Understanding Scientology, by Margery Wakefield - Next - Previous

Chapter 1

From Dianetics to Scientology -- The Evolution of a Cult

Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.
-- L. Ron Hubbard

Scientology is here to rescue you.
-- L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the curious and controversial cult of Scientology, and author of swashbuckling tales of mystery and adventure, could very well have stepped larger than life from the pages of one of his own stories. Flamboyant, charismatic, Messiah to thousands of adulating followers, Hubbard lived by no rules but his own. In an age of anxiety, he offered to those in his thrall the comforting certainty of simple solutions to the problems of life. Yet, as weaver of the complex web of Scientology, he managed to ensnare not only others, but also himself.

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard began his life as the center of attention in a large and lively extended family in Helena, Montana, which included his doting grandparents and several adoring maternal aunts. His father, Harry Ross Hubbard, after a brief and unsuccessful business career, was caught up in the surge of patriotism which affected many young men following the declaration of war in 1917 between the United States and Germany. He enlisted in the Navy. When the war ended, he reenlisted as a career Navy officer. Ron's mother, May Waterbury Hubbard, was a dutiful Navy wife who was to inherit the impossible task of bridging the gap between a military father who lived life by the rules, and his brilliant and unpredictable son to whom rules were anathema.

As a child, according to his aunts, Ron Hubbard was already possessed of a fecund imagination, making up games and stories for the amusement of the invariably attentive adults in his world. From the beginning, he possessed a capacity for fantasy which he was to carry with him throughout his life. As a schoolboy, to escape the reality of dreary algebraic equations and dry facts of history, he would fill the pages of his school notebooks with pages and pages of swashbuckling tales of heroic adventurers in exotic and distant lands.

In later years, he created a resume for himself, transforming his most pathetic liabilities into assets of heroic proportions -- as if the boundary between fantasy and reality had become blurred even to himself. Yet, ironically, no fantasy life he created for himself could ever match the colorful and improbable reality that he actually lived.

"I am possessed," he once told a friend, "of an insatiable lust for power and money." In his greed, he would siphon the energy and assets from the lives of thousands of followers whom he came to regard with a sneering contempt. Although he created the vast and complex world of Scientology, in which his followers could lose themselves for years, he did not want to be identified with his marks.

By the early thirties, Hubbard acquired a wife and two small children. To the horror of his conservative parents, he flunked out of college and had no acceptable skills with which to support his young family. Money was a constant and wearying problem. He soon discovered that the colorful adventures he had been creating for years in his notebooks were actually salable to the popular pulp fiction magazines of that era. He started slowly, but it was soon obvious that he possessed a prolific talent in writing for these magazines, named for the inferior wood pulp paper stock on which they were printed.

His work habits were somewhat eccentric. He was a phenomenally fast writer, and would work all night to produce story after story, retiring at dawn to sleep until early afternoon. However, no matter how prolific his output, he could never seem to make enough money to support his profligate spending habits.

By the mid-forties, his literary output was beginning to decline. He was well known and respected as a writer of adventure stories, science fiction and westerns. But he soon realized the limits of his vocation, that he was not going to achieve power and money by writing penny-a-word pulp adventures. The way to make money, he began to remark to his friends, is to start a religion. He once addressed a group of science fiction writers in New Jersey with the words, "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way to do it would be to start his own religion."

In 1949, Hubbard dropped out of sight. Rumors said he was working on something new, a book on psychology. In January of 1950, a mysterious ad appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, a pulp magazine edited by his friend, John Campbell, promising:

... an article on the science of the mind, of human thought. It is a totally new science, called Dianetics, and it does precisely what a science of thought should do. Its power is almost unbelievable; following the sharply defined basic laws Dianetics sets forth, physical ills such as ulcers, asthma and arthritis can be cured, as can all other psychosomatic ills.... (1)

Hubbard began experimenting with his new "science" on his friends. He would have them lie on a couch, close their eyes, and follow his commands to remember certain painful memories, particularly memories of prenatal experiences in the womb. To his surprise, Campbell found himself cured of chronic sinusitis. He began to tell others about this remarkable new science and a small group began to form which became the nucleus for a new organization, the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

In May, 1950, the promised article on Dianetics was published in Astounding Science Fiction, outlining the basics of this new science. Shortly afterward, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was released and soon became a best seller.

Hubbard was not modest in his claims for Dianetics. "The creation of Dianetics," the book began, "is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and the arch. The hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and human aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for their invariable cure." (2)

Dianetics is an adventure. It is an exploration into terra incognito, the human mind, that vast and hitherto unknown realm half an inch back of our foreheads. You are beginning an adventure. Treat it as an adventure. And may you never be the same again. (3)

Early in the book, Hubbard introduced what he called the "clear."

Dianetically, the optimum individual is called the "clear." One will hear much of that word, both as a noun and a verb, in this volume, so it is well to spend time here at the outset setting forth exactly what can be called a clear, the goal of Dianetic therapy.

A clear can be tested for any and all psychoses, neuroses, compulsions and repressions (all aberrations) and can be examined for any self-generated diseases referred to as psychosomatic ills. These tests confirm the clear to be entirely without such ills or aberrations. (4)

The state of Clear, Hubbard promised, was a state of mind never before achieved by man. In fact, upon achieving Clear, a person would progress from the state of Homo Sapiens to the new and advanced state of "Homo Novis."

Dianetic therapy, called "auditing" (to listen), turned out to be an amalgam of Freudian analysis, in which a reclining patient is encouraged to recall past traumatic experiences; abreactive therapy, in which past events are reexperienced by the patient with their accompanying emotion; General Semantics of Korzybski, in which a person learns to differentiate between subconscious experiences; and the psychoanalytic theory of Nandor Fodor, in which the influence of prenatal experiences is explored.

