On Friday, November 21, 1969, John McMaster, the first human on earth to achieve Scientology's beatific enlightenment known as Clear, sat down and wrote a long letter to his leader and mentor, L. Ron Hubbard. He began by recounting his unpleasant encounter in 1967 with the Sea Org's Ethics Mission - the Sea Org being Hubbard's floating arm, persistently expanding and making its presence felt by popping up just off shore from this or that Scientology organization to watchdog what was going on. McMaster recalled, gratefully, how Hubbard himself had stepped in to save him from the Ethics Mission; "You came to my rescue" is the way he expressed it. He went on to say that he had been wrong to let the matter drop at the time, "because what happened to me has happened in the last two years, unjustly to many, many people across the earth."
In his letter, McMaster described the activities of the Ethics Mission as "the tyrrany [sic] of form monitoring function." Growing gently cautionary, he declared that "People are afraid to talk about their basic feelings even in a session. Many have told me so. Our organizations are not safe enough and hitting them with savage and vicious ethics does not help." The point he was making was that using Ethics to solve Scientology's problems was in reality creating greater and more dangerous problems. Then he dropped his bomb: he tendered his resignation from the Sea Org and thus from Scientology itself. His reason?
So that such a thing of form monitoring function stops dead and it shall never happen to me or any other person again.
It is impossible to know from the letter whether one specific incident finally prompted the man to take a more careful look at what he had been living for so many years. He cites but two; the alleged kidnapping and dungeoning of an extremely successful Scientologist named Alan Walter, and the as-yet unsolved murders of two Scientologists in Los Angeles late in 1969. Concerning Walter, he wrote that the man "could not be the sour of the current existing condition -" I assume a condition which would have been defined by Hubbard as presenting a clear threat to Scientology. "Whatever his negative actions may or may not have been, they could have had no significance whatsoever if there had not been vast fields of fertile soil for them to grow in." What McMaster treats with such delicate circumspection is the wild rumor extant in Scientology circles at Walter had been called to a meeting with Hubbard when one of the ships was anchored off Cadiz. He had flown over, had been piped aboard with pomp and ceremony, and had then been seized, shackled, and thrown below decks where, the tale continues, he lingers even yet. Concerning the brutal killings of the two Scientologists, McMaster writes: "These last two ghastly murders of our students near ASHO in Los Angeles, one of whom is Clear, need never have happened, if we hadn't been mocking up Enemy so solidly." To interpret that as simply as possible, Scientology teaches its followers to deal with that which represents an Enemy by in effect giving it substance, a tangible reality - tiny clay figurines, for example - and then dealing with these mock-ups decisively. The only shattering conclusion to be drawn from what McMasters says is that these two had come to represent the Enemy so solidly for someone that they were dealt with too decisively. The casual possibility of this makes the blood run cold.
Hubbard's response to the McMaster letter - if one is to believe the lurid tale now circulating among those who fled the movement at about the same time - was to send some of his
Ethics squad over to Staten Island where McMaster was living and allegedly try to kidnap him. McMaster is said to have managed a telephone call to another formidable ex-Scientologist named Bernard Green, who in turn called McMaster's lawyer. The upshot of this story is that the Ethics mob melted away, apparently fearful of attracting the attention of local police. What followed sounds even more like a badly written espionage melodrama. Convinced that all airports were under surveillance by members of the Ethics Mission eager to grab him, McMaster was spirited on board a Greek freighter bound for his home, South Africa. Now safely there - he was met by his father who had apparently been alerted to local efforts at nabbing his son - he still entertains hopes of some kind of a rapprochement. At least that is what Bernard Green told me. He used that word, *rapprochement*, when he said a meeting had actually been proposed between McMaster, himself, and Hubbard on neutral territory, in Switzerland. Green seemed to find this perfectly plausible, that the three of them might all sit down and calmly discuss their various grievances. (Let me remind you again that an overwhelming number of former Scientologists would return to the movement instantly if they felt Hubbard had made certain sincere changes in the organization's structure.) McMaster himself closed his letter by saying he wished to return home and do "the Hubbard Standard Dianetic Course and continue to distribute our Tech to the people of earth." Obviously, he wanted to keep the door open, hoping still that Hubbard might see the tragedy of his ways and make some changes.
I suppose I can understand a man of the devotion of John McMaster closing his eyes to instances of inelegant punishment performed in the name of Scientology. After all, his own radiating sense of forgiveness, his electric innocence and apparent inner peace, have served as living proof that Scientology can indeed do what it claims. What I cannot understand is an offensive air of righteousness that pervades the conversations
of some of the many other Scientologists who left simultaneously with the dissemination of the McMaster letter. Bernard Green, for example, who is a small, chunkily built man with an incessant bouncing joviality about him, claims to have been Hubbard's confidant for twenty years, from the very beginning, having assumed numerous responsibilities in spreading The Word to the four corners of the globe. He recounted some of the more grisly tales floating around throughout the movement's disenchanted members with a relish bordering on glee. The stories, none substantiated, are certainly terrifying: a seventy-two-year-old woman hurled down a flight of stairs by members of the Sea Org's Ethics Mission; two children, one five years old, the other four-and-a-half, put into chains on one of the Sea Org's ships; a man in Los Angeles punished for some anti-Scientological action by having high-pressure water hoses turned on him until he was pounded senseless. There is also an allegation that the Church of Scientology in Manhattan operates a "jail" in Brooklyn for enemies of the movement. The atrocities, and they can certainly be called that if true, seem to represent an inspiring aspect to be recalled by all who have left what one ex-Scientologist soberly refers to as "the paramilitary structure of Scientology."
Green, a man who clearly seems to be enjoying the upheaval he is part of, asked if I believed any of the stories. I could only say that they didn't sound impossible, considering that the policies of Scientology's Ethics do indeed exist, are available in one of the movement's widely sold books, and are apparently being energetically practiced by Hubbard's Sea Org Missionaries. What of course I cannot and will not understand, ever, is what took everybody so long *if*, as is now claimed, these horror stories have been common knowledge for literally years. Green's answer that all of them were being led on by what he calls "the golden carrot" - Hubbard's promise of Total Freedom - is totally inadequate. Unless, of course, they were led to believe not that Scientology was capable of
developing and exploiting their existing abilities, but that it could and would make them all Super-Beings. Super-Beings, as history has taught us, can blithely ignore most of what goes on around them because they are involved in the business of being Super.
We must never forget that no matter what Hubbard has done, he has commanded an incredible affectionate loyalty from those who considered themselves close to him. Even today, with the news that Scientology has been fiscally re-organized from top to bottom so that 90 per cent and not 10 per cent of all monies will be paid in to Hubbard personally, even with Hubbard himself off on a new tangent, rhetorically asking his followers "Who is the Messiah?" only to answer with a parable involving a powerful, barrel-chested man with red hair, even now, John McMaster closes his letter as follows:
I shall never withdraw my allegiance from your love or the product of your love, nor shall I withdraw allegiance from all people of earth and their attempts to attain Infinite Freedom, particularly those who work with our Tech to further man's attempts to attain Infinite Freedom.
I shall continue to give your love to the world. As always, my love to you, (signed) John McMaster.
The entire letter, its tone so sincerely beseeching, so devoted, and - yes - so almost obedient, made me remember all over again the first time I had ever seen John McMaster. His manner in front of that adoring crowd, and his certainty, and his loving benevolence, and his infinite patience with that in all of us which is most uncertain - our capacity to *believe* - it all came back. And now he had quit. Once more, I heard him saying to all of us, "How can there be two sides to the truth?"
I think John McMaster may finally have answered that question for himself.
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