Why is Scientology a religion?
From the Scientology FAQ:
Scientology meets all three criteria generally used by religious scholars when examining religions: (1) a belief in some Ultimate Reality, such as the Supreme Being or eternal truth that transcends the here and now of the secular world; (2) religious practices directed toward understanding, attaining or communicating with this Ultimate Reality; and (3) a community of believers who join together in pursuing the Ultimate Reality.
Scientology’s beliefs in an Ultimate Reality that transcends the material world include its concepts of the thetan, the spiritual world (the seventh dynamic) and the Supreme Being (the eighth dynamic). Scientology holds in common with all great religions the dream of peace on Earth and salvation for man. What is new about Scientology is that it offers a precise path for bringing about spiritual improvement in the here and now and a way to accomplish it with absolute certainty. The second element can be found in Scientology’s life-rite ceremonies such as naming, marriage and funeral services, but predominantly in the religious services of auditing and training, through which Scientologists increase their spiritual awareness and attain an understanding of the spiritual world and, ultimately, their relationship with the Supreme Being. As to the third element, a very vital community of believers can be found at any church of Scientology at almost any time of the day.
Scientology is thus a religion in the oldest sense of the word. Scientology helps man become more aware of God, more aware of his own spiritual nature and that of those around him. Scientology Scripture recognizes that there is an entire dynamic (urge or motivation in life) devoted to the Supreme Being (the eighth dynamic) and another dynamic that deals solely with one’s urge toward existence as a spirit (the seventh dynamic). Acknowledgment of these aspects of life is a traditional characteristic of religions.