We depart today from our usual excursions into Scientology financial and legal chicanery in order to explore a theological matter; specifically we examine the Church of Scientology’s claim that people can be both Scientologists and Christians.
We explore this topic because of the recent efforts by Scientologist Joy Villa to gain access to American Evangelical GOP political circles. Villa did this in part by reassuring trusting Christians that Scientology is merely a set of self-help tools. This is hardly surprising as Scientologists have long attempted to minimize Scientology as nothing more than a set of self help tools when it served their purposes to do so.
However, this claim is demonstrably false. Each and every time a Scientology Org has been raided by the police — which is becoming more frequent these days –or Scientology has faced legal challenges, the Church of Scientology is very quick to protest that it is a religion and is entitled to full religious protections. The website scientologyreligion.org header clearly shows Scientology presenting itself as a religion:
Scientologist Joy Villa has stated that she is a Christian and that Scientology is a set of self help tools. In this essay we put Villa’s claims to the test. While there are many ways to analyze Scientology, we do so from an Evangelical Christian perspective in this essay as the claims at hand pertain to Joy Villa’s status-seeking incursions into Evangelical Christian political circles.
We begin by noting that Scientology is mutually exclusive from all other religions. Likewise, all other religions are mutually exclusive from Scientology and from one another:
- One can’t be a Christian and a Muslim
- One can’t be a Jehovah’s Witness and a Mormon
- One can’t be a Protestant and a Catholic
- One can’t be a Shia Muslim and a Sunni Muslim
- One can’t be a Scientologist and a Christian
What makes any religion unique is its distinctive doctrinal structure, beliefs, and practices that set it apart from all other religions. On this basis we can examine the key areas in which Scientology and Christianity radically differ from each other. In doing so, we will able to see the series of sequential barriers L. Ron Hubbard, his executives, and Scientology’s lawyers erected that effectively stop Scientologists from being Christians or members of any other religion.
The first barrier pertains to exclusivity. As we have previously published, in its 1992 1023 application for 501(c)3 tax exemption, Scientology told the IRS that people are expected to give up their existing religious beliefs and practices to become Scientologists:
Although there is no policy or Scriptural mandate expressly requiring Scientologists to renounce other religious beliefs or membership in other churches, as a practical matter Scientologists are expected to and do become fully devoted to Scientology to the exclusion of other faiths. As Scientologists, they are required to look only to Scientology Scriptures for the answers to the fundamental questions of their existence and to seek enlightenment only from Scientology. Thus, a Scientologist who grew up in the Jewish faith who continues formal membership in his synagogue and attends services with his family violates no Scientology policy or tenet. On the other hand, such a person is not permitted to mix the practice of his former faith into his practice and understanding of Scientology so as to alter orthodox Scientology in any way.
Scientology is speaking out of both sides of its mouth in the above statement to the IRS. Translated into simple terms, the statement means that a Scientologist must and will become a Scientologist to the exclusion of all other faiths. As L. Ron Hubbard wrote:
Scientology expects the Scientologist, “to look only to Scientology Scriptures for the answers to the fundamental questions of their existence and to seek enlightenment only from Scientology.” This of necessity precludes a Scientologist from looking to the Christian God and the Bible for the answers to the fundamental questions of their existence and enlightenment.
The Church of Scientology does not recognize the Bible as the Word of God, the final and completed revelation of God to humanity. Rather, Scientology’s scriptures are the written and spoken words of L. Ron Hubbard:
The scriptural horizon of Scientology is limited to the body of work created by L. Ron Hubbard. This includes Scientology’s secret teachings about Jesus Christ. We have exposed this secret teaching in a previous essay.
L. Ron Hubbard positioned himself above the Bible as the final scriptural authority in the life of all Scientologists. The Scientologist is left to ask, “What does L. Ron Hubbard say about this?” rather than ask, “What does the Bible say about this?” This prohibition is especially effective against young people who were born into Scientology or joined at a young age. These young people read and study the works of Hubbard and are not exposed to the Bible, the Gitas, the Quran, or the scriptures of any other faiths. Unless they leave Scientology, these young people will only ever know the world through the eyes of L. Ron Hubbard.
THE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST
Christianity is so theologically distinct from Islam that it is impossible to confuse the two religions. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association discusses and contrasts the many differences between Christianity and Islam. Here is one major example:
Islam teaches that the doctrine of the Trinity is blasphemous. But the Christian faith is essentially and irreducibly Trinitarian. The Bible reveals that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. Jesus is not merely a prophet, as acknowledged by Muslims, He is God in human flesh. This is precisely what Islam rejects.