Dianetic theory is basically simple. According to Hubbard, all the events of our lives are stored in the mind as "mental image pictures," or memories. But they are stored, or "filed," in "chains" by similar content. So a person might have a "headache chain," or a "pain in the right ankle chain," etc.

By directing the patient, called the "preclear" in Dianetics (one who is not yet "Clear"), to recall and reexperience the traumatic memories on each chain, the potential of the "somatic" of that chain to "key-in" or become restimulated in the present can be erased. The memory then becomes refiled from the subconscious or "reactive mind" of Dianetics to the conscious, or "analytical mind."

The success of the "auditing session" will depend on the ability of the "auditor" (the person leading the session) to maintain control over the preclear and his memories.

The complete file of all the memories of an individual going back in time is called the "time track." Hubbard claimed that when a person was audited to the point that all his subconscious, "reactive" memories were refiled in the "analytical" memory banks, then he would achieve the state of Clear and would never again suffer the effects of his reactive mind. The reactive mind in Dianetics is also referred to as the "bank."

The theory is that if a person is complaining of a somatic in the present (i.e., a headache), then an earlier memory of an experience in which there was an actual injury to the head is "in restimulation." By getting the "preclear" to recall all headaches progressively earlier in time until the "basic" (earliest) memory on the headache chain is reached, theoretically the headache should vanish.

That in essence is Dianetic therapy.

At the time when the only option for people suffering from painful psychosomatic symptoms was costly and time-consuming psychoanalysis, the idea of an inexpensive and easy to administer lay psychotherapy caught on quickly.

Within weeks, the nascent Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation was deluged with letters and phone calls about the new "science" of Dianetics. Letters were coming in at the rate of 1000 per week. By the end of the year, over 150,000 copies of the Dianetics book had been sold. In a glowing article in the New York Times, a reviewer stated dramatically that "history has become a race between Dianetics and catastrophe," (5) echoing an idea often stated by Hubbard.

By August, there were more than 100 students enrolled for the one month Dianetic auditing course taught at the Foundation by Hubbard. The cost for the training: $500. In addition, one could receive personal auditing, or counseling, at the Foundation for the fee of $25 per hour.

Money was pouring into the Foundation. However, because of the extravagant spending habits of Hubbard, it seemed to be disappearing just as quickly. Because of the lack of any formalized accounting or administrative procedures in the Foundation, much of the money went straight into Hubbard's pockets. In the first year, it was estimated by one staff member that the Foundation had taken in as much as $90,000, of which only about $20,000 was accounted for. (6)

By December of 1950, five new Foundations were established in Chicago, Honolulu, New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. As many as 500 small and independent Dianetic counseling groups had sprung up all over the country.

Hubbard had promised that the state of "Clear" was attainable to anyone who successfully completed enough Dianetic auditing to eradicate the troublesome "reactive mind." In August of 1950, Hubbard organized a rally at the famed Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, at which he promised to reveal to his enthusiastic followers the world's very first Clear.

There was an air of hushed excitement in the packed auditorium. Hubbard, the consummate showman, first demonstrated some Dianetic techniques to the audience, saving his surprise revelation until the end of the program.

Finally, a shy and obviously nervous young woman appeared with Hubbard on stage and was introduced as the world's first Clear. She could, Hubbard claimed, remember every moment of her life.

The audience began to ask her questions. What did you have for breakfast on October 3, 1942? What's on page 122 of the Dianetics book? Embarrassingly, she didn't know. At one point, when Hubbard had his back turned to her, she was asked what color tie he had on. She couldn't answer. A physics major in school, she was asked to name some simple physics formulae but was unable to remember them.

There were disgusted catcalls from the audience. One by one, people started to leave. The evening was a disaster. Yet, amazingly, money continued to pour into the Hubbard organizations. The Shrine Auditorium debacle did little to stem the tidal wave of interest in this supposed new science of the mind.

Toward the end of the year, however, the initial enthusiasm over Dianetics was beginning to ebb. The American Psychological Association published a report critical of Dianetics, stating that there was a need for more testing, that Dianetics lacked empirical evidence.

The flow of money into the Foundations tapered off as the novelty of Dianetics began to subside. Several early associates of Hubbard in New Jersey resigned after encounters with the darker side of Hubbard's personality -- a very definite tendency toward paranoia, which would in time sabotage almost every significant relationship in his life.

Hubbard's personal problems also began to interfere with the Dianetics movement. Hubbard, while still married to his first wife, bigamously married another woman. This produced a public and embarrassing divorce scandal which was carried in newspapers across the country.

Hubbard was spending money faster than the Foundations could make it. Funding his grandiose schemes and unrealistic ideas was bankrupting his organizations despite the best efforts of several dedicated followers to save them.

Also, Hubbard was encouraging the exploration of past lives in auditing. This, and the lack of the promised scientific testing and validation of Dianetics, alienated many of the professionals who were involved in the early Dianetics movement.

As the members of the original Foundation in New Jersey began to defect, including John Campbell, the editor of Astounding Science Fiction and Hubbard's first supporter and benefactor, Hubbard's reaction was swift. He denounced each of the defectors as Communists to the F.B.I., a dangerous action given the climate of McCarthyism at the time.

In the spring of 1951, the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in New Jersey was sued by the New Jersey Medical Association for teaching medicine without a license. With the resignations of Campbell and most of the other charter members of the Foundation, the New Jersey Foundation soon declared bankruptcy.

Hubbard produced a second book, called Science of Survival, but the book in its first printing sold only a disappointing 1250 copies. After his meteoric rise the year before, Hubbard was now facing personal and public ruin, having squandered his fortune from the early success of Dianetics and having no other prospects in sight. Salvation came in the form of a knight in shining armor from Wichita, Kansas. A self-made millionaire named Don Purcell, who was an early convert to Dianetics, invited Hubbard to Wichita with the promise of salvaging the beleaguered Dianetic empire.

