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"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." - L. Ron Hubbard
"Have Increased Confidence In Yourself!" Call the Dianetics Hotline,
1-800-FOR TRUTH (1-800-367-8788)

 This advertisement, or something a lot like it, can be found in the Personals in some local newspapers. Several television networks carry advertisements for two books called "Dianetics" and "Self-Analysis." Both are written by a man named L. Ron Hubbard. Both promise better mental health. If you walk down the city streets, you might be accosted by men and women in businesslike attire who offer to give you free "personality analysis" tests. Though they might not say it, all of them are promoting the same thing - a vast, wealthy, and dangerous underground empire called the Church of Scientology.


. Lafeyette Ronald Hubbard, founder of Dianetics and later the Church of Scientology, was born in Tilden, Nebraska, in 1911. During World War II, he served as a naval officer in the Pacific and was even involved with naval intelligence for a short time. He achieved moderate success as a science fiction writer; a trip to the local bookstore will probably reveal some of his books on the shelf. His last work, "Mission Earth," is a huge, 10-volume epic about aliens trying to take over the world.  Hubbard, at times, has claimed exaggerated accomplishments, such as a Ph.D. from a renowned quack diploma mill and expertise in nuclear engineering. In reality, however, he never even obtained a bachelor's degree in physics.

. Scientology's origins can be traced back to Dianetics, but its early history is largely unknown. Hubbard apparently was somewhat familiar with Freudian psychoanalytic ideas, such as the concept of the influence of the subconscious on adult behavior and the effects of repressing traumatic events. What is known is that in the late 1940s he befriended John Campbell, another writer and editor of the popular ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION magazine. Campbell, interested in Hubbard's ideas, studied them and eventually claimed to have had his sinusitis "cured" by it - at least for a while. Campbell immediately started promoting Dianetics in the May 1950 ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION issue, and demand for more information mushroomed so much that Hubbard soon published "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Heath" that same year. It became a best-seller, and Hubbard even founded the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in late 1950 as well and became a popular lecturer.  The movement spread quickly, but Hubbard had little control over it, as many followers of Dianetics organized into local groups rather than linking with him, resulting in variations and twists in Dianetics all over the nation. Also, popular interest in Dianetics began to wane, and in 1951, the Foundation suffered a financial crisis. Many members of the Board of Directors resigned, including Hubbard himself, who went to Cuba and returned to the United States in 1952.

Hubbard then dealt with these trends in two ways. First, through a prolonged struggle that involved much correspondence and eventually bitter feelings, he purged the movement of "amateurs," "heretics," and "revisionists," consolidating control over the "licensing" of persons who could formally claim expertise in Dianetics. Hubbard could now  control who taught Dianetics and how it was taught. Second, a lot of disciples had already reached the stage of "clear" (see "Beliefs" for details"), which was the highest stage in Dianetics. Hubbard then established the Hubbard Association of Scientology in Phoenix, Arizona, where his parents lived. Notions of reincarnation, extraterrestrial life, and more complex levels of emotional and spiritual health were incorporated into Hubbard's belief system, serving as expansions to the more purely psychological Dianetics.

In 1953, the Church of Scientology was incorporated. In 1954, Hubbard officially opened the first church in Washington, D.C. The organization then applied for and received tax-exempt status as the Founding Church of Scientology in 1955. In 1959, church headquarters were moved to the 57-acre Saint Hill Manor estate in East Grimstead, Sussex, England. Its former owner was the Maharajah of Jaipur. Today it still retains its tax-exempt status, although it has been challenged in several states.

. After the mid-60's, L. Ron Hubbard's leadership role in Scientology declined in prominence, although he was still firmly in control of Scientology. On the other hand, his third wife, Mary Sue, played an increasingly more important role in the movement, as did Hubbard's daughter, Diana, and his son, Quentin, both from his third marriage.

. In 1980, the membership of Scientology was said to be 3,000,000 in America and 236,000 in England.


. The basic tenets of Scientology are rather simple: Each human has a soul, referred to in Scientology circles as a "thetan." Eons ago, the individual thetan was a godlike being, but gradually fell from his divine status through experimenting with corporeal human form (for the purpose of pure diversion) and forgetting his higher origins, being trapped on earth in his own delusions of mortality. Scientology tries to remove the illusion of mortality from the thetan and teach him of his ancient origins.

