Why a Documentary Could Break Scientology
Kimberly Winston wrote an article about the Church of Scientology called, “Will HBO’s “Going Clear” Change the Church of Scientology Forever?”1 In this article she discusses how a documentary called “Going Clear” that was released on March 29th, 2015 intends to open up the Church of Scientology and pick it apart. The documentary includes interviews with former members of the church and attempts to look at the problems within the Church of Scientology. The creator of the film hopes that this documentary will encourage people to question the church and at the very least have a better idea of what they are in for if they decide to join. The documentary claims that the church has abused its members in a number of ways: financially, psychologically and socially. Thus, the creator of the documentary hopes that it will encourage the church’s most important members, the celebrities, to demand change.
First, before we discuss this article, let us look at what exactly Scientology is. According to the Concise Dictionary of Religion it is a movement that was created by Ron Hubbard, which aims to recover spirituality and increase individual ability.2 The doctrine of Scientology states that human beings have a “theatan”, or an inner spiritual being, and by freeing their inner spiritual being they can solve their own problems and become their own saviors – this concept was originally called dianetics. One main controversy that surrounds the movement is that the founder, Hubbard, had previously been a science fiction writer before founding the religion.
So, what does this article suggest about Scientology and what is my perspective? In looking at the larger picture it is clear that there have been many controversial incidents regarding Scientology, and thus there have been many books written and talks given on the topic. According to the Concise Dictionary of Religion, Scientology does in fact fit the category of religion, so it should not simply be dismissed as a secular movement or a secular philosophy. The problem then, is that, as the article suggests, there have been many accounts of abuse by the Church of Scientology of its members and former members. Evidently then, there are problems within the community and abuse is not something that should be considered appropriate. This is though, a common ethical dilemma; The common question is, if a religion advocates something, even though it may contradict with secular laws or rules, should it still be permitted and accepted? Fortunately, there are overarching laws, which mean that a religion is not permitted to abuse its members. Financial fraud, for example is illegal and if the church is practicing it this would not be tolerated by most governments. Thus, while this article does not discuss the intrinsic worth of Scientology or it’s doctrine, it does discuss the flaws that the church has and why they are so detrimental. So detrimental in fact, that the creator of the documentary suspects that the film may cause people to second guess their enrollment in Scientology.
2 Hexham, Irving. Concise Dictionary of Religion. 199.