Also referred to as simply Scientology. A religious group founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and based on his book Dianetics, published in 1950. Scientologists believe that the individual is first and foremost a spirit, or thetan, and that thetans can be cleared of negative energy through a process called auditing. The spiritual counselors who provide this service are called auditors. In part because members are charged fees to receive auditing, Scientology’s tenets have been challenged and its practices investigated by governmental agencies around the world. The Church of Scientology’s nonprofit status in the U.S. was the subject of legal wrangling for many years, but currently, the Internal Revenue Service accepts the church’s tax-exempt status.