Taking the fiction out of sci-fi

By Kristin Sherrard

Scientology isn’t just for Tom Cruise.

Tonight at 6, students will have the chance to learn what all the fuss is about when it comes to Scientology, as the Student Activities Board hosts the next installment of its Faithbusters series in the W.T. Young Library Auditorium. Members of the Church of Scientology of Cincinnati will lead the discussion.

Scientology focuses on bringing a new level of spiritual awareness to people so they can reach their own conclusions about the nature of God and what is in store for them after their life, according to The Church of Scientology of Ohio’s Web site.

Scientologists believe that the various teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology, can be applied to help their daily lives.

“We believe people are immortal spirit beings that are presently realized and that by applying some of the axioms of Scientology to their lives, they can improve the conditions of their lives,” said Robert Barriteau, information officer for the Church of Scientology International in Los Angeles.

Despite high-profile celebrities popularizing the religion, the specifics of Scientologists’ beliefs are a mystery to many.

“People see icons like (Tom Cruise) and it makes them wonder about why they think that way,” said Meghan Bostic, SAB’s director of engaging issues.

The purpose of Faithbusters is to answer the questions everyone has about religion but have never asked, according to the SAB Web site. Bostic said Scientology is an intriguing entry in the series because of its presence in pop culture and the controversy surrounding it.

“We’re only 50 years old and not 200 years or 2,000 years old or 10,000 years old and that means a lot of people don’t know a lot about Scientology so consequently others have been able poke fun at it,” Barriteau said. “You know how some people react negatively to things they don’t understand? I think that’s what we have going on.”

While the majority of the event will be a question and answer session, the church will also provide a presentation on different aspects of the religion and the history of its beliefs.

“SAB does not endorse or promote Scientology,” Bostic said. “By learning, (students can) perform their own decisions — therefore, they will have more educated opinions about it.”

Barriteau said he hoped students could take away “a new way of looking at things.” Bostic said students should come to the event with an open mind and a willingness to learn about a religion different from their own.

“Religion is important because so many people have different opinions and ideas about their religions,” Bostic said. “I think when you come to college, it’s a good opportunity to find out who you are and what you truly believe in, and the Faithbusters series allows you to do that.”