Researching and Teaching Scientology
Perception and Performance of a New Religion
Keywords:Fieldwork, Lived Religion, Methodology, New Religions, Scientology
The academic study of Scientology (most often meant to mean the Church of Scientology) is complicated by a problematical inherited discourse between media, academics (and their students) and the Church of Scientology. In this short reflection piece, it is argued that this discourse should be understood within a wider context of attitudes to the study of New Religions within the academy, and the impact of CoS engagement with mainstream media. Additionally, it is argued that the preconceptions of both students and CoS representatives reflect these discourses, which in-turn impact not only upon research and teaching about Scientology, but also upon public projections of religious identity by the CoS. Referencing recent frameworks of Lived/Represented/Reported Religion, the article suggests that the study of diverse and everyday Scientology may offer a fruitful approach to future scholarship.
Atack, Jon. 1990. A Piece of Blue Sky. New York: Lyle Stuart.
Barker, Eileen. 1984. The Making of a Moonie: Brainwashing or Choice? Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Cannane, Steve. 2016. Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story of Scientology in Australia. Sydney: ABC.
Chinn, Simon, producer. 2015. Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie. London: BBC Films.
Cowan, Douglas E. 2009. ‘Researching Scientology: Perceptions, Premises, Promises, and Problematics.’ In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 53–79. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331493.003.0004
Flinn, Frank K. 2009. ‘Scientology as Technological Buddhism.’ In Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis, 209–223. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331493.003.0011
Gibney, Alex (producer). 2015. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. New York: HBO.
Gregg, Stephen E. and Lynne Scholefield. 2015. Engaging with Living Religion: A Guide to Fieldwork in the Study of Religion. Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315716671
Gregg, Stephen E. and George D. Chryssides. 2017. ‘The Silent Majority? Understanding apostate testimony beyond “insider/ouitsider” binaries in the study of new religions.’ In Visioning New and Minority Religions: Projecting the Future, edited by Eugene V. Gallagher, 20–32. Abingdon: Routledge.
Gregg, Stephen E. and Aled J. L. Thomas. 2019. ‘Scientology inside out: complex religious belonging in the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone.’ In The Insider Outsider Debate: New Perspectives in the Study of Religion, edited by George D. Chryssides and Stephen E. Gregg, 350–370. Sheffield: Equinox.
Harvey, Graham. 2013. Food, Sex and Strangers: Understanding Religion as Everyday Life. Durham: Acumen. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315729572
Kent, Stephen. 1996. ‘Scientology’s Relationship with Eastern Religious Traditions.’ Journal of Contemporary Religion 11: 21–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/13537909608580753
Kliever, Lonnie D. 1995. The Reliability of Apostate Testimony about New Religious Movements. Los Angeles: Freedom.
Lamont, Stewart. 1986. Religion Inc. The Church of Scientology. London: Harrap.
Lewis, James R. and Kjersti Hellesoy. 2016. ‘Introduction.’ In Handbook of Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and Kjersti Hellesoy, 1–15. Leiden: Brill.
Many, Nancy. 2009. My Billion Years Contract: Memoir of a Former Scientologist. n.p.: CNM.
Miller, Russell. 1987. Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard. London: Michael Joseph. https://doi.org/10.1086/scr.1987.3109594
Miscavige-Hill, Jena with Pulitzer, Lisa. 2013. Beyond Belief: My Secret Life inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape. New York: Harper Collins.
Molloy, Peter (producer). 1987. BBC Panorama: Scientology – the Road to Total Freedom. Manchester: BBC.
Nairn, Charlie, producer. 1967. The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard. London: Granada TV, UK. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_wYWwC1lI&t=19s
Rathbun, Mark. 2012. What is Wrong with Scientology? Healing through Understanding. London: Amazon.
Reitman, Janet. 2011. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Rothstein, Mikael. 2009. ‘“His name was Xenu. He used renegades…”: Aspects of Scientology’s Founding Myth.’In Scientology, edited by in James R. Lewis, 365–387. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331493.003.0020
Swainson, Michelle. 2016. ‘The Price of Freedom: Scientology and Neoliberalism.’ In Handbook of Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and Kjersti Hellesoy, 200–223. Leiden: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004330542_009
Thomas, Aled J. Ll. 2019. ‘Engaging with the Church of Scientology and the Free Zone in the Field: Challenges, Barriers, and Methods.’ International Journal for the Study of New Religions 10(2): 121–137.
Tobin, Thomas C. and Joe Childs. 2009. ‘The Truth Rundown’. St Petersburg Times.
Urban, Hugh. 2011. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400839438
Wallis, Roy. 1977. The Road to Total Freedom. New York: Columbia University Press.
Watt, Nick. 2009. ‘Scientology and the BBC: Accusations Fly.’ New York: ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=3173536&page=1
Westbrook, Donald A. 2018. Among the Scientologists: History, Theology, and Praxis. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190664978.001.0001