Religious Studies and Theology, Vol 18, No 2 (1999)

The Creation of 'Religious' Scientology

Stephen A. Kent
Issued Date: 11 Mar 2007


This article traces the evolution of L. Ron Hubbard’s presentation of Dianetics as a mental health science to Scientology as a religion in the 1950s. It shows how Hubbard came to realize that a religious label likely would protect his alleged healing practices from governmental and medical interference, as well as provide him with tax breaks during a period of heightened financial difficulties. Part of the cosmology that Hubbard developed involved descriptions of priests and psychiatrists impeding the ability of soul-like entities (that he called thetans) from realizing their true nature. In tracing how Hubbard developed religious claims out of a reputed psychotherapy, the article clarifies why critics see this development as mere expediency on Hubbard’s part. Nevertheless, Scientologists are unlikely to know, or much care, about these issues from the early days of its movement.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/rsth.v18i2.97


Aberree. 1954. “Scientology Acts to Legalize Religion.” 1(1): 1, 4.

Atack, Jon. 1990. A Piece of Blue Sky. Scientology, Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed. New York: Lyle Stuart.

Berger, Albert I. 1989. “Towards a Science of the Nuclear Mind: Science-Fiction Origins of Dianetics.” Science Fiction Studies, Part 2 16(48): 123–144.

Bowles, Timothy. 1996. “Scientology Ethics and Psychiatric Injustice.” Texas Tech Law Review 27: 1011–1026.

Bromley, David G. and Mitchell L. Bracey Jr. 1998 “The Church of Scientology: A Quasi-Religion.” In Sects, Cults, and Spiritual Communities: A Sociological Analysis, edited by William W. Zellner and Marc Petrowsky, 141–156. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Bures, Charles E. 1950. “Review of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.” Engineering and Science (November): 1–2, 32.

California Superior Court. 1984. “Church of Scientology of California vs. Gerald Armstrong (Mary Sue Hubbard, Intervenor).” Volume 12. Reporter’s Daily Transcript (15 May): 1896–2030.

Certificate of Incorporation of the Church of American Science. 1953. “Certificate of Incorporation of the Church of American Science.” Filed in the Law Offices of William C. Gotshalk, 431 Market St., Camden 2, New Jersey, No. Y31315 (22 December).

Church of Scientology. 1969. Freedom. International Edition No. 1.

Corydon, Bent. 1996. L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade.

Corydon, Bent and L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. 1987. L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart.

Elizabeth Daily Journal. 1951. “N.J. Starts Action Against Dianetics.” Section 1 (January 15 January): 5.

Fishbein, Morris. 1950. “Dianetics or the ‘Poor Man’s Psychoanalysis.’” Postgraduate Medicine (September): 241–242.

F. L. 1950. “What About Dianetics.” Science Digest (October): 45–46.

Freeman, Alan. 1997. “Germany Presses Case Against Scientologists.” The Globe and Mail. 17 July. A1, A8.

Gittleson, Yvette. 1950. “Sacred Cows in Collision.” American Scientist (October): 603–609.

Gold, E. J. 1986. Creation Story Verbatim. Nevada City, CA: Gateways.

Hall, Deana. 1998. “Managing to Recruit: Religious Conversion in the Workplace.” Sociology of Religion 59(4): 393–410.

Hexham, Irving and Karla Poewe. 1999. “‘Verfassungsfeidlich’: Church, State, and New Religions in Germany.” Nova Religio 2(2): 208–227.

Hubbard, L. Ron. 1950a. “Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science.” Astounding Science Fiction XLV(3): 43–87.

———. 1950b. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. New York: Hermitage House.

———. 1951. Science of Survival. Wichita, KS: Hubbard Dianetic Foundation.

———. 1952. “Chart of Attitudes: Rising Scale Processing.” Philadelphia Doctorate Course Lectures No. 37 [Transcript, Volume 5]. (11 December): 1–12.

———. 1954a. “Duplication.” Professional Auditor’s Bulletin 31 (23 July): 23–26.

———. 1954b. “SOP-8-C: The Rehabilitation of the Human Spirit.” Journal of Scientology Issue 24-G (January 31): 4–9.

———. 1958. Have You Lived Before this Life? A Scientific Survey. London: The Hubbard Association of Scientologists International.

———. 1963a. “Routine 3 Heaven.” Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin (11 May, AD13): 1–4.

———. 1963b. “Routine 3N Line Plots.” Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin (14 July AD13): 1–3.

———. 1963c. “Routine 3N Scientology Four The Train GPMs The Markab Between Lives Implants.” Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin (24 August, AD13): 1–4.

———. 1971 [1968]. The Phoenix Lectures. Los Angeles: American Saint Hill Organization.