And so, the Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation was reborn in Wichita. Success remained elusive, however, as only a trickle of students made their way to Wichita to sign up for Dianetics training and Hubbard's lectures.

The honeymoon between Hubbard and Purcell proved to be short-lived. Hubbard was spending money faster than Purcell could provide it. Purcell had not anticipated the hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts which he had legally acquired from the now defunct earlier foundations. And the conservative Purcell was also disturbed by Hubbard's blossoming interest in past lives.

In February of 1952, the Wichita Foundation was forced to file for bankruptcy. A nasty battle ensued between Hubbard and Purcell. Hubbard sued Purcell for reneging on his contract to assume the debts of the earlier foundations. Then Purcell, realizing that Hubbard had made off with the mailing lists and other property of the Wichita Foundation, obtained a restraining order requiring Hubbard to return the foundation property. The feud between the two men continued for many months.

Hubbard opened the Hubbard College on the other side of Wichita. It remained open for only six weeks, but long enough for Hubbard to organize a convention which, although scantly attended, provided Hubbard with a forum from which to announce a completely new development.

This new development was called "Scientology," from the Latin word "scio" (knowing) and the Greek word "logos" (to study). Scientology, the study of knowledge, would now replace the study and practice of Dianetics -- since Don Purcell now owned all the Dianetics copyrights. As Dianetics concerned the body, Hubbard explained, Scientology addressed the soul, renamed the "thetan" in Scientology. Through Scientology, he claimed, a person could attain previously unattainable levels of spiritual awareness.

Shortly after making this announcement to a small group of devotees in Wichita, Hubbard, having secured divorces from his previous two wives, married for the third and final time to Mary Sue Whipp, a young student who had come from Texas to study at the Wichita Foundation.

Hubbard and Mary Sue packed their bags and headed to Phoenix. There, like the namesake symbol of the city, the fledgling science of Scientology would arise from the ashes of Dianetics and soar to success.

The Hubbard Association of Scientology in Phoenix became the new world headquarters for Hubbard and for Scientology. In his lectures and his writing, Hubbard began to expound the principles of this new "science." He introduced a new cosmology and a new direction for auditing.

The thetan, according to Hubbard, has been around for a long time. In the beginning, thetans together created this universe. However, over the eons, they devolved into a degraded state, becoming the effect of the very universe which they created. In his current debilitated state as a thetan, man is unaware of his actual identity as an immortal thetan.

This process of deterioration has also been expedited by a process called "implanting" in which thetans are subjected to high voltage laser beams used to program them for various purposes. These implants are carried out in various locations in the universe and within our own solar system. According to Hubbard, each of us, when we die, is subconsciously programmed to return to the nearest implant station in space where our memories of the life we just lived are electronically zapped away, and where we will be programmed for our next life. Then we are sent back to earth to "pick up a new body" in an endless cycle of rebirth that has been going on for trillions of years.

Through Scientology auditing, the electronic "charge" resulting from the implants can be removed, supposedly restoring the person to levels of ability not achieved "in this sector of the universe" for millions of years. As the electronic charge is removed, the restored thetan, called an "operating thetan" or "OT" in Scientology, will theoretically regain many lost abilities that he had in his "native state," such as extrasensory perception, telepathy, telekinesis, as well as full control of his present body.

As an "OT," a person through Scientology auditing should regain the ability to "exteriorize" at will from his body, becoming able to travel to any location in the universe and to control the body from a distance.

Hubbard also introduced at the same time a curious gadget which he called the "E-meter," short for electropsychometer. This small boxlike instrument is actually a galvanic skin response monitor which registers changes in skin conductivity caused, according to Scientology, by emotional upset. The face of the E-meter contains a dial on which a needle registers "rises" and "falls" of emotional "charge." Various knobs alter the sensitivity of the needle reactions. To the box are connected two leads attached to small soup or juice cans which the preclear holds in his hands.

The E-meter helps the "auditor" probe the preclear's subconscious mind, looking for areas of emotional charge to be explored in auditing.

Scientologists believe that auditing, with the help of the E-meter, entirely confirms the existence of past lives. They believe that through Scientology auditing, immortality can be achieved by modern man. These were the promises made by Hubbard in his new "science."

During this time, Hubbard introduced a policy of tithing in which ten percent of each Scientology organization's weekly gross income would be paid directly to Hubbard. Although Hubbard told Scientologists in a bulletin called "What Your Fees Buy" that he made no money from Scientology, this was a blatant lie. During the later years of the organization, as much as a million dollars a week was being channeled directly into Hubbard's personal accounts.

Hubbard produced another book during this period called What to Audit, later renamed The History of Man, which one author judged (correctly) as "possibly the most absurd book ever written." (7)

In this book, Hubbard traced the history of the thetan, which he claimed had come to earth only 35,000 years earlier. The book begins:

"This is a cold-blooded and factual account of your last sixty-trillion years," and states that through this knowledge, "the blind again see, the lame walk, the ill recover, the insane become sane and the sane become saner."

During those sixty-trillion years we passed through stages called the Jack in the Box, the Halver, Facsimile One, the Joiner, the Ice Cube, the Emanator, and the Between Lives implants. All of these implants could, of course, be nullified through Scientology auditing.

According to Hubbard's son, this book was written while Hubbard was on drugs. That is the only explanation which makes any sense.

In the fall of 1952, Hubbard and his wife journeyed to London, England, where one month later Hubbard's first child by his third wife was born, a daughter named Diana. Hubbard wanted to oversee the new organization of Scientology in London and bring it firmly under his control.