Scientology nowhere declares or acknowledges the triune nature of the Christian God. Scientology nowhere teaches that Jesus Christ is God and incarnated in human form to die for the sins of humanity. Scientology by design refuses to affirm or teach the core doctrines of Christianity pertaining to the nature of God and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. This fact alone makes Scientology incompatible with Christianity.
Christianity teaches that humans were created in God’s image. However, sin entered the human race through Adam. Thus, humans are cursed with the Adamic sin nature. According to Christian scripture, only the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ’s shed blood is efficacious to forgive sin. Scientology nowhere teaches that one must accept Christ as their Savior in order to be saved.
Jesus declared that he is the only way to God:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. — John 14:6-7
Scientology nowhere affirms that Jesus Christ is the only path to God. Instead, Scientology affirms that L. Ron Hubbard’s Bridge is the only “exactly taped path” to truth.
Whereas Christianity teaches the centrality of the Cross, Scientology teaches the centrality of its Bridge. Again, these two things are mutually exclusive.
By barring the doors to practicing a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and the Christian scriptures, Scientology effectively prohibits a person from practicing Christianity at all. Scientology ensures this prohibition by forbidding the Scientologist to “mix the practice of his former faith into his practice and understanding of Scientology so as to alter orthodox Scientology in any way.” Orthodox Christianity would inherently alter orthodox Scientology by warning against any involvement in Scientology:
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. –Colossians 2:7-9 ESV
The Church of Scientology forbids “mixing practices” when one is practicing Scientology. Thus to say that one is both a Christian and a Scientologist would be mixing practices and is therefore forbidden in Scientology.
Scientology arrogantly positions itself as the “religion of religions” and goes so far as to offer procedures to undo past harm caused caused by having participated in other practices. This is based upon Hubbard’s view that other religions are actually what he called “R6 implants” that cause damage and need to be undone by Scientology. Said another way, Scientology seeks to deprogram people from their prior religious experiences — and Scientology does this while screaming loudly about past attempts at deprogramming Scientologists. As a point of clarification, I personally oppose deprogramming of any kind as a gross violation of a person’s freedom.
Below we offer an example in which Catholicism is mentioned by name in a specific procedure designed to undo the harm caused by other practices. Like all Scientology procedures this one is run on an e-meter with the auditor asking prepared questions:
In 1962 when L. Ron Hubbard had licensed Scientology franchises — franchises were later called “missions” to conceal their commercial nature as businesses — he forbid his franchisees from mixing Scientology with other practices. The penalty for mixing practices was to have one’s franchise license and Scientology certificates cancelled:
Hubbard forbid mixing practices in many other places:
Based upon Hubbard’s injunction against mixing practices, one cannot be both a Scientologist and a Christian.
Scientology explicitly declares that it is not Judeo-Christian in origin:
Because Scientology is not Judeo-Christian in origin, it becomes axiomatic that one cannot be both a Christian and a Scientologist: Christianity cannot be derived from non-Christian sources. It is impossible to take Scientology, which was founded in 1954 following the bankruptcy of the Dianetics Foundation, and derive from it the practice Christianity. There is nothing Christian in Dianetics or Scientology. One must embrace a Judeo-Christian frame of reference in order to be a Christian. Scientology and Christianity are therefore wholly incompatible on this basis.
Question: Why is a person who represents herself as a disciple of Christ so very busy giving away copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s The Way to Happiness with her photo on them? A Christian preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ and distributes Bibles; she does not “disseminate” the works of L. Ron Hubbard.
Christianity teaches that humans live only once and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Conversely, Scientology teaches the doctrine of past lives and avers that people have lived countless lifetimes in different universes, on different planets, and in various physical, mechanical, electronic, and even doll bodies. Scientologists learn about past lives in the very early phases of their indoctrination into Scientology. Scientology’s doctrine of past lives prevents a person from being both a Christian and a Scientologist as it clearly violates Biblical doctrine.
Here is what Scientology says publicly about past lives:
Scientology again speaks out of both sides of its mouth in the above statement. While “past lives is not a dogma in Scientology” as the statement avers, Scientology also declares, “It is a fact that unless one begins to handle aberration built upon in past lives, he doesn’t progress.” What Scientology admits here is that while past lives are not a dogma, it is also pointless to practice Scientology unless one handles the aberration from their past lives.
