Scientology is a religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1953 based on his bookDianetics. Scientology has a following of from 8-10 million people including movie stars like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.
An Overview of Beliefs
Scientology defines itself as "a religion in its highest meaning, as it helps bring man to total freedom and truth." Basic beliefs include the concept that people are immortal spiritual beings, that individual human experience extends beyond one lifetime and that individuals have unlimited capabilities.
Scientologist believe that humans are basically good but have within them a deleterious "Thetan," a perpetual being that willed themselves into existence millions of years ago. They believe that the Thetan need to be rehabilitated though a process called "auditing" before the human host can reach a higher level of power and happiness in life. Much of the practice of Scientology involves taking courses to rehabilitate the Thetan within.
Views on Death and the After-Life
In the Scientology view, death occurs when a Thetan abandons its physical body. They believe that the person is not the body but rather an immortal spiritual being. That immortal spiritual being has lived before and will live again. Scientologists believe that all beings are ageless, immortal, and not bound by time.
Mourning and Funeral Rites
Scientology ministers conduct Sunday services where they speak about their ideas of individuals as spiritual being, the tenants of Scientology or their creed. These ministers also conduct funeral services where the focus is on the belief that the deceased has ended one life cycle and is will soon move on to another one. During the funeral service family and friends wish the deceased person well as he or she continues on to the next cycle of life, and to express gratitude for all the person meant in their life.
Cremation is very common in Scientology, although it is not a requirement.
How to Express your Condolences
Expressions of sympathy can be a note of condolence, flowers or a donation to a favorite charity. It is always best to express your condolences to the surviving spouse and family when possible, but otherwise you should send a card or letter of condolence when you first hear of the death.
Important note: The statements made about beliefs and rites are general in nature and may vary by sect, denomination, country or ethnic group. The information provided here is intended as an overview, and if you have questions about specific matters you should contact the clergy or other person conducting the funeral service. If you read anything in this section that differs from the beliefs in your tradition, please contact usso we can update this page.