When he returned to the United States, Hubbard stopped in Philadelphia to give a series of lectures, packaged and still sold in Scientology as the "Philadelphia Doctorate Course." Hubbard was by now offering both a Bachelors and a Doctors degree in Scientology.

Hubbard, desiring a degree himself, arranged with Sequoia University, a diploma mill in California that was shut down by the California Department of Education in 1958, to receive an honorary Ph.D., and he proudly displayed this credential after his name for some time. Years later, when it became public that his degree was phony, Hubbard issued an official policy renouncing the degree.

In 1952, Hubbard published another new book, called Scientology 8-8008. In the title, the first eight is a symbol for infinity. The next two digits, 80, symbolize the power of the physical universe reduced to zero; and the final 08 symbolizes the power of the personal universe of the person taken from zero to infinity. In other words, Hubbard is saying that through Scientology techniques, a person can eventually become a god.

Examples of some of these miraculous procedures include the following commands:

"Be three feet back of your head."

"Whatever you are looking at, copy it one at a time, many, many times. Then locate a nothingness and copy it many, many times."

"Locate the two upper back comers of the room, hold on to them and don't think."

"Now find a place where you are not."

"What would it be all right for you to look at here in this room?"

"Now find something it is safe to look at outside this room."

"Be near Earth."

"Be near the Moon."

"Be near the Sun."

"Be near the Earth."

"Be near Mars."

"Be at the center of Mars."

and so on.

It was during these lectures in Philadelphia that Hubbard first mentioned the name of Aleister Crowley, an infamous satanist in England during the first half of the century, referred to by Hubbard as "my very good friend."

Crowley was, in fact, Hubbard's mentor, and remained so throughout his life. It was from Crowley's works that Hubbard found the inspiration for much of the bizarre material on the secret "upper levels," or "OT levels," of Scientology.

One day, while lecturing in Philadelphia, U.S. marshals arrived on the scene and arrested Hubbard for the theft of $9000 from the Wichita Foundation. Amazingly, this was the only occasion that Hubbard spent time in jail, although he was relentlessly pursued by various government agencies for the rest of his years.

Perhaps his arrest warned Hubbard of problems to come, because it was at this time that he began to make noises to friends in Philadelphia that he might transform Scientology into a church -- for legal protection and for tax purposes. He knew that as a church his organization would be afforded protections that otherwise would not exist.

Accordingly, in December of 1953, Hubbard incorporated the Church of Scientology, and the Church of American Science. A year later the Church of Scientology of California was incorporated as a subsidiary of the Church of American Science.

In its Articles of Incorporation, the Church of American Science sounded vaguely like a Christian church. Included in the purposes listed in its original charter are:

To train and indoctrinate ministers and brothers and sisters in the principles and teachings of the Church of American Science.

To prepare them and ordain them to carry forward the work of the Church of American Science, and to conduct churches and minister to and conduct congregations.

To resolve the travail and difficulties of members of congregations, as they may appertain to the spirit.

To conduct seminaries and instruction groups. (8)

And listed in the Creed of this church are:

That God works within Man his wonders to perform.

That Man is his own soul, basically free and immortal, but deluded by the flesh.

That Man has a god-given right to his own life.

That Man has a God-given right to his own beliefs.

That a civilization is lost when God and the spirit are forgotten by its leaders and its people. (9)

The beginning of 1954 saw the birth of the first actual Scientology "church," the Church of Scientology of California, as well as the birth of Hubbard's second child by Mary Sue, a son named Quentin. A second church was soon formed in Auckland, New Zealand.

Hubbard registered the umbrella organization, the Hubbard Association of Scientology International, to oversee all of his new "churches."

Now that he had churches, he needed "ministers," so Hubbard created the Scientology minister's course, on which the Scientologists learned to perform the "sacred ceremonies" of Scientology, including a wedding, a christening, and a funeral.

The christening ceremony, as an example, goes as follows:

"Here we go." (To the child:) "How are you? All right. Now your name is _________. You got that? Good. There you are. Did that upset you? Now, do you realize that you're a member of the HASI? Pretty good, huh?"

The child is introduced to his parents and godparents and the ceremony concludes: "Now you're suitably christened. Don't worry about it, it could be worse. OK. Thank you very much They'll treat you all right." (10)

In 1955, the "Founding Church of Scientology" in Washington, D.C. became the new world headquarters of Scientology.

In 1956, in Washington, D.C., Hubbard held the "Anti-Radiation Congress," at which he revealed that Scientologists could become radiation-proof by taking niacin tablets which he was marketing under the name Dianezene. Shortly after the congress, the F.D.A. arrived on the scene and seized 21,000 illegal tablets. This was just the beginning of Hubbard's trouble with the F.D.A.

By July of 1957, more than one hundred Scientology organizations existed in the United States, and they were flourishing.

In 1958, Scientology's tax exempt status was denied. The Washington, D.C. church appealed to the U.S. Court of Claims, which upheld the original decision, ruling that Hubbard and his wife were profiting beyond "reasonable remuneration" from Scientology. Hubbard was at that time receiving a ten percent tithe from all the organizations worldwide and he had also received a $108,000 gift from the church. Mary Sue was also receiving money from the church.

Hubbard's paranoia was greatly exacerbated by these encounters with government agencies. He began to issue policies railing against the "enemies" of Scientology, stating that the only way to deal with them was to attack even harder.

If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace.... Don't ever defend, always attack. Don't ever do nothing. Unexpected attacks in the rear of the enemy's front ranks work best. (11)

Hubbard had been spending more and more time in Europe, and in the spring of 1959, he surprised his American followers with the purchase of a large Georgian manor in East Grinstead, England, which was to become the new international headquarters of Scientology.

