Scientology

By James M. Rochford

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last several years, you have surely heard of the only major religion to arise from the 20th century: Scientology. Critics of this religious movement have been quick to point out the lurid and fantastic beliefs of this particular faith, while many celebrity Scientologists have been quick to retort that this belief-system has changed their lives. In the midst of this often heated exchange, many people wonder: What is Scientology? Comparative religions scholar Hugh Urban writes, “I would have to say that Scientology is in many ways the most secretive religious community I have ever encountered.”[1] Many would agree with him. Let’s consider this secretive and often misunderstood faith.

The Founder: L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986)

Scientology comes from the Latin scio which means “knowledge” and the Greek logos which means “reason” or “study.” Thus Scientology is literally the study of knowledge. The founder of Scientology was the late L. Ron Hubbard. According to the Scientology Abridged Dictionary,

 [Hubbard traveled] extensively in Asia as a young man. He studied science and mathematics at George Washington University, graduating from Columbian College. He attended Princeton University and Sequoia University. Crippled and blind at the end of the war [World War II], he resumed his studies of philosophy and by his discoveries recovered so fully that he was reclassified in 1949 for full combat duty. It was a matter of medical record that he has been twice pronounced dead and that in 1950 he was given a perfect score on mental and physical fitness reports.[2]

However, these claims have been vitiated by Russell Miller’s book Bare-Faced Messiah and former Scientologist Bent Corydon’s book L. Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman? Kurt Van Gorden writes, “Miller showed that Hubbard attended high school in America while he was claiming to have been traveling Asia. His medical records show that he was never crippled, blinded, or wounded in World War II, let alone being pronounced dead twice.”[3] Moreover, Van Gorden continues, “Sequoia University was discovered to be an unrecognized diploma mill located in a two-story house in Los Angeles… Although there are times he calls himself a ‘nuclear physicist,’ he failed his only class on molecular atomic physics.”[4]

In addition, during his time in Oak Knoll Hospital, Hubbard claimed to be treated for being “crippled and blinded.”[5] In reality, he was treated for duodenal ulcers. During this time in the hospital, Hubbard claimed to have done research on the human mind. But secular journalist Janet Reitman writes, “No evidence of this research has ever been found in Hubbard’s hospital file.”[6]

Hubbard was also not a strong academic. He failed the math portion of the Naval Academy entrance test, and he failed out of college in just two years.[7] Urban writes,

Hubbard, the alleged ‘nuclear physicist’ and ‘engineer,’ had enrolled in only one introductory course on molecular and nuclear physics at George Washington University, receiving a grade of F, while his courses in mathematics earned nothing higher than a D. His claim to a Doctor of Philosophy degree turned out to have been the product of a sham diploma from Sequoia University (which was never recognized by the state of California).[8]

Moreover, Hubbard was definitely not a war hero or “master mariner” in the Navy, as is so often claimed by his followers. Reitman writes, “Though he did get the opportunity to take the helm of a submarine chaser in April 1943, he was relieved of that duty within a month after he (unwittingly, he claimed) steered his ship into Mexican waters and took target practice by firing on the Los Coronados Islands.”[9] Urban adds that “[Hubbard] was judged by Rear Admiral F. A. Braisted to be ‘not qualified for command or promotion.’”[10]

At one of the various legal trials surrounding the Church of Scientology, Judge Paul Brechenridge damningly stated, “The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background, and achievements.”[11] Former Scientologist Gerald Armstrong claimed that virtually everything said about his life was false.[12] Even Hubbard’s own son claimed, “Better than 90 percent of what my father has written about himself is untrue.”[13] Nibs—Hubbard’s son—left the faith in November of 1959.[14]

Jack Parsons

After leaving the Navy, Hubbard became friends with John Parsons—a brilliant rocket scientist. On Parsons estate, Hubbard studied the Satanism of Aleister Crowley’s Thelema, referring to Crowley as a “good friend.”[15] Reitman writes, “Certain tenets of Scientology echo Crowley’s belief system, including the emphasis on finding ‘who, what, and why’ one is and the assertion that ‘suppressives’ of various sorts are hostile to one’s success.”[16] Parsons himself had begun to engage deeply in magic.[17]

