The leaders of this religious movement known as Scientology have made it a matter of policy to use the law to harass and sue people who criticize and expose them. Their founder stated: ‘The purpose of legal action is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass’. They are also assumed to have a sophisticated undercover operational arm which steals documents and engages in espionage, disinformation and dirty tricks.
American journalist Paulette Cooper was ‘persecuted’ for writing critically about Scientology. A smear campaign was organized against her, private detectives followed her, and anonymous letters were written to her neighbours accusing her of crimes against children. She was accused of making bomb threats against scientologists and of threatening the President and Secretary of State of the U.S.A. The threats were written on paper which contained her fingerprints as it had been stolen from her house. It took her two years and $24,000 in costs to clear her name.
Scientology seems to have a sinister and brutal aspect to its activities.
The British cult monitoring group ‘FAIR’ (Family Action, Information and Rescue) recently analyzed the 2,911 calls for help that it had received in the previous twelve months. One hundred and seventy one specific groups were mentioned, but some much more often than others. In that survey the number one trouble-making cult in Britain was Scientology.
People are free to believe whatever they want in terms of philosophy and religion, and this is enshrined in the UN Charter articles 18 and 19. We would agree that this is a fundamental human right. However, we also have a right to examine in depth what those beliefs and practices are, and we also have the right to criticize, condemn and expose those doctrines when they are untrue and/or dangerous.
The founder of Scientology was a man named Lafayette Ron Hubbard, who was born in Tilden, Nebraska, on 13th March 1911. He died of a stroke in 1986 and his remains were cremated. His grandfather was the town vet, while his father was in the navy and ended his career as lieutenant commander. Hubbard travelled to Guam at the age of sixteen and also stopped at other places in the Far East when his father was stationed in the Pacific. Later he attended George Washington University but left after two years because of poor grades. Later he made a somewhat precarious living as a writer of science fiction, pouring out numerous items for science fiction magazines.
During World War II he joined the navy, achieving the rank of first lieutenant. He was reprimanded for injudicious acts, but never took part in any action against the enemy. He left the navy suffering with an ulcer, conjunctivitis and arthritis. He received a small pension from the navy.
His first wife was called Polly, with whom he had two children: ‘Nibs’ (Ron Junior) and Katie were abandoned for the girlfriend of his best friend Jack Parsons. She was called Sara Northrup and despite all that happened Hubbard and Parsons stayed friends. Parsons introduced Hubbard to the occult as he was a devotee of Aleister Crowley (nicknamed ‘The Beast’). Hubbard went through with a marriage ceremony to Sara, illegally as it turned out for he was not yet divorced from Polly. He continued his writing career but never earned quite enough money for the lifestyle he wanted.
In 1950 he devised a new ‘science of the mind’ and called it ‘dianetics’ or ‘science thought’. His first book on dianetics hit the bestseller lists and became the American craze of 1950. This book became the basis for the whole structure, which eventually Hubbard called ‘Scientology’.
Hubbard separated from Sara who had a child by him called Alexis. It was a bitter split with Sara accusing him of cruelty and torture. She later retracted those charges in order to obtain her child, whom Hubbard had kidnapped for four months.
His science was eventually ‘religionized’ to help it gain charity status and tax avoidance. The money began rolling in and by the mid-60s he was prospering financially. By then he was married for a third time to Mary Sue with whom he had four children.
In 1959 Hubbard moved to Saint Hill Manor, a large estate at East Grinstead in Sussex. This became the headquarters for worldwide Scientology for the next eight years. He left in 1967 and for nearly ten years lived on a ship before going ashore permanently in the mid-70s to live in Palm Springs. By now he was overweight, grey and had rotten teeth. He had an operation to remove a large lump from his forehead, and suffered heart attacks in 1975 and 1978.
His wife served time in prison in 1983, which seems to have saved Hubbard from a similar fate, as authorities investigated him for tax evasions and illegal activities. For the final years of his life he lived as a virtual recluse in hiding with an entourage of seven followers, but raking in one million dollars a week.
With Hubbard’s death in 1986, the ‘church of Scientology’, far from ceasing, continued and flourished more than ever before.
