Portal:Scientology

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Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by Speculative Fiction author L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986), starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics. Hubbard characterized Scientology as a religion, and in 1953 incorporated the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey.

Scientology teaches that people are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature. Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counselling known as auditing, in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects. Study materials and auditing courses are made available to members in return for specified donations. Scientology is legally recognized as a tax-exempt organization in the United States and some other countries, and the Church of Scientology emphasizes this as proof that it is a bona fide religion. In other countries, notably France, Germany and the United Kingdom, Scientology does not have comparable religious status.

A large number of organizations overseeing the application of Scientology have been established, the most notable of these being the Church of Scientology. Scientology sponsors a variety of social service programs. These include the Narconon anti-drug program, the Criminon prison rehabilitation program, the Study Tech education methodology, a volunteer organization, a business management method, and a set of moral guidelines expressed in a booklet called The Way to Happiness.

The Church of Scientology is one of the most controversial new religious movements to have arisen in the 20th century. It has often been described as a cult that financially defrauds and abuses its members, charging exorbitant fees for its spiritual services. The Church of Scientology has consistently used litigation against such critics, and its aggressiveness in pursuing its foes has been condemned as harassment. Further controversy has focused on Scientology's belief that souls ("thetans") reincarnate and have lived on other planets before living on Earth. Former members say that some of Hubbard's writings on this remote extraterrestrial past, included in confidential Upper Levels, are not revealed to practitioners until they have paid thousands of dollars to the Church of Scientology. Another controversial belief held by Scientologists is that the practice of psychiatry is destructive and abusive and must be abolished. Notable Scientologists include many well known people such as Tom Cruise, Greta Van Susteren, Chick Corea, John Travolta, Priscilla Presley and Kirstie Alley.

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Executive Producer, David Mirkin
"The Joy of Sect" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It originally aired on the FOX network in the United States on February 8, 1998. In the episode, a cult called the "Movementarians" takes over Springfield, and Homer and the rest of the Simpson family become members. Homer and Bart are initially introduced to a pair of young Movementarian recruiters in an airport. Homer becomes brainwashed, and moves his family into the cult compound. David Mirkin had the initial idea for the episode, Steve O'Donnell was the lead writer, and Steven Dean Moore directed. The writers drew on many groups to develop the Movementarians, but were principally influenced by Scientology, Heaven's Gate, the Unification Church and Peoples Temple. The episode was later analyzed from religious, philosophical and psychological perspectives, and books compared the Movementarians to many of the same groups that the writers had drawn influences from. The show contains many references to popular culture, including the title reference to The Joy of Sex and a gag involving Rover from the television program The Prisoner.

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Photo of Scientology anti-psychiatry demonstration in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Credit: Legolam

Scientology and psychiatry have come into conflict with each other since the foundation of Scientology in 1952. Scientology is publicly, and often vehemently, opposed to both psychiatry and psychology. It offers itself as an alternative to psychiatry, which Scientologists believe to be a barbaric and corrupt profession.

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Official Congressional Photo of Leo Ryan
Leo Joseph Ryan, Jr. (May 5, 1925–November 18, 1978) was an American politician of the Democratic Party. He served as a U.S. Representative from the 11th Congressional District of California from 1973 until he was murdered in Guyana by members of the Peoples Temple shortly before the Jonestown Massacre in 1978. After the Watts Riots of 1965, then-Assemblyman Ryan took a job as a substitute school teacher to investigate and document conditions in the area. In 1970, he experienced life as an inmate in Folsom Prison, while presiding as chairman on the Assembly committee that oversaw prison reform. During his time in Congress, Ryan traveled to Newfoundland to investigate the inhumane killing of seals. Ryan was also famous for vocal criticism of the lack of Congressional oversight of the CIA, and authored the Hughes–Ryan Amendment; the Amendment was dropped after his death. He was also an early critic of L. Ron Hubbard and his Scientology movement and of the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon. Ryan was the first and only Congressman to be killed in the line of duty, and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, in 1983.

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Jerry Seinfeld
I took a couple of courses. One of them was in communication, and I learned some things about communication that really got my act going...They have a lot of very good technology. That’s what really appealed to me about it. It’s not faith-based. It’s all technology. And I’m obsessed with technology.

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