Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
The Mind Behind the Religion
From a life haunted by emotional and financial troubles, L. Ron Hubbard brought forth Scientology. He achieved godlike status among his followers, and his death has not deterred the church's efforts to reach deeper into society.
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A1:1)
"Hip, hip, hurray!" thousands of Scientologists thundered inside the Hollywood Palladium, where they had just been told of this remarkable feat.
"Hip, hip, hurray! Hip, hip, hurray!" they continued to chant, gazing at a large photograph of Hubbard, creator of their religion and author of the best-selling "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health."
that day, the
They were told nothing more, just to be there.
As evening fell, thousands arrived, most decked out in the spit-and-polish mock Navy uniforms that are symbolic of the organization's paramilitary structure.
The excited assemblage was about to learn that their beloved leader, a man who dubbed himself "The Commodore," had died. Yet, death was never mentioned.
Instead, the Scientologists were told that Hubbard had finished his spiritual research on this planet, charting a precise path for man to achieve immortality. And now it was on to bigger challenges somewhere beyond the stars.
His body had "become an impediment to the work he now must do outside of its confines," the awe-struck crowd was informed. "The fact that he ... willingly discarded the body after it was no longer useful to him signifies his ultimate success: the conquest of life that he embarked upon half a century ago."
death certificate would show that Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, 74, who had not
been seen publicly for nearly six years, died on Jan. 24, 1986, of a stroke
on his ranch outside
But to Scientologists, the man they affectionately called "Ron" had ascended.
The glorification of L. Ron Hubbard that brisk January night was not surprising. Over more than three decades he had skillfully transformed himself from a writer of pulp fiction to a writer of "sacred scriptures."
Along the way, he made a fortune and achieved his dream of fame.
"I have high hopes of smashing my name into history so violently that it will take a legendary form, even if all the books are destroyed,"
Hubbard wrote to the first of his three wives in 1938, more than a decade before he created Scientology.
"That goal," he said, "is the real goal as far as I am concerned."
From the ground up, Hubbard built an international empire that started as a collection of mental therapy centers and became one of the world's most controversial and secretive religions.
The intensity, combativeness and salesmanship that distinguish Scientology from other religions can be traced directly to Hubbard. For, even in death, the man and his creation are inseparable.
He wrote millions of words in scores of books instructing his followers on everything from how to market Scientology to how to fend off critics. His prolific and sometimes rambling discourses constitute the gospel of Scientology, its structure and its soul. Deviations are punishable.
Through his writings, Hubbard fortified his clannish organization with a powerful intolerance of criticism and a fierce will to endure and prosper. He wrote a Code of Honor that urged his followers to "never desert a group to which you owe your support" and "never fear to hurt another in a just cause."
He transmitted to his followers his suspicious view of the world -- one populated, he insisted, by madmen bent on Scientology's destruction.
His flaring temper and searing intensity are deeply branded into the church and reflected in the behavior of his faithful, who shout at adversaries and even at each other. As one former high-ranking member put it: "He made swearing cool."
Hubbard's followers say his teachings have helped thousands kick drugs and allowed countless others to lead fuller lives through courses that improve communication skills, build self-confidence and increase an individual's ability to take control of his or her life.
He was, they say, "the greatest humanitarian in history."
But there was another side to this imaginative and intelligent man. And to understand Scientology, one must begin with L. Ron Hubbard.
In the late 1940s, Hubbard was broke and in debt. A struggling writer of science fiction and fantasy, he was forced to sell his typewriter for $28.50 to get by.
"I can still see Ron three-steps-at-a-time running up the stairs in around 1949 in order to borrow $30 from me to get out of town because he had a wife after him for alimony," recalled his former literary agent, Forrest J. Ackerman.
At one point, Hubbard was reduced to begging the Veterans Administration to let him keep a $51 overpayment of benefits. "I am nearly penniless," wrote Hubbard, a former Navy lieutenant.
Hubbard was mentally troubled, too. In late 1947, he asked the Veterans Administration to help him get psychiatric treatment.
"Toward the end of my (military) service," Hubbard wrote to the VA, "I avoided out of pride any mental examinations, hoping that time would balance a mind which I had every reason to suppose was seriously affected.
"I cannot account for nor rise above long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations, and have newly come to realize that I must first triumph above this before I can hope to rehabilitate myself at all."
In his most private moments, Hubbard wrote bizarre statements to himself in notebooks that would surface four decades later in Los Angeles Superior Court.
"All men are your slaves," he wrote in one.
"You can be merciless whenever your will is crossed and you have the right to be merciless," he wrote in another.
Hubbard was troubled, restless and adrift in those little known years of his life. But he never lost confidence in his ability as a writer. He had made a living with words in the past and he could do it again.
Before the financial and emotional problems that consumed him in the 1940s, Hubbard had achieved moderate success writing for a variety of dime-store pulp magazines. He specialized in shoot'em-up adventures, Westerns, mysteries, war stories and science fiction.
output, if not the writing itself, was spectacular. Using such pseudonyms as
Winchester Remington Colt and Rene LaFayette, he
sometimes filled up entire issues virtually by himself. Hubbard's life then
was like a page from one of his adventure stories. He panned for gold in
Puerto Rico and charted waterways in
Although Hubbard's health and writing career foundered after the war, he remained a virtual factory of ideas. And his biggest was about to be born.
Hubbard had long been fascinated with mental phenomena and the mysteries of life.
an expert in hypnotism. During a 1948 gathering of science fiction buffs in
Hubbard sometimes spoke of having visions.
His former literary agent, Ackerman, said Hubbard once told of dying on an operating table. And here, according to Ackerman, is what Hubbard said followed:
"He arose in spirit form and looked at the body he no longer inhabited....
In the distance he saw a great ornate gate.... The gate opened of its own accord and he drifted through. There, spread out, was an intellectual smorgasbord, the answers to everything that ever puzzled the mind of man. He was absorbing all this fantabulous information.... Then he felt like a long umbilical cord pulling him back. And a voice was saying,
'No, not yet.' "
Hubbard, according to Ackerman, said he returned to life and feverishly wrote his recollections. He said Hubbard later tried to sell the manuscript but failed, claiming that "whoever read it
(a) went insane, or
(b) committed suicide."
Hubbard's intense curiosity about the mind's power led him into a friendship in 1946 with rocket fuel scientist John Whiteside Parsons.
was a protege of British satanist
Aleister Crowley and leader of a black magic group
and Hubbard lived in an aging mansion on
Hubbard met his second wife, Sara Northrup, at the mansion. Although she was Parsons' lover at the time, Hubbard was undeterred. He married Northrup before divorcing his first wife.
Long before the 1960s counterculture, some residents of the estate smoked marijuana and embraced a philosophy of promiscuous, ritualistic sex.
"The neighbors began protesting when the rituals called for a naked pregnant woman to jump nine times through fire in the yard," recalled science fiction author L. Sprague de Camp, who knew both Hubbard and Parsons.
Hubbard and Parsons finally had a falling out over a sailboat sales venture that ended in a court dispute between the two.
In later years, Hubbard tried to distance himself from his embarrassing association with Parsons, who was a founder of a government rocket project at California Institute of Technology that later evolved into the famed Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Parsons died in 1952 when a chemical explosion ripped through his garage lab.
insisted that he had been working undercover for Naval Intelligence to break
up black magic in
Hubbard said the mission was so successful that the house was razed and the black magic group was dispersed.
But Parsons' widow, Cameron, disputed Hubbard's account in a brief interview with The Times. She said the two men "liked each other very much" and "felt they were ushering in a force that was going to change things."
In early 1950, Hubbard published an intriguing article in a 25-cent magazine called Astounding Science Fiction. In it, he said that he had uncovered the source of man's problems.
The article grew into a book, written in one draft in just 30 days and entitled "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health." It would become the most important book of Hubbard's life.
The book's introduction declared that Hubbard had invented a new "mental science," a feat more important perhaps than "the invention of the wheel, the control of fire, the development of mathematics."
Hubbard himself said he had uncovered the source of, and the cure for, virtually every ailment known to man. Dianetics, he said, could restore withered limbs, mend broken bones, erase the wrinkles of age and dramatically increase intelligence.
Not surprisingly, the nation's mental health professionals were unimpressed.
Famed psychoanalyst Rollo May voiced the sentiments of many when he wrote in the New York Times that "books like this do harm by their grandiose promises to troubled persons and by their oversimplification of human psychological problems."
"Dianetics" was an instant bestseller
when it hit the stands in May, 1950, and made Hubbard an overnight celebrity.
Arthur Ceppos, who published the book, said Hubbard
spent his first royalties on a luxury
Hubbard had tapped the public's growing fascination with psychotherapy, then largely accessible only to the affluent. "Dianetics," in fact, was popularly dubbed "the poor man's psychotherapy" because it could be practiced among friends for free.