After becoming good friends with Parsons, Hubbard coaxed him to invest his life savings in a business venture to buy yachts and sail around to California. Hubbard and Betty (Parson’s former mistress) took the money and bought several boats in Florida, seeking to flee. After Parsons caught up with them, a fierce legal battle ensued. The two former friends settled the case. In return for not pressing charges, Hubbard paid half of Parson’s legal fees and returned the boats. However, this con permanently ruined Parsons financially.[18]

Hubbard’s Wives

Hubbard divorced his wife Polly in 1948, and he married his second wife Sara in 1947; thus he was married bigamously to both women for over a year.[19] However, his marriage to his wife Sara “had grown increasingly strained… Both were having affairs… Hubbard with a twenty-year-old college student named Barbara Klowden.”[20]

His second wife, Sara, accused him of “kidnapping both her and their daughter and alleging physical and mental abuse.”[21] Van Gorden writes, “His second wife’s 1951 divorce allegations contained more than bigamy charges. She claimed sleep deprivation, beatings, strangulation, kidnapping their child and fleeing to Cuba, and Ron counseling her to commit suicide, ‘if she really loved him.’ The kidnapping was reported in several newspapers in 1951.”[22] However, in order to gain custody of her child, she had to retract all of her accusations against her husband. She went on record as saying that her earlier comments were “grossly exaggerated and entirely false… L. Ron Hubbard was a fine and brilliant man.”[23] After this, she and her daughter left Hubbard’s life completely.

His third wife, Barbara, went on to become a psychologist and “believed that Hubbard suffered from manic depression with paranoiac tendencies.”[24]

Dianetics: Scientific Nonsense

Hubbard became famous in 1950 with his book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Dianetics comes from the Greek dia meaning “through” and nous meaning “mind.” The opening line of Dianetics states: “The creation of Dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and the arch.”[25] Reitman writes, “Hubbard had divided the world into two eras: the dull past (Before Dianetics) and AD (After Dianetics), the glorious, Technicolor world of Now.”[26]

In the book, Hubbard claimed that people had incurred “birth trauma,” and this was the problem with people’s psychological problems in life. He sent his theory (and book) to the American Psychological Association (APA), but “the society turned him down.”[27]

However, Hubbard practiced Dianetics counseling on his editor John Campbell, and Campbell felt that his chronic sinus condition had remarkably improved. His editor believed that Hubbard had created a novel theory in helping people with mental and physical conditions, becoming his biggest advocate. Reitman writes, “By the end of 1950, more than half a million people had bought Dianetics.”[28] The need for psychological care was urgently needed after World War II, so the book was speaking to an urgent need. Unfortunately for the vets and others who flocked to Dianetics, it offered hope but not help. Reitman writes, “Few books of the past sixty years… have been as widely derided as Dianetics.”[29] Consider the excoriating claims of Hubbard’s contemporaries:

Jack Williamson: “To me, it looked like a lunatic revision of Freudian psychology.”[30]

Isaac Asimov: “I considered it gibberish.”[31]

Eric Fromm: [Dianetics] has no respect for and no understanding of the complexities of personality.”[32]

Hubbard was publicly embarrassed for his theory when he failed to produce results for the efficacy of Dianetics. At one point, Hubbard held a public convention where he presented “The World’s First Clear,” which was a woman who had been fully cured by Dianetics. While Hubbard claimed that she could demonstrate “full and perfect recall of every moment of her life,” the presentation completely flopped. The woman couldn’t even remember the color of Hubbard’s tie, which she witnessed moments earlier. Reitman writes, “Nonetheless, Hubbard continued to pull in sellout audiences.”[33]

During this time, Hubbard’s closest supporters—Joseph Campbell (his editor), Athur Ceppos (his publisher), and Joseph Winter—all abandoned his theories. Reitman writes, “Upset by the defection of these apostles, Hubbard accused Winter and Ceppos of trying to take over the foundation. He also accused Ceppos of being a Communist sympathizer.”[34]

What is Auditing?

