JR said in a comment ... it doesn't seem like a "religion" to me. It seems more like a philosophy, or a self-help program. So where does the "faith" come into the equation? (the full comment is here)
You ask a really good question.
Most people in the West were brought up in the Judeo-Christian tradition and so they quite naturally think of religion in Judeo-Christian terms. This tradition revolves around two fundamental concepts — a belief that there is a personal creator God separate and distinct from man, and that man’s highest activity is the worship, supplication and veneration of this god.
So when a religion comes along that isn't like that, people raised with those concepts have a hard time seeing it as a religion.
Luckily for Scientology there are plenty of existing, recognized religions with long histories, that don't follow the Judeo-Christian norm. In the East there are religions that don't have any god and some that have almost no belief structure. Examples would be Zen Buddhism, Hindu Bhakti, Theravada Buddhism and Jainism. The last two have no supreme being yet predate Christianity by five centuries.
So Scientology is more comparable with Eastern religions than Western religions. In fact most Scientologists regard Buddhism as the existing religion most similar to Scientology, and most religious scholars agree with that.
If you want to get the full concept of what I'm talking about above then there is an entire book on the subject online here:
- Scientology: Theology & Practice of a Contemporary Religion (HTML)
- Scientology: Theology & Practice of a Contemporary Religion (PDF)