Tag Archives: Scientology

Religious Tolerance: find the beauty in every religion

In more recent years, religions across the world have been on the decline. According to the Washington Post, in the 1950s those who identified with no religion was at about 2 percent of the entire population. In 1970, this percentage grew to 7 percent. Now, the percentage has swelled to almost 20 percent of the population.

According to Pew, 74 percent of those who don’t identify with a religion grew up without a religious belief.

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It’s hard to locate the source of the problem. With the younger generations it seems religion and faith have taken a back seat. More children are being raised faithless in the United States than every before. The decline in religion dates to the 1990s when trust in religious institution became questionable. Scandal is no stranger to religion, including sexual scandals of church leaders and the church’s opposition of same-sex marriage.

1worldI’ve noticed the decline of religion in my life. My great-grandparents were straight off the boat Irish, strict Roman Catholics. Both my grandparents and my parents were raised Roman Catholic, but me? Well, I was raised Roman Catholic too, but not in the same sense they were. My upbringing was not strict. We did everything the normal Catholics did. My siblings and I have all been baptized, confessed, communed and confirmed. We used to always go to church on Sundays until there was some controversy with my mom’s favorite priest, and we stopped going after he left the parish.

Over the years I’ve grown apart from the religion I was raised in. Learning about other religions and understanding what others believe in has made me more accepting of other ideas. Maybe Catholicism isn’t the only important religion out there? Maybe I think there’s more than one God? Maybe I don’t even believe in God?

I have always been one to question religion and I think I always will. There will never be a way to really known and that’s why we have faith. As I’ve grown up, I’ve lost the faith I had in the Catholic church. I like to think that I’ve developed a syncretic religion that is all my own.

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Here is what I know…

  1. I love the Amish life of simplicity.
  2. I love the Taoist idea of the Tao. The feeling inside of you that cannot be described in words. The source and the driving force behind everything. When you have to make a decision and something instinctively tells you to make a certain decision, that’s the Tao working inside you. The Tao will always keep you on the path meant for you.
  3. I love that marriage is a central notion for Mormon life. They believe God ordered them to get marriage and have children. Mormons believe that the family continues on together to salvation after death and I hope that’s true.
  4. I love all of the ideas behind Sikhism. They believe that the way to lead a good life is to keep God in your mind, to live honestly, to work hard, to treat everyone as an equal and to be generous to the less fortunate. I think if we could all learn to live like the Sikhs the world would be a much happier place.
  5. I love the Wiccan quote “If you take the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible is the wind and the rain.” Like me, the Wiccans believe in the very world they see right before their eyes.
  6. The unity and push for equality that surrounds the Unitarian Universalists is beautiful. I hope one day all religions can be this accepting.
  7. I like that Scientology seeks to base their beliefs in something concrete.
  8. I love the Buddhist idea of reincarnation. For me, reincarnation is the explanation for déjà vu. Why do I feel like I have been here before? Because you have been. Why do I know exactly what he is about to say? Because you’ve heard it before.
  9. I simply love the Rastafarian dreadlocks.
  10. I love the Jain idea of bad karma accumulating on the human soul and that the human has to spend their life “chipping away” that karma. It gives us a reason to live for the good.
  11. I love the Bahá’í belief that greater good will prevail when humanity works together in unity for the benefit of not themselves, but others.
  12. I love that Zoroastrians pray facing the sun because it symbolizes God’s divine light.
  13. I love that Spiritualists believe that every soul lives past physical death and that all souls are reunited.
  14. I love that Santeria was born because the African slaves felt so strongly about their religion they refused to completely convert, but instead blended religions.
  15. I love that Atheists believe in humanity rather than a higher being and that they believe the real reward is living a good life now while you’re here to live it.
  16. I love Islam’s Five Pillars of Faith and that they are required to help the less fortunate.
  17. I love that Hasidic Jews live together in tight-knit communities where they really care about each other.
  18. I love the Shinto notion that there are kamis there to guide us. Everyone can use a helping hand now and then.
  19. I love that Candomblé doesn’t believe in good or bad. Just that one person should live their life in order to fulfill their own destiny as best they can.
  20. I love the creativity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
  21. I love that Confucianism teaches that human nature is “teachable, improvable, and perfectible.”
  22. Interfaith marriage is beautiful.

