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Walking in Ron’s Footsteps: “Pilgrimage” Sites of the Church of Scientology

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This article contends that a number of ecclesiastical and historical centers associated with the Church of Scientology can be considered and analyzed as pilgrimage sites. Although the notion of pilgrimage is not explicitly taken up by Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986), his Bridge to Total Freedom is intended to provide church members with a distinct spiritual path leading to the states of Clear and Operating Thetan (OT). In order to walk this spiritual path, individual Scientologists must physically journey to a series of Scientology churches (organizations) where auditing (spiritual counseling) and auditor training levels are delivered in a gradient fashion. In addition, the church has established L. Ron Hubbard Landmark Sites for members (and interested outsiders) to tour key sites in the development of Dianetics and Scientology. These spaces have no direct soteriological value but are educationally and spiritually significant because they allow visitors to “walk in Ron’s footsteps” and retrace the Founder’s research into the nature of the mind and spirit as later systematized and streamlined in the Bridge to Total Freedom.

Affiliations: 1: Claremont Graduate University, School of Arts and Humanities, Religion Department 831 N. Dartmouth Avenue, Claremont ca 91711 donald.westbrook@alumni.cgu.edu

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2016-01-13
2017-12-12

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