“Auditing” is a term that Scientologists use for counseling new converts in the church. According to Scientologists, trillions of years ago thetans (immortal spirits) created the physical universe. These thetans slowly forgot that they were spiritual beings, and they began to believe that they were merely physical. After reincarnating over and over in human bodies, these thetans began to become more and more disillusioned of their spiritual identity. They picked up engrams (sensory impressions stored in the mind that cause our emotional and physical problems).[35] According to Scientology, when a person endures something painful or traumatic, this produces an engram (or scar on the soul of the person) which is stored in their mind. Comparative religions expert Ron Rhodes illustrates,

Let us suppose a boy is riding his bike, and right at the moment he crashes and bruises up his entire body—scraping his elbows and knees and bumping his head—he sees a dog playing in a neighbor’s front lawn. As an adult, he seems to always feel uncomfortable around dogs and is not sure why. Every dog he sees restimulates the sensory impression that was stored in his reactive mind as a child and causes an irrational, inappropriate response.[36]

According to Scientology, many of these engrams are picked up in the womb, and therefore, we need to be set free from these painful scars. These engrams can be released through auditing. An auditor (Latin audire meaning “to listen”) uses Scientology technology and counseling to purge the counselee of these engrams. You can “clear” a person of these engrams (Scientologists refer to those not yet clear as preclear).

The E-Meter

An essential part of Scientology was the so-called electropsychometer or “E-meter.” This device was “essentially, a lie detector, operating on many of the same principles.”[37] Scientologist counselors (now called “auditors”) used the E-meter to discern the problems (or engrams) in the counselee. While Hubbard claimed that the E-meter was a new invention, this is far from the truth. This device was used as far back as the time of Carl Jung in the 19th century.[38] Rhodes explains the use of the E-meter in this way:

As the preclear [counselee] holds in his hands the electrodes of this ‘religious instrument’ (metal cylinders attached to wires), a current of about 1.5 volts flows through the wires to the person’s body and back into the E-Meter… Scientologists claim that different needle movements have precise meanings and that it takes the skill of a trained auditor to understand all of the meter’s needle movements.[39]

This apparently helps the auditor to identify what engrams the person has. If the needle moves when talking about cats (for example), this shows the auditor what to counsel and neutralize.

Scientology: Spiritual Nonsense

While Dianetics was initially successful, the medical community quickly pounced on Hubbard’s fallacious medical and psychological claims. The claims of Dianetics were so verifiably false that no respected scientist supported them. For this reason, Hubbard deftly moved from the practice of science (Dianetics) into the practice of religion (Scientology). Urban writes,

Various individuals—including several fellow science fiction writers and Hubbard’s own son—have recalled hearing Hubbard state that the way to make money was to start a religion. As a writer and publisher Lloyd Eshback recalled, Hubbard made the statement over lunch in New York City in 1949, just months before the publication of Dianetics: ‘I’d like to start a religion. That’s where the money is!’[40]

By reclassifying Dianetics as the religion of Scientology, Hubbard could get the scientific bloodhounds off of his back. Therefore, associations like the American Medical Association could no longer ridicule his theories. Reitman writes, “As practitioners of ‘mental science,’ Dianetics and Scientology auditors had been scrutinized for lacking the appropriate medical or psychological licenses; as clergy, they could counsel whomever they wanted, under the protection of a church… The more he thought about it, Hubbard told O’Brien in his April 1953 letter, the more ‘the religion angle,’ as he put it, seemed to make sense. ‘It’s a matter of practical business.’”[41] [42] Thus the first church of Scientology was opened in 1954.