And let’s face it… I have nothing nice to say about the Westboro Baptist Church.

When you take a chance to open yourself to others beliefs you might be surprised. You might end up believing in something you weren’t raised to believe in. You might learn to tolerate others in a new way. There is something beautiful in every religion if you take the time to find it.

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Scientology: Tom Cruise’s beliefs, religion or cult?

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Scientology was the talk of the town last year when Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes split. Scientology was put in the limelight when media began reporting that Holmes scientology_027allegedly left her husband because they had been arguing about Suri, their daughter, joining the church. Other famous Scientologists include Kirstie Alley, Juliette Lewis and John Travolta.

Scientology, a controversial religion that teaches that human beings have forgotten their true nature, was created by Ron Hubbard in 1952. Scientology has beliefs and practices that are based on research and science. Since beginning in the 1950s Scientology has spread to Britain, Ireland, South Africa and Australia. In the sixties it was banned in some parts of Australia for hypnosis and it still remains banned in some parts of the country.

Hubbard developed Scientology after his self-help system Dianetics. Both Dianetics and Scientology use a form of rehabilitation called “auditing.” During auditing, they re-experience painful or traumatic experiences and events as a way to move on from the past. Auditing is only available to members after a specified donation. This was seen as a new form of psychotherapy.

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Scientologists believe that our souls, called “thetans” reincarnate after death and that they have lived on other planets before Earth in a previous lifetime. Scientologists also observe events like weddings, child naming and funerals which are performed by ordained Scientology ministers.

They also believe in two divisions within the mind: the reactive mind and the analytical mind. The reactive mind stores mental images and absorbs pain and emotional trauma. These memories are not available to the analytical mind and are called engrams. The analytical mind is rational and responsible for consciousness. Engrams are considered painful and debilitating. When engrams are accumulated people move away from who they truly are. In order to stop this, auditing is necessary to move towards what is called the “clean state.”

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Scientology also studies personalities. Hubbard believed that about 80 percent of people had social personalities. People with this personality are people who contribute to the welfare of others. He also believed that 20 percent of people were suppressive personalities. Of this 20 percent, only 2.5 percent are considered to have a hopelessly antisocial personality. These people are are truly dangerous people who are evil. Those who go against Scientology are called suppressive people. Katie Holmes was labeled this after her break up with Tom Cruise.

The religions uses the Scientology cross which says “the horizontal bar represents the material universe, and the vertical bar represents the spirit. Thus the spirit is seen to be rising triumphantly, ultimately transcending the turmoil of the physical universe to achieve salvation.”

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In 1953 Hubbard incorporated three churches in Camden, New Jersey, and in 1954 he set up the first church called the Church of Scientology of California. The Church of Scientology claimed in 2005 that they had 8 million followers worldwide with 3.5 million followers in the United States. A survey in 2001 found that there were only 55,000 Scientologists in the United States.

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Scientology gets a lot of criticism and some people even say that it’s not a religion, but a cult. The religion is learned through studying Scientology materials that are separated in advancing levels that become increasingly harder. This process is called the Bridge to Total Freedom and it has two sides: training and processing. Training is the education received about Scientology principles and the practice of auditing while processing is the personal development that results from training. It is necessary for members to make donations to study and move up the Bridge to Total Freedom. The later teachings are not reveals until members have paid thousands of dollars. For this reason, most Scientologists only move up the bridge so far as their income allows. The official memorial page for Lisa McPherson also blames Scientology for her death. McPherson died of pulmonary embolism while under the care of the Flag Service Organization which is a branch of the Church of Scientology

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