religious[sic] sect founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard (1911-86) in Washington, D.C. (1954). Hubbard's book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (1950), formed the basis of his philosophy, offering an alternative path to overcoming physical and mental stress. The church believes that the soul can be cleared of its negative energy through a ceremony called "processing." The American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association challenged scientology during the 1950s. In the 1960s, the governments of England, Australia, and the United States opened investigations into church activities, particularly for suspected practices of tax evasion. Hubbard moved to England (1959) and lived the rest of his life as a recluse. Some view the church as an elaborate cult, which the organization's leadership denies. Membership figures are unavailable, but in 1987 there were 466 churches, missions, and groups worldwide with headquarters in Los Angeles.
See Roy Wallis, The Road to Total Freedom (1977); Bent Corydon and L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? (1987);
Russell Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah: A Biography of L. Ron Hubbard (1988); Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky (1990).
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