Scientology is listed as a religion in many parts of the world, but condemned as a fraudulent organization in others such as France, Germany, Belgium and Britain. Last year, a French court convicted the group of fraud for talking its recruits into paying large sums for bogus personality tests and cures, and prosecutors have recently filed charges in Belgium.
The litigious nature of the organizations has inhibited detailed criticism from being publicized in the past. A number of recent defections and publications have been published, but one at least, will not be available in Canadian bookstores.
For those who are interested, the Daily Beast has summarized some of the revelations from Lawrence Wright’s new book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief”. Some of this information has been available for many years, some is being revealed for the first time.
A survey called the Statistical Abstract of the United States estimates only 25,000 Americans call themselves Scientologists. “That’s less than half the number identifying themselves as Rastafarians.
The organization was established by L. Ron Hubbard.
When he was 23, Hubbard married Margaret Louise Grubb, or Polly. To support his family, he began writing pulp fiction with tremendous speed and imagination. On New Year’s Day, 1938, he had a dental operation under gas anesthetic, and he believed the secrets of the universe were revealed to him.
Hubbard has claimed to be a war hero from the Pacific battles against the Japanese. Naval records tell a slightly different story.
Before World War II, Hubbard received his Naval Reserve commission despite failing his physicals. He was pronounced “not satisfactory for independent duty assignment” and given a ship in Oregon, where he claimed to have picked up a Japanese submarine and fired on it. It was probably a log. A month after the invasion of Okinawa, he complained of stomach pains and was admitted to a naval hospital in Oakland. Hubbard claimed he was a war hero, blinded and made a cripple in battle, and he used the foundations of Dianetics to heal himself of his injuries. (There are no medical records of scars or wounds. The church has a Notice of Separation claiming Hubbard was awarded a Purple Heart with a Palm, but the Navy says it uses gold and silver stars, “NOT a palm.” Two of the medals he and the church claim he won weren’t created until after Hubbard left active service. There is an official Notice of Separation for Hubbard in the National Archives, but it is signed by one Howard D. Thompson, and an analyst at the archives said there was no such officer listed.)
His attitude towards women left a lot to be desired.
After the war, Hubbard abandoned Polly, and wedded 21-year-old Sara Northrup while still married to his first wife. He beat her often. Once while she was sleeping he hit her across the face with his pistol because she was smiling in her sleep—and therefore must have been thinking about someone else. He frequently threatened suicide. Then, in 1949, Hubbard finished his book Dianetics. One of the original self-help books, it shot up the bestsellers’ list, and made him rich and famous. Hubbard’s view of women in the book “betrays a kind of horror,” as he seemed to reserve the worst circle of hell for “attempted abortions done by some sex-blocked mother to whom children are a curse, not a blessing of God.”
The same can be said about how he treated his children.
When Sara wanted to leave him, Hubbard and a man who might have carried a gun abducted their baby daughter, Alexis. Then they kidnapped Sara. He told her that if she tried to leave him, he’d kill Alexis, then later claimed he had killed the baby already—“cut her into little pieces and dropped the pieces in a river,” Sara said. In 1951, she filed for divorce, claiming Hubbard to be “hopelessly insane.” Polly wrote a letter of support, saying, “Ron is not normal.” Hubbard took the baby to Cuba and kept her in a crib with wire over the top of it.
He turned his ‘revelations’ into a religion because he realized the ability to convert belief into cash.
“I’d like to start a religion. That’s where the money is,” Hubbard is reported to have said on a number of occasions. He called it the Church of Scientology, and established it in 1954. Hubbard claimed that 4 quadrillion years ago, at the origin of the universe, there were godlike spirits called thetans. But a tyrannical overlord named Xenu imprisoned the thetans and shipped the frozen bodies to Teegeeack, a planet now called Earth. He believed humans were thetans who could regain their immortality through climbing the stages of enlightenment set up by Scientology. He also began refitting ships and recruiting children for his Sea Org.
After his son, Quentin, criticized his father, and called him crazy, he died under suspicious circumstances.
