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The Church of Scientology was incorporated in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, and is headquartered at Gold Base, in Riverside County, California.

The Church operates through several organizations and corporate entities, with the Church of Scientology International serving as the parent organization and international headquarters. The CSI is also responsible for the guidance of local Scientology churches.

Each local Scientology church is incorporated as a separate entity, organized as a licensed franchise, with its own executives and boards, but answerable to the Church of Scientology International.

Scientology Missions International oversees the missions of the Church of Scientology, which are formed as local organizations smaller than churches.

The Church of Spiritual Technology owns the copyrights of the L. Ron Hubbard estate and is responsible for licensing their use. Located in Twin Peaks, California, CST is also known as the L. Ron Hubbard Library.

Although not its international headquarters, the highest authority in the Church of Scientology is the Religious Technology Center. Headquartered in Hemet, California, RTC was established in 1982, and charged with the control and overseeing of Scientology trademarks, symbols, and texts. Although RTC controls their use, these works are owned by the Church of Spiritual Technology. RTC is not involved in the day-to-day management of the affairs of the Church.

Scientology organizations involved in management answer to Sea Org, described by the Church of Scientology as a fraternal religious order made up of its most trusted members. Former members have described Sea Org as a paramilitary organization with a private naval force.

Several other organizations have been created to carry out various tasks and missions of the Church.

The codes and creeds of Scientology were written by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s, setting the guidelines for the practice of Scientology, as well as its future expansion. These include codes for auditors, supervisors, and managers, as well as codes by which all Scientologists endeavor to fulfill.

The Church of Scientology does not impose any particular concept of God on Scientologists. A relationship with the Supreme Being is expected to develop as a Scientologist's awareness advances.

As Scientology is believed to be based on verifiable science, Scientologists often avoid using words like "belief" or "faith" in describing Scientology.

The Super Power Building, also known as the Flag Building, is the largest building in Clearwater, Florida. Owned by the Church of Scientology, it was built to deliver the Super Power Rundown, a high-level training course designed to train Scientologists to use all of their 57 senses (perceptics).

Scientology has been described as being part therapy, part religion, and part UFO group.

As part of the Church's Advanced Technology, taught at the higher levels of progression within the Church, Scientologists are taught the story of Xenu, head of a Galactic Confederacy, who brought billions of his people to earth 75 million years ago. He stacked them around volcanoes on earth, then killed them with hydrogen bombs. According to Scientology texts, the immortal spirits (thetans) of these aliens adhere to humans, causing spiritual harm. This is part of a larger story of extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions, which Hubbard described as "space opera."

These teachings are only taught to Scientologists after they have reached the higher levels of initiation, and are kept secret from those who have not reached these levels.

The Church's beliefs are centered on the immortal soul (thetan), which is described as the true identity of a person. The thetan is a non-material core with unlimited knowledge and creativity, and which is intrinsically good. Hubbard taught that thetans brought the material universe into being for their own pleasure. The universe exists only because the thetans agree that it exists. On earth, thetans fell from grace when they began to identify with their creation, forgetting their original state of spiritual purity. Thetans are reborn over and over again, much like the idea of reincarnation, although Hubbard referred to it as "assumption."

The Church of Scientology has been accused of taking harsh measures against those whom it considers its enemies. Individuals and groups who are judged to be a threat to the Church are known as "fair game" and, according to policy, they can be punished and harassed.

Defectors who become critics of the Church are known as "suppressive persons," and the Church has been accused of acting aggressively against such critics.

The Church of Scientology is concentrated in the United States, Europe, South Africa, and Australia.

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