Scientology: Business or Church?

I was talking with a Scientologist the other day, about whether the Church of Scientology was, really, a business or a church. I was talking about the idea of “set donations” as an example of business-not-religion and the Scientologist said, “No, that’s just a ‘new concept’ in church donations.”

“New concept?” WTF? Let’s see, you provide a service that you think people will want. You convince people to take that service. But before they can take the service, they have to give you a specific amount of money.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that one of the oldest concepts in the world? But, of course, that’s a business concept.

This question can get muddied up with the question of whether the subject of Scientology (as opposed to the Church of Scientology) is religious/spiritual. Scientology especially likes to muddy the discussion.

But I’m going to avoid these subjective arguments. I’m going to simply be objective about it.

Whether it is a religion or not, it is acknowledged by almost all that Scientology can be classified as a self-improvement group (not saying it is effective in that way, just that it’s classified that way).

So, lets compare the Church of Scientology to your standard church and to your standard self-improvement business (of which there are many).

For the purposes of this comparison, we will define the “primary service” as that service in which the majority of the clientèle/parishioners participate.

Here we go:

Primary service is held Sunday (or whatever day of the week is considered holy)?

  • Church? Yes
  • Self-improvement business? No
  • Church of Scientology? No

Primary services are delivered every day of the week?

  • Church? No
  • Self-improvement business? Yes
  • Church of Scientology? Yes

Primary services are free, donations asked for but never required?

  • Church? Yes
  • Self-improvement business? No
  • Church of Scientology? No

All services, except for introductory services cost money and are fixed, required price?

  • Church? No
  • Self-improvement business? Yes
  • Church of Scientology? Yes

Assistance to the needy in the community is there and is free?

  • Church? Yes
  • Self-improvement business? No
  • Church of Scientology? No

You can visit the place and participate in the primary service without being required to talk to staff?

  • Church? Certainly!
  • Self-improvement business? No
  • Church of Scientology? No

You must sign a contract before participating in primary services?

  • Church? Of course not!
  • Self-improvement business? Yes
  • Church of Scientology? Yes

Are you seeing a trend here? The Church of Scientology operates exactly like any other business selling self-improvement techniques. It never operates like a church.

“But,” I hear someone say, “you’re ignoring that the Church of Scientology does have Sunday services! It has a cross!”

OK, let’s imagine. Go to any real church and remove all the crosses, and stop all the Sunday services. What happens to the church? It would, in large part, stop being able to operate as a church. Now let’s go to any Church of Scientology – remove all the crosses and stop the little “Sunday service”. What happens to the Church of Scientology? I doubt anyone would notice those things had disappeared, the business would continue exactly as before. This tells us that the cross and Sunday services of a real church are core to its existence and that those things, in the Church of Scientology are tacked-on window-dressing.

Why doesn’t the Church of Scientology just admit it’s a business selling the Scientology self-improvement technology and it’s not a church?

Well, being a church not only gives you nice tax breaks, but it helps protect you from a lot of potential legal problems. You can get away with a lot more as a church, things that a business just couldn’t pull off.

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12 Responses to Scientology: Business or Church?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Couldn’t we just say the merriam-webster definition of religion: “a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices” is good? Or shall we all base our opinions of what religion is on your whim?Sorry I can’t stay and chat longer, but it’s Sunday and I have to go pray to the cross at my Jewish Synagogue.

  2. Just Bill says:

    From your comment, I deduce you are a Scientologist.As I said in my post, the Church of Scientology vigorously works to muddy the debate by purposely confusing individual belief with the conduct of the “church”. Just as you are trying to do with your carefully selected definition.Cherry-picking definitions and your clumsy nit-picking are the hallmarks of someone desperately working to avoid actually dealing with the issues I raised. Do you understand how to actually, logically argue with someone?Want to give it another try? Or can’t you deal with the fact that the “church” of Scientology has been lying for 55 years?

  3. nonnyanon says:

    anonymous $cilon is fail.epic fail

  4. Anonymous says:

    Scientology has its minions trolling the web trying and failing to stop the truth about its money-making scam non-religion about xenu the spacelord, body thetans, volcanos and tin cans. Scientoogists, you have failed. The whole world is on to you. Your “Fair Game” policy, we know, gives you permission to lie, cheat, distort, attack, fabricate, and do whatever is necessary to keep the money flowing to your leaders. Your recruiting front groups, such as Narconon, CCHR, and Applied Scholastics are being laughed out of many places now. Go away.

  5. Just Bill says:

    Some church! They assign special staff to troll the Internet to try to hide the church’s crimes!But, in spite of that, the CoS trolls are always welcome here, because they inevitably make my points for me. Much appreciated.Nothing improves a post like a Scientology troll comment that:- Carefully ignores the important points raised.- Covertly attempts to sidetrack the discussion.- And stupidly quotes long-disproven CoS lies.While, at the same time, exuding an offensive “I’m SO good and you’re SO evil!” stench.You’d think they’d learn that their bizarre comments do more harm than good for their “church”. But then, “learning” is, technically, not allowed in the CoS.I’d actually like to have an intelligent debate with one of these people, but the culties are forbidden from doing that!

  6. Hi i was curious if you could describe to me what the sunday service at a Church of scientology is like. The more detail the better. if you could walk me through exactly what happens step by step. I am writing a research paper on different religions, and was curious about details of Scientology. I would really apperciate it. thank you so much.leah

  7. Just Bill says:

    Leah,Thanks for your comment. A Sunday Service in Scientology has the following format:1. Read an article by L. Ron Hubbard2. Do some group processing3. Recite the Creed of the Church of ScientologyThe article is read from a large book which was produced exactly for that purpose. I believe it’s called Background and Ceremonies of the Church of Scientology.For more information about group processing, Google that, or find the book: The Group Processing Handbook.Creed of the Church of Scientology is available online.Takes less than an hour, usually 30 minutes or so. Very few Scientologists have ever been to one. Everyone knows it’s just window dressing with no other purpose.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Actually, I think that first anonymous comment may be legit. Could be a Jewish person ticked off at you referring to the cross as a needed piece of a church, rather than an icon. Of course, it could be a Scientologist pretending to be an angry Jew, but let’s not get too paranoid here.

  9. Just Bill says:

    Trust me, that was a Scientologist. It’s a clumsy attempt to confuse the issue using standard Scilon tactics – narrow definition that helps their argument, ignoring the many valid points brought up, personal attack and misdirection.Scientologist FAIL.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There is a large possibility that that was, indeed, a Jew or just a person trying to shake your view that religion=Christianity. So- let us address the definition, then, disregarding the fact that Scientology is adamantly not a religion in most countries….”a personal or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices”So, what were the composers of that definition thinking? They used “religious” in the definition of “religion.” Now Scientologists need to prove that their attitudes, beliefs, and practices are religious! What a relief. That should make things a whole lot more simple.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Regarding the $cilon post, they DO like to compare themselves to the Jews all the time when accusing Anonymous of being Nazis, so it's befitting after all.Sometimes I can't help but wonder what a $cientology world would be without the Jews =)They sure do abuse their comparisons.PS Just Bill, how does one get an acct so I can get a name & not be sooo "anonymous" all the time. 🙂

  12. Just Bill says:

    Well, it is true that Scientologists are under constant discrimination and baseless attack … but their only attacker and enemy is the Church of Scientology and David Miscavige. No one else is attacking individual Scientologists.Every day, Scientologists are recognizing this fact and stepping away from Miscavige’s abuse and fraud.Anyway, to join Blogger, go to and create a Google account. For anonymity, use an email account that isn’t connected to your real name.

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