The Church of Scientology is a cult/religion created by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s. The Church is extremely wealthy and draws attention from the fact that several prominent celebrities are members. The Church is avidly opposed to the fields of psychiatry and psychology. It is notorious for using legal threats and action to intimidate and silence its opponents, especially those who try to convince Scientologists to leave the organization, those who attempt to demonstrate the cult-like nature of the organization, and those who expose Scientology secrets that are supposed to be reserved for senior-level Scientologists. Scientologists are encouraged to shun family members and friends who do not approve of Scientology.
It is a proselytic organization, drawing in new members through free personality tests. No matter how one scores on the personality test, the tester informs the inductee that that there is something wrong with their personality that Scientology can help with. This leads to a process called "auditing", involving a device called an E-meter. The E-meter is a device with two handles that measures the electrical resistance in the human body. According to Scientology doctrine, this device measures "thetans", which are distraught souls inhabiting our body.
Scientology has various stages that members pass through, which get progressively more expensive as the Scientologist is compelled to purchase more and more materials and books related to the doctrine. After several tens of thousands of dollars, the Scientologist reaches stage OT-3, where the story behind the thetans is revealed.
It begins 75 million years ago with a galactic dictator named Xenu, who had a problem with overpopulation on many of the planets he ruled over. He tricked billions of aliens into being frozen and loaded onto rocketships which were exactly like DC-8 airliners except with rocket engines. The rocketships were sent to Earth, then called "Teegeeack", and the aliens were placed next to several specifically named volcanoes (most of which were not even in existence 75 million years ago, unbeknownst to geologists of Hubbard's time), and exploded with hydrogen bombs. The souls of the dead aliens are said to have roamed the Earth until they could find human bodies to attach to. Scientologists proclaim that thetans occupying our bodies are the source of all our mental problems, and that Scientology is the only way to get rid of the thetans.
- "I’d like to start a religion. That’s where the money is."
- —L. Ron Hubbard to Lloyd A. Eshbach, in 1949; quoted by Eshbach in OVER MY SHOULDER: REFLECTIONS ON A SCIENCE FICTION ERA, Donald M. Grant Publisher. ISBN 1-880418-11-8, 1983