. Hubbard made a distinction between the "analytic mind" (the human consciousness) and the "reactive mind" (the subconscious). Under severe stress, according to Dianetics, the analytic mind, which regulates the person's everyday actions, breaks down or malfunctions temporarily, thus allowing the reactive mind to record details of the traumatic experience such as sounds, sights, sensations of touch, etc.  These emotionally charged experiences are known as "engrams," and everyone has them. In fact, the individual person (known at this point as a "pre-clear") even has engrams from past lives that remain in the thetan as he passes from one body to another, and those engrams can prevent people from remembering their past lives and reaching full potential in life. Engrams can also be picked up in the womb; for example, if the mother were to be hurt in a car wreck, an engram would be implanted in the embryo's mind. To start working back towards godhood, the pre-clear must remove all engrams from his mind by means of the exercises created by Dianetics, which include "auditing sessions" and "power processing" courses that claim to raise a person's IQ. Both are very expensive (an auditing session costs around $150 for one hour), but both are considered necessary to remove all flaws from the human mind.

. In an auditing session, the subject must "relive" the engrams that are in his mind by going through a sort of past-life regression.  As the auditor speaks with the pre-clear in hopes of triggering the engrams, the subject might stumble across one of them and expound on it, usually saying what has been picked up by the reactive mind during the trauma. When the engram is fully relived, it ceases to have power and is erased.

. Once all engrams are erased, the thetan is now considered "clear," a term named after the button on the calculator that erases all previous calculations. His slate has been wiped clean, and he is now free to start working towards immortality again by practicing higher disciplines that will re-educate him about his archaic origins in space. As he learns more and more about his past, he will become an "Operating Thetan," or OT. There are six levels ranging from OT-1 to OT-6, the highest of Scientology disciplines. Hubbard, however, was said to be working on OT-7 or OT-8 a few years before his disappearance.

. Scientology has invented its own complex language full of terms unfamiliar to outsiders. In addition to engrams, thetans, power processing, analytic minds, reactive minds, and clears, there are also "boo-hoos," "overts," going "squirrel," and even Orgs (short for organizations). The Sea Org, a fleet of naval vessels, is the most prominent of all, composed of the elite of Scientology. Sea Org members command widespread respect throughout the movement.


. Scientologists object to their movement being called a cult, but critics who say it is point first of all to the extremely high fees for auditing and other Scientology courses. Mrs. Mary Weeks, a Scientology critic in Portland, Oregon, reports that the Portland chapter charges $150 an hour for auditing. Some claim that the average amount spent to try to become "clear" is $2,500; Mrs. Weeks places the figure at $5,000. Several have spent $10,000 to $15,000.  One ex-Scientologist said he spent $23,000 in nine months and had not even completed the second course. A few have spent over $100,000 on Scientology. The cult is almost exclusively run on the fees, and 10% of all church income goes to the headquarters in England.

. Ex-members claim it is very hard to get refunds if one is not satisfied with the results. Some contend that when they attempted to stop their auditing they were strongly discouraged. They were told that they were unhappy with the results because they hadn't taken enough sessions, and they were pressured into signing up for more. In any case, it is necessary to go through eleven or twelve church officials to get the refund.

. As the costs for sessions are prohibitively high, some pledge to work for the church in return for continual training. Many members work very long hours for little or no payment. One ex-Scientologist said he worked a 100-hour week for only $10 a week. Another former Scientologist, Julie Titchbourne, who joined the cult when she was 17, worked sixteen hours a day for $4 per week. When she left the cult, she then filed a huge lawsuit against it. This will be dealt with in the "History" section.

. Auditing sessions also make use of a curious device called the electronometer, or E-Meter for short. The device is a crude form of lie detector, composed of two electrodes connected to a box with a needle on it. The subject holds the electrodes while the auditor puts him through various tests, sometimes lasting several hours. Some say that prolonged auditing can cause subjects to experience hallucinations that grow more realistic over time until they can no longer tell what they imagine apart from what they experience.

. Many also claim that they were alienated from family and friends as they got more and more heavily into Scientology. Many were convinced that they were responsible for the "engrams" in their minds.

. Critics also charge that some ex-Scientologists have gone insane from auditing and some have even committed suicide because of it. Dr. Margaret Singer, testifying at the Julie Titchbourne trial (see below), said that Julie suffered from "a stress response syndrome that has impaired her recall, use of language, and concentration."