To hide the fact that his new home, named St. Hill, was the seat of a world wide management and control center for Scientology, Hubbard made it known locally that he was conducting important horticultural experiments in the greenhouse of his new estate. He claimed that by bombarding plants with radiation, he could greatly increase their yields. He also pioneered the auditing of tomatoes, by hooking the plants up to the E-meter and then claiming that they registered pain on the meter when he pinched off a leaf.

These experiments attracted quite a bit of press, and a photograph of Hubbard looking balefully at one of his mutant tomatoes actually made its way into Newsweek magazine.

In an effort to generate good public relations with the locals in East Grinstead, Hubbard ran unopposed for the position of Road Safety Organizer for the town. He initially attacked this post with enthusiasm, delivering lectures on road safety to the natives of the town. Soon, however, he resigned this position, giving as a reason his busy schedule.

In the spring of 1961, Hubbard created on paper the Department of Official Affairs, a precursor of the notorious Guardian's Office of Scientology, Hubbard's private intelligence agency.

In March of 1961, Hubbard created the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course, a comprehensive training course for auditors on which students had to listen to as many as 600 tape recorded lectures, each 60 or 90 minutes long, of Hubbard droning on about some esoteric aspect of auditing.

Soon throngs of students from the United States and other countries were arriving at St. Hill for the highly regarded privilege of studying directly under "Ron," who presided as "Lord of the Manor."

The Hubbard family, which had expanded by now to include two more children, lived in style at St. Hill. They had a personal staff of seven, including a butler for "Ron," and a nurse and tutor for the children. The butler would serve Hubbard his accustomed drink, Coca-Cola, on a silver tray.

At St. Hill, Hubbard instituted the practice in all Scientology organizations of "security checking" -- interrogations carried out on the E-meter. The "sec checks" probed for any and all incriminating information about the person's past and current life. The dossier so compiled on every person in Scientology was forwarded to St. Hill where it was filed to be used at a later time against the person should he decide to defect from the organization.

In 1962, Hubbard sent a letter to President Kennedy, magnanimously offering the services of Scientology auditors to audit the astronauts in the space program. Auditing, Hubbard claimed, could greatly increase reaction times and other abilities critical to the astronauts. Hubbard was deflated when he received no reply to his letter.

On January 4, 1963, the F.D.A. carried out a surprise raid on the Scientology organization in Washington, D.C., carrying off nearly three tons of equipment and Scientology literature.

The F.D.A. subsequently brought a Federal case against Scientology for illegally using the E-meter as a medical instrument. As a result of this case, the Scientologists were forced to label the E-meters with a disclaimer stating that they were not to be used to diagnose or treat illness, but were to be used only for religious counseling.

Scientology's legal problems were only beginning, however. Later in 1963, the government in Victoria, Australia, initiated a Board of Inquiry into Scientology as a result of complaints by people claiming they had been defrauded.

The Board of Inquiry was carried out by one man, Kevin Anderson, a member of the Victorian Parliament. After a two-year investigation, he published his findings in a report rabidly critical of Scientology. In this report, Anderson stated:

Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill. (12)

As for Hubbard, Anderson stated that his sanity was to be "... gravely doubted. His writing, abounding in self-glorification and grandiosity, replete with histrionics and hysterical, incontinent outbursts, was the product of a person of unsound mind. His teachings about thetans and past lives were nonsensical; he had a persecution complex; he had a great fear of matters associated with women and a prurient and compulsive urge to write in the most disgusting and derogatory way on such subjects as abortions, intercourse, rape, sadism, perversion and abandonment. His propensity for neologisms was commonplace in the schizophrenic and his compulsion to invent increasingly bizarre theories and experiences was strongly indicative of paranoid schizophrenia with delusions of grandeur. Symptoms", Anderson added, "common to dictators." (13)

Anderson concluded his report by stating that

Scientology is a delusional belief system, based on fiction and fallacies and propagated by falsehood and deception.... What it really is however, is the world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy. (14)

As a result of the Anderson Report, the Victoria Parliament passed the Psychological Practices Act, banning the practice and teaching of Scientology in that province.

The Scientologists responded by simply changing the name of the Victoria church to "Church of the New Faith," in which they continued to teach and practice Scientology.

In 1966, possibly taking a cue from the Victoria Inquiry, Health Minister Kenneth Robinson of the English House of Commons was asked to begin an inquiry into Scientology.

Hubbard responded to these attacks by creating a new branch of the organization, the Public Investigation Section, staffed by private investigators who would compile dossiers on each of the "enemies" of Scientology. One of the investigators was given the task of investigating and compiling a dossier on every psychiatrist in England.

The Public Investigation Section soon evolved into the Guardian's Office of Scientology, a private intelligence organization designed to "deal with any threats to Scientology." Mary Sue Hubbard was appointed Controller for the "G.O."

Meanwhile Hubbard had been spending his time refining the "tech" and the organizational structure of Scientology. A system of "ethics" was established as a form of social control within Scientology. The lower level auditing was standardized into a series of hierarchical "grades" of auditing through which each preclear would progress on the road to "clear."

In 1966, the "world's first Clear" was announced for the second time, this time without a public demonstration of his powers. John McMaster, a benign and much-loved disciple of Hubbard's, received this distinction, much to his own surprise. After becoming "the world's first clear," he served for a time as Hubbard's personal ambassador to Scientologists around the globe, until eventually he, too, ran afoul of Hubbard's temper and was reduced to the lowest rank in Scientology. He later left Scientology and spoke scathingly of the man he had served so faithfully.