———. 1973 [1956]. Scientology. The Fundamentals of Thought. Los Angeles: Publications Organization.

———. 1975a. Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary. Los Angeles, CA: Publications Organization.

———. 1976a [1953]. “Associate Newsletter” (23 April). In The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Volume I (1950–1953), 312–314. Copenhagen and Los Angeles: Scientology Publications.

———. 1976b [1953]. “Associate Newsletter” (28 April). In The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Volume I (1950–1953), 315–318. Copenhagen and Los Angeles: Scientology Publications.

———. 1976c [1953]. “This is Scientology. The Science of Certainty” (ca. mid-June). In The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Volume I (1950–1953), 374–396. Copenhagen and Los Angeles: Scientology Publications.

———. 1976d [1954]. “Why Doctor of Divinity?” (DATE). Professional Auditor’s Bulletin 32. In The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Volume I (1950–1953), 72–75. Copenhagen and Los Angeles: Scientology Publications.

———. 1976e [1954]. “Hubbard Association of Scientologists” (March 10). In The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Volume II (1954–1956), 32–34. Copenhagen and Los Angeles: Scientology Publications.

———. 1976f [1954]. “Basic Procedures” (April 30). In The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, Volume II (1954–1956), 51–54. Copenhagen and Los Angeles: Scientology Publications.

———. 1981. “What Is Matter?” Advance 71: 4–8.

———. 1982a. “The Cause of Crime.” Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin (6 May): 1.

———. 1982b. “Pain and Sex.” Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin (26 August): 1–2.

———. 1984. “False Purpose Rundown Series 9. False Purpose Rundown Correction List.” Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin (13 June): 1–12.

Hubbard, L. Ron (?). 1958. “Clearing: Some Facts.” Ability 81: 1, 3, 5–6.

International Association of Scientologists. 1993. “International Association of Scientologists [Membership Pamphlet].” West Sussex, England: International Association of Scientologists.

Kent, Stephen A. 1990. “Deviance Labelling and Normative Strategies in the Canadian ‘New Religions/Countercult’ Debate.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 15(4): 393–416.

———. 1996. “Scientology’s Relationship with Eastern Religious Traditions.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 11(1): 21–36.

———. 1999a. “The Globalization of Scientology: Influence, Control, and Opposition in Transnational Markets.” Religion (April): 147–169.

———. 1999b. “Scientology – Is This a Religion?” Marburg Journal of Religion 4(1).

Lamont, Stewart. 1986. Religion, Inc. The Church of Scientology. London: Harrap.

Mathison, Volney G. 1954. “Galaxy T-8 Patrol Blocks Death Ray.” Aberree 1(8): 5–6.

Meldgaard, Helle. 1992. “Scientology’s Religious Roots.” Studia Missionalia 44: 169–185.

Miller, Russell. 1987. Bare-Faced Messiah. The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard. London: Michael Joseph.

Passas, Nikos. 1994. “The Market for Gods and Services: Religion, Commerce, and Deviance.” In Religion and the Social Order, Volume 4, edited by David G. Bromley, Arthur L. Griel, and Thomas Robbins, 217–240. Greenwich, CT: JAI.

Passas, Nikos and Manuel Escamilla Castillo. 1992. “Scientology and its ‘Clear’ Business.” Behavioral Sciences and the Law 10: 103–116.

Peck, Robert E. 1950. “Review of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.” The American Journal of Psychiatry. 107(6): 477–478.

Rabi, I. I. 1951. “Review of Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.” Scientific American (January): 57–58.

Saunders, John and Timothy Appleby. 1998. “Scientology Seeks Tax-Receipt Status.” The Globe and Mail. 19 January 19. A1, A6.

Spencer, Hugh Alan. 1981. “The Transcendental Engineers: The Fictional Origins of a Modern Religion.” Masters thesis. Department of Anthropology, McMaster University.

Stearns, Frederic. R. 1951. “Dianetics.” Clinical Medicine (March): 53.

Wallis, Roy. 1977 [1976]. The Road to Total Freedom. A Sociological Analysis of Scientology. New York: Columbia University Press.

Whitehead, Harriet. 1974. “Reasonably Fantastic: Some Perspectives on Scientology, Science Fiction, and Occultism.” In Religious Movements in Contemporary America, edited by Irving I. Zaretsky and Mark P. Leone, 547–587. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

———. 1987. Renunciation and Reformulation. A Study of Conversion in an American Sect. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Wilson Bryan R. 1990. “Scientology: A Secularized Religion.” In The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism, edited by Bryan R. Wilson, 267–288. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Winter, J. A. 1987 [1951]. Dianetics: A Doctor’s Report. New York: Julian.

Wolffe, E. B. 1951. “Dianetics – One Year Later.” Fate 4(7): 64–70.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email:

Privacy Policy