The Church of Scientology
Scientology is defined in Collins Concise Dictionary as: ‘a cult founded in the early 1950s based upon the belief that selfawareness is paramount. It believes in reincarnation’.
The booklet, Scientology: What is it? published by the Church of Scientology International (1985) says: ‘Scientology is a study of ‘the very basic knowledge about man and about life that is vital for each person to have if he is to be happy and accomplish those things he sets out to do’. ‘The application of Scientology principles can improve a person’s confidence, intelligence, abilities and skills’. ‘Scientology steers the individual out of the problems and seeming restrictions of everyday life, to a point where he can gain higher levels of spiritual freedom’.
Hubbard defined Scientology as the study of knowledge in it fullest sense. Its periodicals include: Advance, Auditor, Crusader, Freedom. It all essentially started in 1950 with the publication of the book: Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard. Dianetics promised help for people to overcome all irrational behaviour, compulsions, repressions and psychosomatic illnesses. The end result being not everlasting life, but an extended and happy life.
Initially Scientology was not seen as a religion but as a science. Scientology does not involve worship to any deity, nor did it originally include any regular meetings for worship. The Church of Scientology of California was incorporated on 18th February 1954 and meetings for worship were added – few scientologists attend.
Hubbard rejected Christianity completely. He denied there was a place called heaven and that Jesus actually lived. However, in later life he admitted that Jesus had lived but claimed that He was gay! The roots of Scientology lie in the fertile imagination of L. Ron Hubbard.
People are encouraged to fill in a free personality analysis form with 200 questions. The results can only be obtained at a Scientology centre on a pre-arranged appointment date. From this initial contact courses in self-awareness and personal development are offered, but these have to be paid for.
The essence of Scientology belief is as follows:
i. Each person is an immortal soul, known as a ’thetan’. This makes repeated journeys to earth to adopt different bodies. Thetans are powerful beings having created everything, but their power is diminished by 'engrams’.
ii. ‘Engrams’ are traumatic experiences, which cause physical, emotional and mental problems. Engrams may be accidental, e.g. resulting from intergalactic wars or 'implants’.
iii. ‘Implants’ are deliberately inflicted by other thetans who want power. The results may be illness, insanity or apathy. What is needed is 'auditing’.
iv. ‘Auditing’ is aimed at getting rid of 'engrams’ and neutralizing 'implants’. To be rid of engrams makes a scientologist 'clear’.
v. ‘Clear’. This condition apparently is measurable by an ‘E-meter’. Thus a 'clear’ is ‘the optimum individual, no longer possessed of any engrams’ (Hubbard).
vi. ‘E-meter’ (or electropsychometer): this (supposedly) checks if any engrams are present. It works in a similar way to a simple lie detector.
vii ‘Auditing’ is an amalgam of psychotherapy and the Catholic confession. People explore past problems, which of itself may be therapeutic and makes them feel good. They attribute this to Scientology and are hooked. Hypnosis may also be used and a light trance euphoria is produced which feeds the desire for more experiences and so people become dependent upon Scientology. Such relatively simple beginnings lead on to more bizarre fantasies (reminiscent of the science fiction writer). Higher levels talk of landing stations on Venus, of Xenu who controlled seventy-six planets, seventy-five million years ago and implanted captured thetans with religion, sexual perversions and other ideas which are found in the world today. This apparently explains where these ideas originated and scientologists who reach ‘Operating Theton 3’ are taught to rid themselves of such ideas.
Scientology now has two huge dictionaries with over 1,000 pages of words and phrases.
As a young man Hubbard was apparently fond of saying that the quickest way to make a million was to start a religion. He has proved to be correct and Scientology does not come cheaply. It costs £150,000 to undertake full Scientology training and only a few hundred followers worldwide, have made it ‘up the bridge’ as far as they can go. Someone has described Scientology as ‘Up the Never Ending Bridge’. You do a course and another awaits you.
For all this Hubbard claimed that he took only a modest salary and that he signed over royalties to Scientology. This is contradicted by the fact that he left over $500 million at his death.
Those taking courses are told to keep it secret and to never discuss it with outsiders. This enhances the mystique and sense of exclusiveness which Scientology engenders. There may be up to one million scientologists world wide, though the church has claimed several million adherents. It is still a large cult for one founded in the twentieth century.