In 1966, Hubbard journeyed to Rhodesia, having "discovered" in auditing that in one of his past lives he had lived as Cecil Rhodes, the British financier and administrator of that country. Hubbard had for some time been looking for a more accommodating country in which to establish the world headquarters of Scientology, and it was perhaps with this in mind that he made his journey to Rhodesia.

Arriving in Rhodesia, Hubbard set out to conquer the hearts and minds of those in power, socializing with all the right people, and speaking on public television in order to ingratiate himself with the natives of Rhodesia. In the end, however, what he accomplished was to completely alienate Rhodesian officials with his opinionated views on Rhodesian politics. He soon was expelled from the country.

If Hubbard's ego was temporarily deflated by this enforced exile, it was restored when he arrived back in England where he was welcomed by hundreds of jubilant and cheering Scientologists at the airport.

In 1966, Hubbard wrote a policy stating that he was resigning his position of President and Executive Director of Scientology, probably for legal reasons. However, evidence and witnesses to the contrary prove that Hubbard remained in direct control of his church and its bank accounts for many years to come.

Back in England, Hubbard was soon feeling the heat. Scientology had become a subject for debate in the British Parliament. There had been a recent scandal in East Grinstead in which a young girl, a Scientologist with a prior history of schizophrenia, was discovered by police wandering in the streets in the middle of the night in an incoherent condition.

The police began to interrogate Scientologists as they arrived at St. Hill. Eventually, the British succeeded in using the Aliens Act to keep Scientologists out of the country, an action easily circumvented by the Scientologists who would simply list other reasons for their visit to the country.

In spite of all the problems, business was booming at St. Hill. In spite of, or perhaps because of, the adverse publicity received during this time, income was increasing exponentially. Meanwhile, Hubbard, sensing the increasingly hostile climate in England, conceived a daring plan.

Toward the end of 1966, the Hubbard Explorational Company Limited was registered in London. At the same time, a select group of core Scientologists arrived at St. Hill to begin training on a secret project, known as the "Sea Project." Hubbard quietly purchased two ships, a small schooner named the Enchanter, and a larger 414-ton trawler named the Avon River. Crews of Scientologists were assigned to the ships and spent long, hard hours scrubbing and refitting them, as well as completing basic training in seamanship.

Hubbard said his goodbyes at St. Hill and flew to north Africa where he planned to rendezvous with the ships. While waiting for the ships to arrive, he purchased a third ship, a 3280-ton cattle ferry called the Royal Scotsman. The ship was hurriedly registered in Sierra Leone to bypass British regulations which prevented the ship from sailing.

By now the Sea Project, soon renamed the "Sea Organization," or "Sea Org" as it is known today, was starting to take form. The Sea Org members were dressed in naval-looking uniforms and drilled in the basic points of seamanship in anticipation of going to sea.

It was a daring plan. In order to escape the regulation of troublesome bureaucracies, and the investigations and inquiries of unfriendly governments, Hubbard simply withdrew to the one place where he could be free to govern Scientology without outside interference -- -the sea.

Miraculously, after a few frightening near disasters during their first trial runs at sea, the novice Scientology crews actually survived the vagaries of the Mediterranean and managed to successfully pilot even the unwieldy Royal Scotsman from one Mediterranean port to another.

Hubbard sent for his family from St. Hill and moved with them aboard the Royal Scotsman, which became known as the Flagship, or "Flag," of the fleet. Hubbard began to release the secret "upper levels" of Scientology, known as the "OT" levels, and students soon began arriving at the ship to train on these levels. Much of the ship was converted to classrooms and auditing rooms to accommodate the students. Students considered it a great honor and opportunity to train so close to "Source" (Hubbard).

Hubbard's disposition on the ship, was, as always, mercurial. According to those who were there, at times he could be jovial and charming, loving to sit and regale his followers with tales of his exploits on other planets and in other galaxies. At other times he became a bellowing monster, exploding in rage at the "incompetent and stupid" people around him who were plotting to "destroy him."

In one of his bursts of temper, he originated the bizarre practice of "overboarding," which served as punishment for those unlucky enough to have crossed him in some way on the ship. Early each morning the students were ordered to line up on the deck of the ship while a list of names was read of all who had in some way failed on the previous day, either through technical errors in their auditing or in the performance of their shipboard duties.

When the names were read, each person called would be thrown overboard into the cold waters anywhere from fifteen to forty feet below. This was an understandably traumatic experience for the unfortunates to whom this punishment was administered, particularly as no one was exempted from overboarding by virtue of age (young or old) or lack of the ability to swim. This punishment was part of the elaborate system of "ethics" established earlier by Hubbard throughout Scientology.

Another form of "ethics" that was common on board the ship was the imprisonment of offending Sea Org members, and even children, in the filthy and dangerous chain lockers in the bowels of the ship. In one case a four year old boy was cast into the locker as punishment for eating some telex tape.

Ethics punishments were also carried out in the Scientology organizations on land in similarly degrading and cruel ways. Dunking in freezing water, having one's head dunked in a toilet being flushed and being locked in closets for extended periods of time were punishments which on land substituted for the shipboard practice of overboarding.

The security and anonymity which Hubbard had hoped to achieve at sea eluded him, however, as the strange goings on aboard the ship succeeded in antagonizing officials in the local ports. The daily practice of overboarding, carried out in full view of the locals on shore, accompanied by the fact that a large percentage of the ships' crews were female, fueled a dangerous rumor circulating throughout the area that the Scientology ships were in fact CIA ships.

While docked in the port of Corfu, Greece, Hubbard felt that at last he had found a stable port for his ships. He proceeded as usual to ingratiate himself with the local authorities by expansive promises to bring prosperity to the area by building hotels, roads, factories, golf courses, and even a University of Philosophy on the island. He orchestrated a lavish and public "renaming ceremony" to which the local authorities were invited and in which the ships were renamed the Diana, the Athena and the Apollo as a demonstration of Hubbard's affinity for things Greek.

