ou have probably seen the large “Scientology” signs on Hollywood or Sunset Boulevards, along the Hollywood Freeway, or elsewhere in Los Angeles. Quite possibly you have a friend or acquaintance who is a Scientologist.
You may have wondered: what is Scientology? And what happens inside one of the churches?
The Religion of Scientology
Scientology is an applied religious philosophy which offers tools anyone can use to become happier and more able and to improve conditions in life for himself and others. The word itself literally means “knowing how to know.”
The religion comprises a vast body of knowledge. That knowledge, however, extends from a number of fundamental truths, among them:
That each person is an immortal spiritual being.
That his experiences extend well beyond one life.
That his capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized.
Scientology holds man to be basically good, and that his spiritual salvation depends upon himself and his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe.
It is the only major religion to emerge in the 20th century, and flows from entirely new discoveries about the spirit, life and the interrelationships between the Supreme Being, man and the universe in which he lives.
It is a religious philosophy in the deepest sense of the word, for it is concerned with no less than the total rehabilitation of man’s innate spiritual self – his abilities, his awareness and his knowledge of his own immortality.
It answers the fundamental questions of existence: Who am I? Where did I come from? What is the meaning of life? What happens when I die?
And while it follows the oldest of all religious traditions, Scientology is, again, something very new. And it is not taken on faith. Nothing in Scientology is true for a person unless he or she has experienced it and observed it to be true. Scientology is something one does, something one can experience, observe, learn, know and practice oneself. Thus the Scientology religion elicits interest from people in all walks of life.
Scientology provides a carefully delineated, step-by-step path to complete spiritual freedom. Its central practice, and the primary means by which the basic truths of Scientology are applied to the rehabilitation of the human spirit, is known as auditing. Auditing is delivered by an auditor, from the Latin audire, "one who listens.”
One of the fundamental principles of Scientology is that an individual can improve his condition only if he is allowed to find his own answers to life’s problems. Scientology ministers – auditors – help individuals to accomplish this goal by guiding them to examine their existence through a precise series of steps. By following this gradual process, individuals can improve their ability to face what they are and where they are – peeling away past experiences that have weighed heavily upon them.
Another fundamental aspect of the religion is the study of Scientology principles. The overriding principle of all courses in Scientology is, again, application – in one’s life, with one’s family, one’s friends and neighbors, at work and in society.
The scriptures of the Scientology religion constitute more than 35 million words – and thus represent the largest single body of work on the human mind and spirit. The precise and proven methods of Scientology improve life and bring about a resurgence of man’s capabilities. There is no aspect of life that cannot be bettered through the application of Scientology principles.
Many different courses of training are available. The training delivered by Churches of Scientology could be likened to taking a course in a school or university.
And that, in broad strokes, describes the focus of what happens inside a Scientology church – ministering to Scientology parishioners through auditing and training.
Los Angeles: Home to the World’s
First Church of Scientology
The Church of Scientology of Los Angeles was the very first Scientology church in the world. Opening its doors on February 18, 1954, the small group rapidly expanded as word spread about the miraculous results achieved through the Scientology religion.
By 1965, the Church had grown so large that it split into two organizations, with the “Day” organization operating weekdays, and the “Foundation” organization operating evenings and weekends.
One man who served on staff of the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles at that time told Freedom, “People in L.A. back then were like they are now – eager to find out about Scientology. A flood of people came in for introductory lectures, films and Sunday services. Sometimes it was standing room only.”
In September 1977, after 12 more years of steady expansion, the Church moved to its present home in the North Wing of the Church’s offices on L. Ron Hubbard Way, between Sunset Boulevard and Fountain Avenue. (See “A New Street Makes its Debut in the Land of Legends”.)
On February 18, 1995, more than 4,000 gathered there to celebrate the church’s 41st anniversary at the opening of its new, completely renovated quarters.
This and other churches in the area deliver a full array of introductory and basic services including lectures, films, Dianetics workshops, auditing, the Success Through Communication Course, Life Improvement Courses and special courses for children.
It has been said that Scientology will go as far as it works, and on that score the fact that the religion has grown from one church in Los Angeles to more than 3,200 churches, missions and groups and over 8 million members in 132 countries in just 43 years says a great deal.
The Scientology churches known as the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles and the American Saint Hill Organization opened their doors in Los Angeles in August 1968. These organizations offer advanced Scientology auditing and training. (See “A New Spirit in Los Angeles”.)
The Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International, founded in 1969, has the purpose to utilize the full body of Dianetics and Scientology to help the creative individuals in society. Celebrity Centre serves artists and leaders in sports, business, and entertainment as a bustling church and oasis of creative freedom. From its location at Franklin and Bronson in Hollywood, it also provides a ready forum for poets, playwrights, actors, painters, screenwriters and musicians, as well as aspiring artists in all of these fields – all in the name of cultural revitalization.
In addition to being a place which serves artists, the Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles features the Garden Pavilion, a spacious facility which was created for the Los Angeles community. Today it hosts a wide range of charitable and cultural events. The Garden Pavilion seats 400 people and is modeled after a French “orangerie” – a greenhouse for cultivating citrus trees in winter months. And, artist or not, visitors are always welcome at Celebrity Centre, which is open to the public like all Scientology churches.
The Church of Scientology of the Valley, in Burbank at the corner of West Magnolia and Hollywood Way, and the Church of Scientology of Pasadena, at 634 East Colorado Boulevard, in the heart of that city, were both established in June 1980 by local Scientologists who had built them from thriving missions.
The Church of Scientology of Orange County, in Tustin at the intersection of Irvine and Redhill Boulevards, was founded in September 1983 from one of the largest and most rapidly expanding Scientology missions in the world. Today it is a busy center of Scientology activity.
A listing of all churches and missions in Southern California is provided in this issue. (See “Visit our churches of Scientology”.)
Our Door Are Open
The atmosphere in a church of Scientology is what one would expect to find in a place where people are succeeding, where they are learning, where they are actively pursuing their goals and progressing toward them. It is alive, cheerful and the hope of a better world seems to imbue every activity.
They are staffed by dedicated Scientologists who leave their homes each morning knowing that when they return in the evening they will have spent the day helping their fellows to better understand themselves, others and life around them.
Scientology churches are open seven days a week. In addition to the auditing and training described above, there are many other activities – including Sunday services, weddings, christenings and a broad range of special events and community activities.
You are invited to come by and see for yourself why so many in Los Angeles call themselves Scientologists.
No matter how diverse Scientologists may be – whether teachers or businessmen, housewives or athletes, artists or secretaries, firemen or medical doctors, attorneys or students – they hold something in common: having changed their lives for the better, they know that Scientology works.
It is fundamental in Scientology that nothing need be taken on faith. Its truths are self-evident, its principles easily demonstrable and its technology can be seen at work in any church or mission. One need only open the door and step through.