. The status of a Scientologist is closely monitored by an Ethics Officer, who watches the progress of the individual and adjusts his "Ethics Condition" according to his progress. These conditions are, from lowest to highest: Confusion, Treason, Enemy, Doubt, Liability, Nonexistence, Danger, Emergency, Normal, Affluence, and Power. A person who has been demoted by an Ethics Officer may reinstate himself by doing various "amends projects" such as writing 100 times that you were wrong, scrubbing floors, composing papers about your shortcomings, or collecting signatures from fellow members.


. Scientology has always had a rather stormy history, having to deal with critics, ex-members turned enemies, deprogrammers, and the United States Government.

. The cult's troubles really got started around 1963, when the Food and Drug Administration made a raid on Scientology headquarters, confiscating three tons of literature and E-Meters. They then tried to declare E-Meters ineffective.

. In that same year, a British Scientologist named Robert Moore and his wife, Mary Ann, broke off from the cult along with several others.  The Moores then adopted the last name of DeGrimston and founded the infamous Process Church of the Final Judgment, a cult that worships three gods: Jehovah, Lucifer, and Satan. In recent years, this cult has been accused of playing a major part in the infamous "Son of Sam" killings; and the murderer, David Berkowitz, is a member of the cult.

. The Process, as they are often called, was also in contact with ex-Scientologist Charles Manson for a while. They set up their California headquarters in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco on Cole Avenue, and at one time, Manson and his followers lived no more than two blocks away from the Process. There is some evidence to support the belief that the Process may have either directly or indirectly influenced the Manson cult to commit the bloody Tate/LaBianca slayings of 1969.

. As for Charles Manson, he joined Scientology in the early 60's, eventually claiming to reach the stage of "clear" while in prison for earlier crimes. After that, he felt that Scientology had nothing more to offer him, so he left the cult. His last contact with Scientology was in 1968, when he asked a church receptionist in Los Angeles what one did after becoming clear. When she was unable to tell him anything new, he left. Vincent Bugliosi, Manson's prosecutor in the slayings, said in his book "Helter Skelter," "What effect, if any, Scientology had on Manson's mental state cannot be measured.  Undoubtedly he picked up from his 'auditing' sessions in prison some knowledge of mind control, as well as some techniques which he later put to use in programming his followers."

. Scientology then assumed a policy of threatening and attacking those who fought against the cult. Julie Titchbourne, a former Scientologist from Seattle, sued the cult in the late 70's, and one of the prosecutors affirmed that the cult had arranged to set her up on a fake kidnaping charge. In fact, one of the alternate jurors for the Titchbourne case, Marie Killman, told the judge that she was telephoned by a man who told her, "If your findings are against the Scientology Church you will be killed." Later, he phoned her again with the message "I will get you, I will get you." Killman was removed from the trial.

. One of Scientology's chief bugbears is a free-lance journalist named Paulette Cooper. In 1971, she wrote a scathing expose of the cult called "The Scandal Of Scientology," in which she referred to their methods as "resembling a combination of psychotherapy and the Catholic confession." The cult filed 18 libel suits against her, each one coming from a different branch of the cult. Cooper was able to make a settlement with Scientology by pledging not to republish the book and by releasing a statement that said fifty-two passages in the book were "erroneous or at least misleading."

. Shortly afterwards, an Arabian consulate in New York City received bomb threats over the phone from someone who sounded like Paulette Cooper. Then, more bomb threats were sent to several people; all threats written on Ms. Cooper's stationery. Her fingerprints were even found on the bomb threats. Cooper's neighbors received letters threatening her friends and stating that she had venereal disease.  Finally, in May, 1973, Cooper was indicted by a Federal grand jury in connection with the bomb threats, and may very well have been convicted of them had she not taken voluntary sodium pentathol tests in 1975 to prove her innocence.

. In 1976, two people obtained jobs in the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department. Both were Scientologists who used falsified credentials to secure the jobs. They then proceeded to steal 15,000 documents from the organizations related to tax-exemption inquiries concerning Scientology. In that same year, Scientology purchased the Fort Harrison Hotel in Florida and converted it into a training center for high-level Scientologists called Flag Headquarters. Five other buildings in Clearwater were also purchased.  In 1977, Scientology also bought six buildings in Los Angeles, including the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital complex, which sold for$5,500,000 and was converted into seminar headquarters.

