Faculty of Comparative Study of Religions Releases Book on Scientology

Scientology in a Scholarly Perspective, a collection of academic papers by a wide range of international scholars, was released January 25 in Antwerp by the Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions and Humanism (FVG), an independent faculty established in 1980.

Acta Compranda

The bilingual work, in English and French, is the 2017 edition of the FVG’s annual publication Acta Comparanda. It contains papers by religion scholars from the United States, Belgium, France, Italy and Australia delivered at the 2014 International Conference “Scientology in a Scholarly Perspective.” Content includes specific aspects of the Scientology religion—a comparison of Scientology and Gnosticism; a case study of Scientology intellectual history through its “sacred sites”; and research into the legal identity of the Church of Scientology.

Among the internationally known contributing scholars:

Régis Dericquebourg is a French sociologist of religions, member of the Group for the Study of Religions and Secularity at the National Center for Scientific Studies, and professor at Charles de Gaulle University—Lille III. The book contains his “Affinities Between Scientology and Theosophy” (“Affinités entre la Scientologie et la théosophie”).

Aldo Natale Terrin, Institute of Pastoral Liturgy in Padua, wrote “Scientology and Its Contiguity with Gnostic Religion and Eastern Religions” (“La scientology: des affinities avec la religion gnostique et les religions orientales”).

Germana Carobene, faculty member at University of Naples Federico II, Department of Law and Political Science, contributed “The Research of a Juridical Identity for Scientology, According to Recent European Case Law” (“Considérations relatives au satut juridique de l’Eglise de Scientologie”).

Two American scholars contributed to the book:

J. Gordon Melton, Distinguished Professor of American Religious History at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies in Religion and director of Institute for the Study of American Religion in Woodway, Texas, wrote in “On Doing Research on Scientology: Prospects and Pitfalls”:

The Church of Scientology presents a fascinating range of issues, from success on the growth of an esoteric organization that includes the projection of high visibility for the general public through its local churches and improvement programs such as Narconon and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights. … Scientology seems to be one of the groups of the last century that will survive and even truly prosper over the next few decades.

Donald Westbrook, Center for the Study of Religion, University of California—Los Angeles, authored “The L. Ron Hubbard Landmark Site in Bay Head, New Jersey, as Case Study of Scientology’s Intellectual History” (“Le site historique L. Ron Hubbard a Bay Head, dans le New Jersey: Témoignage de l’histoire intellectuelle de la Scientologie”). He wrote of the importance of academic research of the Scientology religion:

While Scientology is receiving more and more attention as a subject of academic study, whether within or outside the study of New Religious Movements, researchers have so far given little time to the systematic study of L. Ron Hubbard’s theology and practices, let alone to the social or intellectual factors that accompanied the birth of Dianetics and Scientology.

Rev. Eric Roux, President of the Union of the Churches of Scientology of France, said of the publication:

I think the real strength of this book lies in the diversity of each of the scholars who contributed to it. Each has addressed a microcosmic aspect of the subject… bringing understanding of the philosophical and religious totality which is Scientology by this vision of the whole and scrutiny of the particular… Increasing this dialogue between the non-Scientologist and non-academic leads to a greater mutual understanding where each one brings to the other the elements necessary for complete understanding and progress.

The book is available from the European Observatory of Religions and Secularism.

The mission statement of the Faculty for the Study of Religion and Humanism: “The objective of the Association is to launch, to organize and to manage at international university level the comparative study of religions. All present and future members declare solemnly that the FVG will not and never be submitted to any doctrinal system. The most absolute tolerance will bind and lead for all relations between members and all those concerned with the Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions and Humanism.”