Student Life investigates: The St. Louis Church of Scientology

| Senior Scene Editor

The Scientology church nearest to campus is located at 6901 Delmar Boulevard. Casual visitors can receive literature and information from church staff.Josh Goldman | Student Life

The Scientology church nearest to campus is located at 6901 Delmar Boulevard. Casual visitors can receive literature and information from church staff.

In a blocky concrete building west of the Delmar Loop, Scientologists from St. Louis work to improve their spiritual lives and promulgate their message. Student Life went inside this temple, which most have seen, but few have entered.

Scientology’s relatively young roots lie in the writings and charisma of author L. Ron Hubbard. Though he died in 1986, the religion continues to grow steadily. I visited the Church of Scientology to discover what I could about the religion. I am convinced, however, that Scientology is not the most viable of options for students at Washington University.

Scientology’s various depictions in the media overwhelm most people’s knowledge of the actual religion. Tom Cruise, possibly the organization’s most infamous member, ceaselessly promotes Scientology and its teachings, and other portrayals have been negative: An episode of “South Park” describes Scientologists as believers in an ancient alien emperor, Xenu, whose genocide of billions of aliens caused the current world’s evil.

The representatives with whom I spoke prefer to present the Church as a self-help group, whose methods rest in rigorous and revolutionary science.

As I began my tour of the church, I first noticed both a large portrait of Hubbard hanging behind the receptionist’s desk and dozens of copies of Hubbard’s “Dianetics” on display. The receptionist was intently perusing a dictionary. I asked for introductory material, and one Scientologist, Mindy, whisked me away for an introduction to the religion. In a larger room, dominated by two likenesses of Hubbard, Mindy presented me with a personality test of 200 questions. Called the Oxford Capacity Analysis (OCA), the test asked for responses of “yes,” “no” or “maybe” to questions like “Are you a slow eater?” and “Does emotional music have quite an effect on you?” While bubbling in answers, I gazed around the room and noticed that more dictionaries rested on shelves. After completing all of the questions, I doubted the test could reveal much. I watched an abbreviated biography of Hubbard’s life while Mindy scored my test.

To my surprise, the results indicated that I was “badly withdrawn,” “inhibited and submissive” and “depressed.” According to Scientology, my life is, among other things, “an environment of chaos and trouble.” The OCA measures 10 aspects of personality and assigns each a numerical value. I didn’t understand the graph of my results, mostly because there were no units on the vertical axis. To help me understand the invisible units, Mindy personally reviewed my results with me. When discussing particularly low scores, she asked what parts of my life would contribute to such results. I didn’t answer, possibly due to my “inability to communicate freely,” or perhaps because I don’t share personal matters with people I met only 20 minutes ago. Mindy advised purchasing Scientology courses as a remedy.

Scientology, in Hubbard’s own words, is “the science of knowing how to know answers.” Ideally, at least according to Mindy, the courses would improve my life as a whole and lead to greater knowledge.

My visit had raised more questions than it answered, as some contradictions arose through minimal skepticism and research. The short biography about Hubbard claims that he “embarked on another investigatory trail” thanks to his college class about nuclear physics. Yet, according to Michael Streeter’s “Behind Closed Doors,” a book about Scientology and other secret societies available through Google Books, Hubbard flunked the sole course he took in molecular and atomic physics. When I asked about this and other discrepancies between Scientology’s account and other records, Mindy shrugged. She likened the inconsistency to the controversy surrounding other historical figures, such as Jesus.

Examination of the OCA highlights other problems. I asked Tim Bono, a psychology graduate student, how psychologists evaluate personality tests. He replied that they first consider the validity and reliability of a test; a valid test has been shown to measure what it claims to measure, and a reliable test produces similar results each time. An investigation by a group of psychologists, concluded that the OCA was invalid. Most trials of a valid test, when answered randomly, should yield results close to the mean. When the Working Party answered the OCA randomly, however, their results, like mine, were far from the mean. I obtained a copy of the OCA and a scoring guide, replicated the investigation, and arrived at similar results. Even the name “Oxford Capacity Analysis” is misleading. I asked Mindy for the reason behind the name. She said that Hubbard wrote the exam in collaboration with Oxford University. I have found no source independent of the Church of Scientology that supports this claim.

Another beef I had with the religion proved the most thought provoking. Scientologists believe that psychiatric drugs like Prozac and Ritalin damage the brain and even deny the existence of the conditions these drugs are used to treat. Mindy adamantly insisted that the science behind modern psychiatry was inherently flawed and a danger to patients. The effectiveness of such drugs, she repeated, has “never been proven.” I am not a neuroscientist, and my confidence in these drugs stems from confidence in the scientific method. The difference between Mindy and me is a disagreement in faith. My belief lies with empirical science, while Scientology adheres to Hubbard’s writing.

