Scientology and the Substantive Definition of Religion

Scientology and the Comparative Definition of Religion

Scientology and the Functional Definition of Religion

Scientology and the Analytical Definition of Religion

Sharing a Body of Doctrine

Participation in Rituals and Acts of Devotion

Direct Experience of Ultimate Reality

Religious Knowledge

Consequences in Quotidian Life

Scientology and the Emic Definitions of Religions


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The “emic” point of view in anthropology is that which gives attention to the classification of ideas of those who participate in a given culture. This is opposed to the “etic” point of view which is that derived from the conceptual classifications of one of the theories of the social sciences. Until this point we have employed definitions of religion taken from the theoretical viewpoint, which is to say from the viewpoint of social scientists who participate in current discussion regarding what constitutes a religion and what are its characteristics. In this section we will consider the emic point of view of the participants in society.

To ask if Scientology is a religion from the emic point of view is to ask if it is considered as such in the specific cultural contexts in which it conducts its activities. As the Church of Scientology is an international institution, these contexts are found in many countries. Because these are complex societies this includes numerous subgroups: The Scientologists themselves, governmental institutions and students of religious subjects are included among those who have made public pronouncements on this subject.

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