Quentin later told a church officer that, “Personally, I think my father’s crazy.” The next day he disappeared from the headquarters in Clearwater. A few days later he was found in Las Vegas, in a car with a vacuum tube that led from the exhaust through the passenger’s vent window. Two weeks later, on Nov. 12, 1976, he died in the hospital.
The faces we associate with Scientology are often celebrities. This is from a specific directive from Hubbard, and has culminated in the rise of Tom Cruise to his leadership position.
As early as 1955, an editorial in a church-affiliated publication urged Scientologists to recruit celebrities.
Punishment for apostasy, while not death, can be severe.
Travolta’s personal liaison and best friend at the church was a woman named Spanky Taylor, who would soon run afoul of the leadership of the church even as Travolta became a superstar with Saturday Night Fever. The church took away Taylor’s 10-month-old daughter and crammed her, along with 30 infants, in the Child Care Org, a small apartment with wall-to-wall cribs. “It was dark and dank and the children were rarely, if ever, taken outside,” Wright notes. Taylor was put into the pitch-black basement of Scientology’s new Advanced Org building in L.A., where about 120 to 200 people were huddled….
Taylor managed to slip away to see her daughter across the street. “To her horror … the baby’s eyes were welded shut with mucus, and her diaper was wet—in fact, her whole crib was soaking. She was covered with fruit flies,” Wright writes. Taylor herself was again pregnant, and, stuck in a black basement, she feared she’d lose both of her babies. She managed to escape with her daughter with the help of Travolta’s assistant.
As Hubbard receded from the public view, the day to day operations fell to his second in command Pat Broeker and 23 year old David Miscavige. Miscavige had been raised in the organization and claimed that it cured him from his severe childhood asthma, and affliction he still suffers from, despite that cure, and pushed Broeker out by declaring him to be an unwanted “Suppressive.”
Miscavige has been accused of being extremely abusive towards subordinates, and executives in the group.
One church executive was made to mop the bathroom floor with his tongue. Debbie Cook, one of the top executives, was declared a traitor and made to stand in a garbage can for 12 hours; she was slapped and water was poured over her head while a sign hung around her neck, saying “LESBO.” A church member estimates that 60 to 80 percent of the women on Gold Base have had abortions. Once, Miscavige ordered the 70 people confined in the Hole to play musical chairs, and everyone besides the winner would be kicked out of the Sea Org. The executives punched and tore at each other for eight hours, but in the end no one was kicked out. (The church denies that Miscavige ever abused church members, but does not deny the musical chairs incident, even though it denies the existence of the Hole, where the event took place.
The group is especially harsh on suspected homosexuals.
Wright reports that Miscavige once told two church executives at the Hole to confess to being gay lovers, and that Tom Cruise would “punch you guys out” if there was no confession. (The executives were roughed up by other members.) One church executive was made to mop the bathroom floor with his tongue. Debbie Cook, one of the top executives, was declared a traitor and made to stand in a garbage can for 12 hours; she was slapped and water was poured over her head while a sign hung around her neck, saying “LESBO.”…
Hubbard called homosexuals “sexual perverts” and reserved one of the lowest Tone Scale levels for them: “Such people should be taken from the society as rapidly as possible and uniformly institutionalized.”
Tom Cruise is the current public face of Scientology and ever since he jumped on the couch on the Oprah Winfrey show, rumours have circulated about how the organizations has assisted him in his relationships. His first wife, Mimi Rogers and her family were kicked out of the organization because they practised Scientology outside the official church. She was served divorce papers by Miscavige’s second in command. Cruise then moved on to Nicole Kidman, and upon their divorce, kept their two adopted children with him to be raised as Scientologists.
Cruise complained that no one had been able to find him a new girlfriend, so Miscavige ordered his wife to find him the prettiest women in the church. Then, actresses were invited to the church’s Celebrity Centre to audition for what they thought was a role in a Mission: Impossible movie. Kate Bosworth, Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, and Scarlett Johansson all auditioned. So did Katie Holmes.
Of course, this has all been denied by Cruise, but by many accounts, Holmes left so their daughter, Suri, would not be brought up in the group.
While Wright’s book is not available directly in Canadian bookstores, it is readily available for order from private sellers or American stores.