Archive-name: scientology/skeptic/faq


Maintainer: Hartley Patterson <>

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ARSCC LogoAn Alt.Religion.Scientology FAQ (2.0.8)


1.       What's an FAQ?


FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. Newcomers to popular newsgroups, forums and websites often have the same questions they want answered, a FAQ is intended to be an aid to those who get bored of repeating the same answers every week.

This FAQ expresses the author's views not those of any other ARS poster, though on occasion he does state what he believes to be the majority view. FAQs do not require unanimous approval of every word in them, just sufficient truth not to get buried under a mountain of abuse. ARS has no Charter so it does not have an 'Official' FAQ.

The author is not nor has ever been a scientologist and is a critic of the Church of Scientology (CoS).

Internet URLs are signalled by ***. If you cannot use them as links directly, cut and paste into your browser.


2.       What is Scientology?


This is an FAQ for ARS not for Scientology so the answer will be very brief:


American author L Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), founder of Scientology, first presented his ideas in the bestselling book "Dianetics - the Modern Science of Mental Health" (1950). Scientology, an expansion of Dianetics, followed in 1952, the Church of Scientology appeared in 1953.
CoS headquarters are in Los Angeles and its main training facility is in Clearwater, Florida. The CoS claims to have branches in 64 countries; about half of CoS members are believed to be US citizens with another third in Europe.

The CoS also claims to have over 10 million members, however its own data and independent sources suggest an active membership of 50-100,000. In addition there are scientologists who practise their faith outside the Church. Some have set up their own organisations, though the CoS remains the largest group. The CoS considers them all to be 'squirrels', the scientology term for heretics.

There are a number of CoS enterprises that promote Hubbard's teachings such as Narconon (anti-drugs), Criminon (anti-crime), CCHR (anti-psychiatry), Applied Scholastics (schools) and WISE (business). When convenient the CoS claims that it does not control these groups, internally circulated documents show otherwise.


There is a wealth of information about Scientology on hundreds of Internet websites, more than you will ever have time to read. Type 'Scientology' into a Search Engine such as Google and you'll find them. Please try Searching first for answers, only when you can't find something specific should you post questions to ARS.

*** Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopaedia, has a wide range of referenced articles about Scientology:

As an exercise you might like to open your web browser now and put any words or phrases you don't understand in this FAQ into a Search Engine.

3.       What do scientologists believe?


Scientology is an 'applied religious philosophy'. It is not directly derived from Christianity or any other religion, being an original belief set devised/researched by L Ron Hubbard. Concepts that are considered important in some religions such as a personal relationship to God do not exist in Scientology. The CoS sometimes claims that Scientology is compatible with other religions. This is untrue.

A common mental block is assuming that the organisation and the beliefs are the same. The Catholic Church and Christianity are not the same, and neither are the CoS and Scientology.

These are important points that newcomers often take some time to grasp as they try to fit Scientology into preconceptions of whose existence they are not aware.


4.       I have some questions for scientologists, are there any here?


Ordinary members of the CoS do not usually post to ARS and are discouraged from doing so. It is also likely that they could not answer the questions you want to ask for doctrinal reasons. Scientologists are not encouraged to discuss Hubbard's teachings amongst themselves or to explain them to outsiders but to read them and advise others to do so.


5.       Can someone please Email me a copy of the secret scriptures?


You are referring to those unpublished writings of L Ron Hubbard that constitute advanced courses in Scientology such as the OT (Operating Thetan) levels. Anyone considering trying out Scientology should be aware that the CoS holds that these levels should be studied in order and that premature contact with the secret scriptures could result in serious harm. According to Hubbard, he almost died whilst researching them. The copyright to all Hubbard's writings is owned by the CoS. If you know how to use bittorrent searching for this file may allegedly be of interest:

*** Scientology-Dianetics-LRonHubbard-Complete

The esoteric language used in advanced courses is not comprehensible to beginners. Really, honestly, you should search the Internet for summaries rather than going for the original texts.

*** OT III Scholarship Page


6.       What is a newsgroup?


Newsgroups (most of which form Usenet) are part of the Internet. They are not forums or discussion boards, which use webpage based software. Specialised newsreader programs include Agent and Gravity; Email programs such as Microsoft's Outlook Express have integrated newsgroup readers, so you don't need any new software to access them.

*** Wikipedia on Usenet

To access newsgroups with a newsreader you need to connect to a newsgroup server. If your Internet Service Provider (ISP) does not provide one then free access to scientology newsgroups is available from

*** Reviews of Newsgroup access providers

Portals such as Google offer newsgroup access on webpages but we don't recommend them unless you have no alternative. Google Groups in particular is unstable and difficult to read.

*** How to set up a newsreader

If you have technical problems accessing ARS then it is definitely On Topic to ask for help. We have a team of geeks awaiting your call.


