Scientology and the Substantive Definition of Religion

Scientology and the Comparative Definition of Religion

Scientology and the Functional Definition of Religion

Scientology and the Analytical Definition of Religion

Sharing a Body of Doctrine

Participation in Rituals and Acts of Devotion

Direct Experience of Ultimate Reality

Religious Knowledge

Consequences in Quotidian Life

Scientology and the Emic Definitions of Religions


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In a chapter of his 1990 book The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism, Bryan Wilson affirms that Scientology would be a “secularized religion” and then shows that it fits a list of 20 items usually characteristic of religions, suggesting that “Scientology must indeed be regarded as a religion, and this in respect of the metaphysical teachings it canvasses (and not because it describes its organization as a church), but it is a religion which mirrors many of the preoccupations of contemporary society.” (1990:288) He completes his analysis asking: “If one had to propose what would be a modern religion, perhaps Scientology would not appear as fitting in the secularized world in which it operates, and from which it takes the greater part of its organized structure and therapeutic preoccupations.” (1990:288)

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