Scientology teaches that the human condition is one of great unconsciousness and pain caused by the reactive mind, various alien implants, body thetans, and a myriad of traumatic episodes that have accumulated across eons of time from a person’s countless past lives. This series of past lives is called a person’s wholetrack in Scientology. This Scientology teaching opposes Christianity’s teaching that the human condition is caused by the Adamic sin nature that has caused humans to be separated from God. In Christianity, the problem is the sin in the human heart:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? — Jeremiah 17:9
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. — Isaiah 64:6
Scientology teaches that as a consequence of one’s accumulated wholetrack aberration, only a $360,000+ program of Scientology auditing will bring about the alleviation of suffering caused by engrams, body thetans, implants, and accumulated trauma from countless past lives.
As an aside, despite Scientology’s high prices, it does not guarantee any results from auditing:
Additionally, while Scientologists spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on Scientology, they may not rely on any statements or promises made to them by Scientology staff members:
A RELIGIOUS SCHOLAR CHARACTERIZES SCIENTOLOGY
Writing on Scientology’s behalf, Dr. Harri Heino, Professor of Theology at the University of Tampere in Helsinki, Finland characterizes Scientology on its own website as follows:
According to Scientology, the traumatic experiences of both this life and previous rebirths are an impediment to rational behaviour and spiritual development. The purpose of Scientology auditing is to free the thetan from the “reactive mind”, the chains of bad memories, and to recall the possibility of salvation.
The goal is a god-like state of full OT (Operating Thetan), wherein the thetan is free from all limitations in this life.
As in Indian religions, Scientology considers that man must be released from past deeds (compare the karma of Hinduism and Buddhism), which have accumulated in the chain of numerous rebirths. Scientology’s idea of salvation comprises both this life and the life hereafter. It promises in both cases the Bridge to Total Freedom.
Apart from individual salvation, Scientology sees as its task to clean up our whole planet and create a civilization where there is no irrationality, criminality or wars. In Scientology nomenclature, a synonym to salvation is “survival.” This includes both the present life and the life hereafter. Auditing and the E-Meter which is used in it, help the individual to find his actual and original identity.
Dr. Heino’s description makes it clear that Scientology and Christianity are doctrinally and theologically incompatible. In Christianity the believer seeks to become one with God. The Scientologist, however, works to strip away the eons of accumulated entities, engrams, traumas, and implants in order to return to their actual and original state as a god. Scientology Operating Thetan (OT) state is all about the eventual attainment of godhood.
Scientology is clearly Gnostic in concept. Hubbard saw humans as spiritual beings (thetans he calls them) who were pulled down into the material planes of existence. Hubbard declared this when he stated:
I’ve slept with bandits in Mongolia and I’ve hunted with pygmies in the Philippines, as a matter of fact, I’ve studied 21 different primitive races including the white race, and my conclusions were that man, regardless of his state of culture and so forth, was essentially the same, that he was a spiritual being that was pulled down to the material — the fleshly interests — to an interplay in life that was in fact too great for him to confront. And I concluded finally that he needed a hand.
For L. Ron Hubbard to conclude that humanity “needed a hand”, i.e. needed Hubbard’s help is his implicit affirmation that he alone had transcended the material universe and was the only one able to help humanity attain salvation. Thus, Hubbard set himself up as a savior figure while negating Christian salvation altogether in favor of his copyrighted and monetized cosmology. In Hubbard’s cosmology one pays and pays without surcease to find the way out of the trap that is the the physical universe. Hubbard called the physical universe the “MEST” universe where MEST means matter-energy-space-time. This use of neologisms to keep outsiders from understanding what is being said is typical of cultic systems. Scientology is awash in Hubbard’s replacement language system that leads to mind control.
Christianity does not teach that humans were once god-like and were pulled down into flesh. Indeed, Christianity has considered Gnosticism a heresy since the 1st century AD. As we read at Catholic.com:
“Matter is evil!” was the cry of the Gnostics. This idea was borrowed from certain Greek philosophers. It stood against Catholic teaching, not only because it contradicts Genesis 1:31 (“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good”) and other scriptures, but because it denies the Incarnation. If matter is evil, then Jesus Christ could not be true God and true man, for Christ is in no way evil. Thus many Gnostics denied the Incarnation, claiming that Christ only appeared to be a man, but that his humanity was an illusion. Some Gnostics, recognizing that the Old Testament taught that God created matter, claimed that the God of the Jews was an evil deity who was distinct from the New Testament God of Jesus Christ. They also proposed belief in many divine beings, known as “aeons,” who mediated between man and the ultimate, unreachable God. The lowest of these aeons, the one who had contact with men, was supposed to be Jesus Christ.
