The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard
One of the Most Controversial New Religious Movements to have Arisen in the 20th Century

The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard
One of the Most Controversial New Religious Movements to have Arisen in the 20th Century

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (March 13th, 1911 – January 24th, 1986) was an American science fiction author who developed a self-help system called Dianetics, which was first published in 1950.

Over the following three decades, Hubbard developed his self-help ideas into a wide-ranging set of doctrines and rituals as part of a new religion he called Scientology.

Hubbard's writings became the guiding texts for the Church of Scientology and a number of affiliated organizations that address such diverse topics as business administration, literacy and drug rehabilitation. Hubbard was a controversial public figure, and many details of his life are still disputed.

Official Scientology biographies present him as a "larger-than-life" figure whose career is studded with admirable accomplishments in an astonishing array of fields. Many of these claims are disputed by former Scientologists and researchers not connected with Scientology, who have written accounts that are sharply critical of Hubbard.


Of the many new religious movements to appear during the 20th century, the Church of Scientology has, from its inception, been one of the most controversial, coming into conflict with the governments and police forces of several countries.

It has been one of the most litigious religious movements in history, filing countless lawsuits against governments, organizations and individuals.

Reports and allegations have been made, by journalists, courts, and governmental bodies of several countries, that the Church of Scientology is an unscrupulous commercial enterprise that harasses its critics and brutally exploits its members.

Time magazine published an article in 1991 which described Scientology as "a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner."

Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by speculative fiction author L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986), starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics.

Hubbard characterized Scientology as a religion, and in 1953 incorporated the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey.

Scientology teaches that people are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature.

Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counselling known as auditing, in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects.

Study materials and auditing courses are made available to members in return for specified donations. Scientology is legally recognized as a tax-exempt religion in the United States and some other countries, and the Church of Scientology emphasizes this as proof that it is a bona fide religion.

In other countries, notably France, Germany and the United Kingdom, Scientology does not have comparable religious status.

A large number of organizations overseeing the application of Scientology have been established, the most notable of these being the Church of Scientology.

Scientology sponsors a variety of social service programs.

These include the Narconon anti-drug program, the Criminon prison rehabilitation program, the Study Tech education methodology, a volunteer organization, a business management method, and a set of moral guidelines expressed in a booklet called The Way to Happiness.

The Church of Scientology is one of the most controversial new religious movements to have arisen in the 20th century.

It has often been described as a cult that financially defrauds and abuses its members, charging exorbitant fees for its spiritual services.

The Church of Scientology has consistently used litigation against such critics, and its aggressiveness in pursuing its foes has been condemned as harassment. Further controversy has focused on Scientology's belief that souls ("thetans") reincarnate and have lived on other planets before living on Earth.

Former members say that some of Hubbard's writings on this remote extraterrestrial past, included in confidential Upper Levels, are not revealed to practitioners until they have paid thousands of dollars to the Church of Scientology.

Another controversial belief held by Scientologists is that the practice of psychiatry is destructive and abusive and must be abolished.

In 2005, the Church of Scientology stated its worldwide membership to be eight million, although that number included people who took only the introductory course and did not continue on.

In 2007 a Church official claimed 3.5 million members in the United States, but according to a 2001 survey published by the City University of New York, 55,000 people in the United States would, if asked to identify their religion, have stated Scientology.

In 2008, the American Religious Identification Survey found that the number of American Scientologists dropped to 25,000. Scientologists tend to disparage general religious surveys on the grounds that many members maintaining cultural and social ties to other religious groups will, when asked their religion, answer with their traditional and more socially acceptable affiliation.

On the other hand, religious scholar J. Gordon Melton has said that the church's estimates of its membership numbers are significantly exaggerated

Scientology: Shrinking World

A 1967 important documentary about the founder of Scientology. A rare-case where Hubbard was interviewed by an outside news crew.

