The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion

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Princeton University Press, Aug 21, 2011 - History - 268 pages
10 Reviews

Scientology is one of the wealthiest and most powerful new religions to emerge in the past century. To its detractors, L. Ron Hubbard's space-age mysticism is a moneymaking scam and sinister brainwashing cult. But to its adherents, it is humanity's brightest hope. Few religious movements have been subject to public scrutiny like Scientology, yet much of what is written about the church is sensationalist and inaccurate. Here for the first time is the story of Scientology's protracted and turbulent journey to recognition as a religion in the postwar American landscape.

Hugh Urban tells the real story of Scientology from its cold war-era beginnings in the 1950s to its prominence today as the religion of Hollywood's celebrity elite. Urban paints a vivid portrait of Hubbard, the enigmatic founder who once commanded his own private fleet and an intelligence apparatus rivaling that of the U.S. government. One FBI agent described him as "a mental case," but to his followers he is the man who "solved the riddle of the human mind." Urban details Scientology's decades-long war with the IRS, which ended with the church winning tax-exempt status as a religion; the rancorous cult wars of the 1970s and 1980s; as well as the latest challenges confronting Scientology, from attacks by the Internet group Anonymous to the church's efforts to suppress the online dissemination of its esoteric teachings.

This book demonstrates how Scientology has reflected the broader anxieties and obsessions of postwar America, and raises profound questions about how religion is defined and who gets to define it.

  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - xuebi - LibraryThing

A fascinating and scholarly approach to the Church of Scientology and its decades-long struggle to be classed as a tax-exempt religion in America. Urban limits his study to this alone, because as he ... Read full review

Review: The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion

User Review  - James - Goodreads

A fascinating topic about which the author gives some useful information. He manages to say how afraid he is to take much of a stand either way on many of the controversies of the subject while ... Read full review

Contents

THE WORLDS MOST CONTROVERSIAL NEW RELIGION AND WHY NO ONE WRITES ABOUT IT
1
L RON HUBBARD AMERICAN ENTREPRENEUR SPIRITUAL BRICOLEUR
26
SCIENTOLOGY INC BECOMING A RELIGION IN THE 1950s
57
A COLD WAR RELIGION SCIENTOLOGY SECRECY AND SECURITY IN THE 1950s AND 60s
89
THE CULT OF ALL CULTS? SCIENTOLOGY AND THE CULT WARS OF THE 1970s AND 80s
118
THE WAR AND THE TRIUMPH OF SCIENTOLOGY BECOMING A TAXEXEMPT RELIGION IN THE 1990s
155
SECRETS SECURITY AND CYBERSPACE SCIENTOLOGYS NEW WARS OF INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET
178
NEW RELIGIONS FREEDOM AND PRIVACY IN THE POST911 WORLD
201
A TIMELINE OF MAJOR EVENTS IN SCIENTOLOGYS COMPLEX JOURNEY TO BECOMING A RELIGION
217
NOTES
221
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
257
INDEX
265
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Hugh B. Urban is professor of religious studies at Ohio State University. His books include "Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism" and "Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion.

Bibliographic information