*Scientology - a Religion of the Twentieth Century?

In the Occident, ever since the era of Enlightenment, if not longer, the idea of "religion" has been understood to be an extensively positive concept.

The theologian, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), shows this positive concept of religion in his "Reden ueber die Religion an die Gebildeten unter ihren Veraechtern," which appeared in 1799. For him, religion is the same as piety. "The combination of all such sundry expressions of piety, in that this differentiates itself from all other feeling, so that it itself is equal to the presence of piety," wrote Schleiermacher, "this that we ourselves are aware as absolutely dependent on, or, saying the same, as a relationship with God." [10]

Religion leads to right actions. A thought which appears in Lessing's "Nathan the Wise," which is also relevant today, is the so-called ring parable of the three religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam in this case), which prove themselves through one form or another of piety.

Nevertheless, humanity has enough historical recollection of religions which have demanded and brought about human sacrifice, self-destruction and annihilation.

The sacrifice of all captives in ancient Assyria to the god, Assur, and the mass executions of Aztec prisoners in order to sacrifice their hearts to the gods call to mind the hideous crimes of the victors, and are cause for attempts of vindication.

Sacrifice of animals (such as are still carried out today by various cults, e.g., those of the goddess, Kali) and self-mutilation are not at all regarded as "occasional indiscretions," but have to be sometimes be understood as part of religious reality.

Whether Scientology is a religion should be the first order of business. In the sense of a positive concept of religion it is most assuredly not.

In any case, Scientology publicly presents itself as religion, even as "Religion of the 20th Century," as one of its pocketbooks is titled. [11] The general need of the positive concept of religion may have contributed to this particular presentation and description of itself.

Scientology never grows tired of building a foundation for its self-declaration of religion through books and brochures written especially for this purpose. [12] Scientology's presentation of itself as a religion does not necessarily mean that you have to think of it as a religion in the same sense as you do movements of which there is no doubt.

The idea of religion is barely definable. A religion does not necessarily require a belief in God. Otherwise, strict Buddhism (Hinayana method) would not be counted as a religion.

However, religion can quite certainly be linked to magic.

Ratschow once had called magic "life-bound religion which is not even recognized as religion in most cases." [13]

However, Ratschow pointed out characteristics in the same examination which differentiated between the dual conceptualities of "Magic and Religion" (the title of his study):

"The god of religion is a distant god. He is a fully unknown god. There always has to be a revelation before there is a discussion between people and the god of religion. (...) The godhead of magic does not need a bearer of divine revelation. Every person carries his revelations about with him. Each person faces a multi-faceted divinity. He finds him everywhere. He is close to him wherever he goes." [14]

In place of the priest is the medicine man, whom Ratschow characterizes as follows:

"The medicine man occupies prominent position(s). His status does not depend upon dealing between a distant god and people. He is a man whom experience has shown to be especially strong in knowing the execution of rituals." [15]

If one looks for the relationship of the presumed principles of Scientology, as described by its founder, to the god of religion, one sees the "divinity of magic." It requires no great stretch of the imagination to see the auditor as a medicine man.

It becomes more meaningful to understand Scientology as the magic of the twentieth century, rather than wear out the idea of religion with misunderstandings and restrictive preconceptions.

Magic played a part in the inception of Hubbard's ideas and methods.

After 1945, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was rather heavily involved with the black magic of the "Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO)," the "Order of the Oriental Temple," which at this point in time was presided over worldwide by the English magician, Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), who called himself "The Great Beast 666" and who had announced "Do what you want shall be the entire extent of the law."

*Friedrich-W. Haack, Scientology - Magie des 20. Jahrhunderts, Claudius Verlag, 3rd edition, 1995, pages 11 & 12