In the book, Hubbard claimed to have discovered the previously unknown "reactive mind," a depository for emotionally or physically painful events in a person's life. These traumatic experiences, called "engrams," cause a variety of psychosomatic illnesses, including migraine headaches, ulcers, allergies, arthritis, poor vision and the common cold, Hubbard said.
The goal of dianetics, Hubbard said, is to purge these painful experiences and create a "clear" individual who is able to realize his or her full potential.
Catapulted from obscurity, Hubbard decided in the summer of 1950 to prove in a big way that his new "science" was for real.
He appeared before a crowd of thousands at the Shrine Auditorium to unveil the "world's first clear," a person he said had achieved a perfect memory. Journalists from numerous newspapers and magazines were there to document the event.
placed on display one Sonya Bianca, a young
Someone, for example, told Hubbard to turn his back while the girl was asked to describe the color of his tie. There was silence. The world's first clear drew a blank.
"It was a tremendous embarrassment for Hubbard and his friends at the time," recalled Arthur Jean Cox, a science fiction buff who attended the presentation.
More problems were on the way for the man whose book promised miracles but whose own life would move from one crisis to the next until his death.
He became embroiled, for instance, in a nasty divorce and child custody battle that raised embarrassing questions about his mental stability.
His wife, Sara Northrup Hubbard, accused him of subjecting her to "scientific torture experiments" and of suffering from "paranoid schizophrenia" -- allegations that she would later retract in a signed statement but that would find their way into government files and continue to haunt Hubbard.
She said in her suit that Hubbard had deprived her of sleep, beaten her and suggested that she kill herself, "as divorce would hurt his reputation."
During the legal proceedings, Sara placed in the court record a letter she had received from Hubbard's first wife.
"Ron is not normal," it said. "I had hoped you could straighten him out. Your charges probably sound fantastic to the average person -- but I've been through it -- the beatings, threats on my life, all the sadistic traits which you charge -- 12 years of it."
point in the marital dispute with Sara, Hubbard spirited their 1-year-old
daughter, Alexis, to
have been in the Cuban military hospital, and am being transferred to to the
"I hope my heart lasts. I may live a long time and again I may not. But Dianetics will last ten thousand years -- for the Army and Navy have it now."
Hubbard, who had earlier accused his wife of infidelity and said she suffered brain damage, closed his letter by threatening to cut his infant daughter from his will.
"Alexis will get a fortune unless she goes to you, as she then would get nothing," he wrote.
He also wrote a letter to the FBI at the height of the Red Scare accusing Sara of possibly being a Communist, along with others whom he said had infiltrated his dianetics movement.
The FBI, after interviewing Hubbard, dismissed him as a "mental case."
In one seven-page missive to the Department of Justice in 1951, he linked Sara to alleged physical assaults on him. He said that on two separate occasions he was punched in his sleep by unidentified intruders.
And then came the third attack.
"I was in my apartment on February 23rd, about two or three o'clock in the morning when the apartment was entered, I was knocked out, had a needle thrust into my heart to give it a jet of air to produce 'coronary thrombosis' and was given an electric shock with a 110 volt current. This is all very blurred to me. I had no witnesses. But only one person had another key to that apartment and that was Sara."
After months of sniping at each other -- and a counter divorce suit by Hubbard in which he accused his wife of "gross neglect of duty and extreme cruelty" -- the couple ended their stormy marriage, with Sara obtaining custody of the child. In later years, Hubbard would deny fathering the girl and, as threatened, did not leave her a cent.
Not only was Hubbard's domestic life a shambles in 1951, his once-thriving self-help movement was crumbling as public interest in his theories waned.
The foundations Hubbard had established to teach dianetics were in financial ruin and his book had disappeared from The New York Times bestseller list.
But the resilient self-promoter came up with something new. He called it Scientology, and his metamorphosis from pop therapist to religious leader was under way.
Scientology essentially gave a new twist to the Dianetics notion of painful experiences that lodge in the "reactive mind." In Scientology, Hubbard held that memories of such experiences also collect in a person's soul and date back to past lives.
For many of Hubbard's early followers, Scientology was not believable, and they broke with him. But others would soon take their place, conferring upon Hubbard an almost saintly status.
Hubbard's renown and prosperity grew in the 1960s, so, too, did the questions
surrounding his finances and teachings. He was accused by various governments
-- including the
In 1967, Hubbard took several hundred of his followers to sea to escape the spreading hostility. But they found only temporary safe harbor from what they believed had become an international conspiracy to persecute them.
three ships, led by a converted cattle ferry dubbed the "Apollo,"
were bounced from port to port in the Mediterranean and
anchored at the Portuguese
"They (were) throwing Molotov cocktails onto the boat but they weren't lit," a crew member recalled. "Fortunately, this was not an experienced mob."
The years at sea were a watershed for Hubbard and Scientology. He instituted a Navy-style command structure that is evident today in the military dress and snap-to behavior of the organization's staff members.
named himself the "Commodore," and subordinates followed his orders
As former Scientology ship officer Hana Eltringham Whitfield put it: "Scientologists on the whole thought that Hubbard was like a god, that he could command the waves to do what he wanted, that he was totally in control of his life and consequences of his actions."
Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
Creating the Mystique
Hubbard's image was crafted of truth, distorted by myth.
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A38:1)
Angeles Superior Court judge put it bluntly while presiding over a
Hubbard was an intelligent and well-read man, with diverse interests, experience and expertise. But that apparently was not enough to satisfy him. He transformed his frailties into strengths, his failures into successes. With a kernel of truth, he concocted elaborate stories about a life he seemingly wished was his.
There was his claim, for example, of being a nuclear physicist. This was an important one because he said he had used his knowledge of science to develop Scientology and dianetics.
was, in fact, enrolled in one of the nation's early classes in molecular and
atomic physics at
Perhaps Hubbard's most fantastic -- and easily disproved -- claims center on his military service.
Hubbard bragged that he was a top-flight naval officer in World War II, who commanded a squadron of fighting ships, was wounded in combat and was highly decorated.
But Navy and Veterans Administration records obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act reveal that his military performance was, at times, substandard.
The Navy documents variously describe him as a "garrulous" man who "tries to give impressions of his importance," as being "not temperamentally fitted for independent command" and as "lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results."
was relieved of command of two ships, including the PC 815, a submarine
chaser docked along the
According to Navy records, here is what happened:
Just hours after motoring the PC 815 into the Pacific for a test cruise, Hubbard said he encountered two Japanese submarines. He dropped 37 depth charges during the 55 consecutive hours he said he monitored the subs, and summoned additional ships and aircraft into the fight.
He claimed to have so severely crippled the submarines that the only trace remaining of either was a thin carpet of oil on the ocean's surface.
"This vessel wishes no credit for itself," Hubbard stated in a report of the incident. "It was built to hunt submarines. Its people were trained to hunt submarines."
And no credit Hubbard got.
"An analysis of all reports convinces me that there was no submarine in the area," wrote the commander of the Northwest Sea Frontier after an investigation.
next continued down the coast, where he anchored off the
A Navy board of inquiry determined that Hubbard had "disregarded orders" both by conducting gunnery practice and by anchoring in Mexican waters.
A letter of admonition was placed in Hubbard's military file which stated "that more drastic disciplinary action ... would have been taken under normal and peacetime conditiions.
During his purportedly illustrious military career, Hubbard claimed to have been awarded at least 21 medals and decorations. But records state that he actually earned four during his Naval service: the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal, which was given to all wartime servicemen.
One of the medals to which Hubbard staked claim was the Purple Heart, bestowed upon wounded servicemen. Hubbard maintained that he was "crippled" and "blinded" in the war.
biographies issued by Scientology say that he was "flown home in the
late spring of 1942 in the secretary of the Navy's private plane as the first
U.S.-returned casualty from the
Moulton, second in command on PC 815, said Hubbard once told of being
machine-gunned across the back near the
On another occasion, Moulton testified during the 1984 Scientology lawsuit, Hubbard said his eyes had been damaged by the flash of a large-caliber gun. Hubbard himself, in a tape-recorded lecture, said his eyes were injured when he had "a bomb go off in my face."
These injury claims are significant because Hubbard said he cured himself through techniques that would later form the tenets of Scientology and Dianetics.
Military records, however, reveal that he was never wounded or injured in combat, and was never awarded a Purple Heart.
In seeking disability money, Hubbard told military doctors that he had been "lamed" not by a bullet but by a chronic hip infection that set in after his transfer from the warm tropics of the Pacific to the icy winters of the East Coast, where he attended a Navy-sponsored school of military government.
Moreover, his eye problems did not result from an exploding bomb or the blinding flash of a gun. Rather, Hubbard said in military records, he contracted conjunctivitis from exposure to "excessive tropical sunlight."
truth is that Hubbard spent the last seven months of his active duty in a
military hospital in
Hubbard did, however, receive a monthly, 40% disability check from the government through at least 1980.
Government records also contradict Hubbard's claim that he had fully regained his health by 1947 with the power of his mind and the techniques of his future religion.
