The Significance of Rituals in Scientology: A Brief Overview and a Few Examples

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Scientology’s rituals may be divided into four categories, which are all mentioned in this article: 1) rituals aimed at the spiritual transformation of the individual, most profoundly the auditing procedure; 2) collective, very often calendrical ceremonies, usually termed “Events,” where the community of Scientologists, the organization itself, and its exalted founder are celebrated; 3) rites of passage such as weddings, namings, and funerals; and 4) services that to some extent (and probably strategically) emulate their Christian counterparts. In this article the focus is on the auditing procedure and “Events,” with a special emphasis on L. Ron Hubbard’s obsequies in 1986. On the basis of ritual analysis, it is argued that Scientology, apart from the proclaimed ambition of liberating the entrapped soul (thetan), is best understood as a devotional cult aimed at revering the mythologized founder of the organization.1

The Significance of Rituals in Scientology: A Brief Overview and a Few Examples

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Church of Scientology “The Sun Never Sets on Scientology” International Scientology News 8 1986 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://www.wiseoldgoat.com/papers-scientology/popup-windows/scn_intscnnews08_sun_never_sets.html

Church of Scientology International “About L. Ron Hubbard” 1996–2012 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://www.aboutlronhubbard.org/

Church of Scientology International “Funeral Service” 2015 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://www.scientology.org/faq/inside-a-church-of-scientology/funeral-service.html

Church of Scientology International “Scientology International Dissemination and Distribution Center” Scientology Video Channel 2015 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://www.scientology.org/videos/category/churches/ scientology-state-of-the-art-dissemination-center.html#/videos/category/churches/scientology-state-of-the-art-dissemination-center

Church of Scientology International “What is the E-Meter and How Does It Work?” 2015 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://www.scientology.org/faq/scientology-and-dianetics-auditing/what-is-the-emeter-and-how-does-it-work.html

Church of Scientology International “What is the Purification Program?” 2015 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://www.scientology.org/faq/scientology-and-dianetics-auditing/what-is-the-purification-rundown.html

CorydonBrent L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? 1987 Secaucus Lyle Stuart Inc. (with L. Ron Hubbard Jr. a.k.a. Ronald DeWolf)

DawkinsRichard The Selfish Gene 1976 Oxford Oxford University Press

Ex-Scientology Kids “Declaration of Astra Woodcraft” 2012 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://exscientologykids.com/astras-story/

HubbardL. Ron “The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology: Volume 14: The O.T. Levels” 1965–1985 URL: https://file.wikileaks.org/file/scientology-ot-levels.pdf (25 June 2015)

“L. Ron Hubbard Death Briefing” 1986 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsItIQjxsn0

Official Papers on Scientology “The Anderson Report: Chapter 14: The E-Meter” 1997 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Cowen/audit/ar14.html

Refslund ChristensenDorthe LewisJames R.PetersenJesper Aagaard “Inventing L. Ron Hubbard: On the Construction and Maintenance of the Hagiographic Mythology of Scientology’s Founder” Controversial New Religions 2005 Oxford Oxford University Press 227 258

RothsteinMikael “Emblematic Architecture and the Routinization of Charisma in Scientology” The International Journal for the Study of New Religions 2014 51 1 51 75

RothsteinMikael LewisJames R. “‘His name was Xenu. He used renegades . . .’ Aspects of Scientology’s Founding Myth” Scientology 2009 New York Oxford University Press 365 388

RothsteinMikael LewisJames R.TøllefsenInga “Rituals and Ritualization in New Religions” The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements Forthcoming 2nd ed. New York Oxford University Press

Scientology Critical Information Directory “Body Thetans” 2005 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://www.xenu-directory.net/practices/bt.html

The Scientology Money Project “The Church of Scientology’s Great Big Lie about the Death of Founder L. Ron Hubbard” 2014 (accessed 25 June 2015) URL: http://scientologymoneyproject.com/2014/08/18/the-church-of-scientologys-great-big-lie-about-the-death-of-founder-l-ron-hubbard/

TurnerVictor The Ritual Process 1969 London Aldine

UrbanHugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion 2011 Princeton Princeton University Press

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