In this legal statement from 2002, Professor Bryan Ronald Wilson evaluates whether the Church of Scientology’s congregational services merit the label of religious worship and compares them with other traditions. He concludes that Scientology services constitute worship but points out that worship in the Judeo-Christian sense of that term is not universally present in all religions, such as Buddhism and Unitarian Universalism. As Dr. Wilson writes: “Given that Scientologists do believe in a Supreme Being and that their congregational services include expressions of reverence and respect for that Supreme Being, and seek that Supreme Being’s intercession through prayer, I conclude that Scientology services today do meet the narrow criteria for religious worship…even if the services of some major, universally accepted religious denominations do not meet these criteria.” Churches of Scientology offer Sunday services, as well as Dianetics, and Scientology services seven days a week, at locations in over 167 nations.
Bryan Ronald Wilson, Ph.D., (1926–2004) was reader emeritus in sociology at the University of Oxford. From 1963 to 1993 he was also a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and in 1993 was elected an emeritus fellow. For more than fifty years he conducted research into minority religious movements in Britain, the United States, Ghana, Kenya, Belgium, Japan and other countries. Dr. Wilson earned his doctorate in sociology from the London School of Economics in 1955, authored dozens of articles, and wrote or edited dozens of books, including: Sects and Society: The Sociology of Three Religious Groups in Britain (1961); Patterns of Sectarianism (edited, 1967); Religious Sects (1970, also published in translation in French, German, Spanish, Swedish and Japanese); Magic and the Millennium (1973); Contemporary Transformations of Religion (1976, also published in translation in Italian and Japanese); The Social Impact of the New Religious Movements (edited, 1981); Religion in Sociological Perspective (1982); The Social Dimensions of Sectarianism (1990); and A Time to Chant: the Soka Gakki Buddhists in Britain (1994). In 1984, the University of Oxford recognized the value of his published work by conferring upon him the degree of D.Litt. In 1992, the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, awarded him the degree of doctor honoris causa. In 1994, he was elected a fellow of the British Academy.