Certain practices and beliefs remain intact even as the church’s outward trappings change. Scientology’s core practice is “auditing,” in which members use a crude lie-detector device to probe each other about traumas in current and past lives. Auditing allows a Scientologist to rise in the church’s spiritual hierarchy””as long as the auditing, Ms. Reitman says, is accompanied by hefty financial contributions.
Ultimately the church reveals to its highest-level members””spoiler alert””75 million years ago Earth was known as Teegeeack and that an intergalactic warlord named Xenu brought billions of his enemies here from other stars and vaporized them with hydrogen bombs. The souls of those beings still haunt our planet, and auditing exorcizes them.