According to beliefs promoted by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the immortal soul -- or "thetan" -- passes from one body to the next through reincarnations over trillions of years. When a person dies, Hubbard said, the thetan goes to a landing station on Venus where it is programmed with lies about its past life and its next one.
Hubbard taught his followers to choose a location other than Venus. So here's hoping that Hayes, who died Sunday at age 65, chose to keep his immortal soul in Memphis where it belongs, and where he made me question my own suspicions about all Scientologists.
That Hayes was a Scientologist was known to everyone who ever visited South Park, the animated show for which Hayes was the voice of the soulful cafeteria worker Chef, a role he quit in 2006 after an episode mocked his religion and fellow Scientologist Tom Cruise.
And another article looking more deeply into the soul travels of Scientologists:
When a body dies, its thetan forgets the details of the former life, though painful and traumatic images known as engrams remain rooted in its unconscious. In order to move up the path of spiritual progression—known as the Bridge to Total Freedom—one must eradicate these psychic scars, which cause a person to act fearfully and irrationally. Once a Scientologist has purged them through the counseling process known as auditing, he or she is said to be "clear."
According to an avowed Scientology antagonist who claims, on her Web site, to present factual information typically omitted from church press materials, the official Scientology publication Celebrity announced that Hayes attained "clear" status around 2002, though it is not known whether he progressed onto the highest parts of the Bridge, the "operating thetan" levels. Details about what happens in these advanced stages remain closely guarded Scientology secrets, but at the very end of the process, thetans are supposed to gain power over the physical world; consequently, according to founder L. Ron Hubbard, they "feel no need of bodies," ending the cycle of birth and death and becoming pure, incorporeal souls.
Read the full article here. Yes, it all sounds quite bizarre. But are these really stranger than afterlife narratives of some mainstream religions? Body/soul resurrections, souls stuck in limbo, elaborate details of heaven and hell, judgement being pronounced, soul moving from one body to another, etc. Compared to these choices, I think Raelians' idea of being cloned after death on another world sounds much more believable (hey - I did say, out of all these choices).