Understanding Scientology, by Margery Wakefield - Next - Previous

Chapter 10

Religion Inc. -- The Selling of Scientology

Scientology 1970 is being planned on a religious organization basis throughout the world.

This will not upset in any way the usual activities of any organization. It is entirely a matter for accountants and solicitors.

-- Religion, by L. Ron Hubbard

I entreat you students not to be carried away by the claims that any and many "teachers" or "masters" make. ESPECIALLY, BEWARE OF ANY TEACHER, OR SCHOOL, WHICH CLAIMS TO HAVE ABSOLUTE TRUTH AND ESPECIALLY WATCH YOUR MONEY DONATIONS.
-- The Art and Practice of the Occult, by Ophiel

During the 1930s, L. Ron Hubbard had acquired a formidable reputation as a writer of pulp fiction and science fiction. Fans looked forward to his swashbuckling tales each month, and they were rarely disappointed. Whether it was westerns, full of the drama and dust of the West, or adventures set in the exotic Orient, or eerie science fiction tales -- Hubbard seemed to have tapped into an inexhaustible supply of plots and characters. His fertile imagination, coupled with a prodigious writing talent, his capacity for an amazingly prolific verbal output, made him the envy of many of his fiction-writing peers.

Any lesser man would have been satisfied with the success that Hubbard had found as an adventure writer. But Hubbard was no ordinary man. Burning inside him was, as he once confided in an associate, "an insatiable lust for money and power." He had made remarks more than once to friends that he was considering starting his own religion. He told one friend that he had not decided whether to destroy the Catholic Church, or "merely start a new one." (1)

And the now famous quote which he made to a writer's conference, that it was silly to write for a penny a word, and that the real way to make a million dollars was to start your own religion.

Scientology is about money. In Governing Policy Hubbard wrote:


Hubbard was probably one of the, if not the, most successful con men that ever lived. He was able to convince thousands of people to sell their homes, liquidate their assets, and give everything they had to him, in exchange for the questionable commodity of spiritual salvation for eternal lifetimes to come. And not only did they buy it, but they bought it fully believing they had made the best of the bargain.

A recent issue of Impact, a Scientology magazine, contains a revealing list of "Patrons of the Association," a list of 972 people who have donated money to the International Association of Scientologists. What is remarkable about this list is that of the 972 donors listed, 844 had donated more than $40,000, 99 had donated more than $100,000 and 29 had donated over $250,000 for a grand total of over 50 million dollars!

That kind of "giving" by parishioners might well be the envy of many other churches.

It has always been difficult for outsiders to ascertain certain information about Scientology, because of the secrecy of the organization about its financial and membership statistics, and the tendency of the organization to inflate or deflate those statistics to their advantage.

For example, as far back as 1978, Scientology claimed to have 5,437,000 members internationally. For the past ten years they have been claiming to have 6 million members around the globe. Yet in an internal church memo released this year, Scientologists were told that the membership of the church was twenty five thousand, and they were exhorted to work to increase that figure by a factor of four so that the church could have 100,000 members.

Conversely, the church has systematically underreported its income and assets; however, reports from defecting members have provided some clues as to Scientology's finances.

In the September 1981 issue of Reader's Digest it was reported that at that time Scientology was grossing $100 million a year, a figure substantiated by courtroom testimony a year later in which a recent defector from Scientology reported that the church was grossing 2 million dollars a week. It was also reported that the church in Clearwater alone was grossing a million dollars per week, and that the staff was put on a diet of rice and beans when this quota was not met.

The same court testimony produced the information that at least 100 million dollars had been illegally smuggled out of the country and stashed in various foreign accounts in Lichtenstein and Luxembourg. And Forbes magazine in 1986 reported the net worth of the church at that time as 400 million dollars.

Scientologists, especially those working as "staff," are constantly under pressure to increase the flow of funds into the organization. An example of this is what one writer has dubbed "the billion dollar caper."