However, religion or not, consider how ridiculous and unsubstantiated the claims of Scientology really are. (All of these citations come directly from Hubbard’s work Scientology: A History of Man):

“A preclear suddenly recovers the ability, carefully learned eighty years ago, to play a piano; an electronics engineer, doing poorly before, suddenly wraps up formulas that would puzzle Einstein.”[43]

“Paralysis, anxiety stomachs, arthritis and many ills and aberrations have been relieved by auditing.”[44]

“Cancer has reportedly been eradicated by auditing out conception and mitosis.”[45] [Here he claims to have cured cancer!]

“Your discussion of these incidents with the uninitiated in Scientology can produce havoc. Should you describe the ‘Clam’ to someone, you may restimulate it in him to the extent of causing severe jaw hinge pain. One such victim, after hearing about a clam death, could not use his jaws for three days. Another ‘had to have’ two molars extracted because of the resulting ache.”[46] [Hubbard blended the theory of evolution with reincarnation. Part of our problem here was the notion that we were reliving anxiety of being a clam in a past life!]

“The Weeper is so called because it had to pump salt water. It was deduced that crying in a human being is very unnatural. Why is it that a human being has to pump out some salt water in order to feel better—which is to say, why does crying out a grief charge produce such a change in a case? …This is practically the total activity of the Weeper which, living perilously on the edge of the surf, had to pump to eat and to breathe. The creature had two pumping tubes. These later became, because they were furthest toward the light, the eyes of the human being.”[47] [Again, Hubbard claims that we cry, because this was our former catharsis as a clam or other aquatic being that evolved into a human.]

“It has been suggested that smoking tobacco is a sort of dramatization of volcanoes which, at the least, were spectacular.”[48] [Hubbard claims that we smoke to relive life in a volcano!]

“By running past deaths, the auditor can get rid of psychosomatics.”[49]

“It is the first proven-up whole track incident which, when audited out a long series of people, was found to eradicate such things as asthma, sinus trouble, chronic chills and a host of other ills.”[50]

Regarding these extravagant claims of Scientology, the Australian Medical Association and its Mental Health Authority wrote (1960; 173 page report):

“If there should be detected in this report a note of unrelieved denunciation of Scientology, it is because the evidence has shown its theories to be fantastic and impossible, its principles perverted and ill-founded, and its techniques debased and harmful… Scientology is a delusional belief system, based on fiction and fallacies and propagated by falsehood and deception… Its founder, with the merest smattering of knowledge in various sciences, has built up the scintilla of his learning a crazy and dangerous edifice.”[51]

Sea Organization: A Mobile Navy

After Scientology began to explode worldwide, Hubbard bought a small fleet of ships and spent almost a decade on the open waters, where he couldn’t be touched by any governmental jurisdiction. Hubbard called himself the “commodore” of this fleet. His ship—called The Flag—was a “three-story, 3,278-ton behemoth that, in a former life, had served as an Irish cattle ferry and then as a troop transport during World War II.”[52]

Discipline was harsh on the Flag. One of the punishments for even the smallest of infractions was called “overboarding.” If someone disappointed Hubbard in any way, they were thrown overboard—sometimes blindfolded with their hands and feet bound—while the crew would chant, “We commit your sins and errors to the deep and trust you will rise a better thetan.[53] This didn’t result in death, but certainly near death by the time they were fished out of the water.

Even children were subject to extreme discipline aboard Hubbard’s ship. Reitman writes, “One boy [who angered Hubbard] was stowed in a cabin locker for several days.”[54] Hubbard also surrounded himself by young girls—called his “Messengers”—who would deliver his commands around the ship. These girls were the daughters of Scientologists who were given over to Hubbard’s work. Reitman writes, “The Messengers worked long hours, got time off only occasionally, and received hardly any education. ‘We had three hours a day of reading, writing, and arithmetic—nothing else,’ said Karen Gregory, a Messenger who came on board the Apollo when she was twelve.”[55] Hubbard even married these teenagers together, yet “he insisted on approving the match.”[56] These Messengers washed Hubbard’s clothes with filtered water and then “[rinsed] the clothes in buckets, sometimes more than a dozen times.”[57]

Hubbard viewed his mission as primarily global in scope, freeing the world from the fraud of modern medical psychology. According to him, the world was being duped through medical practices, and they needed the help of his teachings. It’s not surprising that Hubbard would later write his best-seller Battlefield: Earth, which was a science fiction metaphor for his battle for worldwide Scientology. In the plot of the book, the evil alien “Psychlos” (psychologists) are in control of the Earth, and a small human remnant, who refuse to be controlled by them, fight to kick them off of the planet.

