Author: Eric Townsend
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The period 1980 -85 covers the transfer of power in the Church of Scientology from the deceased founder, L Ron Hubbard, to the new ‘leader’ David Miscavige. It was marked by dislocation and conflict, during which many Scientologists left the organisation, but continued to practice. Eric Townsend was one such ‘Independent Scientologist’.
This book presents an argument that was later to become familiar:
- Hubbard was not perfect, but Scientology itself is still valid and valuable
- The allegations of abuse and controversies that surrounded Scientology at that time were due to the corruption of the Church under its new management.
While trying to appear even-handed Townsend ignores all of the freely-available information that questions the character of Hubbard and the validity of Scientology itself (for example he accepts Hubbard’s fraudulent war record and academic qualifications, and praises the ‘achievements’ of his ineffective and dangerous ‘drug rehabilitation’ procedure undertaken by the Scientology front group Narconon.
There are now a significant number of ‘Independent Scientologists’ like Townsend, and several organisations catering for them. It should be noted that the position first articulated in this book has also come to represent a half-way house for Scientologists who have left the Church, but are not yet ready to completely abandon Scientology altogether.
In conclusion, this book presents valuable information regarding a crucial period of Scientology history, that following the founder’s death. However, it is presented though the distorting lens of a the authors ‘true belief’ in L Ron Hubbard and its value is consequently extremely questionable. It does, however, represent an insight into the mind of a ‘true believer’.