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Scientology, the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard, has similarities to some forms of Buddhism in that it de-emphasizes the worship (or even acknowledgement of the existence) of any specific gods in favor of learning techniques for interacting with the universe on a spiritual level as well as providing psychotherapy or psychotherapy-like practices.

Is practicing Scientology Avodah Zarah for Jews, at least to the extent that no one is worshiping Hubbard or any specific Scientological deities? Feel free to refine my definition as appropriate or needed, but practicing Scientology could be defined as any combination of the following:

  • Taking Scientology courses.
  • Reading "Dianetics" or other Scientology-related books.
  • Receiving or giving Scientology "Auditing" services.
  • Believing that the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard are true or at least useful.
  • Publicly self-identifying as a Scientologist.

There are questions on Buddhism and Trancendental Meditation (TM), but the arguments for them being A"Z seem to revolve around theistic aspects such as making offerings or prayers to deities, which Scientology doesn't really have.

In response to @ezra 's comment, the question could be asking whether Scientology counts as a "religion" in the eyes of Judaism or whether it is really more of a form of self-help/self-empowerment/human potential program that is classified as a religion by the government.

Let's keep the Tom Cruise jokes to a minimum, please. I'm asking this as a serious question. This question is not a debate thread on the merits of Scientology, so let's keep this to the Halachic implications of Hubbard's teachings and practices.

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    Note that something may be heretical and forbidden to be involved in, without being actual avoda zara. – mevaqesh Jun 8 '17 at 16:47
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    "Avodah Zarah" means "foreign worship." A lot of people use it to mean idolatry, but in actuality any religion other than Judaism is avodah zarah to Jews. – ezra Jun 8 '17 at 16:55
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    Gedola sakanta meisura. – user6591 Jun 8 '17 at 17:43
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    If it is (as many claim) a fraud, then it would be asur to get involved for that reason. Additionally, even if the original invention (as a science fiction story) was accurate, the way that the current organization handles matters may be asur (since it is a cult designed to extract money from the gullible). – sabbahillel Jun 8 '17 at 18:01
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    @ShmuelBrin It would be asur as gneivah and lifnei iver. – sabbahillel Jun 8 '17 at 18:03

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