Scientology -- a belief system developed in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard -- is highly dependent on rituals. The core belief of the religion is that humans are immortal alien beings who have forgotten their true nature. In order to rediscover their inner selves -- the thetans -- Scientologists undergo practices such as auditing.
Developed by L. Ron Hubbard, auditing is an important ritual for followers of Scientology. Auditing is the process in which a Scientologist verbally confers with a trained auditor to delete "life's painful experiences" and increase "spiritual abilities," according to the Church of Scientology's newsroom. Auditors ask specific sets of questions to the person, or "pre-clear," aiming to help the person root out sources of spiritual distress. Sometimes the auditor is assisted with the help of an E-Meter, a device designed to reveal changes in the mind of the person being audited.
One of the most highly publicized rituals for Scientologists is the idea of the silent birth. Celebrity adherents -- including Kelly Preston and Tom Cruise -- have discussed the ritual publicly, clearing up popular misconceptions, such as the idea that the pregnant mother must be completely silent during her baby's delivery. In fact, while Scientologists ask for silence during a baby's birth, so as to reduce the risk of psychic scarring on the baby, that silence is maintained by the doctors, nurses and family members; the mother is not asked to remain quiet throughout the process. Sounds are preferred over words.
For Scientologists, funerals are not meant to be a gloomy occasion, as adherents believe in reincarnation. Scientologists believe that when a person dies, they leave the earthly body they had been inhabiting and go find a new body to inhabit. Therefore, a ceremony is meant to celebrate the person's life and prepare their spirit for the next phase of its existence. "The service is a reaffirmation of the knowledge that we are immortal spiritual beings," the church's newsroom says. Because of the lack of emphasis on the corporeal body, most Scientologists have the remains of their loved ones cremated.
Other Rituals and Celebrations
Formal services are held on Sundays, though Scientology does not emphasize that Scientologists attend them. The formal services typically include a sermon, a reading of the Creed of Scientology and a reading of the Creed of Total Freedom. Another ritual for followers is the naming ceremony at the church, in which a child is welcomed to the congregation. Scientologists also honor several holidays throughout the year, including L. Ron Hubbard's birthday on March 13; the anniversary of the publication of "Dianetics" on May 9; a day celebrating auditors on the second Sunday in September; and a day celebrating the International Association of Scientologists on Oct. 7.
- World Religions in America
- Official Church of Scientology: What Is the Scientology Funeral Service?
- CBS News: Scientology's Views on Death
- The Today Show: Silent Birth: Maybe Not So Crazy?
- Scientology Newsroom: What Is Silent Birth?
- Scientology Newsroom: What Is Auditing?
- Official Church of Scientology: What Is the Scientology Naming Ceremony?
- Official Church of Scientology: What Religious Holidays Do Scientologists Celebrate?
- Houston Chronicle: A History of Scientology
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