Late that year, he wrote the government about having "long periods of moroseness" and "suicidal inclinations." That was followed by a letter in 1948 to the chief of naval operations in which he described himself as "an invalid."
And, during a 1951 examination by the Veterans Administration, he was still complaining of eye problems and a "boring-like pain" in his stomach, which he said had given him "continuous trouble" for eight years, especially when "under nervous stress."
Significantly, that examination occurred after the publication of "Dianetics," which promised a cure for the very ailments that plagued the author himself then and throughout his life, including allergies, arthritis, ulcers and heart problems.
In Hubbard's defense, Scientology officials accuse others of distorting and misrepresenting his military glories.
They say the Navy "covered up" Hubbard's sinking of the submarines either to avoid frightening the civilian population or because the commander who investigated the incident had earlier denied the existence of subs along the West Coast.
Moreover, church officials charge that records released by the military are not only grossly incomplete but perhaps were falsified to conceal Hubbard's secret activities as an intelligence officer.
support their point, a church official gave the Times an authentic-looking
Navy document that purports to confirm some of Hubbard's wartime claims.
After examining the document, though, a spokesman for the
He declined further comment.
Hubbard's biographical claims were not confined to the events of his adult life.
claimed, for example, that as a youth he traveled extensively throughout
basic ordination for religious work," Hubbard once wrote, "was
received from Mayo in the Western Hills of
did, in fact, tour
He described the lama temples he toured as "very odd and heathenish."
visiting the Great Wall of China, Hubbard remarked: "If
He described the "yellow races" as "simple and one-tracked." Wrote Hubbard:
also claimed that he spent many of his childhood years on a large cattle
"Long days were spent riding, breaking broncos, hunting coyote and taking his first steps as an explorer," according to a Hubbard-approved biography issued by the church.
But Hubbard's aunt laughed when asked whether he had been a pint-sized cowboy.
didn't have a ranch," said Margaret Roberts, 87, of
Hubbard's biographical claims took center stage during the 1984 Superior Court lawsuit in which the church accused a former member of stealing the Scientology founder's private papers. Ex-member Gerald Armstrong said he took the documents as protection against possible church harassment.
Judge Paul G. Breckenridge Jr. found in Armstrong's favor and, in his ruling, issued a harsh assessment of the church's revered leader.
"The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements...."
"At the same time," Breckenridge continued, "it appears that he is charismatic and highly capable of motivating, organizing, controlling, manipulating and inspiring his adherents."
Hubbard, the judge said, was "a very complex person."
The church and Hubbard's widow, Mary Sue, have appealed Breckenridge's decision, saying that it was based on "irrelevant, distorted and, in many instances, invented testimony" of embittered former Scientologists.
"Any controversy about him (Hubbard) is like a speck of dust on his shoes compared to the millions of people who loved and respected him," a Scientology spokesman said. "What he has accomplished in the brief span of one lifetime will have impact on every man, woman and child for 10,000 years."
Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
Life With L. Ron Hubbard
Aides indulged his eccentricities and egotism.
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A39:1)
He surrounded himself with teen-age followers, whom he indoctrinated, treated like servants and cherished as though they were his own children.
He called them the "Commodore's messengers."
" 'Messenger!' " he would boom in the morning. "And we'd pull him out of bed," one recalled.
youngsters, whose parents belonged to Hubbard's
He taught them how to sprinkle powder in his socks and gently slip them on so as not to pull the hairs on his legs.
They made sure the temperature in his room never varied from 72 degrees. They boiled water at night to keep the humidity just right. They would hand him a cigarette and follow in his footsteps with an ashtray.
When Hubbard's bursitis acted up, a messenger would wrap his shoulders in a lumberjack shirt that had been warmed on a heater.
Long gone were those days when Hubbard was scratching out a living. Now, in the early 1970s, he fancied silk pants, ascots and nautical caps. It was evident that the red-haired author had enjoyed many a good meal.
It was a high honor for Scientologists to serve beside Hubbard, even if it meant performing such dreary tasks as ironing his clothes or ferrying his messages. But, for some, it was also disconcerting. The privileged few who worked at his side saw personality flaws and quirks not reflected in the staged photographs or in Hubbard's biographies.
They came to know the man behind the mystique.
They said he could display the temperament of a spoiled child and the eccentricities of a reclusive Howard Hughes.
When upset, Hubbard was known to erupt like a volcano, spewing obscenities and insults.
Scientologist Adelle Hartwell once testified during
"I actually saw him take his hat off one day and stomp on it and cry like a baby."
Hubbard had been hotheaded since his youth, when his red hair earned him the nickname "Brick."
Hubbard's classmates recalled a day in 11th Grade when the husky Hubbard, for
no apparent reason, got into a fight with Gus Leger, the lanky assistant
"Old Gus was up at the blackboard," recalled Andrew Richardson. "He taught geometry. He was laying out this problem and Brick let loose with a piece of chalk and he missed him. Leger whirled and threw an eraser at Brick, who ducked, and it hit a girl right behind him in the face."
wrestled with the teacher, then stuffed him into a
trash can, said
all got to laughing and he (Leger) couldn't get up,"
In later life, one thing that could throw the irascible Hubbard into a rage was the scent of soap in his clothes. "I was petrified of doing the laundry," one former messenger said.
To protect themselves from a Hubbard tirade, the messengers rinsed his clothes in 13 separate buckets of water.
Doreen Gillham, who had who spent her teen years with Hubbard, never forgot what happened when a longtime aide offered him a freshly laundered shirt after he had taken a shower.
"He immediately grabbed the collar and put it up to his nose, then threw it down," said Gillham, who died recently in a horseriding accident.
"He went to the closet and proceeded to sniff all the shirts. He would tear them off the hangers and throw them down. We're talking 30 shirts on the floor."
He let out a "long whine," Gillham said, and then began screaming about the smell.
"I picked up a shirt off the floor, smelled it and said, 'There is no soap on this shirt.' I didn't smell anything in any of them. He grudgingly put it on," said Gillham, who added: "Deep down inside, I'm telling myself, 'This guy is nuts!' "
Gillham said that Hubbard had become obsessed not only with soap smells but with dust, which aggravated his allergies. He demanded white-glove inspections but never seemed satisfied with the results.
No matter how clean the room, Gillham said, "he would insist that it be dusted over and over and over again."
formerly one of Hubbard's most loyal and trusted messengers, said his
behavior became increasingly erratic after he crashed a motorcycle in the
"He realized his own mortality," she said. "He was in agony for months. He insisted, with a broken arm and broken ribs, that he was going to heal himself and it didn't work."
According to those who knew him well, Hubbard was neither affectionate nor much of a family man. He seemed closer to his handpicked messengers than to his own seven children, one of whom he later denied fathering.
"His kids rarely, if ever, got to see him," Gillham said, until his wife Mary Sue "insisted on weekly Sunday night dinners."
Hubbard expected his children to live up to the family name and do nothing that would reflect badly on him or the church. And for that reason, his son Quentin was a problem.
Quentin had once tried suicide with a drug overdose and was confused about his sexual orientation -- a fact that was quietly discussed among his friends and at the highest levels of the church.
"He thought Quentin was an embarrassment," said Laurel Sullivan, Hubbard's former public relations officer, who had a falling out with the organization in 1981. "And he told me that several times."
Quentin parked on a deserted road in
When Hubbard was told of the suicide, "he didn't cry or anything," according to a former aide. His first reaction, she said, was to express concern over the possibility of publicity that could be used to discredit Scientology.
Hubbard also had problems with another son, his namesake, L. Ron Hubbard Jr.
Hubbard feuded with his eldest son for more than 25 years, dating back to 1959 when L. Ron Hubbard Jr. split with Scientology because he said he was not making enough money to support his family. In the years that followed, he changed his name to Ronald DeWolfe and accused his father of everything from cavorting with mobsters to abusing drugs.
For his part, Hubbard accused his son of being crazy.
Although Hubbard cast himself as a humble servant to mankind, former assistants said he was not without ego. He craved adulation and coveted fame.
Sullivan, the former public relations officer, recalled how after an appearance he would ask: "How many minutes of applause did I get? How many times did they say, 'Hip, hip, hurray!'? How many people showed up?
How many letters did I get?"
"If you remained in awe of him ... he was great," said Sullivan, who had a falling out with the church in 1981. "If you crossed him, or appeared to cross him, he would lash out at you, scream at you, accuse you of things."
Gillham and other former aides said he would accuse even his most devout aides of trying to poison him if he did not like the taste of a meal that had been laboriously prepared for his table. "Somebody's trying to kill me!" former aides said he would shout. "What have I done? All I've tried to do is help man."
He envisioned global conspiracies designed to smash Scientology, and he ingrained this dark view in the minds of his followers through his many writings.