Unfortunately, the British consul on the island, being tipped off by his government as to the true nature of the "mystery ships," and perhaps fearing a Scientology takeover of the island, informed the local authorities. Hubbard and his ships were given twenty-four hours to leave Greece.

On land, the Scientology organizations were also encountering stormy weather. In England, the Scientology Prohibition Act was passed, barring foreigners from entering the country to study or practice Scientology. In Rhodesia, a ban on importing Scientology material was passed. In Perth, Australia, the local Scientology organization was raided by the police. New inquiries were undertaken in New Zealand and in South Africa.

The popular John McMaster resigned from Scientology, and in the United States it was revealed that Charles Manson had studied and practiced Scientology before inciting his followers to commit their savage murders in Los Angeles. Also in the United States, the I.R.S. began to look into Scientology.

The Sea Org, meanwhile, had hastily relocated to the port of Tangier, in Morocco, and the Scientologists once again embarked on a campaign to win over the locals. Hubbard had renewed hopes of finding a home port for Scientology. The Scientologists offered their services to the army and to the secret police, demonstrating the E-meter and its applicability in ferreting out traitors and secret agents. However, the faction of the government to which they had made their overtures carried out an unsuccessful coup attempt and as a result were all executed. The Scientologists were lucky to escape without incident.

Word reached Hubbard that Scientology was about to be indicted in France and that the French officials were going to seek Hubbard's extradition for prosecution in their fraud case against the church. Hubbard fled to New York, where he hid out in a small apartment in Queens for nine months with a few of his loyal Sea Org members until the crisis passed.

Nine months later, although he was indicted in absentia in France for fraud, it was deemed safe for him to return to the ship. Shortly afterward, Hubbard suffered a motorcycle accident on Tenerife in the Canary Islands in which he broke an arm and several ribs. Never a good patient, during the weeks of his convalescence Hubbard was in an unusually foul mood even for him. During one of his black moods, he conceived of a new punishment as part of the Scientology "ethics" system: the Rehabilitation Project Force, or "RPF."

The RPF was in effect a prison, and it was an idea quickly put into practice at most of the major Scientology organizations around the world. The RPF has since become the dread of every Scientology staff member.

As a disciplinary measure within Scientology, any staff member falling into disfavor for any reason could be assigned to the RPF. Conditions in the RPF are severe. The offending staff members usually cannot bathe, must wear distinctive uniforms or else a grey rag tied around their arm, cannot speak unless spoken to, and are shunned by the rest of the group. They receive minimal sleep, live in inhumane conditions, and are sometimes fed food left over from the plates of the regular staff members.

On the ship, anyone crossing Hubbard was subject to immediate demotion to the RPF. At one point, Hubbard established what was called the RPF's RPF for those unfortunate inhabitants of the regular RPF who were insufficiently broken in will and in need of further "rehabilitation."

As Hubbard grew increasingly paranoid, he collected around himself a group of youngsters, mostly female, who were the children of veteran Sea Org members. This group was named the Commodore's Messenger Organization, or "CMO." They were trained to deliver messages on the ship. When given an order by Hubbard, they were trained to run to the recipient of the order and deliver the order in the exact tone of voice and volume used by Hubbard. They soon developed into a powerful and feared group aboard the ship.

In many ways, these young Scientologists perfectly suited Hubbard's needs. Many of them knew little of life outside Scientology. They were impressionable and malleable. They were trained to become young clones of Hubbard, fanatic and ruthless. They were unquestioningly devoted to Hubbard, and competed among themselves to find new ways to please him.

They also served as personal attendants to Hubbard, waking him in the morning, laying out his clothes, helping him dress, smearing his face with creams, waiting on him, following him about the ship and even carrying ashtrays to catch the falling ashes from his cigarettes.

No leader ever had a more devoted retinue of servants than did Hubbard with his CMO. And it was a two way street. As Hubbard became increasingly paranoid through his later years, he grew to trust no one except the children of the CMO, who were eventually to inherit the church.

Rumors continued to circulate throughout the Mediterranean that the Scientology ships were running drugs, working for the CIA, or engaged in white slave traffic. As a result it grew more and more dangerous for the ships to dock. The tensions peaked in the Portuguese port of Funchal on the island of Madeira when an angry mob pelted the Apollo with rocks and bottles, injuring several Scientologists in the melee. Hubbard ordered the ship to sail due west. The staff realized excitedly that they were headed back to America, which many of them had not seen for years. The Apollo was just an hour from the port of Charleston, South Carolina when a frantic radio signal was received from shore warning of impending danger. A welcoming party comprised of Immigration officials, the D.E.A., U.S. Customs, the F.B.I., the Coast Guard and several U.S. Marshals were waiting for them on shore, ready to arrest Hubbard.

Alerted in time, Hubbard ordered the ship to sail to the Bahamas. For a year the ship sailed an elusive course throughout the Caribbean, staying at one island port after another. In 1975, while docked in Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, Hubbard suffered a heart attack and had to be taken to a local hospital. He spent several weeks in the Curacao Hilton being nursed to health by his faithful disciples.

Soon, however, just as it had in the Mediterranean, the ship with its strange crew began to arouse suspicion in the ports of the Caribbean and Hubbard knew that his quest for safety at sea had come to an end.

Hubbard sent scouts ahead to find property for sale on the coast of Florida. They reported back with the discovery of a large hotel for sale in Clearwater, Florida, which was quickly purchased for 2.3 million dollars in cash under the phony name of the United Churches of Florida. The Sea Org moved into their new headquarters, and Hubbard was settled in a suite of apartments in a nearby town.