Operating Thetan

While away on his sea voyages, Hubbard “discovered” a new revelation for the church of Scientology: his creation story. However, this secret information could not be given to just anyone. Before an initiate could learn of this information,

They were put through a security check to verify that they were ready to receive this knowledge. They then signed a waiver promising never to reveal the secrets of OT 3, nor to hold the Church of Scientology responsible for any trauma or damage they might endure during this stage of auditing. Finally, they were given a manila folder, which they placed in a locked briefcase; they were instructed to read it in a private, guarded room. Inside was a single-page document, written in Hubbard’s longhand script, which laid out what seemed, to some, to be Hubbard’s book of Genesis.[58]

This secret information has been summarized by Reitman in this way:

The head of the Galactic Confederation (76 planets around larger stars visible from here—founded 95,000,000 years ago, very space opera) solved overpopulation (250 billion or so per planet—178 billion average) by mass “implanting.” This leader a tyrant named Xenu, set out to capture the trillions who opposed him and deposited them in volcanoes on the prison planet of Teegeeack, otherwise known as Earth. He then eradicated them and all life on the planet with hydrogen bombs, leaving only the thetans, or souls, of the captives—which were then brainwashed, or “implanted,” to rid them of their original identities. Millions of years later, when life began again on the Teegeeack, the traumatized thetans attached themselves to human bodies.[59]

According to this special revelation from Hubbard, humans are really thetans (pronounced THAY-tens) or immortal spirits. This term comes from the Greek letter theta. Urban writes, “It is difficult not to see a direct continuity between Hubbard’s imaginative science fiction tales of the 1930 and 40s and his equally elaborate space opera accounts of the 1950s and 60s.”[60] The comedic cartoon South Park offers a startlingly accurate (though viciously satirical) depiction of these events which can be viewed here, alongside a recording of Hubbard explaining the events.

Domestic Espionage

In addition to these fantastic spiritual claims, many people are unaware of the fact that the church of Scientology was directly responsible for “the largest program of domestic espionage in U.S. history.”[61] In fact, when it was uncovered and brought to court, Federal prosecutors argued, “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.”[62]

The church of Scientology developed an intelligence branch of their organization called “the Guardians.” Urban writes, “By the late 1970s, the Guardian’s Office had managed to infiltrate and place Scientologists into a remarkable array of government and private offices, mounting covert operations that impressed even senior U.S. intelligence officers.”[63] This included the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the American Medical Association (AMA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

On May 21, 1976, two operatives from the Guardians (Gerald Wolfe and Michael Meisner) snuck into the U.S. Courthouse in Washington D.C. They pilfered government documents using faking ID’s and a stolen key. They did this three weeks in a row. Eventually, the night librarian became privy to their scheme and tipped off the FBI. Wolfe and Meisner told the feds that they were doing legal research. Reitman writes, “But Wolfe had mistakenly handed the FBI his actual identification card, resulting three weeks later in his arrest for use and possession of a forged government ID.”[64] As a result of this botched mission, the two men were caught unveiling a vast network of espionage within the church of Scientology.