"Time and again since 1950," Hubbard said in 1982, "the vested interests which pretend to run the world (for their own appetites and profit) have mounted full-scale attacks. With a running dog press and slavish government agencies the forces of evil have launched their lies and sought, by whatever twisted means, to check and destroy Scientology."
"Our enemies on this planet are less than 12 men," he announced in a 1967 tape-recorded message to his adherents. "They are members of the Bank of England and other higher financial circles. They own and control newspaper chains and they are oddly enough directors in all the mental health groups in the world which have sprung up."
Chief among his suspects were psychiatry and government agencies that probed his organization, including Interpol the Paris-based international police agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI.
Scientologist Hartwell told the
"I was in makeup and we had so much blood on those actors, which was made out of Karo syrup and food coloring," Hartwell said. "And we couldn't get enough on them to suit Hubbard. We had guys' legs off, there were hands off, arms -- I mean, it was a mess from the word go."
Even before Scientology, Hubbard believed that unseen forces were against him.
"I watched him operate," said "Dianetics" publisher Arthur Ceppos, who later split with Hubbard. "If he felt he was under attack, that's when his paranoia showed."
This siege mentality led Hubbard to author a series of church policies on how to combat suspected foes -- writings that, more than any of his others, have worked to reinforce Scientology's cultish image and undermine its quest for legitimacy.
He counseled his followers to discredit the opposition to "a point of total obliteration" and to remember that "the thousands of years of Jewish passivity earned them nothing but slaughter. So things do not run right because one is holy or good. Things run right because one makes them right."
In this spirit, during the mid-1970s, Scientologists launched nasty smear campaigns and turned to criminality, burglarizing private and government offices.
Eventually, 11 top Scientologists were jailed, including Hubbard's wife Mary Sue, who oversaw the sweeping operation. Hubbard was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
point during this period, FBI agents raided church headquarters in
"When the raids happened he never really knew what they (the FBI) had, "recalled Dede Reisdorf, one of those who accompanied Hubbard.
To disguise Hubbard's appearance, Reisdorf said, she cut his red hair and dyed it brown. He often wore fake glasses, donned a phony mustache and pulled a hunter's cap down over his ears.
"He got to a point," Reisdorf said, "where he wouldn't even walk in front of a window.... He was afraid of being seen by somebody. There was always somebody in a bush somewhere. A reporter or an FBI agent or an IRS agent."
It was not the last time Hubbard would go into hiding. In 1980, on St. Valentine's Day, Hubbard pulled another disappearing act. This time, he never returned.
Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
The Final Days
Deep in hiding, Hubbard kept tight grip on the church.
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A40:3)
no better illustration of this than the way he secretly controlled the
was last seen publicly in February 1980, in the desert community of
The church said Hubbard went into seclusion to continue his Scientology research and to resurrect his science fiction-writing career. But former aides have said he dropped from sight to avoid subpoenas and government tax agents probing allegations that he was skimming church funds.
Publications throughout the world ran stories about Hubbard's disappearance. "Mystery of the Vanished Ruler" was the headline in Time magazine.
In 1982, Hubbard's estranged son filed a probate petition trying to wrest control of the Scientology empire. He argued that his father was either dead or mentally incompetent and that his riches were being plundered by Scientology executives.
The suit was dismissed after Hubbard, through an attorney, submitted an affidavit with his fingerprints, saying that he was well and wanted to be left alone.
No doubt, Hubbard would have chuckled with satisfaction over the speculation surrounding his whereabouts. For he had always considered himself a shrewd strategist and a master of the intelligence game, endlessly calculating ways to outwit his foes.
Hubbard took with him only two people, a married couple named Pat and Anne Broeker.
Pat Broeker, Hubbard's personal messenger at the time, had gone into hiding with him once before and knew how to ensure his security.
Broeker relished cloak-and-dagger operations. His nickname among Hubbard's other messengers was "007."
Anne had been one of Hubbard's top aides for years. She was cool under pressure and able to defuse Hubbard's volatile temper.
and the Broekers spent their first several years
together on the move. For months, they traveled the
Then, in the summer of 1983, they decided to settle down in a dusty ranch town called Creston, population 270, where the hot, arid climate would be kind to Hubbard's bursitis.
miles inland from
Hubbard and the Broekers concocted an elaborate set of phony names and backgrounds to conceal their identities from the townsfolk. Pat and Anne Broeker went by the names Mike and Lisa Mitchell. Hubbard became Lisa's father, Jack, who impressed the locals as a chatty old man, charismatic but sometimes gruff.
purchased a 160-acre ranch known as the Whispering Winds for $700,000, using
30 cashier's checks drawn on various
At the time, the Shahans were suspicious. As Ed Shahan recalled, "They were having trouble deciding whose name to put the property in."
In less than three years, Hubbard poured an estimated $3 million into the local economy as he redesigned the ranch to his exacting and elaborate specifications.
He launched one project after another, some of them seemingly senseless, according to local residents. He ordered the construction of a quarter-mile horse-racing track with an observation tower. The track reportedly was never used.
The 10-room ranch house was gutted and remodeled so many times that it went virtually uninhabited during Hubbard's time there. He lived and worked in a luxurious 40-foot Bluebird motor home parked near the stables.
All this was done without work permits, which meant that Hubbard and his aides would not have to worry about nosy county inspectors.
Like Hubbard's aides in earlier years, the hired help saw extreme sides of the man who was chauffeured around the property in a black Subaru pickup by Anne Broeker.
Fencing contractor Jim Froelicher of Paso Robles remembers asking him for advice on buying a camera. Several days later, Froelicher said, Hubbard presented him with a 35mm camera as a gift.
Longtime Creston resident Ed Lindquist, on the other hand, said painters dropped by the local tavern at lunch to talk about how the "old man" was acting eccentric. They said he had them paint the walls again and again because they "weren't white enough," according to Lindquist.
Scientology officials insist that Hubbard was in fine mental and physical health during his years in seclusion. Most of his days, they say, were spent reading, writing and enjoying the ranch's beauty and livestock, which included llamas and buffalo.
But Hubbard was doing much more, according to former aides. Even in hiding, they say, he kept a close watch and a tight grip on the church he built -- as he had for decades.
As early as 1966, Hubbard claimed to have relinquished managerial control of the church. But ex-Scientologists and several court rulings have held that this was a maneuver to shield Hubbard from potential legal actions and accountability for the group's activities.
Over the years, efforts to conceal Hubbard's ties to the church were extensive and extreme.
for example, a massive shredding operation was undertaken at the church's
desert compound outside
"Anything that indicated that L. Ron Hubbard controlled the church or was engaged in management was to be shredded," recalled Hubbard's former public relations officer, Laurel Sullivan.
For more than two days, Sullivan said, roughly 200 Scientologists crammed thousands of documents into a huge shredder nicknamed "Jaws."
Documents too valuable to destroy, she added, were buried in the ground or under floorboards.
In his self-imposed exile, Hubbard continued to reign over Scientology with almost paranoid secrecy.
He relayed his orders in writing or on tape cassettes to Pat Broeker, who then passed them to a ranking Scientologist named David Miscavige, the man responsible for seeing that church executives complied.
communiques travelled a
circuitous route in the darkness of night, changing hands from Broeker to Miscavige at
designated sites throughout
Sometimes Broeker himself appeared from parts unknown to personally deliver Hubbard's instructions to church executives.
secret seat of power in the oak-studded hills above
They alleged that Hubbard skimmed millions of dollars from church coffers while he was in hiding -- carrying on a tradition that the Internal Revenue Service said he began practically at Scientology's inception about 30 years ago. Hubbard and his aides had always denied the allegations, and accused the IRS of waging a campaign against the church and its founder.
While Hubbard was underground, the IRS launched a criminal probe of his finances. But the investigation would soon be without a target, and ultimately abandoned.
By late 1985, Hubbard's directives to underlings had tapered off. At age 74, he no longer resembled the robust and natty man whose dated photographs fill Scientology's promotional literature. Living in isolation, separated from his devoted followers, he had let himself go.
His thin gray hair, with streaks of the old red, hung without sheen to his shoulders. He had grown a stringy, unkempt beard and mustache.
His round face was now sunken and his ruddy complexion had turned pasty. He was an old man and he was nearing death.
On or about Jan. 17, 1986, Hubbard suffered a "cerebral vascular accident," commonly known as a stroke. Caring for him was Gene Denk, a Scientologist doctor and Hubbard's physician for eight years.
There was little Denk could do for Hubbard in those final days -- the stroke was debilitating. He was bedridden and his speech was badly impaired.
One week later, at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24, Hubbard died.
Throughout the night, according to neighbor Robert Whaley, heavy traffic inexplicably moved in and out of the ranch. Whaley, a retired advertising executive, said that he was kept awake by headlights shining through his windows.
than 11 hours, Hubbard's body remained in the motor home where he died.