Lafayette Ron Hubbard was born on March 13th, 1911, in Tilden, Nebraska to Ledora May Waterbury and Harry Ross Hubbard. Since Harry Hubbard was in the Navy, the family had to move as Harry was reassigned to new posts.

While living on a family ranch in Kalispell, Montana, Hubbard claims to have befriended medicine man Old Tom and undergone a ceremony to become a blood brother to the Blackfeet Indians.

While living on the Puget Sound in 1923, L. Ron Hubbard joined the Boy Scouts of America and became an Eagle Scout at age 13.

In 1930, Hubbard was reported in the Washington Evening Star as having been the youngest Eagle Scout in the United States at the time. According to the Boy Scouts of America, their documents at the time were only kept in alphabetical order with no reference to their ages and thus there was no way of telling who was the youngest.

Between 1927 and 1929, Hubbard traveled twice to the Far East with his parents during his father's posting to the United States Navy base on Guam. While in Guam, Hubbard was befriended by Commander Joseph "Snake" Thompson (1874–1943), who had recently returned from Vienna studying with Sigmund Freud, and was stationed as a member of the Naval Medical Corps.

Through the course of their friendship, the commander spent many afternoons teaching Hubbard about the human mind. Church biographies published from the 1950s to the 1970s stated that with "the financial support of his wealthy grandfather" Hubbard journeyed throughout Asia, "studying with holy men" in northern China, India, and Tibet.

Although Hubbard said on several occasions that he visited India, Jon Atack, an ex-Scientologist and prominent Scientology critic, disputes the possibility that this ever took place.

Hubbard said that he was made a lama priest by Old Mayo the Beijing magician in the Western Hills of China after a year as a neophyte. According to Atack, Hubbard's diaries were used as evidence in the Armstrong trial and make no mention of Old Mayo or Eastern philosophy.

In March 1952, Hubbard moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He claimed that he had conducted years of intensive research into the nature of human existence. He codified a set of ideas that promised to improve the condition of the human spirit, which he called a "Thetan".

To describe his findings, he developed an elaborate system of neologisms which he described as Scientology, "an applied religious philosophy".

In December 1953, Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey. He moved to Washington, D.C. in 1955 and organized the Founding Church of Scientology. His Washington, D.C. residence, the L. Ron Hubbard House, now operates as a historic house museum.

In 1952, Hubbard visited England for the first time and started a Dianetic training center in London; the news spread far and wide abroad. In 1959, Hubbard moved to England where he supervised the growing organization from Saint Hill Manor near the Sussex town of East Grinstead, a Georgian manor house once owned by the Maharajah of Jaipur which Hubbard purchased in 1959.

This became the world headquarters of Scientology. Hubbard's followers believed his techniques gave them access to their past lives, the traumas of which led to failures in the present unless they were dealt with in a process referred to as "auditing".

By this time, in the 1950s, just after the publication of Dianetics: the modern science of mental health, Hubbard had introduced a biofeedback device to the auditing process, which he called a "Hubbard Electropsychometer" or "E-meter", originally invented in the 1940s by a chiropractor and later Dianetics enthusiast named Volney Mathison and refined to Hubbard's specifications in 1959.

Scientology: Secret Lives

This machine is used by Scientologists in auditing to evaluate what Hubbard referred to as "mental masses" which were said to impede thetans from realizing their full potential.

Hubbard professed that many physical diseases were psychosomatic, and that a person who had attained the enlightened state of "clear" would be relatively disease free.

Hubbard insisted humanity was imperiled by such forces, which were the result of negative memories (or "engrams") stored in the unconscious or "reactive" mind, some carried by the immortal thetans for billions of years.

Church members were expected to pay fixed donation rates for courses, auditing, books and E-meters, all of which proved very lucrative for the Church, which paid emoluments directly to Hubbard and his family.

In a case fought by the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, D.C. over its tax-exempt status (revoked in 1958 because of these emoluments) it was found that Hubbard had personally received over $108,000 from the Church and affiliates over a four-year period, over and above the percentage of gross income (usually 10%) he received from Church-affiliated organizations.

