it's where the hearth is
I have seen the future, and it is squishy.

The Annotated Xenu Companion

I've long been fascinated by cults (aka "new religious movements") of divers persuasions. The Church of Scientology, with its pseudo-scientific practices and science fiction-inspired worldview, has been the focus of much of my web wandering through the years.

My real-life experience with the Church is quite limited. During a recent visit to L.A. I convinced my pal Sergio to drive me past that city's expansive church/compound. Although the Church describes this location as "a friendly island of sanity where parishioners avail themselves of L. Ron Hubbard's technology to better their lives and the lives of others," we were treated to the unabashed, blank-eyed stares of many a laboring Scientologist. (I guess there's a lot of painting and heavy yard work to be done on the "friendly island.") Fortunately, the folks at alt.religion.scientology had this to say in their newbie FAQ: "No, even though they stare like that they probably won't hurt you."

I put this list together at the request of some friends who wanted to know more. In the interest of tolerance, please read the disclaimer.

Get Educated
Your very own primer on the Church and its teachings.

Scientology FAQ
If all you know about Scientology is what you've seen in one of their commercials, here's a good starting point.

The Religion of Scientology: A Description
It's instructive (and quite illuminating, really) to compare what the critics say to the official word of the Church.

The Techniques in Scientology
A good overview of the "Tech" used to move Scientologists forward on the Church's Bridge to Total Freedom.

Hubbard's infamous explanation of where our ignorant yet treacherous "body thetans" come from reads like an uninspired sci-fi story.

Neuroscience Concepts in a New-Age Religion: Scientology's Model of Mind
A presentation computer- and neuro-scientist Dave Touretzky put together for a Society of Neuroscience annual meeting. Explains the pseudo-neuroscientific nature of Hubbard's Tech and includes a fun pic of John Travolta smiling cluelessly as he holds the sacred E-Meter cans. Also contains a pic of the Hubbard OT III manuscript (heavens, what a scary scrawl!) described above.

Oxford Capacity Analysis
The notorious "personality test" scientologists use to recruit new members. I'm not sure what a proclivity for perusing train schedules has to do with a person's sanity or lack thereof, but the Scientologists indubitably do.

Personal Favorites
The best (or most interesting) of what I've found out there.

Spy Magazine exposť
The author attempts to infiltrate Scientology, with rather humorous results.

Celebrities in Scientology FAQ
You probably know about Travolta and Cruise, but did you know that Giovanni Ribisi and Danny Masterson (That '70s Show) also belong to the Church? Or that William Burroughs was once a member? [Check out Marissa Ribisi's (Giovanni's sister) home page. Guess she really was Dazed and Confused.]

Dianetics (from Fads and Fallacies, 1957)
Skeptic extraordinaire Martin Gardner debunks Dianetics during its early years.

The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power (Time magazine)
This influential article, published by Time in 1991, resulted in Scientologists claiming that Time was getting kickbacks from Eli Lily (maker of Prozac) to ensure its publication. (Scientologists eschew psychiatry and its practices, recognizing the threat they pose to the church's bottom line.)

Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard
Here we find evidence of Hubbard's tendencies toward paranoia, megalomania, and pathological dishonesty. Included within is the tasty bit that he was once a Satanist who attempted, with rocket scientist Jack Parsons, to birth a demon child. If you're truly obsessed, as I was, download the text version of this book to read at your leisure.

Lisa McPherson Trust Media Pages
All kinds of goodies here, in the form of Real Player media files. (I don't espouse using Real Player, but no other options are available.) All of the known TV programs covering the Church are here, as well as videos featuring ex-members.

My Nine Lives in Scientology
One of the better personal accounts of life in Scientology; the author was close to Ron's son Quentin, who ended up committing suicide. Includes some revealing disclosures about life in the Sea Org, which one must sign a billion-year contract to join.

Scientology Photo Album
By now you may be wondering what these people look like. Yes, those are real people in the photos, and yes, they choose to dress that way. (When it comes to cult attire, I'm much more partial to diaphanous white robes.)

From the Inside Out
The church speaks!

Church of Scientology website
They recently redesigned from what looked like a circa 1995 site. Many interesting pages here including the personal histories L. Ron fabricated for himself. If you decide to take the free personality test, DO NOT give them any real info about yourself! They could hound you for years.

The Road to Freedom Album
Not only was Ron a celebrated writer, explorer, and war veteran, he was also an accomplished musician! With songs like "The Worried Being" and "Why Worship Death?" -- written by L. Ron and performed by the likes of John Travolta, Leif Garrett, and Frank Stallone -- Mr. Hubbard proves that he is, indeed, capable of doing anything (however badly). This will keep you in stitches for hours, should you desire to enter such a state.

Celebrity Centre International
Where Tom, John and Jenna find spiritual relief -- along with a persuasive dose of ego stroking.

Scientologists Online
Select a state and get an alphabetized list of home pages of people in Scientology. Prepare to be amazed by how eerily similar these pages are.

Directories (Critical Slant)
Many of the links above came from the resources below.

Operation Clambake
An avowed atheist, the owner of this site is quite forthcoming about his feelings toward the Church. Despite the vitriol, there are good things to be found here including a media archive, in-depth info about the Tech, resources on Scientology's war with the Internet, and more.

ARS Web Page Summary
The newsgroup alt.religion.scientology is home to spirited debate about the religion. This page contains more links than any other source.

Homepage of Tilman Hausherr
Don't know much about Tilman, but he does offer up some great links -- and gamely houses the Celebrity FAQ.

Secrets of Scientology
Compiled by computer scientist Dave Touretzky, many of the pages referenced here attempt a scientific evaluation of Scientology's "Tech." Great resource.

Disclaimer: Although I agree with many of the opinions expressed by those critical of the cult, I also believe in freedom of religious expression. It could be that many of these writers have ulterior motives for posting opinions and information to their sites. There are many counter-cult activists out there who will attack any system of belief that is unlike their own, so it is important to read anti-cult texts critically. At the other end of the spectrum are the cult apologists, who attempt to squelch the dissemination of critical information in the name of "freedom of religion." I can certainly sympathize with the right of Scientologists to practice their beliefs; however, I also believe there is evidence that the church is a corrupt organization, and people have a right to disseminate information and educate others about it.

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This is the work of Abbi Ball, and is licensed under a Creative Commons License.