It was not long until some of the Clearwater natives, curious about the army of secretive, uniformed young people inhabiting the "religious retreat" in the old Fort Harrison Hotel, began to investigate. A resourceful newspaper reporter was the first one to make the connection to Scientology. As the "church" continued to buy up more and more property in the small tourist town of Clearwater, tensions arose between the citizens and the Scientologists. In spite of efforts by the Scientologists to conquer the hearts of the Clearwater natives with a succession of carefully orchestrated public relations campaigns, these tensions continue to exist today.

On another front, Hubbard had long been preoccupied with the problem of discovering what information existed about his organization in the files of government agencies. Because it would take a relatively long time to gain access to these files under the Freedom of Information Act, Hubbard conceived a plan to get this information in a more direct way. He called this plan "Operation Snow White," not because of the fairy tale character of the same name, but because he considered that once the government files were "cleaned" of the damaging information about Scientology, they would be "snow white."

Within the Guardian's Office of Scientology, the branch of the organization which routinely trained "operatives" and "agents" to carry out various covert operations for the church, plans were laid to infiltrate a select list of government agencies.

In the mid-70s, a G.O. (Guardian's Office) staff member named Gerald Wolfe secured a job as a typist for the I.R.S. Using his official ID badge, he and another G.O. staff member named Michael Meisner carried out a number of successful burglaries of a dozen different I.R.S. and Department of Justice offices, managing to illicitly photocopy and steal tens of thousands of government documents.

The break-ins continued with impunity for more than eighteen months. In June of 1976, a suspicious guard alerted the F.B.I., and the two men were stopped on one of their missions and questioned about their activities. Shortly afterward, Gerald Wolfe was arrested, and a warrant was put out for the arrest of Michael Meisner.

Although the Guardian's Office quickly put into effect an elaborate plan to protect Scientology from being implicated in these burglaries, their efforts were sabotaged when Meisner, who was being kept prisoner by the church, managed to escape and turned state's evidence for the F.B.I.

On July 7, 1977, 134 F.B.I. agents carried out surprise raids on the headquarters of Scientology in both Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. They seized over 48,000 documents and subsequently indicted eleven top G.O. agents including Mary Sue Hubbard, who, as Controller of the G.O., was ultimately responsible for its criminal activities.

Hubbard, learning of the raids, immediately fled into hiding in Nevada, leaving his wife to take the rap for crimes he had originated.

On the 26th of October in 1979, U.S. District Judge Charles Richey sentenced nine of the eleven Guardian's Office officials to prison, including Hubbard's wife, who served one year of a five year sentence before being paroled.

After the arrests, Hubbard distanced himself from his wife, seeing her for the last time in 1979.

Hubbard directed the Sea Organization to purchase several properties in remote locations in southern California, where Hubbard would spend the rest of his days hiding from the world and from the "enemies" he believed to be constantly in his pursuit.

He took a cadre of young people from the CMO with him into the desert near Palm Springs. At one point he assembled a movie studio on one of the desert properties and endeavored to produce movies for the enlightenment of the general population. Most of the movies were lurid documentaries about the savagery of psychiatrists and other "enemies."

Hubbard had been plagued by poor health for many years. In September of 1978 he suffered a severe pulmonary embolism from which he nearly died. Yet he survived to live for another eight years.

When his whereabouts were compromised by a defecting Sea Org member, Hubbard was forced to flee once more to an even more remote location. For the last five years of his life, he remained in hiding on a large ranch in Creston, California, where he lived quietly with three of his most loyal CMO aides.

In a massive reorganization within the church in the early 1980s, and with the silent support of Hubbard, the children of the CMO, who had by now grown into young adults, began to exert their authority over the rest of the Scientology organization. The "old guard" upper echelon executives within Scientology were removed from power in a internal "purge" by the CMO.

The network of independent "missions," lower level Scientology organizations offering introductory services and supplying the more advanced organizations with customers, were taken over, "nationalized" by the CMO. The mission holders were forced to turn over all their assets to the "new guard," or risk being expelled from the organization entirely.

In 1976, Hubbard's oldest son, Quentin, committed suicide. His oldest daughter has defected from the cult. His two youngest children are reportedly still in the organization. His wife has been in seclusion since her release from prison in 1980.

On January 19, 1986, Hubbard issued his last communication to the organization, in which he promoted himself from "Commodore" to "Admiral."

On January 24, 1986, Hubbard died at his remote ranch in Creston, California, of a cerebral hemorrhage. Although an autopsy was not performed, his fingerprints were matched with those on file with the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice.

Three days later it was announced to assembled Scientologists in Los Angeles that L. Ron Hubbard had:

... moved on to his next level of research, a level beyond the imagination and in a state exterior to the body. The body he had used to facilitate his existence in this universe had ceased to be useful and in fact had become an impediment to the work he now must do outside its confines.

His followers were told, and fully believe that:

L. Ron Hubbard used this lifetime and body we knew to accomplish what no man has ever accomplished -- he unlocked the mysteries of life and gave Scientologists the tools to free themselves and their fellow man.... (15)

Today, some 40,000 dedicated Scientologists in this country and a total of 100,000 worldwide carry on the "vital" work of Scientology which they believe will free mankind.


  1. Atack, p. 148
  2. Miller, p. 155
  3. Hubbard, Dianetics, p. 1
  4. Ibid, p. 12
  5. Miller, p. 161
  6. Ibid, p. 116
  7. Ibid, p. 204
  8. Original Articles of Incorporation, Church of American Science
  9. Creed of the Church of American Science
  10. Miller, p. 228
  11. Ibid, p. 241
  12. Ibid, p. 252
  13. Ibid, p. 252
  14. Ibid, p. 253
  15. Ibid, p. 375

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