Anonymous, you've made some excellent points in your post. It is true that there are certain common threads which run throughout most spiritual paths, and Hubbard was able to capitalize on this, both literally and figuratively. Even in the study tech the concept of clay demoing was lifted directly from Maria Montessori. (Too bad she didn't copyright it.)
Confession is good for the soul, a concept and practice which have been around for ages. Even our friend Stimpson would have to concede this point. In my opinion, the best Scientology has to offer is on the lower Bridge, which is deliberate by design. I believe the single most helpful piece of technology LRH developed was the confessional style auditing. The days he spent doing this were days well spent. When properly delivered, it can bring real relief. (When improperly delivered, it is invalidative and upsetting.) But his design was unique in that running the different flows gets at the charge from different angles. Of course, you aren't told at the outset that everything in your so-called confidential confessional auditing can and will be used against you should they deem it to their benefit. (So much for the integrity of the process.) My overall point on this is that even the concept of confession is as old as humans are old, so Hubbard didn't reinvent the wheel, just gave it a different spin.
Scientology is riddled with perversions of truth (as well as containing many actual truths), the most poignant being its' waving of the religious banner while simultaneously, yet covertly, holding religions in utter contempt. On OTIII we learn that all religions are just "implants" used for the purpose of control, yet on OTVIII Hubbard gives a backhanded acknowledgement of the existence of Christ by saying, among other things, that He was a "lover of boys". (This is an interpretation for the OSA lawyers who might be lurking. Go ahead, sue me. This will present the opportunity to bring the upper OT levels into open U.S. court.) But once you're on OTVIII so much time has passed since OTIII that this discrepancy is missed, although it wouldn't matter since, by then, you'll accept almost anything. (The concept of God is transferred to the concept of "Source", i.e., Hubbard.)
It is noteworthy that Scientology strives to be "on the forefront of society", and to "unite all religions", as Miscavige said in a recent speech. This is quite benign on the surface until one studies such a goal more closely. If Scientology holds other religions in scorn and contempt, viewing them as implants which must be audited out, then it logically follows that being "on the forefront of society" and "uniting all religions" would mean the effective snuffing out of other religions.
Probably the most interesting, multi-faceted piece of data LRH lifted (and twisted) in Scientology was the concept of the "greatest good for the greatest number". It's a basic maxim in Scientology and is used routinely, mostly as a means for control since as a Scientologists you're constantly told that the "greatest good for the greatest number" is more Scientology in the world, and many unkind and unethical acts are perpetrated to that end, yet are justified in the name of being the "greatest good for the greatest number".
Anyway, as you probably know, the concept of natural law was originally pontificated upon by the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato, and later codified by medieval Christians such as Saint Thomas Aquinas. It is a bedrock of the United States Constitution, as well as the Declaration of Independence. "Natural rights" are considered inalienable rights by the individual in the pursuit of happiness. The United States is unique to any country on the planet in that our founding fathers' acknowledged our impulse toward freedom and that we have certain inalienable rights toward that end, even going so far as to incorporate those ideals into our Constitution. While this is a profound blessing for Americans, it opened the door to a certain abuse of the system because natural rights can be specific and utilitarian in nature, which might not necessarily align with the concept of natural law, or the greatest good for the greatest number.
A recent example of where this might come into question was last weeks argument before the Supreme Court by an ACLU attorney regarding downloading child pornography on the Internet. Her position was that "it is the problem of parents, not policy" and that the Constitution does not support such an infringement on natural rights. I believe her argument could be undercut by the Constitution itself. Does it in any way harm the greatest number of individuals in this country to not be able to download pictures of children having sex with other children or adults? I don't think so. The same responsible laws enacted for the protection of children, i.e., being unable to legally buy alchohol or cigarettes until majority age, could also apply. I'm not saying there should be no pornography on the Internet, but it is resonable that distinctions be made. This is only one side to the argument.
In the case of Scientology, while they can stake a legitimate claim to being a religion because of the nature of the materials and subject matter, when viewed from the deeper perspective, is it legitimate to claim they have a right to function as a religion when they 1) hold other religions in contempt, albeit covertly, and, more significantly, 2) have a long-range goal of effectively abolishing other religions? What else could truly be meant by "clearing the planet", particularly when one knows that Scientology does not align with other religions, depite the fact that this is what you're told. A "cleared planet" means of planet of Scientologists. Is the effective abolition of other religions in the interest of the greatest good for the greatest number? In the purest sense and interpretation, I do not believe the United States Constitution supports this. But penetrating the 'religious status' and copyright issues would require a broad understanding of Scientology and its' goals by judges and lawmakers. It is my sincere hope that this occurs. The sooner, the better. This would allow Scientology to be what it really is, which is a for-profit corporation. I believe the tide will turn the day the religious community cognites on the game Scientology is playing as well as what's at stake. It is ironic that, aside from Scientology's own highly paid, attack whore lawyers, their staunchest supporters would likely be the ACLU, yet there is probably no greater single long-term threat to American civil liberties than Scientology.
Finally, Anonymous, I would recommend to you some of the writings of Rudolf Steiner. Like Cayce, he came into this world with clairvouyant, as well as other, abilities. He was a deep thinker with a great understanding of life and humanity, as well as a deeply, deeply spiritual man. His popularity and influence was growing in Europe in the 1920's and 30's. Adolf Hitler drew him in as a confidante until he ran Steiner out of Austria. One can only muse as to how our planets' relatively recent history might have been different had Steiner been the one to come into power. It is a sad irony that the country which has taken the toughest stance on Scientology has been Germany, yet we seem to ignore this fact rather than take their lead. Germany sees it for exactly what it is and doesn't want a repeat of history in any form. Rather than view it as hard won wisdom at work, we call them bigots.