As banal as some of Scientology’s views may seem, I still respect their right to their own beliefs. A society that can accept Creationism has room for Xenu as well. It turns out that they advocate looking up words in the dictionary to overcome barriers to study. Scientology’s methods do not lead to truth or necessarily to progress, but it remains their right. Still, the OCA and the Church’s staunch rejection of psychiatry are enough to keep me away from Scientology.

  • d e s

    look at citizens commission on human rights website watch all the videos then decide if psychiatry is any good

  • Snoz

    Hear that. Sshhhh …… That ^^^^^^ up there.
    Thats the sound a wacka do makes…

  • Jim Little
  • Kevin

    Stupid cult for the weak! If you ever have a discussion with one of their members they get flustered and can barely form a sentence.

  • Alexa Martin

    Hah, Italy demonstrators rally against Berlusconi

  • Jim Little

    I was a member of the Cult of Scientology here in St. Louis for 22 years. Want to find out why I left? Go to our blog at

    You can also check out my video interview that I did outside the Cult about a year ago. Its at

  • des


  • des


  • des

    all this tripe can be settled by seeking the truth see: the scientology website ok, volunteer ministers website, way to happiness website, ok look for your self be able to percieve for yourself who really helps ok..oh one more thing ok look at applied scholastics on the web see the study tech learn it then read ok be able to percieve the truth

  • Mike

    Success letters by the parishioners?
    How about the testimonies of, literally, thousands of former members that wrote about injustices, abuses, crimes and altered tech?

    • des

      what abuses? abuses by psychiatrists? like slow death pills restraints child sexual abuse elderly abuse citizens commission on human rights can tell you all about that see their website

      • St. Louis Anonymous

        So where’s the commission to investigate the tragic deaths caused by $cientology – like Lisa McPherson, Josephus Havenith, Ellie Perkins and Noah Lottick?

  • St. Louis Anonymous

    Anonymous will be holding a protest this Saturday April 9th at 11:00 a.m., across from the Scientology building (6901 Delmar).

    • des

      come clean

  • des

    read he success letters by parisheners publish them here

  • des

    funny how this is called a forum when all the comments aren’t included

  • Mike

    How tragic it would be to be one of the few scientologists that talk publicly and positively about Scientology. There’s so few of them, really, and they’re beset on all sides by verifiable facts- about hubbards lies about his life or his other claims, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Look at louanne- all she posts about is Scientology, normally while attacking other people for it. I’m grateful that I don’t have to live my life that way- always defending such horrors and crimes.

  • Frank

    If I can’t go to the org then, where can I go to get my Xenu fix?

    • ThetanBait

      South Park

    • des

      try psychiatry they’ll fix you up real good

  • Kate

    I actually think it would take guts to march in there and lead them on like that. I would forever-after be looking over my shoulder, as Ali puts it. So kudos, Davis.

    The fact that one of the very first things to which you are subjected as you walk in the door is this OCA test is just the case in point. Your line about the graph lacking any suggestion of units or any points of reference also should sum it up pretty well for people–So Rigorous! So Revolutionary!

    RVY, the late ex-CoS-officer-turned-vocal-critic, sums up what is really going on with those “results” here:

    So. Yes. there is information out there to be read, but I immagine that the experience of actually talking to an “auditor” of sorts would be uncanny. The fact that our consciences are so malleable to a lie that is so distinctly antithetical to our very values more than a bit shocking.

    Fortunately, many of the commentators are right here: Most of us don’t need to be told twice that their shenanigans are demonstrably fraudulent and punishable by law.
    Only one question remains: When will we get over our fear of political incorrectness, of which “jesse” so vapidly accuses us, and right the wrongs done by this organized criminal ring bent on deception and exploitation from the top down? Why is it still classified at tax exempt in the United States?

    We all know why this is a tricky issue–Why the Constitution avoids too narrow definition of “religion”–But let us not forget that the CoS also AVOIDS indicating A SINGLE, OFICIAL, VERIFIED DEFINITION of their beliefs at all, and additionally they falsely represent themselves and defraud their “clients.”

    Anyone can see that it is a pretext for a “business” enterprise, and it lacks, as Felix the BT astutely points out, an ideology. It is perhaps time to rethink things a bit.

    And in the meantime: I will gladly pre-judge anyone who identifies as a “Scientologist.” They can spend their private dollars however they want, I suppose. But I’ll keep my soul around for when the aliens really DO come.

