The Church of Scientology is an organization devoted to the practice and the promotion of the Scientology belief system. The Church of Scientology International is the Church of Scientology's parent organization, and is responsible for the overall management, dissemination and propagation of Scientology.[2][3][4] Every Church of Scientology is separately incorporated and has its own local board of directors and executives responsible for its own activities and corporate well-being.[5][6][7] The first Scientology church was incorporated in December 1953 in Camden, New Jersey by L. Ron Hubbard.[8][9] Its international headquarters are located at the Gold Base, located in unincorporated Riverside County, California, the location of which is kept secret from most Scientologists.[10]

Although in some places it has attained credibility as a religion,[11] the church has been the subject of much controversy, and has been described as both a cult and a commercial enterprise.[12]

The first Scientology church was incorporated in December 1953 in Camden, New Jersey by[8][9]L. Ron Hubbard, his wife Mary Sue Hubbard, and John Galusha, although the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International (HASI) had already been operating since 1952[13][14] and Hubbard had been selling Scientology books and other items. Soon after, he explained the religious nature of Scientology in a bulletin to all Scientologists,[15] stressing its relation to the Dharma. The first Church of Scientology opened in 1954 in Los Angeles.[16]