Hubbard denied such emoluments many times in writing, stating instead that he never received any money from the Church. The Church of Scientology founded its own companies to publish Hubbard's works: Bridge Publications for the US and Canadian market, and New Era Publications based in Denmark for the rest of the world.

New volumes of his transcribed lectures continue to be produced. There are estimated to be 110 related volumes. Hubbard also wrote a number of works of fiction during the 1930s and 1980s, which are published by the Scientology-owned Galaxy Press. All three of these publishing companies are subordinate to Author Services Inc., another Scientology corporation.

Scientology: Inside the Cult

Some documents written by Hubbard himself suggest he regarded Scientology as a business, not a religion.

In one letter dated April 10th, 1953, he says that calling Scientology a religion solves "a problem of practical business. A religion charter could be necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick."

In a 1962 policy letter, he said that Scientology "is being planned on a religious organization basis throughout the world. This will not upset in any way the usual activities of any organization. It is entirely a matter for accountants and solicitors."

However, in his work, Hubbard emphasizes the importance of spirit and mind over the physical body. He says, "... The body can be best studied in such books as Gray's Anatomy and other anatomical texts.

This is the province of the medical doctor and, usually, the old-time psychiatrist or psychologist who were involved in the main in body worship."

On January 24th, 1986, Hubbard died from a stroke at his ranch in Creston, California, at age 74. He left a $600 million estate. Scientology attorneys arrived to claim his body, which they sought to have cremated immediately in accordance with his will.

They were blocked by the San Luis Obispo County medical examiner, who ordered a drug toxicology test of a blood sample from Hubbard's corpse.

The examination revealed a trace amount of the drug hydroxyzine (brand name Vistaril). After the blood was taken, Hubbard's remains were cremated. The Church of Scientology announced Hubbard had deliberately discarded his body to conduct his research in spirit form, and was now living "on a planet a galaxy away."

In May 1987, David Miscavige, one of Hubbard's former personal assistants, assumed the position of Chairman of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), a corporation which owns the trademarked names and symbols of "Dianetics", "Scientology", and "L. Ron Hubbard".

On January 14, 2008, a video produced by the Church of Scientology featuring an interview with Tom Cruise was leaked to the Internet and uploaded to YouTube. The Church of Scientology issued a copyright violation claim against YouTube requesting the removal of the video.

Subsequently, the "Anonymous" group of internet users voiced its criticism of Scientology and began attacking the Church. Calling the action by the Church of Scientology a form of Internet censorship, participants of Anonymous coordinated Project Chanology, which consisted of a series of denial-of-service attacks against Scientology websites, prank calls, and black faxes to Scientology centers.

"Message to Scientology"

On January 21, 2008, Anonymous announced its intentions via a video posted to YouTube entitled "Message to Scientology", and a press release declaring a "war" against both the Church of Scientology and the Religious Technology Center.

In the press release, the group stated that the attacks against the Church of Scientology would continue in order to protect the freedom of speech, and end what they saw as the financial exploitation of church members.

On January 28, 2008, an Anonymous video appeared on YouTube calling for protests outside Church of Scientology centers on February 10, 2008. According to a letter Anonymous e-mailed to the press, about 7,000 people protested in more than 90 cities worldwide.

Many protesters wore masks based on the character V from V for Vendetta (who was influenced by Guy Fawkes) or otherwise disguised their identities, in part to protect themselves from reprisals from the Church of Scientology. Many further protests have followed since then in cities around the world.

The Arbitration Committee of the Wikipedia internet encyclopedia decided in May 2009 to restrict access to its site from Church of Scientology IP addresses, to prevent self-serving edits by Scientologists. A "host of anti-Scientologist editors" were topic-banned as well. The committee concluded that both sides had "gamed policy" and resorted to "battlefield tactics", with articles on living persons being the "worst casualties".