Scientology attorney Earle Cooley had ordered that Hubbard not be touched
until he arrived by car from
morning, Cooley telephoned Reis Chapel, a
chapel officials learned who Hubbard was, however, they became concerned
about the church's rush to cremate him. They contacted the
When then-Deputy Coroner Don Hines arrived, Cooley presented him with a certificate that Hubbard had signed just four days before his death. It stated that, for religious reasons, he wanted no autopsy.
Cooley also produced a will that Hubbard had signed the day before he died, directing that his body be promptly cremated and that his vast wealth be distributed according to the provisions of a confidential trust he had established. His once-ornate trademark signature was little more than a scrawl.
After the blood tests and examination revealed no foul play, coroner Hines approved the cremation. With Cooley's consent, he also photographed the body and lifted fingerprints as a way to later confirm that it was the reclusive Hubbard and not a hoax.
Within hours, Hubbard's ashes were scattered at sea by the Broekers and Miscavige.
Two days after Hubbard's death, Pat Broeker stood before a standing-room-only crowd of Scientologists at the Hollywood Palladium. It was his first public appearance in six years, and he had just broken the news of Hubbard's passing.
The cheers were deafening.
Broeker announced that Hubbard had made a conscious decision to "sever all ties" to this world so he could continue his Scientology research in spirit form -- testimony to the power of the man and his teachings.
He "laid down in his bed and he left," Broeker said. "And that was it."
Hubbard left behind an organization that would continue to function as though he were still alive. His millions of words -- the lifeblood of Scientology -- have now been computerized for wisdom and instructions at the touch of a button.
In Scientology, he was -- and always will be -- the "Source."
Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
Defining the Theology
It's a space-age religion that abounds in galactic tales, and its deepest secrets are known to few
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A36:1)
Not even the vast majority of Scientologists can fully answer the question.
Rather, Scientology's theology is scattered among the voluminous writings and tape-recorded discourses of the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who founded the religion in the early 1950s.
Piece by piece, his teachings are revealed to church members through a progression of sometimes secret courses that take years to complete and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Out of a membership estimated by the church to be 6.5 million, only a tiny fraction have climbed to the upper reaches. In fact, according to a Scientology publication earlier this year, fewer than 900 members have completed the church's highest course, nicknamed "Truth Revealed."
While Hubbard's "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" typically is one of the first books read by church members, its relationship to Scientology is like that of a grade school to a university.
What Scientologists learn in their courses is never publicly discussed by the church, which is trying to shake its cultish image and establish itself as a mainstream religion. For to the uninitiated, Hubbard's theology would resemble pure science fiction, complete with galactic battles, interplanetary civilizations and tyrants who roam the universe.
Here, based on court records, church documents and Hubbard lectures that span the past four decades, is a rare look at portions of Scientology's theology and the cosmological musings of the man who wrote it.
Central to Scientology is a belief in an immortal soul, or "thetan," that passes from one body to the next through countless reincarnations spanning trillions of years. Collectively, thetans created the universe -- all the stars and planets, every plant and animal. To function within their creation, thetans built bodies for themselves of wildly varying appearances, the human form being just one.
But each thetan is vulnerable to painful experiences that can diminish its powers and create emotional and physical problems in the individual it inhabits. The goal of Scientology is to purge these experiences from the thetan, making it again omnipotent and returning spiritual and bodily health to its host.
The painful experiences are called "engrams." Hubbard said some happen by accident -- from ancient planetary wars, for example -- while others are intentionally inflicted by other thetans who have gone bad and want power. In Scientology, these engrams are called "implants."
According to Hubbard, the bad thetans through the eons have electronically implanted other thetans with information intended to confuse them and make them forget the powers they inherently possess -- kind of a brainwashing procedure.
While Hubbard was not always precise about the origins of the implants, he was very clear about the impact.
"Implants," Hubbard said, "result in all varieties of illness, apathy, degradation, neurosis and insanity and are the principal cause of these in man."
Hubbard identified numerous implants that he said have occurred through the ages and that are addressed during Scientology courses aimed at neutralizing their harmful effects.
Hubbard maintained, for example, that the concept of a Christian heaven is the product of two implants dating back more than 43 trillion years. Heaven, he said, is a "false dream" and a "very painful lie" intended to direct thetans toward a non-existent goal and convince them they have only one life.
In reality, Hubbard said, there is no heaven and there was no Christ.
"The (implanted) symbol of a crucified Christ is very apt indeed," Hubbard said. "It's the symbol of a thetan betrayed."
Hubbard said that one of the worst implants happens after a person dies.
While Hubbard's story of this implant may seem outlandish to some, he advanced it as a factual account of reincarnation.
"Of all the nasty, mean and vicious implants that have ever been invented, this one is it," he declared during a lecture in the 1950s. "And it's been going on for thousands of years."
Hubbard said that when a person dies, his or her thetan goes to a "landing station" on Venus, where it is programmed with lies about its past life and its next life. The lies include a promise that it will be returned to Earth by being lovingly shunted into the body of a newborn baby.
Not so, said Hubbard, who described the thetan's re-entry this way:
actually happens to you, you're simply capsuled and
dumped in the
"And you just eventually just pick up a baby."
But Hubbard offered his followers an easy way to outwit the implant:
Scientologists should simply select a location other than Venus to go "when they kick the bucket."
Another notorious implant led Hubbard to construct an entire course for Scientologists who want to be rid of it.
Shrouded in mystery and kept in locked cabinets at select church locations, the course is called Operating Thetan III, billed by the church as "the final secret of the catastrophe which laid waste to this sector of the galaxy." It is taught only to the most advanced church members, at fees ranging to $6,000.
Hubbard told his followers that while unlocking the secret, he "became very ill, almost lost this body and somehow or another brought it off and obtained the material and was able to live through it."
Here's what he said he learned:
Seventy-five million years ago a tyrant named Xenu (pronounced Zee-new) ruled the Galactic Confederation, an alliance of 76 planets, including Earth, then called Teegeeack.
To control overpopulation and solidify his power, Xenu instructed his loyal officers to capture beings of all shapes and sizes from the various planets, freeze them in a compound of alcohol and glycol and fly them by the billions to Earth in planes resembling DC-8s. Some of the beings were captured after they were duped into showing up for a phony tax investigation.
The beings were deposited or chained near 10 volcanoes scattered around the planet. After hydrogen bombs were dropped on them, their thetans were captured by Xenu's forces and implanted with sexual perversion, religion and other notions to obscure their memory of what Xenu had done.
Soon after, a revolt erupted. Xenu was imprisoned in a wire cage within a mountain, where he remains today.
But the damage was done.
During the last 75 million years, these implanted thetans have affixed themselves by the thousands to people on Earth. Called "body thetans," they overwhelm the main thetan who resides within a person, causing confusion and internal conflict.
In the Operating Thetan III course, Scientologists are taught to scan their bodies for "pressure points," indicating the presence of these bad thetans. Using techniques prescribed by Hubbard, church members make telepathic contact with these thetans and remind them of Xenu's treachery. With that, Hubbard said, the thetans detach themselves
first unveiled his Scientology theories during a series of often breathless
lectures he delivered in
His talks were sprinkled with tales of interplanetary adventures he said he had experienced during earlier lives.
There was the time, for instance, that Hubbard said he was resting in a peaceful valley on a barren planet in some remote galaxy, and decided to spruce up the place. He said he "fixed up a lake" and "managed to coax into existence a few vines."
Then, "all of a sudden -- zoop boom -- and there was a spaceship," Hubbard recalled, saying "I got pretty mad about the whole thing."
"I remember bringing a thunderstorm," Hubbard said. "Moved it over the ship.... And then (I) let them have it."
told associates that he had been many people before being born as Lafayette
Ronald Hubbard on March 13, 1911, in
After Hubbard's death in 1986, a Scientology publication described him as "the original musician," who 3 million years ago invented music while going by the name "Arpen Polo." The publication noted that "he wrote his first song a bit after the first tick of time."
Hubbard realized that his accounts of past lives, implants and extraterrestrial creatures might sound suspect to outsiders. So he counseled his disciples to keep mum.
"Don't start walking around and telling people about space opera because they're not going to believe you," he said, "and they're going to say, 'Well, that's just Hubbard.' "
Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
Burglaries and Lies Paved a Path to Prison
A web of criminal conspiracy to discredit the church's foes resulted in 5-year sentences for 11 defendants.
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A39:2)
It began with the title of a fairy tale -- Snow White.
That was the benign code name Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard gave to an ominous plan that would envelop his church in scandal and send its upper echelon to prison, a plan rooted in his ever-deepening fears and suspicions.
Snow White began in 1973 as an effort by Scientology through Freedom of Information proceedings to purge government files of what Hubbard thought was false information being circulated worldwide to discredit him and the church. But the operation soon mushroomed into a massive criminal conspiracy, executed by the church's legal and investigative arm, the Guardian Office.
Under the direction of Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue, the Guardian Office hatched one scheme after another to discredit and unnerve Scientology's foes across the country. Guardian Office members were trained to lie, or in their words, "to outflow false data effectively."
