One of the more controversial New Religious Movements (NRM) that emerged after WWII in the United States is the ‘Church of Scientology’. Although its membership is relatively small in number (various estimates put it at 40,000 – 200,000), it is international in character and has attracted a number of high-profile followers, including some famous Hollywood actors.
However, it has mainly received wider public attention due to its ambiguous nature and controversial teachings and practices. While its followers believe it to be a religion derived from scientific methods and insights, its critics have variously labelled it as a pseudoreligious “cult” or a business organisation.
Write an essay of 1300-1500 words that appraises the sociological relevance of these labels (religion, NRM, cult, business) to the Church of Scientology. For this summarise the teachings, practices and organisation of the ‘Church of Scientology’ and explain and evaluate the appropriateness of these labels in terms of their relevance for a sociological understanding of this movement.
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