It’s a rising trend among Hollywood stars such, as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kelly Preston. Now the religious group known as the Church of Scientology has made its mark on the Univesity of Cincinnati’s campus.
You may have seen people in yellow shirts inside Zimmer auditorium or under the big yellow tent on McMicken Commons offering “Free Stress Tests.” This is their way of recruiting college students to become members of their religious organization.
According to the Church of Scientology’s Web site, www.scientology.org, L. Ron Hubbard founded the religion in 1954 and it has grown to “more than 3,200 churches, missions and groups in 154 countries.”
The site defines Scientology as, “an applied religious philosophy,” that is based on the motto, “Only those things which one finds true for himself are true.”
T.J. Hensley is a local volunteer minister who works on McMicken Commons. “It would be great if we could get together a group of students to become volunteer ministers,” he said.
Hensley explained that the certification procedure consists of reading a book of scriptures called The Way to Happiness, by Hubbard, and then taking a test.
One of the main principles of Scientology is learning to eliminate stress in one’s life through the practice of Dianetics.
The purpose of the stress test being offered is to discover the “reactive mind – the hidden part of your mind that stores all painful experiences and then uses them against you,” according to www.dianetics.com.
“The stress test, known as an audit, is designed to show us which areas of your life cause you the most stress. Once we identify those hidden stress points, we can figure out what areas need to be focused on to help you better function in society,” Hensley said.
A device known as an “E-meter” (electropsyschometer), made of two metal cans attached to a gauge administers the stress test.
Ministers ask participants to sit down and hold one of the metal cans in each hand. The administrator sets the gauges so the needle is in the middle. The administrator asks participants a series of questions and told to think about words that the test administrator says, such as “Family,” “Work,” “School” and “Relationship.”
Assessments are then completed depending on individual participants’ reactions to the words.
The Church of Scientology is no stranger to controversy; in May 1991, Time Magazine published a special report calling Scientology “The Cult of Greed” and referred to the church’s fundraising activities as a ruthless global scam. The courts dismissed a prolonged lawsuit filed by the Church of Scientology in 2001.
Nonetheless, controversy itself does not keep an organization from promoting its beliefs on campus.
– A Church’s Lethal Contract
Although the Church of Scientology is not a registered student group, Assistant Director of Student Affairs Rich Robles said, “Any organization can obtain permission to recruit on campus if they are sponsored by a current registered student organization.”
Administrative Support Specialist Kathleen Armontrout said, “The Church of Scientology is currently being sponsored by Tau Kappa Epsilon and has the spot inside of Zimmer Auditorium reserved every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until June 9.”
Armontrout also said, “The McMicken Commons area is the one spot on campus that is considered a free speech area in which anyone can distribute information without approval from campus scheduling.”
Geoff Bullock, vice president of Tau Kappa Epsilon, said a former fraternity president, Kurt Hensley, originally sponsored Scientology in return for a portion of their campus book sales. Bullock said that Hensley is still listed as the sponsoring fraternity member.
“They come to a meeting once a year and hand out books,” said Bullock. “Then they say ‘Can you continue to sponsor us?'”
Bullock said that he thought Scientology was a weight loss or stress relief organization.
The local Church of Scientology branch is located at 215 West 4th St., in Downtown Cincinnati and offers Sunday service every week at 10:45 a.m.
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