They compiled enemy lists and subjected those on the lists to smear campaigns and dirty tricks.
Their targets were in the government, the press, the medical profession, wherever a potential threat surfaced.
Guardian Office saved the worst for author Paulette Cooper of
Among other things, Cooper was framed on criminal charges by Guardian Office members, who obtained stationery she had touched and then used it to forge bomb threats to the church in her name.
"You're like the Nazis or the Arabs -- I'll bomb you, I'll kill you!" warned one of the rambling letters.
The church reported the threat to the FBI and directed its agents to Cooper, whose fingerprints matched those on the letter. Cooper was indicted by a grand jury not only for the bomb threats, but for lying under oath about her innocence.
Two years later, the author's reputation and psyche in tatters, prosecutors dismissed the charges after she had spent nearly $20,000 in legal fees to defend herself and $6,000 on psychiatric treatment.
It seemed that no plan against perceived enemies was too ambitious or daring.
In nighttime raids, they rifled files and photocopied mountains of documents, many of which the church had unsuccessfully sought under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
thefts were inside jobs; the Guardian Office had planted one agent in the IRS
as a clerk typist and another in the Justice Department as the personal
secretary of an assistant
So bold had they become that one Guardian Office operative slipped into an IRS conference room and wired a bugging device into a wall socket before a crucial meeting on Scientology was to be convened. The operative rigged the device so he could eavesdrop over his car's FM radio.
Two Scientologists used fake IRS credentials to gain access to government agencies and then photocopied documents related to the church.
Their conspiracy was exposed when one of the suspects, after 11 months on the lam, became worried about his plight and confessed to authorities, prompting the FBI to launch one of the biggest raids in its history.
with power saws, crowbars and bolt cutters, 134 agents burst into three
Scientology locations in
They carted off eavesdropping equipment, burglar tools and 48,000 documents detailing countless operations against "enemies" in public and private life.
In the end, Hubbard's wife and the others were found guilty of charges of conspiracy and burglary. The grand jury named Hubbard as an unindicted co-conspirator; the seized Guardian Office files did not directly link him to the crimes and he professed ignorance of them.
In a memorandum urging stiff sentences for the Scientologists, federal prosecutors wrote:
"The crime committed by these defendants is of a breadth and scope previously unheard of. No building, office, desk, or file was safe from their snooping and prying. No individual or organization was free from their despicable conspiratorial minds. The tools of their trade were miniature transmitters, lock picks, secret codes, forged credentials and any other device they found necessary to carry out their conspiratorial schemes."
The 11 defendants were ordered to serve five years in federal prison. All are now free.
Church leaders today maintain that this dark chapter in their religion's history was the work of renegade members who, yes, broke the law but believed they were justified because the government for two decades had harassed and persecuted Scientology.
"The question that I always have in my mind," Cooley said, "is for how long a time is the church going to have to continue to pay the price for what the (Guardian Office) did.... Unfortunately, the church continues to be confronted with it.
"And the ironic thing is that the people being confronted with it are the people who wiped it out. And to the church, that's a very frustrating thing."
Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
The Man in Control
A protege of L. Ron Hubbard now leads the church, wielding power with the stern approach of his mentor.
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A41:4)
David Miscavige is chairman of the board of an
organization that sits atop the bureaucratic labyrinth known as the
He is the man in control, charting a direction for the organization that is at once expansionist and combative -- in keeping with the dictates and personality of Hubbard, his role model. He refused repeated requests to be interviewed for this report.
Church spokesmen say Miscavige is a tireless, no-nonsense leader who works 15-hour days and whose vision is guiding the church's foray into mainstream society.
"He has a tremendous ability to cut through bull and get to the point," said one Scientology spokesman, who has worked closely with Miscavige.
"He's an initiator," said another.
High-ranking former Scientologists describe him as a ruthless infighter with a volatile temper. They say he speaks in a gritty street parlance, punctuated with expletives.
recalled the time that Miscavige became enraged
with the performances of Scientology staffers on a church record album. He
propped its cover against an embankment outside his
public, the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, president of the
The real power is consolidated among a handful of Scientologists, led by Miscavige, who keep low public profiles.
Miscavige's climb to prominence is a lesson in the origins and nature of power in the church that Hubbard built.
At the age of 14, with the blessing of his Scientologist parents, Miscavige joined a cadre of trusted youngsters called the "Commodore's messengers." In the beginning, they merely ran Hubbard's errands. But as they emerged from adolescence, Hubbard broadened their influence over even the highest-level church executives.
In time, the messengers controlled the communication lines to and from Hubbard -- a critical component of power in an organization that revered him as almost saintly. When messengers spoke, they did so with Hubbard's authority. Bad-mouthing a messenger, Hubbard said, was tantamount to personally challenging him.
When Hubbard went into hiding in 1980, he left behind but did not forget Miscavige, one of his favorites.
It was Miscavige's job to ensure that Hubbard's orders, secretly relayed to him, were followed by church executives. In effect, Miscavige became the sole link between church leaders and Hubbard.
Miscavige also was put in charge of a profit-making firm called Author Services Inc., which was established in 1981 to manage Hubbard's literary and financial affairs. The job further enhanced Miscavige's reputation as having Hubbard's confidence.
Church defectors say Miscavige wasted no time flexing his new muscles.
Among other things, he spearheaded a purge in 1981 of upper-echelon Scientology executives accused of subverting Hubbard's teachings and plotting to seize control of the organization.
He also cracked down on owners of Scientology franchises, or missions, who pay the church roughly 10% of their gross income.
At a 1982 church conference, Miscavige accused the mission owners of cheating the "mother church." He and his aides announced that "finance police" would audit the missions to ensure that the church was getting its fair share of money. And the audits would cost the missions $15,000 a day.
In taking command of Scientology after Hubbard's death, Miscavige survived a challenge from two other Hubbard lieutenants once thought to be his likely successors: Pat and Anne Broeker, who had been in hiding with Hubbard.
The power struggle was so intense at one point that even Hubbard's final Scientology writings, revered as sacred scriptures, became the object of a tug of war between Miscavige and Pat Broeker, according to Vicki Aznaran, a top Scientology executive who left the church in 1987 after a falling out. Aznaran said Broeker threatened to use the writings to start his own church.
Miscavige today has achieved exalted status within the Scientology movement.
He has personal aides who walk his dog, shine his shoes and run his errands, according to Aznaran, a top Scientology executive who left the church in 1987 after a falling-out. In his rare public appearances, he is surrounded by respectful subordinates.
And like Hubbard, who was frequently referred to by his initials, David Miscavige is called D.M.
Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
Staking a Claim to Blood Brotherhood
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A38:5)
As L. Ron Hubbard told it, he was 4 years old when a medicine man named "Old Tom" made him a "blood brother" of the Blackfeet Indians of Montana, providing the inspiration for the Scientology founder's first novel, "Buckskin Brigades."
But one expert on the tribe doesn't buy Hubbard's account.
Hugh Dempsey is associate director of the
that blood brothers are "an old
As for "Old Tom," Dempsey has informed doubts. For one thing, he said, the name does not appear in a 1907 Blackfeet enrollment register containing the names of hundreds of tribal members.
For another, "It's the kind of name, for that period (1915), that would practically not exist among the Blackfeet," he said. "At that time, Blackfeet did not have Christian names."
In 1985, church leaders produced a document that they say proves Hubbard was not lying.
Typed on Blackfeet Nation stationery, it states: "To commemorate the seventieth anniversary of L. Ron Hubbard becoming a blood brother of the Blackfeet Nation. Tree Manyfeathers in a ceremony re-established L. Ron Hubbard as a blood brother to the Blackfeet Tribe."
The document actually is meaningless because none of the three men who signed it were authorized to take any action on the tribe's behalf, according to Blackfeet Nation officials.
The document was created by Richard Mataisz, a Scientologist of fractional Indian descent. Mataisz said in an interview he tried to prove that Hubbard was a Blackfeet blood brother but came up empty-handed.
"It's not," he said, "something you go down to the courthouse and look up."
So Mataisz, using the name Tree Manyfeathers, said he held a private ceremony, made Hubbard his own blood brother and, along with two other men, signed the commemorative document.
"You should not give it (the document) very much credibility," said John Yellow Kidney, former vice president of the tribe's executive committee. "I don't."
Part 1: The Making of L. Ron Hubbard
Church Scriptures Get High-Tech Protection
(Sunday, 24 June 1990, page A40:5)
Scientology is determined that the words of L. Ron Hubbard shall live forever.
Using state-of-the art technology, the movement has spent more than $15 million to protect Hubbard's original writings, tape-recorded lectures and filmed treatises from natural and man-made calamities, including nuclear holocaust.