. Then it happened. On July 8, 1977, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a massive raid on the Church of Scientology headquarters at Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. The raid took over 20 hours and involved 165 FBI agents. A total of 100,000 pages were seized, turning up the most damaging testimony against the cult to date. Among the documents were files dedicated to critics and opponents of Scientology kept by the Guardian's Office, a special branch of the cult trained to deal with Scientology's critics. One of them, found at both locations, was a huge file dedicated to Paulette Cooper called "Operation P.C. Freak-Out." The purpose of this campaign was to "get P.C. [Paulette Cooper] incarcerated in a mental institution or jail or at least hit her so hard that she drops her attacks."

. Also unearthed by the raid were papers implicating the church in a fake hit-and-run auto accident involving Gariel Cezares, then mayor of Clearwater, Florida, after objecting to the cult's extensive purchases in the city, burglary of a law firm representing the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, attempts to discredit the editor of ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, infiltration of the CLEARWATER SUN office to report on the paper's daily activities, and infiltration of the WASHINGTON POST newspaper office, among other crimes. The seized documents outlined plans to infiltrate more than 130 Federal agencies, private organizations, and businesses.

. In response, the Church of Scientology launched a $7,500,000 lawsuit against the FBI and two United States attorneys implicated in the raids. The D.C. raid was declared illegal, and the Federal judge ordered all papers taken from the D.C. headquarters to be given back. This still left them with a ten-inch stack of 48,000 documents to be used against the cult, as the Los Angeles raid was declared legal in September, 1979.

. In August, 1978, 11 high-ranking Scientology officials, including Cindy Raymond, Gerald Bennett Wolfe, and Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of L. Ron Hubbard and "Worldwide Guardian" of the Church, were indicted on 28 counts by the United States Government, including conspiracy.  . 1979 proved to be a most disastrous year for Scientology. In June, the Church was accused of obtaining fraudulent loans from California banks as high as $10,000, then sticking the funds in the cult's treasury. 100 people in the Church have been questioned about the loans, and two have already admitted to obtaining them. In August, an Oregon jury awarded Julie Titchbourne $2,067,000 on the grounds of "outrageous conduct" and "common law fraud" by the Church of Scientology. And on October 26, 1979, eight Scientology officials were convicted of conspiracy. Mary Sue Hubbard, Cindy Raymond, and Gerald Bennett Wolfe were each sentenced to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine, with the others receiving lesser sentences. The ten inch stack of Scientology documents was also made available to the general public. In January, 1980, the Scientology officials were released on bail pending an appeal.

. As for L. Ron Hubbard himself, no one has admitted to seeing him after 1978. He lived in isolation either in an elegant penthouse at the top of the Clearwater headquarters or, as many believe, on his 300-foot yacht, the APOLLO. He was said to be deathly afraid of germs; a reclusive hypochondriac, taking drugs for all sorts of illnesses both real and imagined. Finally, L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986. His "Self-Analysis" book and "Mission Earth" series were published posthumously.


. If any Christian considers getting into Dianetics, he should also consider the amount of money he will have to spend in auditing sessions and other exercises. He should also look at its beliefs in reincarnation and the notion that humans were once godlike beings from the stars. Although the movement claims to be compatible with all other religions, it makes no claim to help you understand God; it only offers to help you understand yourself. In fact, to the Scientologist, whether or not there even is a God is irrelevant, since he will someday be like God. The Christian must also consider the cult's policies of dealing with ex-members and enemies.

. Scientology, which has been referred to by critics as "the science fiction religion," has been surrounded with controversy for years. It claims to be enhancing mental health, but Dr. John G. Clark testified at the Titchbourne trial that Scientology is a dangerous cult that is "designed to tear apart the fabric of the mind." Its exercises are "utterly mutilating to the mind. Taken to its extreme, you can teach someone to kill."

. In closing, these are the words of a young writer for TIME magazine describing his experience with the cult in 1969: "Scientology is scary - because of its size and growth, and because of the potentially disastrous techniques it so casually makes use of...I have Hubbard to thank for a true-life nightmare that gnawed at my family relationships and saddled me with a burden of guilt I've not yet been able to shed."  What do you think of this article?