Independent Scientology

A movement embracing the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard outside the official Church of Scientology.

Religion: Scientology
Location: Worldwide
Other Names: Free Zone

Independent Scientology, often referred to as the Free Zone, represents a collective of non-affiliated groups, organizations, and individuals who adhere to the teachings and practices of Scientology independently from the Church of Scientology (CoS). This movement varies greatly in form and function, ranging from closely following the original teachings of L. Ron Hubbard to adopting more personalized and innovative approaches to the practice. At the heart of Independent Scientology is a desire to preserve the purity of Hubbard’s original teachings and methodologies, often in response to perceived alterations and strict controls imposed by the official Church of Scientology.

The origins of Independent Scientology can be traced to the early 1980s when disagreements and controversies within the Church of Scientology led to a schism. Key figures in the Church were expelled or left due to conflicts over the direction of the organization, doctrinal changes, and the management style of its leadership. Captain Bill Robertson, a prominent figure within Scientology at the time, founded a group centered on his concept of the “Free Zone,” an initiative was aimed at declaring Earth a domain free of external political and economic interference. Robertson’s establishment of the term “Free Zone” and his issuance of the “Free Zone Decree” were based on Hubbard’s space opera beliefs, particularly the notion of Earth as a “Free Zone” within the galactic community.

The core beliefs of Independent Scientology are largely based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard, including the concepts of Dianetics, auditing, and thetans. Practitioners often use materials and techniques developed by Hubbard in the 1950s and 1960s, focusing on personal spiritual enlightenment and self-improvement. Independent Scientology groups vary in their practices and organizational structures, with some closely mimicking the formal Church’s practices, and others adopting a more relaxed and individualistic approach.

Independent Scientology or the Free Zone adopts a critical view of the official Church’s practices, especially concerning the alteration of Hubbard’s teachings and the closure of major courses, and believe in preserving what they see as the original teachings and practices of L. Ron Hubbard. They often criticize the Church for its high costs, aggressive legal tactics, and strict control over members. The movement is marked by its use of non-trademarked Scientology terminology to avoid legal reprisals from the Church, which has aggressively used copyright and trademark laws to challenge Independent Scientology practices. The movement also practice alternative auditing methods developed outside the Church’s purview, like Synergetics and Idenics, often with more affordable pricing than in the official Church.

The Association of Professional Independent Scientologists (APIS) is a notable entity within this movement, operating as a professional body committed to practicing and promoting Hubbard’s original philosophy. APIS emphasizes a return to the foundational principles of Scientology, distinct from the modified teachings and practices endorsed by the Church of Scientology.

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