Recently on the internet, Scientology has been a hot topic as social media influencer Charlie D’Amelio was seen with a necklace representing the group. The Church of Scientology has been known to be controversial and many have speculated it to be a cult.
There are different definitions of Scientology, but according to the Church of Scientology, it is a religion that offers a clear state of mind and a spiritual relationship with all life forms including the Supreme Being (The Church of Scientology). There can be fine lines that are hard to differentiate when determining if a group is a cult or religion. A quick synopsis from the Oxford Dictionary says a cult is “a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister” (oxford dictionary).
American psychologist, Michael D. Langone says one characteristic of a cult is that “Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities,” says Michael D. Langone, International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). Members of Scientology are expected to complete 9 hours of church work every week and according to the church, “The first Sea Organization members formulated a one-billion-year pledge to symbolize their eternal commitment to the religion and it is still signed by all members today.
Another characteristic of members in a cult is that “The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group” says Langone, ICSA. This could be true for members of the Sea Organization. The Church of Scientology says the sea organization is “composed of the singularly most dedicated Scientologists—individuals who have committed their lives to the volunteer service of their religion.”
By using the cult characteristic analytical checklist and information that the Church of Scientology provides publically on their website, it looks like this is not just a religion. This is one of the largest cults disguised as a religion. Scientology is a dangerous ideology and victims should not be shunned but embraced and listened to. Information such as this can help people identify whether they are in a cult and can give them resources to leave. Keeping an open eye and being open arms can support those who may be struggling in these circumstances.