This question about L Ron Hubbard's Revolt in the Stars seems to be close a possible conflict for our policy on religious works.

However, I'm not certain, as the whole religion-founded-by-a-science-fiction-author thing complicates it immensely.

A quick scan of the Wikipedia article indicates that L Ron Hubbard intended the story in question to be a dramatized account of events that are pivotal to the Scientologists' belief system.

Additionally, the story itself is unpublished, and the copies and summaries circulating around the Internet are "unofficial".

This makes it much harder to determine if the question is about the actual science fiction work (if, indeed, it is categorized as sci-fi instead of religion), or about the religious beliefs the screenplay is intended to dramatize.

Are L Ron Hubbard materials that are intended to depict events that are part of Scientology belief on-topic, or off-topic per our policies on religious texts? Presumably the L Ron Hubbard works unrelated to Scientology beliefs (such as Battlefield Earth) are not an issue.

Even if works by L Ron Hubbard that discuss the beliefs of Scientology are on topic, is this particular question on topic? As I mentioned before, it could be argued that the question is really about Scientology beliefs, rather than a specific work, since the work referenced is unpublished, unofficial, and not directly quoted.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'll repeat what I've said in the past on this topic: whether a text is religious is up to the reader. So whether the author intended it as a work of fiction or not is not relevant. What matters is whether the question is treating it as a work of fiction. Which, in this case, it is.

Mind, you could nitpick that Hubbard seemingly intended Revolt in the Stars as a historical fiction, not as science fiction, therefore it's off-topic even if it isn't considered a religious text. But by our traditional inclusive policy, since this is an ambiguous case, it's on-topic.

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"But by our traditional inclusive policy, since this is an ambiguous case, it's on-topic." Best argument I've seen so far. –  Beofett Jan 15 '13 at 0:20
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I assume many biblical texts were intended as fiction/fantasy, so does this mean I can go and violate the big "no-religion-question" rule regarding Christianity? I don't see a qualitative difference between all these dogmas; And although I personally think the "no-religion-questions" rule is beyond silly, the community appears to accept that rule. Thus, we have to be consistent. Either all religions are not okay to be considered fiction/fantasy or all are okay. And for every single religious text ever written there are at least some people who do not consider it true. –  bitmask Jan 15 '13 at 1:23
    
@bitmask I believe this answer is implying that a question about the Christian bible, if phrased in a way that makes it obviously about the sci-fi/fantasy aspect and not about the religion, would be on-topic. Due to the popular acceptance of that religion, however, this would be difficult to do. –  Izkata Jan 15 '13 at 1:49
    
@bitmask - Unfortunately for Scientology (and much to the disgust and dismay of it's followers) It is not universally accepted as a true religion around the world. Meaning that its sacred texts are still open to debate as to whether they can be called 'Fiction' or 'Religious Texts'. Would Star Wars questions be off-topic because some people in the world follow the Jedi religion? –  Robotnik Jan 16 '13 at 10:56
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@Robotnik: Which religion is universally accepted to be true? I know of none. –  bitmask Jan 16 '13 at 11:03
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@bitmask The issue is whether Scientology is accepted to be a religion, not whether the claims of Scientology are valid (different meaning of “true”). And that debate (is Jedi a religion, does that make Star Wars off-topic?) is part of why I'm against the ban of religious questions: we have to decide what is a religion and what isn't. –  Gilles Jan 16 '13 at 11:12
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if you take a look at the Wiki for "Revolt in the Stars", it was openly intended to be a SciFi work by L.R.Hubbard (A movie script).

As such, "Revolt in the Stars" seems fully on-topic, Scientology non-withstanding.

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@DKV The wikipedia author(s) state it is Sci-fi. But is there a reference in there that shows that Hubbard intended it to be sci-fi? This is one of the problems I have with wikipedia... sometimes it is hard to determine what is interpretation on the author's part. I'd be more comfortable with this answer if there was a quote from Hubbard stating he felt it was SciFi. –  Beofett Jan 14 '13 at 20:29
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@Beofett - if you're shopping a Hollywood scenario, you generally not doing it as a religious work... –  DVK Jan 14 '13 at 20:37
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imdb.com/title/tt0335345 –  Beofett Jan 15 '13 at 0:19
    
@Beofett - that's Mel Gibson. He was explicitly stating he's making a religious work. –  DVK Jan 15 '13 at 1:08
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The accepted answer on the question you cited states "even though this book deals with religious topics, it does it from a self-professed fictional standpoint." From what you have described, it seems like this text seems to fit into this category. Essentially, the religious works policy states that questions shouldn't be asked on religious texts, where the religious text is held to be real events by a portion of society.

However, if Scientologists have a book which they take to be scripture, then it would be excluded from discussion on this site. I'm far from an expert in the area, so I wouldn't be able to point out what those works might be.

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2 concerns I have with this: the first is that I'm not 100% clear that the screenplay is "from a self-professed fictional standpoint". Wikipedia labels it as sci-fi, but I'm not sure how accurate that is, or if that is the view shared by L Ron. This site quotes a letter from Hubbard (of questionable provenance) that includes the quote "Most importantly, since the events portrayed are true...". –  Beofett Jan 14 '13 at 17:37
    
Cont. - Secondly, since the work itself is unpublished, and no official copies of it exist, is it possible to say for certain that the question is about the "fictionalized presentation" (assuming it is intended as fiction), rather than the "true" events it is intended to be based upon? –  Beofett Jan 14 '13 at 17:38
    
If you can show me a list of Scientology canonical works that includes the, then I will remove the question. Otherwise, I can't see how we could remove it. –  PearsonArtPhoto Jan 14 '13 at 17:47
    
My understanding is that Scientology canonical works are only available to members of the church, doled out as you obtain specific levels of ranking within the hierarchy. However, I'm not 100% certain this is accurate, since I'm not a member. To clarify, I'm not saying your answer is wrong, or that the question falls into the category of religion. I just feel it merits further discussion to clarify. –  Beofett Jan 14 '13 at 17:54
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