Is Scientology A Scam?

The Church of Scientology has suffered criticisms from the media that people now scoff at the mere mention of the religion. This is pretty understandable since the organization is a minority group. People throw the word "cult" in a nonchalant manner without having the concrete evidence to support their claim. As result, Scientology as a religion has sprouted negative connotations and is widely referred to as a scam.

Not to sound condescending, but I have a firm belief that people are usually inclined to jump to conclusions. Those conclusions are based on their own preconceived notions, and are not easily controllable no matter how discerning an individual assumes himself to be.

But before we can make an informed decision or judgment about an organization, perhaps we need to go back to the word 'scam' itself. A 'scam' is a ploy by an opportunistic individual that aims to take advantage of people through the use of trickery. Lots of people who have had no experience being audited are quick to believe the articles they see on the internet, most of which are written by people who are as clueless as they are.

Founders of so-called "cults" like Scientology are judged hastily just because they collect donations from their members, ignoring the fact that they have done so for the sake of improving the conditions of the Church they have established. Let's not forget that the major religions do the same thing as well.

The point here is this: if leaders are sincere about their doctrine, should it still be considered a scam? Is it fair to ostracize the leaders if they enjoy special privileges as members of the top hierarchy? After all, special privileges are meant to reward those who have made sacrifices in the name of their religion. Where do we exactly draw the line?

This is where lines become blurry. In order to make a fair judgment, let's enumerate several of the misconceptions made about Scientology:

1. The Xenu incident does not represent the core belief of Scientology. Unfortunately, critics have incessantly used the Xenu angle to ridicule and discredit the religion.

The core belief of Scientology is mankind's goal to realize his full potential after gradually forgetting his spiritual nature due to a series of tumultuous past-events.

2. Contrary to popular belief, no concealment exists as to the nature of the belief is concerned. The galactic incident is clearly alluded to in the Church's promotional materials. The History of Man, which is one of the most quoted books in Scientology, is widely distributed and contains science-fiction stories like a few other books concerning the religion.

3. The price of the auditing sessions and course are not hidden either. In fact, a list of prices is often made available with promotional materials. It's the critics who keep on quoting high estimates and who ignore the fact that the cost of the sessions are not in bulk; that a participant can stop at any given time if in case he doesn't have the financial means to proceed anymore.

4. Keeping secrets doesn't necessarily mean a religion is a scam. There are many other religions that also employ esotericism. The truth of the matter is that achieving spiritual enlightenment can be deterred if the intended course is not followed. Nobody can do it by cutting corners.

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