By Lily Wise

The high profile marriage of Scientologists Tom Cruise and Kati Holmes has piqued the public's curiosity about Scientology. What is Scientology? How did it begin?

L. Ron Hubbard's best-selling books Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (1950), and Science of Survival (1951) preceded his founding of the Church of Scientology in California in 1954. In his writings, Hubbard put forward his particular vision of therapeutic treatment for emotional problems, which was supposed to be an improved, spiritualized version of traditional Freudian therapy-- which Hubbard himself had studied and practiced professionally. Hubbard's system was meant not just to heal, but also to enhance one's life with spiritual growth and knowledge. Many of Hubbard's ideas originated in Eastern religions.

In Hubbard's new system of "auditing," the therapist, called the auditor, trained the subject, later called the "thetan," to use the power of the conscious mind to overcome unconscious demons or "engrams" placed there by, among other things, alien forces that landed on the planet eons ago. Hubbard invented a machine called an E-meter which purportedly measures the level of clarity and spiritual awareness of the thetan. There are many levels of spiritual attainment in Scientology and church members must pay substantial sums to ascend the spiritual ladder. Interestingly, much of this information about the aliens and the pay-for-spiritual-ascendance strategy was supposed to remain secret forever.

It has never been proven, but it is rumored that L. Ron Hubbard made a bet with his friend Arthur C. Clarke, the noted science fiction author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, that Hubbard could start a new religion. By the time Hubbard died in 1986, Scientology had become controversial for a number of lawsuits and violent exchanges between former members. Scientology's eight million followers worldwide include such high profile Hollywood figures as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley.

To read more about Scientology's teachings about about evil aliens and their extraterrestrial hordes coming to earth and wreaking havoc, go to

For information about a Scientology wedding ritual, go to