The effort illustrates two fundamental truths about the Scientology movement: It believes in its future and it never does anything halfheartedly.
charge of the preservation task is the
It has a staff -- but no congregation -- and its fiscal 1987 income was $503 million, according to court documents filed by the church.
organization has purchased rural land in
Three of the doors purportedly will be "nuclear blast resistant."
to house mere copies of the original works, which include 500,000 pages of
Hubbard writings, 6,500 reels of tape and 42 films. The originals themselves
are being kept under tight security on a sprawling Scientology complex near
details of the facility are sketchy, a
At the Arrowhead repository, sophisticated methods are being used to prepare Hubbard's works for the bomb-proof vaults. Here, according to Scientology officials and documents, is the process:
First, the original writings are chemically treated to rid the paper of acid that causes deterioration. Next, they are placed in plastic envelopes that church officials say will last 1,000 years.
From there, they are packaged in titanium "time capsules" filled with argon gas to further aid preservation.
Hubbard's writings also are being etched onto stainless steel plates with a strong acid. Scientology officials said the plates are so durable that they can be sprayed with salt water for 1,000 years and not deteriorate.
As for Hubbard's taped lectures, they are being re-recorded onto special "pure gold" compact discs encased in glass that, according to Scientology archvists, are "designed to last at least 1,000 years with no deterioration of sound quality."
Part 2: The Selling of a Church
Church Markets Its Gospel with High-Pressure Sales
(Monday, 25 June 1990, page A1:1)
the religious trappings, the
Its governing financial policy, written by the late Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, is simple and direct: "MAKE MONEY, MAKE MORE MONEY, MAKE OTHERS PRODUCE SO AS TO MAKE MONEY."
The organization uses sophisticated sales tactics to sell a seemingly endless progression of expensive courses, each serving as a prerequisite for the next. Known collectively as "The Bridge," the courses promise salvation, higher intelligence, superhuman powers and even possible survival from nuclear fallout -- for those who can pay.
Church tenets mandate that parishioners purchase Scientology goods and services under Hubbard's "doctrine of exchange." A person must learn to give, he said, as well as receive.
For its programs and books, the church charges "fixed donations" that range from $50 for an elementary course in improving communication skills to more than $13,000 for Hubbard's secret teachings on the origins of the universe and the genesis of mankind's ills.
The church currently is offering a "limited time only" deal on a select package of Hubbard courses, which represent a small portion of The Bridge. If bought individually, those courses would cost $55,455. The sale price: $33,399.50.
As a promotional flyer for the discount observes, "YOU SAVE $22,055.50."
To complete Hubbard's progression of courses, a Scientologist could conceivably spend a lifetime and more than $400,000. Although few if any have doled out that much, the high cost of enlightenment in Scientology has left many deeply in debt to family, friends and banks.
former church member Marie Culloden of
"I'm trying to recover my mortgaged home," says Culloden, who spent 20 years in Scientology and obtained three mortgages totaling more than $80,000 to buy courses.
New courses continually are added, each of which is said to be crucial for spiritual progress, each heavily promoted.
Church members are warned that unless they keep purchasing Scientology services, misery and sickness may befall them. For the true believer, this is a powerful incentive to keep buying whatever the group is selling.
Through the mail, Scientologists are bombarded with glossy, colorful brochures announcing the latest courses and discounts. Letters and postcards sound the dire warning, "Urgent! Urgent! Your future is at risk! ... It is time to ACT! NOW! ... You must buy now!"
By far the most expensive service offered by Scientology is "auditing" -- a kind of confessional during which an individual reveals intimate and traumatic details of his life while his responses are monitored on a lie detector-type device known as the E-meter.
The purpose is to unburden a person of painful experiences, or "engrams," that block his spiritual growth, a process that can span hundreds of hours. Auditing is purchased in 12 1/2-hour chunks costing anywhere between $3,000 and $11,000 each, depending on where it is bought.
Even Scientology's critics concede that auditing often helps people feel better by allowing them to air troubling aspects of their lives -- much like a Catholic confessional or psychotherapy -- and keeps them coming back for more.
The church makes no apologies for the methods it uses to raise funds and spread the gospel of its founder. Scientology spokesmen said in interviews that it takes money to cover overhead expenses and to finance the church's worldwide expansion, as it does for any religion.
"You can't do it on bread and butter," said one.
Church leaders will not discuss Scientology's gross income or net worth. But they contend that Scientologists who pay for spiritual programs are no different from, say, Mormons who tithe 10% of their income for admittance to the temple, or from Jews who buy tickets to High Holiday services or from Christians who rent church pews.
fact of the matter is that the parishioners of the
Many Scientologists say that Hubbard's teachings have resurrected their lives, some of which were marred by drugs, personal traumas, self doubts or a sense of alienation. They say that, through the church, they have gained confidence and learned to lead ethical lives and take responsibility for themselves, while working to create a better world.
Scientology "works," they say, and for that, no price is too high.
"It takes money," acknowledged Scientologist Sheri Scott. "It took money for my father to buy his Cadillac. I wish he'd sell the damn thing and give me the money (for Scientology).... I have never felt cheated at all."
"I'm not glued to the sky or anything. I'm a very normal person," she added. "I just wish more people would take a look, would read (about Scientology), before they decide we're cuckoo."
other religions increasingly advertise and market themselves, none approaches
Its tactics come directly from Hubbard, who wrote entire treatises on how to create a market for, and sell, Scientology.
borrowed generously from a 1971 book called "Big League Sales Closing
Techniques." Touted as the "selling secrets of a supersalesman," the book was written by former car
dealer Les Dane, who has conducted popular seminars at Scientology
Hubbard said Scientology must be marketed through the "art of hard sell," meaning an "insistence that people buy." He said that, "regardless of who the person is or what he is, the motto is, 'Always sell something....' "
Hubbard contended that such high-pressure tactics are imperative because a person's spiritual well being is at stake.
Among other things, he directed his followers to: "rob the person of every opportunity to say 'No.' "; "help prospects work through financial stops impeding a sale"; "make the prospect think it was his idea to make the purchase"; utilize the two man "tag team" approach, and "overcome and rapidly handle any attempted prospect backout."
One of the most important techniques in selling Scientology, Hubbard said, is to create mystery.
"If we tell him there is something to know and don't tell him what it is, we will zip people into" the organization, Hubbard wrote. "And one can keep doing this to a person -- shuttle them along using mystery."
Frequently, a person's first contact with Scientology comes when he is approached by a staff member on the street and offered a free personality test, or receives a lengthy questionnaire in the mail.
Using charts and graphs, the idea is to convince a person that he has some problem, or "ruin," that Scientology can fix, while assuaging concerns he may have about the church. According to Hubbard, "if the job has been done well, the person should be worried."
With that accomplished, the customer is pushed to buy services he is told will improve his sorry condition and perhaps give him such powers as being able to spiritually travel outside his body -- or, in Scientology jargon, to "exteriorize."
Former church member Andrew Lesco said he was told that he "would be able to project my mind into drawers, someone's pocket, a wallet and I would be able to tell what's inside ... "
Church members are required to write testimonials -- "success stories" -- as they progress from one level to the next.
The testimonials regularly appear in Scientology publications. Usually carrying only the authors' initials, they are used to promote courses without the church itself assuming legal liability for promising results that may not occur, according to ex-Scientologists. Here is an example:
We were having trouble with the windshield wipers in our car. Sometimes they would work and sometimes they wouldn't.... We were driving along, and my husband was driving. I got to thinking about the windshield wipers, left my body in the seat and took a look under the hood. I spotted the wires that were shorting and caused them to weld themselves together, like they were supposed to be. We haven't had any trouble with them since.
Scientology staffers who sell Hubbard's courses are called "registrars."
They earn commissions on their sales and are skilled at eliciting every facet of an individual's finances, including bank accounts, stocks, cars, houses, whatever can be converted to cash.
Like all Scientology staffers, a registrar's productivity is evaluated each week. Performance is judged by how much money he or she brings in by Thursday afternoon. And, in Scientology, declining or stagnant productivity is not viewed benevolently, as former registrar Roger Barnes says he learned.
"I remember being dragged across a desk by my tie because I hadn't made my (sales quota)," said Barnes, who once toured the world selling Scientology until he had a bitter break with the group.
Barnes and other ex-Scientologists say that this uncompromising push to generate more money each week places intense pressure on registrars.
former Scientology salesman in
"This made the person feel so harassed," he said, "that he would sign the check because it was the only way he was going to get out of there."
investigative report by Canadian authorities quoted a
The Canadian report also recounted a meeting during which Scientology staffers chanted: "Go for the throat. Go for blood. Go for the bloody throat."
Former Scientologist Donna Day of Ventura said that church registrars accused her of throwing away money on rent and on food for her cats and dogs -- "degraded beings," they called her pets. They said the money should be going to the church.
"I was so upset, I finally left the house with them sitting in it," said Day, who sued the church to get back $25,000 she said she had spent on Scientology.
years ago, church members persuaded a
The Wheatons were longtime church members.
