Kansas City, -- Kansas City's Church of Scientology is one of the fastest-growing Scientology churches in the entire country, KMBC 9 News' Jeremy Hubbard reported.
Scientology is no longer an exclusive religion for celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The church in Kansas City is expanding, Hubbard reported. Although the church wants potential members to know them inside and out, they were somewhat reluctant to be probed by KMBC 9 News.
Many cheered the opening of the Hubbard Dianetics Foundation in Westport earlier this month. The church promised free IQ, personality and aptitude tests that can improve lives, raise IQs and even determine success and the future, Hubbard reported. When KMBC asked Scientology spokeswoman Bennette Seaman if reporters could take the tests, she said, "No."
Seaman said that media have been critical of the tests because they are based on the controversial self-help book "Dianetics." The book was written nearly 50 years ago by science-fiction writer Lafayette Ronald Hubbard. Hubbard claimed that his ideas could cure insanity, compulsions and obsessions by erasing bad memories. His book became a best seller and is the foundation for his own religion, Scientology, Jeremy Hubbard reported.
"I don't buy it at all. I'm not attracted to it," said Tim Miller, head of religious studies at the University of Kansas. He said that Scientology is more of a corporate-like self-help movement than a traditional religion. "Ultimately, you will be in total control over matter, energy, space and time ... That's the promise," Miller said. The promise is one that many converts have bought into after taking tests at places such as the Westport Hubbard Dianetics Foundation.
KMBC News sent an undercover producer to pick up a copy. The tests have such questions as "Does an unexpected action cause your muscles to twitch?" and "Are you so self-assured that it sometimes annoys others?" The test -- called the Oxford Capacity Analysis -- supposedly provides the test-taker with a profile of her or his personality, Hubbard reported.
Miller said that no matter what your answers are, the results are often used to recruit you to join the church. "And, in fact, they will always tell you ... that this demonstrates that you would profit wonderfully from scientological auditing," Miller said. When the testing center found out that a producer from KMBC had taken the test, they declined to discuss the results with him.
"Scientology is definitely not a cult," Seaman said. She said that the tests are very personal and broadcasting the results wouldn't help anyone. She said that she and millions of others are Dianetics success stories. "I went to the church. I took the course, and immediately I changed my life," Seaman said.
Religious experts said that this may well be true, but they suggest learning more about Scientology before joining. Miller said that there are two things that people should know before becoming involved in the church: Joining the church can be expensive, and the group has a history of being hostile and litigious with members who quit and then speak out against the church.
Seaman said that members do not have to spend a lot to be a part of the church, and they sue only ex-members who misuse copyrighted material. The local Scientology church has several hundred active members, Hubbard reported.