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Scientology is a body of religious beliefs and practices launched in May 1952 by American author L. Ron Hubbard (1911–86). Hubbard initially developed a program of ideas called Dianetics, which was distributed through the Dianetics Foundation. The foundation soon entered bankruptcy, and Hubbard lost the rights to his seminal publication Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1952. He then recharacterized the subject as a religion and renamed it Scientology, retaining the terminology, doctrines, the E-meter, and the practice of auditing. Within a year, he regained the rights to Dianetics and retained both subjects under the umbrella of the Church of Scientology.

Hubbard describes the etymology of the word Scientology as coming from the Latin word "scio", meaning know or distinguish, and the Greek word "logos", meaning "the word or outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and made known". Hubbard writes, "thus, Scientology means knowing about knowing, or science of knowledge".

Hubbard's groups have encountered considerable opposition and controversy. In January 1951, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners brought proceedings against Dianetics Foundation on the charge of teaching medicine without a license. Hubbard's followers engaged in a program of criminal infiltration of the U.S. government.

Hubbard-inspired organizations and their classification are often a point of contention. Germany classifies Scientology groups as an "anti-constitutional sect". In France, they have been classified as a dangerous cult by some parliamentary reports.

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Trey Parker, one of the writers of the episode & South Park co-creator
"Trapped in the Closet" is the twelfth episode of the ninth season of the Comedy Central series South Park. It originally aired on November 16, 2005. The plot of the episode centers on the South Park character Stan Marsh, as he joins Scientology in an attempt to find something "fun and free". After the discovery of his surprisingly high "thetan levels", he is recognized as the reincarnation of the founder of the church, L. Ron Hubbard. Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, quit the show shortly before the start of the tenth season. The reason for his departure, as reported by Matt Stone, was due to his faith in Scientology and this episode, which—despite initially supporting the show's satirical take on several talk shows—he claimed was very offensive. "Trapped in the Closet" was nominated for an Emmy Award in July 2006, in the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour) category in July 2006, but lost to The Simpsons episode "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story". The episode was featured among Comedy Central's list of "10 South Parks That Changed The World", spoofed by Conan O'Brien in the opening segment of the 58th Primetime Emmy Awards, and mentioned in the Scientology critique film, The Bridge.

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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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Kirstie Alley
The one thing that was really cool about L. Ron Hubbard was that he really got the concept that if people united, and not in some airy-fairy way, but if they united and they put their, you know, muscle and brawn together and they worked really hard, you could create a better civilization.

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