  • AJ Simkatu

    If you want to learn more about the Oxford Capacity Analysis test (which is a trademark owned by Scientology), there’s a well written and researched article about it here:

  • Ali

    Good for you for even venturing in there as a journalist… but keep looking over your shoulder! (Google Paulette Cooper to see what Scientologists have done in the past to silence journalists.)

  • Epic Sword Guy

    The Xenu story isn’t entirely equatable with Creationism.

    Creationists at least let you know up front what their beliefs are, and they don’t charge money to tell you.

  • Louanne

    With all the information out there, why even subject yourself to talking to one of these robots? I mean, duh, what were you expecting? They want your money. Period. I can’t understand why anyone would even give them a moment of their time. Hopefully it will all die out soon.

    • des

      psychiatry is dying real soon look at the money citizens commision on human rights has helped cut from those jerks saving tax payers millions and puting them (psychiatrists) in jail too

  • Anontoo

    Well…anyone has the right to belief whatever they want, but no-one has the right to break laws. The misrepresentations about Hubbard and the OCA in your article strongly allude to structural fraudulant practices within this ‘church’. And indeed, the first DA who has the guts to ignore this common misconception of the First Amendment, will only need to Google ‘Scientology + Fraud’ and start printing.

  • Anon

    Did they talk about how Xenu 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs?
    Did they tell you that you’ll be able to alter reality when you reach OT7?
    Did they explain Hubbard’s beliefs that African American and Australian Aborigines are not truly going to become true humans?

    Missed a few points in the interview.

  • Jim Holmes

    Do more research next time.

    • des

      consult with the los angeles couty sheriff see what he says about scientolgy ok nuff said

  • Dave

    Umm no, there’s no room in rational society for Creationism nor Xenu. All of this nonsense will surely die out as we continue to evolve.

    • des


  • demetriousrosebud03

    this was a very well written and intelligent piece. nice work. I’ve been confused for years about the whole Oxford Capacity Analysis. Many years ago, I took a psychology course that mentioned the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Test and the Oxford Capacity Analysis. The OCA test that Scientology uses is not the same test, but somehow they’ve co-opted the name. L.Ron Hubbard did not design the test they use, btw. He approved it, but a friend of his invented it, and it has nothing to do with Oxford University. They just liked how it sounded, I suppose.

  • Kilne

    If someone is looking for spiritual truth, it doesn’t make much sense to rely on a pathologic liar (church founder Hubbard) to show you the way.

  • jesse

    April’s Fool? This article reads like made up from scratch. Scientology a “secret society”. Geez, I don’t think the author ever visited a church or did not manage to look beyond his prejudice.

    • Fros

      Do they sell portraits of hubbard?

      • des

        sure want one? see bridge publications on the web

    • Felix the BT

      Where can I read a book, that talks reverently about the effectiveness, beliefs, science, or spirituality in Scientology that isn’t put out by the cult? There are none! You are a secretive cult, and and no religious scholar will touch the cartoon-like trademarked material in Xenu/OTIII. No scientist can seriously deal with Hubbard’s brand of science without cracking up laughing. Hubbard was a whacked out freak who stole anything that works, from others, and none of what he said turned out to be true, like his supposed “control over the aging process.” He died at 74! The whole thing is a trap, but it does helps some people transfer their coke addiction to a Scientology addiction, like Kirstie Alley. And it works in Hollywood for career networking, but at what cost to the kids who get trapped doing slave work, or the vulnerable people who are in a state where they want to try anything, to improve their personalities or whatever.

  • Hazel

    Oh, well done. One of the better “off the street” introductions to Scientology.

    As you say, they’re entitled to their beliefs. But not to their own set of facts. The New Yorker published Hubbard’s college transcript in February.

  • choocho

    “Even the name “Oxford Capacity Analysis” is misleading.”

    Everything in Scientology is misleading. It’s not the strangeness of the beliefs that critics have a problem with, it’s the fact that Scientology seems to turn people into compulsive liars and the crimes and misdeeds Scientology has committed and will probably continue to commit in the future.

  • SFF

    Most religions don’t claim their beliefs are based on, “rigorous and revolutionary science.” If any others did you might expect them to back up that claim with some form of evidence. It’s been sixty years since Dianetics was published and the evidence of any scientific basis has still never been seen.

    Then there’s the child labor and the deaths and everything. Google Lisa McPherson or read the New Yorker article if you want more information.

    • T.B.

      It is a religion and it is true if you believe it is true. Christians and Creationists now believe Science is on their side. Does it matter? In my short time of study Scientology has helped me, so I believe in it. That’s all I need

      • Leaving Scientology

        How did it help you, and how much did it cost?

        • des

          how much does ignorance cost?

      • des

        see the way to happiness on the web ok thanks

    • Leslie Hope