Scientology’s website affirms its core Hubbardian form of Gnosticism in defense of itself as a religion. In this sense, Scientology auditing can be understood as a Gnostic process:
Scientology is salvation by systematically auditing away one’s reactive mind and implants and telepathically exorcising one’s body thetans. Once this quasi-Gnostic clearing-cum-exorcism is completed over a course of time by use of an e-meter, the Scientologist achieves their native state as a god from which they fell so long ago when they descended into the physical universe and its traps. Scientology’s cosmology is wholly incompatible with Christian cosmology
Question: Why is a person who represents herself as a disciple of Christ selling $5,000 e-meters for Scientology? A Christian disciple is one who preaches the gospel to every nation per the Great Commission.
SCIENTOLOGY AND LYING
It is instructive to note in concluding this essay that telling lies is fully condoned in Scientology when it furthers or protects Scientology’s interests. Lies are called “acceptable truths” or “shore stories.” L. Ron Hubbard taught his PR people to lie:
“Purpose: To train the student to give a false statement with good TR-1. To train the student to outflow false data effectively. … The student should be coached on a gradient until he/she can lie facilely.”–L. Ron Hubbard, Intelligence Specialist Training Routing — Lying (TR-L)
A convincing lie in Scientology is reconceptualized as “outflowing false data effectively.” Scientology’s public relations people are drilled repeatedly, per Hubbard, until they “can lie facilely.” For a Scientologist to say that one can be a Scientologist and a Christian is a Scientology PR tactic. In other words, it is a lie.
Scientologists are quite capable shapeshifters who will become whatever they need to become to accomplish their goals. Given the overwhelming public disdain for Scientology, there are political reasons for Scientologists to downplay Scientology and falsely characterize it as self help tools. It is also to the advantage of certain Scientologists to say that they are both Scientologists and Christians.
In Hubbard’s “moral code” called The Way to Happiness, he does not condemn lying but rather qualifies it when he writes:
“Do not tell harmful lies.”
This bit of moral relativism leaves the door wide open to mischief. In Scientology any lie is not harmful if, as noted, it furthers or protects Scientology’s interests. Thus, when in Rome…. Likewise, when in Christian Evangelical circles that can get one invited to the White House then by all means be a Christian. Just be sure to leave your e-meter back at the hotel.
ALEISTER CROWLEY, THELEMA, AND MAGICK
L. Ron Hubbard’s involvement with Jack Parsons in Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic lodge Ordo Templi Orientis has long been established. Scientology has both Gnostic and Thelemic roots. Thelema involves the practice of Magick. Crowley’s mantra “Do as thou will shall be the whole of the law” was Hubbard’s operating basis and is that of the Church of Scientology.
The Message is a bible translation written by Eugene Peterson, a man who studied Greek and Hebrew in seminary. After seminary, he did not become a theologian but rather served as pastor of Christian church for 30 years. He wrote his translation after he retired from three decades of dealing with everyday life. The Message is my favorite translation of the Bible because it is tempered by real life. With this in mind, this particular passage struck me as descriptive of L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology:
It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. — Galatians 5:19-21
Scientology is indeed an, “ugly parody of community.” The Church of Scientology is drifting aimlessly back into roots as a paranoid Magick Show religion full of expensive trinkets and phony IAS statuses. The IRS needs to take responsibility for the monster it helped to create by revoking Scientology’s tax exemption. Please sign my petition asking the IRS to act.
Tony Ortega: Joy Villa Makes it back to the White House, but on a sour note
Kaya Jones on Scientologist Joy Villa
My Podcast with Joy Villa’s former campaign manager Robbie Olson
Scientology Meddling into Shastina Sandman’s US Congressional Campaign
Scientology’s Secret Teachings About Jesus Christ
How Scientology Ensnares Its Members in a Series of Binding Contracts
L. Ron Hubbard on Jesus Christ:
Categories: The Scientology Money Project
Wow! Excellent article and something I wish I’d understood clearly from the beginning.
