The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper | Next | Prev | Cites | Index

Chapter 5

Spreading the Word

Tell someone about Scientology. Just by knowing that Scientology exists, a person is better.
-- L. Ron Hubbard{1}

Scientologists are relentless in trying to get others to share their religious beliefs, and much of their proselytizing is certainly based on their sincere belief that Scientology has improved their lives and can do the same for others. But there are also a few mercenary motives they rarely admit to.

First of all, the more members a particular Church brings in, the more money each Scientology employee receives, since their salary, based on units, is determined by the previous week's income.{2} Actually this works out better in theory than in practice, since Scientologists have complained that when revenue increases, Hubbard simply enlarges the staff, so they get to see very little of the additional monies.{3}

A second possible reason for their relentless proselytizing is that for any individual member a Scientologist brings in, say a friend, he receives a five to fifteen percent cash rebate, usually ten percent, on whatever money that other person spends in the group.{4}

Even if a Scientologist decides not to double as a salesman, he may not have much of a choice, since some Scientologists have been made to sign pledges promising to "help Ron (Hubbard) clear this planet."{5}

Pressure has also occasionally been applied to people who didn't help "Ron." One former member reported that Scientologists were routinely questioned during their auditing sessions about their progress in furthering Scientology. If they had done nothing, they might occasionally be punished by being made to write a five-hundred-word composition explaining why they hadn't spread the word.{6} Hopefully, their techniques are a bit more sophisticated today.

While Scientologists generally approach their friends and former acquaintances in an effort to gain converts, they are not averse to soliciting strangers. This is usually done by handing out leaflets or tickets inviting people to "step into the exciting world of the totally free." They have also used their books and brochures to lure strangers.

One girl was approached on a Fifth Avenue bus in Manhattan by a man who handed her Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, told her it would change her life, and then disappeared -- or so she thought.{7} When she tried to get off the bus, he blocked her and demanded $5 for the book.

In another case, two Scientologists put an ad in the Village Voice asking $1 for a book "in a plain wrapper."{8} Those who were expecting pornography were sorely disappointed. For $1 they received a twelve-page brochure called "All About Scientology" -- a booklet which is given away for free at the Orgs or Churches.

Scientologists have also advertised their services in newspapers, under the heading of Church (in the New York Times) and sometimes in the classified telephone directories, under such headings as IQ Tests,{9} Personality Development,{10} and Personnel Consultants.{11}

In the classified Tunbridge Wells, England, area telephone directory, though, they accidentally appeared under the heading of "Zoo."{12} Lest anyone suspect it was an intentional accident, the phone company explained to the paper that the Scientologists asked them to put their ad on the last page of the directory "and in this case it was possible."

Hubbard, in his PABS (Preclear Auditor Bulletin) #5 suggested three additional ways to disseminate Scientology.{13} In the first method he told the Scientologists to put an ad in the newspaper saying "Personal counseling -- I will talk to anyone for you about anything. Phone Reverend so and so between hour and hour."

Hubbard, however, told them not to help the person who was calling, because that "cancel(s) out his clientele." Instead he suggested that they should first credit the fact that "this is a pretty big problem" and then not talk to the person in such a way as to ease the problem. "This may be the last problem this person has and it would be a disservice to simply solve it as easily as that. One makes something of the problem, not makes nothing of it...."

Hubbard may have anticipated that such methods might be questioned or criticized, and he seemed anxious that the press not find out who was behind them. He told the Scientologists:

One does not bring the word Scientology into press interviews. One simply talks about the Church, its work and immediately it converses on actual cases which have been handled. I repeat, it does not discuss Scientology with the press.

But what if the press suspects anyway, and then asks what Scientology is? Hubbard wrote:

... the minister should shrug and say there are lots of textbooks about that and that he does not propose to teach a course in an advanced science to pages of the public press [sic!], that it is the Church and the church's charitable activities which are behind this, not Scientology. He should also say that today's ministers are indoctrinated in many learnings and skills and Scientology happens to be chiefest amongst these.

The second method he suggested, which he and his current wife personally utilized, was called "Illness Researchers."{14} Hubbard told the Scientologists to place an ad in the local newspaper that said polio victims (or arthritics) should call them. Hubbard suggested they sign the ad as a "research organization" or a "charitable organization." When the people answering the ad arrived at the headquarters, they were given about three hours of free group auditing, and then later were sold individual auditing sessions.

This technique was not calculated to endear Scientology to the medical profession, but Hubbard emphasized that Scientologists were not offering a treatment or cure for these illnesses, but were just "investigating" them, and therefore the medical laws did not apply to them. He added that this method was acceptable for an auditor or minister, and that "even a ditch digger can look over polio or arthritis or asthma or anything else."

In "Casualty Contact," the third method, Hubbard recommended that Scientology ministers scan the newspapers for accident cases and obituaries and get the disabled and the relatives of the deceased to "join the Church for comfort." He said that the minister should take "every daily paper he can get his hands on and cut from it every story whereby he might have a preclear."

The Minister should get the address of the person, from the story itself or by calling up the newspaper and saying he's a minister. The minister should then call the person or his family and represent himself "as a minister whose compassion was compelled by the newspaper story concerning the person," wrote Hubbard.

What if the press finds out about this one? Hubbard emphasized that the minister should "simply say that it is a mission of the Church to assist those who are in need of assistance," and again avoid discussing Scientology. Instead, Hubbard said he should "talk about the work of ministers and how all too few ministers these days get around to places where they are needed."

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Citations & Notes

{1} initial quote [44]
{2} unit salary [254, 255, etc.]
{3} Hubbard enlarges staff [261]
{4} money received for bringing members [255]
{5} pledges to clear planet [136]
{6} questioning people and compositions [177]
{7} 5th Ave. bus story [177]
{8} Ad for book in plain wrapper [152]
{9} IQ [145]
{10} pers{onalit}y development [131]
{11} personnel consultants [131a]
{12} Scientology under "Zoo" {heading in phone book} [178]
{13} all three methods of Scientology dissemination [21]
{14} Hubbard tried second [255]