On July 8, 1977, the FBI raided Scientology headquarters in L.A. and Washington D.C., carrying away 50,000 incriminating papers.[65] They soon discovered that the church kept files on their own people—particularly those in the Guardian’s Office. Reitman writes, “Though any Scientologist, staff or public, could be subject to internal investigation, these dossiers gave the church particularly sensitive material that could be used against any Guardian who stepped out of line.”[66] Van Gorden writes,

More than five thousand Scientologists were involved in one of the most clandestine covert spying operations ever aimed at the United States government… Court evidence, numbering approximately 33,000 documents, connected Scientologists to infiltrating the government, burglarizing, bugging, wiretapping, and stealing classified information… All eleven charged Scientologists originally pleaded innocent to the twenty-eight-count grand jury indictment. After much plea bargaining and examining mounting evidence against them, they pleaded guilty to one charge instead of a trial and a heavier sentence… L. Ron Hubbard and twenty-four other Scientologists were named coconspirators, but not indicted.[67]

While the federal investigators tried to pin Operation Snow White on Hubbard, the church was careful not to permit his name on any of the illegal operations.

Other Undercover Attacks

Another covert action of the church of Scientology was uncovered in their failed attempt to take over England’s National Association of Mental Health (NAMH). Reitman writes,

Scientologists, seeing that NAMH membership was open to the public, began joining the organization in large numbers—in October 1969, the NAMH, after receiving no more than 10 or 15 membership applications per month, suddenly saw the number jump to 227. By November, there were 302 new members. The organization’s annual meeting, in which it elected new leaders, was scheduled for November 12, 1969; suddenly, there came a flurry of nominations from the new members, suggesting eight of their own for positions on the council… The staff of the NAMH became suspicious when they noticed that all of the new membership applications had been mailed from either East Grinstead or a post office on Tottenham Court Road, the location of Scientology’s London Org. Notifying the authorities, the group, just two days before the election, uncovered the scheme, which included a plan to elect the Scientologist David Gaiman, a member of the Guardian’s Office, to the position of chairman. The Scientologists were subsequently asked to resign.[68]

Actions like these demonstrate that the church of Scientology was capable of large-scale attacks on government institutions.

Harassment of Journalists

Any journalists or investigators who spoke out against the church of Scientology were met with bitter revenge from the Guardian’s Office. Hubbard referred to this practice as “fair game.” That is, if any journalist or investigator attacked the church, they would receive retribution. Urban writes, “First introduced in a 1965 letter… the [“fair game”] policy directed that enemies of Scientology (SPs) could be fought using any and all means at one’s disposal.”[69] This title was officially ended in 1968, but the practice continued. Reitman writes, “Guardian’s Office operatives launched smear campaigns, bugged government offices, and engaged in breaking and entering.”[70] Urban writes, “Formed in March 1966 under the direction of Mary Sue Hubbard, the Guardian’s Office was responsible for responding to any attack on Scientology, for public relations, for legal actions, and for gathering of intelligence.”[71]

A few examples will suffice. In 1976, Roy Wallis wrote The Road to Total Freedom, which was an exposé of the church of Scientology. Urban writes,

Wallis recounts, he was visited by a Scientologists posing as a university student, who allegedly tried to make him confess to drug use. Shortly thereafter, letters were sent to his friends and colleagues suggesting that he was a homosexual. Even more aggressive tactics have confronted journalists who have written critically of the church. As Richard Behar recounted his experience while researching his article for Time magazine in 1991. ‘At least 10 attorneys and six private detectives were unleashed by Scientology and its followers in an effort to threaten, harass and discredit me… A copy of my personal credit report—with detailed information about my bank accounts, home mortgage, credit-card payments, home address and Social Security number—had been illegally retrieved.’[72]

Journalist Paulette Cooper wrote The Scandal of Scientology in 1971, and the church got retribution upon her as well. Reitman writes,

Over the course of the decade it filed at least eighteen other lawsuits against her (all of which have been settled). Church operatives tapped her phones, broke into her apartment, posted her number on bathroom walls, and handed out fliers to her neighbors, alleging that she was a prostitute. They also stole Cooper’s stationery, they sent several bomb threats to the New York Church of Scientology in 1973. As a result, Cooper was arrested and indicted on three counts of felony; she faced fifteen years in prison if convicted. “For months, my anxiety was so terrible I could taste it in my throat… I could barely write, and my bills, especially legal ones kept mounting. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I smoked four packs of cigarettes a day, popped Valium like M&Ms, and drank too much vodka.” Finally, in 1975, after Cooper took and passed a sodium amytal test (the “truth serum” test), the government decided not to pursue prosecution.[73]

These extreme measures might explain why the church of Scientology has been able to survive as long as it has, efficiently discrediting and attacking their adversaries.