7.       So who's in charge?


No one. A few newsgroups are Moderated: contributions are diverted to an Email address where a human or robot moderator removes unwanted posts such as spam. Most, including ARS, are not what you post is what everyone will see. Think before you press Send! That's not to say anarchy rules: normal laws such as libel and copyright apply and your ISP may well have a clause in its Terms of Service (TOS) about causing offence on the Internet.


8.       Can I delete or change my posts?


You cannot edit posts once sent, you can try to delete them but some news servers ignore the Cancel command - another reason for thinking before posting. There is a searchable Usenet archive currently hosted by Google. If you posted something really embarrassing, you can delete it from the archive.


9.       Can I post anonymously?


Usenet doesn't check to see if you are using a real Email address so you can post as if you like. Please try to pick a unique nickname and address so you won't be confused with someone else.

There is a normally invisible Header (some newsreaders can display it, there are two examples below) attached to posts that gives details of where you posted from, if you want to hide that as well you can use Anonymous Remailers, a system that is in practical terms untraceable.

A simpler way is to ask someone you trust to post your message for you.

By default, your ISP customer services department is staffed by idiots who know nothing about the law or customer care. They will reveal your identity to anyone sending them an Email full of legal phrases.


10.    What are all these strange words?


Scientology has a lot of jargon that inevitably gets used here. We're not going to apologise for this any more than posters should apologise for talking about mathoms and ringwraiths.

There are several glossaries available on websites.


11.    Wasn't ARS started as a joke by someone using a fake Email address?


The creator had serious intent, but here is his setup post:


>     From Wed Jul 17 12:46:28 1991

>     Path: rpi!!!!ai-

>     lab!flag !miscaviage

>     From: (David Miscaviage)

>     Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology.ctl

>     Subject: newgroup alt.religion.scientology

>     Message-ID: 80235@flag

>     Date: 17 Jul 91 08:06:31 GMT

>     Control: newgroup alt.religion.scientology

>     Sender:

>     Lines: 0

>     Approved:


ARS was little used for a while, but as the Internet spread ex-scientologists discovered it and the CoS became increasingly concerned about the 'false and derogatory' information being posted. When extracts from its 'secret scriptures' were posted beginning around Christmas 1994 the CoS retaliated with lawsuits and raids against the suspected posters.

At the same time forged cancels began to hit ARS. The forger, nicknamed 'Cancelpoodle' after the legitimate spam canceller 'Cancelmoose', attracted the attention of the wider Usenet and Internet community no one had seriously tried to wipe out a newsgroup like this before.


12.    Didn't a CoS lawyer try to delete ARS?


*** Here you go:


>     Control: rmgroup alt.religion.scientology

>     Newsgroups: alt.config,,

>     Path: uunet!!!!


>     From: hkk@netcom

>     Subject: cmsg rmgroup alt.religion.scientology

>     Message-ID:

>     Followup-To: alt.config

>     Sender: (Helena Kobrin)

>     Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)

>     Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 22:52:23 GMT

>     Lines: 17

>     Xref: uunet control:1568915


>     We request that you remove the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup from

>     your site.

>     The reasons for requesting its removal are: (1) It was started with a

>     forged message; 2) not discussed on alt.config; (3) it has the name

>     "scientology" in its title which is a trademark and is misleading, as

>     a.r.s. is mainly used for flamers to attack the Scientology religion;

>     (4) it has been and continues to be heavily abused with copyright

>     and trade secret violations and serves no purpose other than condoning

>     these illegal practices.

>     Please confirm that you have removed this newsgroup from your system.

>     Helena K. Kobrin Counsel for trademark and copyright owner


As mentioned earlier 'Path' above reveals that Helena was posting from Netcom, as is also shown by her Email address.


*** Wendy M. Grossman's article 'alt.scientology.war' (1995) covers the early days:

*** and on Wikipedia


13.    And the CoS is still hostile to ARS?


ARS is nowadays just a minor front in a still expanding 'war' between the CoS and its critics which includes pickets, media exposure, law suits and other activities outside the scope of this FAQ. In 1998-9 another attack on ARS was made, thousands of spam posts each day that forged the names of real posters and were dubbed 'sporgeries'. Its only lasting effect was to attract the attention of more Internet users, as regular readers quickly learnt how to filter out the spam.


*** Google has some stats on ARS (most frequent posters, monthly number of posts) at


14.    This is a hate group trying to destroy the Scientology religion.


Was that a question? The CoS says so, yes. Naturally no one here is going to admit to being a hatemonger or a religious bigot! You'll just have to read ARS and make up your own mind on this.

Amongst critics, opinion differs about the 'destroy' bit. Some say they are here to stop the alleged abuses committed by the CoS and are not concerned with scientology as a set of beliefs. Others do not believe the two can be separated any scientology based organisation is bound to end up as bad as the CoS.

Critics presently have no formal organisation; such bodies have in the past provided the CoS with targets to infiltrate, undermine and destroy as was the fate of the Cult Awareness Network and the Lisa McPherson Trust. The sometimes referred to 'ARS Central Committee' does not exist, being a humorous reference to CoS paranoia about imagined plots against it.