Joanne Wheaton gave nearly $150,000 to the church and almost as much to a private business controlled by Scientologists. But the deal was blocked when a lawsuit was brought by an attorney appointed by the court to protect the children's interests.
claimed that the Scientologists had disregarded the future welfare and
financial security of the
After protracted discussions, the money was refunded and the Scientologists who negotiated the deal were expelled by the church for their role in the affair.
For years, one of Scientology's top promoters was Larry Wollersheim. He traveled the country inspiring others to follow him across Hubbard's Bridge. Then he became disenchanted with the movement.
In 1980, he filed a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, accusing the church of subjecting him to psychologically damaging practices and of driving him to the brink of insanity and financial ruin after he had a falling out with the group.
Three years ago, a jury awarded him $30 million. The award was recently reduced to $2.5 million.
During the litigation, Wollersheim filed a 200-page affidavit in which he offered this analysis of what keeps Scientologists hooked:
"Fear and hope are totally indoctrinated into the cult (Scientology) member. He hopes that he will receive the miraculous and ridiculous claims made directly, indirectly and by rumor by the sect and its members.
"He is afraid of the peer pressure for not proceeding up the prescribed program. He is intimidated and afraid of being accused of being a dilettante. He is afraid that if he doesn't do it now before the world ends or collapses he may never get the chance. He is afraid if he doesn't claim he received gains and write a success testimonial he will be shunned....
"How many people could stand up to that kind of pressure and stand before a group of applauding people and say: 'Hey, it really wasn't good.'?"
Wollersheim said that the courses provide only a temporary euphoria.
"Then you're sold the next mystery and the next solution.... I've seen people sell their homes, stocks, inheritances and everything they own chasing their hopes for a fleeting, subjective euphoria. I have never witnessed a greater preying on the hopes and fears of others that has been carefully engineered by the cult's leader."
Part 2: The Selling of a Church
Shoring Up Its Religious Profile
The church has adopted the terminology and trappings of traditional theologies. But the IRS is not convinced.
(Monday, 25 June 1990, page A18:1)
Since its founding some 35 years ago by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology has worked hard to shore up its religious profile for the public, the courts and the Internal Revenue Service.
In the old days, for example, those who purchased Hubbard's Scientology courses were called "students." Today, they are "parishioners."
The group's "franchises" have become "missions." And Hubbard's teachings, formerly his "courses," now are described as sacred scriptures.
The word "Dianetics" was even redefined to give it a spiritual twist. For years, Hubbard said it meant "through the mind." The new definition: "through the soul."
Canadian authorities learned firsthand how far Scientologists would go to maintain a religious aura.
to police documents disclosed in 1984, an undercover officer who infiltrated
For three decades, critics have accused Scientology of assuming the mantle of religion to shield itself from government inquiries and taxes.
"To some, this seems mere opportunism," Hubbard said of Scientology's religious conversion in a 1954 communique to his followers. "To some it would seem that Scientology is simply making itself bulletproof in the eyes of the law...."
But, Hubbard insisted, religion is "basically a philosophic teaching designed to better the civilization into which it is taught.... A Scientologist has a better right to call himself a priest, a minister, a missionary, a doctor of divinity, a faith healer or a preacher than any other man who bears the insignia of religion of the Western World."
Joseph Yanny, a
In the beginning, Hubbard toyed with different ways to promote his creation.
For a time, he called it "the only successfully validated psychotherapy in the world." To those who completed his courses, he offered "certification" as a "Freudian psychoanalyst."
He also described it as a "precision science" that required no faith or beliefs to produce "completely predictable results" of higher intelligence and better health. Hubbard bestowed upon its practitioners the title "doctor of Scientology."
This characterization, however, landed him in trouble with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a federal judge, who concluded in 1971 that Hubbard was making false medical claims and had employed "skillful propaganda to make Scientology ... attractive in many varied, often inconsistent wrappings."
The judge said, however, that if claims about Scientology were advanced in a purely spiritual context, they would be beyond the government's reach because of protections afforded religions under the First Amendment.
A tax-exempt religion may not, for example, operate primarily for business purposes, commit crimes, engage in partisan politics or enrich private individuals. It should, among other things, have a formal doctrine, ordained ministers, religious services, sincerely held beliefs and an established place of worship.
So began Scientology's most sweeping religious make-over.
Among other things, Scientology ministers (formerly "counselors") started to wear white collars, dark suits and silver crosses.
Sunday services were mandated and chapels were ordered erected in Scientology buildings. It was made a punishable offense for a staffer to omit from church literature the notation that Scientology is a "religious philosophy."
Many of the changes flowed from a flurry of "religious image" directives issued by high-level Scientology executives. One policy put it bluntly:
"Visual evidences that Scientology is a religion are mandatory."
None of this, however, convinced the IRS, which assessed the church more than $1 million in back taxes for the years 1970 through 1972.
Scientology appealed to the U.S. Tax Court, where, in 1984, it was handed one of the worst financial and public relations disasters in its history.
In a blistering opinion, the court backed the IRS and said the Church of Scientology of California had "made a business out of selling religion," had diverted millions of dollars to Hubbard and his family and had "conspired for almost a decade to defraud the United States Government by impeding the IRS."
church lost again when it took the case before the
of its tax-exempt status, Scientology executives turned the
called the "
It has been replaced by a number of new organizations that Scientology executives maintain are religious and tax exempt. But, once again, the IRS has disagreed, ruling that the new organizations are still operating in a commercial manner.
Scientology is appealing the IRS decision in the courts.
Part 2: The Selling of a Church
The Courting of Celebrities
Testimonials of the famous are prominent in the church's push for acceptability. John Travolta and Kirstie Alley are the current headliners.
(Monday, 25 June 1990, page A18:5)
As far back as 1955, Hubbard recognized the value of famous people to his fledgling, off-beat church when he inaugurated "Project Celebrity." According to Hubbard, Scientologists should target prominent individuals as their "quarry" and bring them back like trophies for Scientology.
He listed the following people of that era as suitable prey: Edward R. Murrow, Marlene Dietrich, Ernest Hemingway, Howard Hughes, Greta Garbo, Walt Disney, Henry Luce, Billy Graham, Groucho Marx and others of similar stature.
"If you bring one of them home you will get a small plaque as a reward," Hubbard wrote in a Scientology magazine more than three decades ago.
Although the effort died, the idea of using celebrities to promote and defend Scientology survived -- though perhaps not as grandly as Hubbard had dreamed.
Today, the church's most famous celebrity is actor John Travolta, who credits Hubbard's teachings with giving him confidence and direction.
"All I've had are benefits," said Travolta, a church member since 1975.
Another Scientology celebrity is actress Kirstie Alley, co-star of the television series "Cheers." Last year, Alley and Travolta teamed up in the blockbuster comedy film, "Look Who's Talking."
international spokeswoman for the Scientology movement's controversial new
drug and alcohol treatment center in
A former cocaine abuser, Alley has said she discovered Hubbard's Narconon program in 1979 and that it "salvaged my life and began my acting career."
Alley also has become active in disseminating a new 47-page booklet on ways to preserve the environment. The booklet, entitled "Cry Out," was named after a Hubbard song and was produced by Author Services Inc., his literary agency. Author Services is controlled by influential Scientologists.
Alley provided nationwide exposure for the illustrated booklet -- which
mentions Hubbard but not Scientology -- when she unveiled it on the popular Arsenio Hall Show. Since then, it has been distributed to
prominent environmental groups throughout the
Besides Alley and Travolta, the Scientology celebrity ranks also include: jazz pianist Chick Corea; singer Al Jarreau; actress Karen Black; opera star Julia Migenes; Priscilla Presley and her daughter Lisa Marie Presley, and Nancy Cartwright, who is the voice behind Bart Simpson, the wisecracking son on the animated TV hit, "The Simpsons."
the 1988 Summer Games in
"I am by far the healthiest person on the team," he said. "They (other team members) are actually resentful of me because I don't have to train as long as they do."
Celebrities are considered so important to the movement's expansion that the church created a special office to guide their careers and ensure their "correct utilization" for Scientology.
church has a special branch that ministers to prominent individuals,
providing them with first-class treatment. Its headquarters, called Celebrity
Centre International, is housed in a magnificent old turreted mansion on
In 1988, the movement tried to associate itself with a non-Scientology celebrity, race driver Mario Andretti, by sponsoring his car in the GTE World Challenge of Tampa, Fla. But the plan backfired.
When Andretti saw seven Dianetics logo decals stripped across his Porsche, he demanded that they be removed.
"It's not something I believe in, so I don't want to make it appear like I'm endorsing it," he was quoted as saying.
years, Scientology's biggest celebrity spokesman was former
Brodie said that when pain in his throwing arm threatened his career, he applied Dianetics techniques and soon was "zipping the ball" again like a young man.
Although he still admires Hubbard's teachings, Brodie said he gave up promoting them after some of his friends in Scientology were expelled and harassed during a power struggle with church management.
"There were many in the church I felt were treated unfairly," Brodie said.