Development since 1960
In the mid-60’s Scientology introduced an ‘ethics’ code on followers and an ‘ethics’ officer to police it. This system imposed punishments known as 'conditions’ upon students or workers in the organization who were either:
i. Suspected of being lazy, disloyal or breaking rules.
ii. Failing to increase productivity which was measured in points.
‘Conditions’ imposed varied punishments:
1. A grey rag tied around the arm, so that all knew who was in disgrace.
2. Deprived of sleep for up to eighty-four hours.
3. Ultimate sanction was to be declared a suppressive person (SP).
Here the ‘Fair Game Law’ came into operation. Suppressive persons become complete outcasts and are not only excommunicated but fair game for every kind of harassment at every opportunity. Thus they can be ‘tricked, sued, lied to and destroyed’.
In 1967 Hubbard left Britain and established ‘Sea Org’, the floating branch of Scientology. He crossed the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas in three ships. He was known as ‘commodore’ and was surrounded by ‘commodore messengers’ who were teenagers and mainly girls. Scientology parents felt honoured to have their children serve Hubbard in this way. These messengers laid out his clothes, lit his cigarettes (he smoked eighty a day), followed him with ashtrays, ran his shower, cleaned his room. In return they received a pittance, were screamed at if work was not up to standard and ‘conditions’ were imposed upon any on board ship that failed. Thus work was hard, hours long and the food poor. Yet all the time money was pouring into the organization as it advertised, pressured for donations and continued the flow of books and literature.
Concern and Opposition
In the light of all this and of the surveys conducted into Scientology, opposition has built up. One survey conducted in 1981 showed:
i. A higher percentage of scientologists had received physical punishment than any other cult (35%).
ii. It took longer to recover from the cult’s mind control than ex-members of other cults.
iii. Ex-members have the highest rates of sexual dysfunctions, violent outbursts, hallucinations, delusions and suicidal tendencies than those of other cults.
An Australian Government Inquiry in 1965 concluded: ‘Scientology is evil, its techniques are evil, its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often medically ill’.
In 1984 David Alton (former Liberal M.P. for Liverpool Mossley Hill, a Roman Catholic) introduced a ten-minute rule bill to give the Home Secretary powers to ban organizations which were found to be using underhand methods – such as brainwashing, corrupting and using dubious methods to obtain money. He said, ‘These cults are spreading their evil influence all over Britain. I want legislation to control the activities of these pseudo-religious gangsters’.
High court judge, Mr. Justice Latey wrote that in his judgement, ‘Auditing is a process of conditioning, brainwashing and indoctrination’. He went on to say, ‘Discipline is ruthless and obedience has to be unquestioning. Scientology must come before family and friends, it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and power. It is sinister because it indulges in infamous practices both to its adherents who do not toe the line unquestioningly, and to those who criticize or oppose it. It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relating with others’.
On Hubbard’s death in 1986, David Miscavige took control at the age of twentyfive. He had been a messenger since the age of seventeen and had been seen as Ron Hubbard’s mouthpiece. He engineered a clearing out of senior officials, many of longstanding and there was a general reorganization. This was more complicated by the fact that the sole executor of Hubbard’s estate and trust was Norman Starkey. To hang on to the 500 million-dollar estate he has founded the Church of Spiritual Technology.
Money continues to pour in and each organization is worth over 500 million dollars. The Church of Scientology continues to avoid the US tax authorities by making its headquarters a ship called Freewinds which sails the Caribbean, outside territorial waters. It carries the Scientology elite who come to take the most advanced courses, paying 15,000 dollars a week for the privilege. All is protected by guards and cameras. There are 280 crew members, all scientologists, who work hard but earn less than $50 a week and have signed a contract for a million years. This commitment is to be honoured on pain of total banishment from the church forever – so they remain loyal.
We conclude with the words of US Judge Brechenbridge when he dismissed a case that the scientologists had brought against an ex-member. He stated, ‘In addition to violating and abusing its own members’ civil rights, the organization has over the years harassed and abused those persons not in the church whom it perceives as enemies. The organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder LRH. The evidence (in this case) portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal and hostile’.