by Linda Simmons Hight
n response to what Church of Scientology officials term the greatest demand in Scientologys history for information about the religion, two new books were released in late 1998, one of which became a national U.S. best seller through the Christmas season.
The books were a feature of the 14th anniversary convention of the international membership organization of the Church of Scientologythe International Association of Scientologists (IAS). The annual event is held in England with representatives from over 100 countries, and exported on video to Churches of Scientology internationally.
The two new books are part of the broadest public information effort undertaken to date by the Church of Scientology.
What is Scientology?
The book What is Scientology?was published as part of the Churchs effort to make is easier for people to find out about any aspect of Scientology.
The book came about after a project was begun to translate the existing reference book about Scientology, of the same title, into a total of 13 languages. When editors began a pre-translation review, they realized just how much had occurred within the Church since the text was first published in 1992.
Not only have Scientology congregations all over the world grown enormously, churches and missions of Scientology are now flourishing in countries where the subject was relatively unheard of in 1992. In Russia, for example, more than 50 Missions of Scientology have opened since What is Scientology? was published; Hungary has more than 30 when they had none before; strong growth has been realized in other European as well as Asian and South American regions.
And in 1993, the United States Internal Revenue Service had made its historic announcement that all Churches of Scientology are public benefit organizations established solely for religious and charitable purposes. While this was not news to Scientologists, it was of significant interest to other governments around the world.
Many new Scientology educational films and materials have been produced, church facilities have been expanded and renovated, including churches in Washington, D.C., Florida and California, and individual Scientologists have been acknowledged for making major contributions in many areas of society.
The conclusion was obvious; no update would be adequate. Another project was begun to find out from individuals who used the first edition what should be added to make the volume even more valuable as a comprehensive reference of the Scientology religion.
The result incorporates six entirely new chapters, more than 100 additional pages of text, and over 500 new photographs and illustrations; the book is also published in 14 languages.
The result is a book that hit U.S. best-seller lists almost immediately.
Available in bookstores throughout the United States, complimentary copies of What is Scientology? are available to officials, media, scholars and teachers, and libraries.
Theology and Practice
The second book released, Scientology: Theology and Practice of a Contemporary Religion, is a completely new text written to fully explain the doctrines of the religion and the activities of those who adhere to them. As a foundation, the book begins with a scholarly review of the subject of religion itself.
Most people think they already understand the definition of religion, said the president of Church of Scientology International, Reverend Heber Jentzsch, who introduced the new book at the IAS event. They simply examine their own personal religious heritage and experience. That, to them, is religion. Anything else isnt. That not only opens the door to discrimination, but the result is that even well-meaning religious people are divided by dogma.
Scientology: Theology & Practice of a Contemporary Religion analyzes and explains what religion isproviding a workable, complete and authoritative definition, grounded in international law and the conclusions of the worlds foremost authorities on religion.
This book analyzes and explains what religion isproviding a workable, complete and authoritative definition, grounded in international law and the conclusions of the worlds foremost authorities on religion. Among the American scholars the work was drawn from are Samuel S. Hill of University of Florida, Lonnie D. Kliever of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, J. Gordon Melton of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, California, and Frank K. Flinn of Washington University in St. Louis, some of whose work is also re-published in the book. The book also draws upon the expertise of scholars from England, Australia, South Africa, France, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Argentina, Spain, Japan and other locales.
The book contains the most comprehensive, international view compiled to date on the religion of Scientology and, appropriately, is published in 13 languages.
Rev. Jentzsch announced that complimentary copies of the book are available to public and private libraries as well as to government officials, media, scholars, and others with a professional interest.