15.    I want to spread the bad news. Is there some simple information I can pass on to others?


*** What Scientology Won't Tell You: An Information Pack


16.    Will posting on ARS cause the CoS to make trouble for me?


If you are a CoS member, post without permission and disagree with CoS policy or doctrine you will probably be Declared. If you are not a CoS member or ex-member then simply expressing your opinion is safe enough, the CoS has too many critics nowadays to pursue them all.

The CoS has however a documented history of attacking its perceived enemies, sometimes in long term and carefully planned 'dirty tricks' operations. Before doing anything other than posting you should find out about these.


17.    So what is On Topic for this newsgroup?


Anything connected with Scientology or the Church of Scientology; since this is supposed to be a newsgroup, news and new information are particularly on topic.

Posts that are just long reprints from webpages or books about scientology are on topic but not encouraged, it's better to put in a hyperlink or a reference.

Some people have been posting here for a long while, have become friends and can wander off topic to discuss cats, cookery or life on Mars. This is normal human behaviour.

You may see posts about psychiatry. Scientology beliefs include a strong dislike of psychiatry; opinion differs on whether this makes psychiatry a suitable topic for ARS. The posts seem to be intended as spam, as the posters are not interested in actually discussing psychiatry.


18.    Are there do's and don'ts for posting?


*** A page of Netiquette

Crossposting (posting to several newsgroups at once) is not encouraged; we have enough traffic without sharing off topic threads with other newsgroups. Please trim or do not reply to crossposts unless they serve a genuine purpose.

The more readable your post, the more people will read it. This means doing simple things like not reposting the full text of a long article just to put a short comment at the end of it (or worse, in the middle), quoting at least a few lines so it is clear to what you are replying, separating your text into paragraphs, etc.

If you repost from elsewhere please give full attribution author, URL, date preferably at the top. This is polite and saves others from replying to a quoted writer who doesn't actually read ARS.

Please don't post anything but plain text at less than 75 characters width. No pictures, no binaries, no HTML, no Word files.

Researchers appreciate easily located Subject lines. Ideal examples for Picket and Media reports:

Picket report: London, UK 4 December 2007

[UK Media] The Guardian 4 February 2008 Hackers declare war

Please make allowances for posters who are not native English typists.

Offering fallacious or fraudulent arguments attracts abuse and flaming on ARS.

*** Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit:


19.    There's a lot of rubbish on ARS, how can I get rid of it?


Newsreaders have a facility for blocking posts from people or about subjects; this is called killfiling. Google Groups does not. Most ARS readers have a carefully maintained killfile, this is an unfortunate by-product of the popularity of the Internet, along with spam filters, virus checkers and firewalls.

ARS has its share of trolls, the Usenet equivalent of children who throw stones at windows and then run away. They are best ignored unless in answering them you have something of interest to say. Some trolls crosspost as well.

*** A special killfile minibrowser for Google Groups:

*** A Google Groups killfile addon for the Firefox browser:

OSA (Office of Special Affairs in the CoS) remains interested in ARS, maintaining one or more 'OSAbots' here whose posts are intended to confuse and deter casual readers. Some pretend to be critics and accuse real critics of being fake. When a 'flap' is on (some event upsetting to the CoS) these posts increase for a few days in the hope that they will swamp normal traffic.

*** A list of suspected OSAbots:

As above, they thrive on attention. Please only reply to them if you have something new to say ("Scientology sucks!" is not an original concept to this newsgroup); often they are not actually reading ARS anyway, only posting to it.


20.    What is Anonymous?

*** Anonymous is an Internet based community with no leaders or structure:

Its interest in Scientology surfaced in a January 2008 YouTube video which set off another wave of Internet activism against the CoS that entered the Real World the following month with worldwide monthly protests.


21.    Are there other Scientology newsgroups? (ACT) discusses the beliefs and their application. It is little used at present.

de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology discusses scientology in German. is in Italian.

alt.binaries.scientology (ABS) is for pictures and such, the others being plain text only newsgroups. A post to ARS saying 'new picture of Saint Hill Manor on ABS' is OK. It has poor distribution but you can access it free through

There are also a number of web based discussion boards about Scientology, you may find these more to your liking than ARS as they are moderated to remove rubbish: the oldest board, closed to new members mostly ex-members Anonymous activism ex-Sea Org members only for younger members/ex-members Spanish language forum discussion of the tech and beliefs


22.    Is this the only Usenet Scientology FAQ?


No, there have been a number of them in the past; archives thirteen of them! Most date from the mid-1990s and the information in them is nowadays to be found on web pages or is out of date. There is also a fake unarchived FAQ posted by OSA.



Special thanks to Homer Smith for lightlink and the secret masters of Usenet for keeping ARS alive and kicking the cult since 1991. Reprinting this FAQ is permitted, encouraged even, provided nothing is omitted including the header which points to the latest version.


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