In a taped briefing to his staff, Hubbard said: "MONEY! REPEAT MONEY! REPEAT MONEY! REPEAT MONEY!" (2)

Scientology had long had a network of "missions," small Scientology organizations accessible to the public which offered beginning Scientology services. The owners of these missions were probably the only entrepreneurs in Scientology, and many of them did very well financially with the missions.

Until 1982, these missions were loosely organized by the Scientology Missions Office World Wide. But in 1982, Scientology, under its new leadership, and presumably masterminded by Hubbard, decided to "nationalize" these missions and milk the affluent owners of their assets.

It was announced to these mission holders that a new umbrella organization was being established, the Scientology Missions International. Many of the mission holders were required to buy a $35,000 "mission starters packet" even though their missions had been operating for years.

To add insult to injury, the mission holders were informed that their missions were to be visited by the "International Finance Police," who would be going over their finances -- a privilege for which the mission would be billed at the rate of $15,000 per day. The "International Finance Police" were organized by an "International Finance Dictator."

Through these and other acts of terrorism, a full scale purge took place throughout Scientology in which many of the long standing Scientologists were thrown out or forced out of the organization by the new management, the children who had grown up under Hubbard and who now ruthlessly seized power in the organization.

"I have never lied to you," Hubbard once assured his followers. And yet, in an article called What Your Donations Buy, he wrote benevolently:

I know that Dianetic and Scientology services should be free and I wish they were.

Personally I have tried to do my part in this. None of the researches of Dianetics and Scientology were ever actually paid for out of organizational fees. With my typewriter I paid for the research myself.

Independent of research costs, the 13-1/2 million dollars that churches owed me for services rendered, the usual author's royalties, lectures, loans, things paid out of my own pocket, I forgave and never collected.

So the donations you make for services do not go to me....

Hubbard then claimed that the money from Scientology was spent in "keeping the church alive and functioning and the environment safe."

So where did Hubbard get his money?

In the 1960s, Hubbard told a reporter from The Daily Mail in England that he had 7 million dollars in a Swiss bank, money he claimed, that he had inherited in oil lands in Montana.

Defectors from Scientology in the early 1980s portray quite a different picture. According to the Forbes magazine issue of October 27, 1986, in 1982 at least 40 million dollars had gone directly to Hubbard, channeled through various Scientology corporations.

One defector, Homer Schomer, says that in 1983, he was personally making out checks to Hubbard each week for a million dollars from Scientology funds. In other words, Hubbard was making 52 million dollars a year from Scientology. A dozen different corporations were set up to disguise these payments to Hubbard. According to one ex-member:

The problem was how were we going to get the money for Hubbard? He was not supposed to take the money personally. So separate corporations were set up. This is RRF, Religious Research Foundation. We used to call it Ralph. That was a code name.

Money would be put into Ralph, that would be accounts in Lichtenstein. This is a Liberian Corporation. And he would draw from it. So in other words all of this money actually made its way over to Ralph. It went through these various people and various organizations, and from Ralph, then it went right to Hubbard. (3)

Later, an even simpler means of channeling money to Hubbard was devised, which was for Hubbard to bill Scientology retroactively for his various services and research. For example, the church was billed 85 million dollars by Hubbard for the use of the E-meter, which he claimed to have developed.

If not already obvious, the mercenary nature of Scientology can be clearly seen in many of its policies and practices.

One example is a policy by Hubbard called How to Sell Scientology, which is an interesting title for the policy of a "church" In this policy he instructs his followers to talk about the brutalities of psychiatry, saying that "if you get real insistent, even oddly accusative of listener, even slightly angry on this point and stress it over and over, you should get some people willing to come to a (lecture)."

Another bulletin announces the "Overwhelming Public Popularity" campaign, in which a media blitz in the San Francisco area will "get the broad general public knowing about and wanting Scientology."