An Official Church in 1993

For years, the IRS refused to consider Scientology a church. Instead, they called it a business. However, Urban writes, “After an incredibly complex twenty-six-year battle with the Internal Revenue Service and a $12.5 million settlement, Scientology was in fact awarded tax-exempt status as a nonprofit organization by the IRS in 1993 and soon after recognized by the U.S. State Department in its annual report on religious freedom.”[74] In fact, the church of Scientology slowly wore them down through countless legal battles and law suits, as well as personal attacks. Reitman writes, “The agency [IRS], overwhelmed, began to feel the cumulative effect of the church’s pressure campaign… One assistant commissioner repeatedly found his garden hose mysteriously turned on in the middle of the night. Other agents reported that their dogs and cats had disappeared.”[75] She adds, “Though it owed roughly $1 billion in back taxes, Scientology had been fined just $12.5 million. The IRS also canceled payroll taxes and penalties against seven top Scientology officials, including Miscavige, and dropped audits of thirteen Scientology organizations, including the Church of Scientology International. In exchange for all of this, Scientology agreed to drop the thousands of lawsuits it had brought against the IRS and its officials.”[76]

Hubbard’s Death

Hubbard officially died of a stroke in 1986. Reitman writes, “The San Luis Obispo County coroner, who briefly took possession of Hubbard’s body, accepted the diagnosis of a stroke, and a blood test revealed the presence of anti-stroke medication in Hubbard’s system. It also revealed a quantity of hydroxyzine, sold under the brand name Vistaril, an anti-anxiety medication often used to treat psychosis. This suggested that Hubbard, who’d preached against the use of ‘psych’ drugs for decades had been taking them himself.”[77] After his death, the succeeding leader David Miscavige told an eager Scientologist crowd:

[Hubbard] has now moved on to the next level of OT [Operating Thetan] research. It’s a level beyond anything any of us ever imagined. This level is in fact done in an exterior state. Meaning that it is done completely exterior from the body. At this level of OT, the body is nothing more than an impediment and encumbrance to any further gain as an OT. Thus at 2000 hours, the 24th of January, AD 36 (After Dianetics), L. Ron Hubbard discarded the body he had used in this lifetime for 74 years 10 months and 11 days.[78]

After Hubbard’s death, the church has only continued to grow, moving its strategy into celebrity converts such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Isaac Hayes. However, even though this “religion” has become popular in our culture, it is still false. As Cynthia Kisser—former director of The Cult Awareness Network—has written, “Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious and the most lucrative cult the country has ever known. No cult extracts more money from its members.”[79] A Los Angeles Times article claimed that it costs somewhere between $200,000 to $400,000 dollars to reach a Thetan 8 status through this process.[80] This is why Time magazine had a full front page cover devoted to Scientology titled: “Scientology: The Cult of Greed.”

Further Reading

Best Critiques of Scientology

Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.

This was the best critique of Scientology that I’ve read to date by a journalist from Rolling Stone. I only wish Ms. Reitman would have cited her sources in the book. Otherwise, an excellent treatment of the subject from a secular perspective.

Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011.

Hugh Urban is a professor of comparative religions at the Ohio State University, and his book on Scientology was excellent and well-cited. This is another excellent treatment of Scientology from a secular perspective.

Christian Critiques of Scientology

Martin, Walter, Kurt Van Gordon, and Ravi Zacharias (General Editor). The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2003.

Rhodes, Ron. The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

These are excellent introductions to the subject of Scientology from a biblical Christian perspective.

Additional Reading

Jenna Miscavige Hill Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape 2013.

Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece of the former President of Scientology, David Miscavige. While I haven’t read it, the reviews point out that the book tells an insider story of Jenna, as she escaped from the church.

Wright, Lawrence. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.L. A. Klein Scientology Exposed.

I haven’t read this book yet, but I’ve read that it is a good treatment of the subject.

Miller, Russell. Bare-faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard. New York: H. Holt, 1988.

Corydon, Bent. L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? Secaucus, NJ: L. Stuart, 1987.

I haven’t read either of these books, but they were cited frequently in the literature on the subject of Scientology. I’m sure they are excellent treatments, but they are dated. I preferred to read the newer critiques of Scientology.


[1] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 10.

[2] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology Abridged Dictionary (Los Angeles: American Saint Hill Organization [ASHO], 1970) 36. Cited in Martin, Walter, Kurt Van Gordon, and Ravi Zacharias (General Editor). The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2003. 352.

[3] Martin, Walter, Kurt Van Gordon, and Ravi Zacharias (General Editor). The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2003. 353.

[4] Martin, Walter, Kurt Van Gordon, and Ravi Zacharias (General Editor). The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2003. 354.

[5] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 17.

[6] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 17.

[7] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 5, 7.

[8] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 32.

[9] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 11.

[10] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 32.

[11] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 32.

[12] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 27.

[13] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 26.

[14] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 56.

[15] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 16.

[16] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 17.

[17] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 17.

[18] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 19.

[19] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 20; see footnote also.

[20] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 36.

[21] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 37.

[22] Martin, Walter, Kurt Van Gordon, and Ravi Zacharias (General Editor). The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2003. 354.

[23] Cited in Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 37.

[24] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 36.

[25] Cited in Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 24.

[26] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 78.

[27] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 22.

[28] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 27.

[29] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 28.

[30] Cited in Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 29.

[31] Cited in Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 29.

[32] Cited in Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 29.

[33] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 31.

[34] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 35.

[35] I am taking this definition directly from Rhodes. Rhodes, Ron. The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001. 159.

[36] Rhodes, Ron. The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001. 159.

[37] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 39.

[38] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 40.

[39] Rhodes, Ron. The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001. 160-161.

[40] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 58.

[41] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 43-44.

[42] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 43-44.

[43] Hubbard, L. Ron. Scientology: A History of Man. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, 1952, 2007. 6.

[44] Hubbard, L. Ron. Scientology: A History of Man. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, 1952, 2007. 20.

[45] Hubbard, L. Ron. Scientology: A History of Man. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, 1952, 2007. 31.

[46] Hubbard, L. Ron. Scientology: A History of Man. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, 1952, 2007. 42.

[47] Hubbard, L. Ron. Scientology: A History of Man. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, 1952, 2007. 48.

[48] Hubbard, L. Ron. Scientology: A History of Man. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, 1952, 2007. 49.

[49] Hubbard, L. Ron. Scientology: A History of Man. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, 1952, 2007. 62.

[50] Hubbard, L. Ron. Scientology: A History of Man. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, 1952, 2007. 103.

[51] Cited in Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 61.

[52] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 90.

[53] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 93.

[54] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 105.

[55] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 108.

[56] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 109.

[57] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 121.

[58] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 99.

[59] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 99-100.

[60] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 76.

[61] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 114.

[62] Cited in Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 123.

[63] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 110.

[64] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 111.

[65] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 112.

[66] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 113.

[67] Martin, Walter, Kurt Van Gordon, and Ravi Zacharias (General Editor). The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2003. 360.

[68] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 86-87.

[69] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 108.

[70] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 115.

[71] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 110.

[72] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 12.

[73] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 120.

[74] Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 3.

[75] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 166.

[76] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 170.

[77] Reitman, Janet. Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. 144.

[78] Cited in Rhodes, Ron. The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001. 155.

[79] Cited in Urban, Hugh B. The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2011. 118.

[80] Rhodes, Ron. The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions: The Essential Guide to Their History, Their Doctrine, and Our Response. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001. 162.