in any type of weather, spread out at intervals along the "Ploshchad Vosstaniya" metro, stand people who hold bits of paper out to passersby. They urge them to take a test, look at a movie about Dianetics and find mental health.
An AIF-Petersburg correspondent decided to risk his own skin to see how the followers of the great and awesome L. Ron Hubbard tried to lure people into their net. And so set off for the Scientology Center. Why not?
The Hubbardists are settled in on the third floor, in spacious rooms. There are rows upon rows of shelves jam-packed with books by a single author - Hubbard. Fastened to one of the shelves was a sign, "Books -- best sellers". On the wall is a notice, "Wanted: office worker, bookkeeper, cashier". Judging by everything here, they were doing well.
Four o'clock in the afternoon and there are plenty of people. I receive a list of 200 questions. I sit at a table and take a look around. I have a sensation that something here is essentially wrong. Before long I see what it is. Never in my life have I seen such a number of perfectly unsympathetic young women (among both the staff and the clientele of the Scientology center.) So fine, that's not what I came here for.
I start taking the test, honestly answering the questions. Next to me is a guy in a red jacket, tapping the table and looking at the questionnaire skeptically. I ask him how it is going. Without looking at me, the guy begins to mutter, but without finishing his sentences. I ask him again. He wails morosely and falls silent. I fall silent, too. A minute past the twenty, I hand in the test to be checked. And then we are all invited into the next room to see a 12-minute film about Dianetics.
Movie not for Everyone
Miss Vickie, in her introduction, tells us that us that the purpose of all our minds is to solve problems of survival. But in order to survive, we need to change ourselves. The guy in the red jacket objects. "It's all genetics! No matter how hard you try, there's no arguing with genetics."
Vickie turns on the videoplayer and leaves. The movie ran. What I mainly got from it was that engrams are to blame for all our troubles. Engrams are pictures that our brains record every moment that we are unconscious or stressed. And then ... I'll give you an example from the movie. A man is hit by a car. Unconscious, he is brought into surgery. When the doctors are discussing his case, one of them talks about why he left his girlfriend and says, "Life is short and I don't want anyone to tie me down." The man recovers, a year goes by, he finds a nice woman to marry and one fine moment he unexpectedly spouts off those exact words to his potential bride. I turn my head and glance at my neighbors' faces. There they sit with straight faces, perfectly quiet, nobody cracking a smile. Except for the guy with the red jacket. In the middle of the movie he gets up and leaves. You can't argue with genetics.
The movie was talking about how one may rid oneself of these accursed engrams when Vickie came in and turned off the player. She said we could see the rest once we signed up for a seminar. What was the seminar about, we ask. "They will tell you everything." Over there are some staff members looking at the audience and calling us one at a time to discuss the results of the test.
No Hypnosis Either!
Miss Zarina, who I got, asks me about the movie. I say it was pleasant, especially about the engrams. I feel, I say, that there are piles of engrams in me and that I am going to have to fish them out somehow. No problem, answers Zarina. Then she begins to study my test. I was certain she would tell me how bad everything was, but my results were very close to the zero line. She said I was cheerful, self-confident and persevering. On the other hand I was also absent-minded and unsocial (probably the price of my profession). Result: it was necessary to make some improvement. For this to happen I had to go to a 10-hour seminar, buy a Dianetics book and some other booklets. All told this would cost me 356 rubles.
Then I asked why Scientology is called a cult. It turns out that is a scheme by psychiatrists. They were hooking people on psychotropic drugs, but the Hubbardists would put a stop to that and, at the same time, help people mentally. The amount people would save not buying drugs, they could give straight to Scientology.
I was not able to ask what relationship Scienotologists had with the Church. Zarina said that in any case religion and Dianetics did not contradict each other. Besides that, she said, Dianetics was unspeakably happy to deal with believers. She said, "I am Orthodox myself, baptized!"
Our discussion finished like this.
"Can you pay 356 rubles now?"
"No, and I don't think I need the seminar at all."
"Too bad. How about 256 rubles?"