Scientology - a brief history

Telegraph, UK/May 14, 2007

Scientology, which calls itself a religious philosophy, was founded in 1952 by the science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard.

The American, who died in 1986 aged 74, wrote that he believed that human souls are naturally emotionally damaged and a person's aim in life should be to purge themselves of those unconscious memories.

A central belief is that 75 million years ago, 13.5 trillion aliens were banished to Earth by a warlord called Xenu. To compound their misfortune, these exiled aliens were dropped into volcanoes and vaporised with nuclear bombs.

Their souls, known to Scientologists as thetans, then latched on to humans. They believe these thetans are the source of many of our problems, both emotional and social.

To become at ease with one's unconscious self a person must take part in a series of "audits" with a trained Scientology counsellor.

By doing so Scientologists rise up in seniority and enlightenment through a grading system.

The group has always been popular in California, not least among some major figures in Hollywood.

The Church of Scientology moved into its £24 million British headquarters near St Paul's Cathedral last year.

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