How many churches have a trained corps of salespersons working on a commission basis to provide a constant supply of paying public to the organization? How many churches offer "rebates" on the services purchased by parishioners?

In Scientology, salespersons called FSMs (Field Staff Members) are trained to recruit people for Scientology services. The FSMs earn a 10-15% commission on everyone they "select" for a Scientology service, depending on the type of service.

FSMs are drilled on the "dissemination drill," in which they learn to locate a person's "ruin." The dissemination drill is a four step drill, consisting of the steps: 1. contact; 2. handle; 3. salvage; and 4. bring to understanding.

The FSM contacts a potential recruit in any of a variety of ways, "handles" any objections the person might have about Scientology, then probes through conversation to discover the person's "ruin," the one thing in his life he will pay almost anything to overcome. Once the "ruin" is discovered, the person can be "brought to understanding" by being told: "Scientology handles that (problem)."

Once the new person is on the Communication Course, he will be shepherded onto subsequent courses by the FSM, who will receive commissions for everything his selectee does in Scientology.

FSMs go through an intensive training course, on which they are given tips on how to increase their commissions. They are trained in the use of "Come-on" dissemination, in which they learn to create some "mystery" to attract the new person into Scientology. They are taught to use books, primarily the Dianetics book, to lure people into Scientology. They learn a technique called the "casualty contact," in which they go as "ministers" into a hospital and recruit people to Scientology.

FSMs are taught that their purpose is to "help LRH (Hubbard) contact, handle, salvage and bring to understanding the individuals and thus the peoples of earth." (4)

For successful FSMs, there is even the "FSM of the Year Award," at which the FSM with the "highest statistics" for the year is awarded a silver cup.

When a new person begins a course in Scientology, he is told that if he doesn't like the course, he can get a full refund. What he is not told is to what lengths he will have to go to get the promised refund. A dissatisfied person applying for a refund in Scientology is first subjected to an extensive "routing form," requiring him to go around the organization and be interviewed by at least a dozen people as to the reason he is requesting a refund. Even after completing this tortuous procedure, there is no guarantee that he will ever receive his refund. He may find that letters and even repeated phone calls will go unanswered indefinitely, until he will finally require the services of an attorney to recover the promised refund.

Another Scientology policy is the "freeloader's bill." A person who signs on as "staff" in a Scientology organization by signing either a 2-1/2 year, five-year or billion-year contract of employment is technically entitled to free services (auditing or training). However, if the person becomes dissatisfied and decides to leave staff, he will immediately receive a "freeloader's bill," in which he will be billed for all services received as a staff member, but at full rates.

Since the charges for auditing range from $300 to $1000 per hour, this bill can be quite intimidating to the staff person, particularly since they are often threatened with expulsion from Scientology or a "lower condition" unless they pay the bill. Since most Scientologists believe that their spiritual survival for the "next endless trillions of years" is dependent on Scientology, the threat of being expelled or having their relationship with Scientology jeopardized is no small matter.

There is an even more ominous policy in Scientology having to do with defectors from the organization. The person in Scientology undergoing auditing is continually told that his auditing file is confidential. This is so he will feel comfortable divulging the most personal things to the auditor. Yet, unbeknownst to the person being audited, there is a policy in the organization, GO Order 121669, which explicitly orders the culling of confessional folders for information to use against people who are "security risks."

In one such case, a letter is written by a Scientologist to a member who is obviously disaffected, informing him that: "the review (of his folder) shows that you actually make more money than you report to the IRS and that you are skimming around $2500 off the top prior to reports," and threatening to make this information public should the person not come into line.

One judge who looked into Scientology called it: "the world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy." (5)

Is Scientology a religion?

Or is it a business masquerading as a religion?

Let the reader judge for himself.


  1. Miller, p. 144
  2. Corydon, p. 200
  3. Ibid, p. 199
  4. Hubbard policy of 9 May 1965, "Field Auditors Become Staff"
  5. Justice Andersen, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia

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