Excellent article. The only thing I don’t agree with is “In Christianity the believer seeks to become one with God.”, but of course my disagreement is dependent on what is meant in this article by “becoming one with God”. We cannot become one with God in the way some would understand that phrase. We are not God, we are His creation. Christians seek to come back into a personal and harmonious relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. But again, thank you for so clearly refuting Joy’s claims of being both a Scientologist and a Christian.
I haven’t been in Scientology since 1991, but I can honestly say that I was both a Christian and a Scientologist for 25 years.
Jeffrey, thanks so much for laying out the theological argument with great clarity. That took a significant investment of your time and mental energy. I’m confident that your work is helping people exit the cult and recover from the cult mindset.
Sadly, Joy Villa appears to be a lost soul, an empty vessel screaming for attention from anyone or any thing. She has learned well the lesson of acceptable truths (brazen lying). May she someday find the courage to let the facade slip. Perhaps she’ll find a real person looking back at her from the mirror.
Hello David. You appear to be an anomaly in terms of Scientology allowing you to practice both Scientology and Christianity. Here are the questions I have:
1. Did you do any actual OT levels in Scientology or were you a lower level pc? Grade pc’s are cut a lot more slack than those doing the OT levels. To what extent were you involved in Scientology?
2. How did you reconcile Hubbard saying that Christianity was a fraud and that there never was a Christ with your belief in Jesus Christ? See the video in the body of my essay.
3. How were you mentally able to simultaneously hold the contradictory positions presented by Scientology and Christianity? For example, one cannot harmonize Divine Creation with Hubbard’s notion that thetans mocked up the universe. Likewise, one cannot harmonize God as the source of all Truth with L. Ron Hubbard as the Source of all Truth.
4. What kind of Christian were you? Were you a Catholic who participated in the Eucharist and the other sacraments? Were you an Evangelical? Or were you non-denominational? I ask because I know of no Bible-believing Christian denominations that would allow any of their members to participate in Scientology. From an orthodox Christian perspective, Scientology is an Antichrist group.
5. Did you attend Christian services every Sunday as mandated by the scriptures? If you regularly attended a Christian service each Sunday (and Bible Study on a weeknight) did you also tithe 10% of your income to your Christian church as mandated by the scriptures? If you tithed to a Christian church, how did Scientology feel about it?
6. Did you fully reveal to your auditor and the Ethics Officer that you fervently believed in Christianity as much as you believed in Scientology? Or were you withholding your Christianity from Scientology?
7. Were you were withholding your involvement in Scientology from your Christian church — this assuming you were a member of a Bible-believing church and not merely a “Christian” by simple profession. In other words, were you a “Cultural Christian” who only attended services on Christmas, Easter, and special occasions and paid lip service to Christianity for the sake of your family? To say you were a Christian doesn’t mean anything unless you can give clarifying details. I personally don’t understand how someone who is truly Born Again can also embrace Scientology. Please explain for our readers.
8. Which master did you serve when you were a Christian and a Scientologist? Scientology or Jesus Christ? I ask because Jesus declared, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in). — Matthew 6:24 AV
9. Did you run any past life or past lives in Scientology?
10. Why did you leave Scientology and are you still a Christian?
Hello Just Hummin’ Along. I take your point. In my Christian years, my major influence — like that of millions of others — was Louis Berkhof and his Systematic Theology, particularly his notion of the Mystical Union. Hence, my view of oneness is qualified in terms of Berkhof’s work. Here is an excellent short overview written by Berkhof: https://www.monergism.com/mystical-union-louis-berkhof
One of my favorite Christian blues/rock songs. The Resurrection Band’s (aka Rez Band) song Where Roses Grow:
Thank your Corner Cottage. Joy’s father was a preacher and so she is a PK. Maybe that’s part of it? She has to rebel and be a Prodigal before she can come back?
Very extensive and accurate. I will also point out that I have successfully been left alone by COS by informing them in no uncertain terms that I am a Christian, NOT a Scientologist and that since I do not adhere to their views, I am not bound by their policies. I have even corrected their mis-interpretation of John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” They always conveniently leave out the “Whoever believes in Me” bit.
Terrific article, Jeffrey! Comprehensive and very accurate. The “go to” reference when needed. Scientologists claiming to be Christian lie to themselves and others in order to justify the false claim that one can be both. It just proves that those making the claim really have a poor understanding about both religions. I hope your article gets in the hands of religious scholars & researchers. They will benefit much from it.
Makes me wonder about the father’s understanding of what she’s gotten into. Maybe an anonymous mailing of the article to him would help 😇