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 this paper we have considered the correspondence between Scientology and the modern definitions of religion employed in the field of the social sciences. However, Scientology also seems to fit the definitions of religion considered “classical” in both anthropology and sociology. In the field of sociology, Max Weber, considered the “father” of the sociology of religion, preferred not to define the term. (Weber 1964:1) Rather, he minutely classified the known religions into a large number of different types divided according to a large number of criteria. Scientology seems to correspond to a certain type of the “salvation religions” which are presented as a path to the freedom of the spirit from reincarnation or the cycle of birth and death. (Weber 1964: 146) Among salvation religions Scientology would be classified according to Weberian criteria among those which:

  • have been founded by a prophet who instituted a doctrine directed to making possible the salvation of mankind (Weber 1964:46);

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