An overview of the rapidly expanding literature dealing with the Church of Scientology suggests a distinction which could be made between basically four categories of publications:
1. The writings and recorded lectures and films by L. Ron Hubbard which are the Scriptures of Scientology.
2. In addition to the remarkable volume of the Scriptures by L. Ron Hubbard on the nature of man and how to bring him to salvation, the Church itself has produced and published quite a volume of texts and audiovisuals about its history and present, particularly in relation to its 40th anniversary in 1994; the focus of these publications coming from the inside lies in the canonical texts of the Church and its inner history.
3. Some of the publications still stem from the fact that the Church of Scientology has been in the focus of a critical debate in the mass media of various countries since its foundation in 1954; these texts coming from the outsiders are often polemic and attitudinal.
4. A more neutral, religio‑sociological literature concerning the Church of Scientology has increased in recent years. This is due to the opinion shared by many scholars today that Scientology is a “religion.” Typically enough, the Church of Scientology has been recognized as a “new religion” in most recent handbooks published by such historians and sociologists of religions as Barker, Holm, Melton, Wilson, etc.
Most studies on Scientology are based on literature. The history of Scientology is so short, however, that remarkable new information could be obtained through field work including, for example, key informant and parishioner interviews and observation. Besides literature it has been possible for us to meet and interview some personnel of the European, Danish and Finnish headquarters of the Church in Copenhagen and Helsinki and to observe the functions of the Church in practice. In the course of writing this report we have been kindly provided various documents, handbooks, printed and unprinted reports related to the past and the present state of the Church of Scientology and its developments in various countries.