Scientology could be the most controversial movement to emerge in Western society since the Knights Templars of the 1100's.
A religion? A religious philosophy? A social counseling group? Self help group? What is it? Scientologists seem to say, read their books and find out, and what is true for you, is true for you. Critics appear to be saying, don't read the books, they may convince you.Scientology seems impossible to kill. Individuals have tried, Governments have certainly tried. This includes the FBI, the CIA, the IRS, the Victorian Government, the Western Australian Government, the British Parliament, the French, the German, and Belgium governments. Even the Russian government. Pharmaceutical enterprises have tried, psychiatric associations have too. Even a people's activist group - anonymous - tried. None have been able to destroy Scientology.
A critic two decades ago once referred to Scientology as the anvil upon which to wear out all hammers.
So what is this? Why this phenomena?
There are many contradictions. Scientology seems big. Many Internet directories host it as one of the top twenty religions. But Scientology's critics have said for years it is only 50,000 strong. Yet, if it was that small, why can it not be stopped?
The Church of Scientology claim 11 million members. The largest meeting they have is usually attended by 10,000 people annually in England. If one in a thousand members attended this meeting, it would be on par with other religious groups. Mecca attracts two million Muslims a year, a little less than one in a thousand of Islams members. Other religions, such as Hindu, Christian, and Buddhism, attract less.
But this still does not answer why Scientology cannot be destroyed. Does it have some magical power? Is it protected by God? Are higher forces intervening? The answer could be possibly, but in reality - probably not.
Scientology has obvious critics, but also plenty of adherents. It could be that the number of critics is merely a reflection on the real size of the group. After all, the larger mainline churches have their critics too, and can be as loud and numerous.