Firstly let me say, I am atheist. I just find it funny to think that any theist can question the legitimacy of any other religion than their own. All religions are based around control, some through money, other through fear, others through promise. The only difference between a cult and a religion is the number of people who believe in what it is the "leaders" are spouting on about. Ultimately, all religions are fundamentalist at their cores, some just play on margins and others on volumes. Scientology is just a margin driven religion, like The Church of Mormon, whereas Christianity can be a bit laxer due to it's large number of followers, it is a volume driven religion. Heck, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is about the most philosophically sound church out there.
I believe Scientology is a legitimate religion. Nobody has the right to claim any religion isn't legitimate. Everybody has their own beliefs and can choose to believe in what they choose. While some religions as Scientology may be viewed as "out there" by some people, it doesn't mean it's any less legitimate than the next religion.
Simply put, Scientology meets the criteria of a religion. The arguments in the "no" section about charging money, is not a legitimate argument as many religions request that their parishioners tithe, some requiring that they tithe about 10% of their income. In the Jewish religion, many temples charge for classes to prepare for a Batmitzvah, for example, or Hebrew classes. Many Jewish temples require that you pay yearly dues, and if you don't become a paying member, you cannot worship there. Scientology has no such requirements to pay anything. However, the point is that the "money" argument is not a criteria as to whether Scientology is a religion or not. So what makes a religion a religion? One definition: "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion. The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices." Scientology certainly meets that criteria.
Here's another definition: ""A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. When considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs." Again, Scientology would be deemed to be a religion under this definition, as well.
Honestly, charging people to be a scientologist, that's like the guy who wrote your scriptures writing them on high, oh wait, he did write them on high, okay then, that's like stealing government documents, oh wait, they did that too, fine, that's like keeping people from legitimate medicine while forcibly imposing your own psudomedicine on them against their will and causing their death, oh are you kidding me, they did that too.
I'm on the fence with this one. I'm a christian and accepting of other faiths but I'm not a fan of cults and any relegion where it makes you a worse person is not a legitimate relegion. Currently based on what I heard, I'm not a fan of scientology. On that note, I accept other regions including Islam but there are extremists in each faith who misinterpret things.
The Oxford Dictionary defines religion as "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods; a particular system of faith and worship." Although Scientology asserts the existence of a higher power, the organization does not define who or what this higher power is, nor do they teach that it is necessary to worship it; therefore, strictly speaking, Scientology is not a religion. Nevertheless, Scientology does possess certain tenants which one might consider "religious," such as their belief in the soul, reincarnation, etc; however, because Scientology focuses itself more on "improving" an individual through "educational" courses, rather than on devotion to a deity, I would identify it more as a philosophy/lifestyle, not necessarily as a religion.
To have a religion, one must worship and revere a higher power. If Scientology is to be considered a religion, it must follow typical patterns of other mainstream religions. Scientology is rarely about worshiping a deity and more about money and control. The stories of Tom Cruise's life in the so-called church are astounding to me.
In my opinion, Scientology appears to be more of a power-driven, eccentric organization that focuses on manipulation, mind control and intimidation in order to achieve its goals. Scientology seems to lack the basic characteristics that the vast majority of the world's largest religions possess. There are very few references made to a higher power within Scientology as well.
Scientology's aim is to make as much money from its dellusional followers as possible. They claim that it is free to join and stay, but it has been found that thousands of dollars are often demanded from you. Worse than this, is the cult like rules regarding the departure of the society.