The Church of Scientology Bans Its Own books (Pt 1) – Introduction

banned booksMost repressive organisations have a list of banned books. Scientology takes this one step further. In 1983, the Church of Scientology banned a number of texts which:

  1. Were written by Scientologists in good standing
  2. Promoted a very orthodox interpretation of Scientology
  3. Were published by the Church of Scientology
  4. Were sold for some time, with official approval, in Scientology Orgs.

In short, they banned their own books.

This had been had been happening informally for decades, but in 1983 it was formalised in an internal document. A substantial number of books about Scientology by Scientologists were banned, simply because they were not written by L Ron Hubbard

Admittedly many of these texts were pamphlets, and  their aim was limited. A typical disclaimer declared that the author’s purpose was, “to demonstrates various ways the author and others have successfully applied a few of the basic principles of Scientology”. Writing them required a minimum of original thought. They were all based on longer works by Hubbard who was given all credit at every opportunity.

After the break, I offer a theory as to why these texts were permitted for so long and why there were finally prohibited. There is also a partial list of banned books. If anyone has copies of any of these texts, I would be extremely grateful if you would contact me through this site’s feedback page.

In future posts in this series, I will closely examine the full text of at least four Scientology books banned by… The Church of Scientology. I hope that there will be more to come.

What Was the Appeal of These Pamphlets?

Hubbard’s books are expensive when you buy them at a Scientology Org. His rambling style and occasional incoherence makes them difficult to read. In contrast, the short pamphlets that used to be on sale in Orgs were:

  • Written by Scientologists in a more accessible,  literate style
  • Focussed upon the application of Scientology to everyday issues (e.g. how to deal with badly-behaved children)
  • Written by people who were used to addressing the doubts of potential recruits and encouraging them to read a book by L Ron Hubbard

What made these popular with Scientology Orgs was L Ron Hubbard’s failings as a writer. What is less easy to understand is why they were banned, since they seemed to provide an effective recruitment tool for Scientology.

Nevertheless, they were banned. On the 21st of February 1983 an internal document designated WDC ED 133 and entitled “Withdrawal of non-LRH books being sold in Orgs and Missions” banned more than 66 texts (including translations) in 3 languages from being sold in Scientology Orgs.

 The justification for this action was,

Only LRH books and materials and those with per policy issue authority may be displayed and sold. There is only one technology that will take us all to TOTAL FREEDOM when applied standardly.” – the WATCHDOG COMMITTEE.

The clear implication is that Scientologists should not read these texts, either.

Why Were These Books Banned?

Jack_Horner_bookThere is good evidence that some authors had fallen out of favour with the Church of Scientology long ago, and this document only formalised the banning of their books.

For example,the book “Summary of Scientology:A New Understanding of Life” (previously self-published as Fundamentals of Scientology: A New Understanding of Life) was written by JF (Jack) Horner and published by the Church of Scientology in 1956.

Horner, a senior Scientology auditor in the early days, broke away in 1965 to create his own organisation ‘Dianology” (later to become “Eductivism”). He writes that he left because  Scientology had gradually became oppressive – he especially objected to the Sea Org, seeing no reason why an “applied religious philosophy” should need a para-military wing.

When Horner defected, he was a major figure in the organisation. The credibility this gave him may have persuaded other Scientologists who objected to the increasingly repreessive behaviour of the Church  to leave Scientology and join his new organisation.

An obvious way of dealing with this embarrassment, was to ban his book. It’s a small step from this, to eliminating potential  challenges to Hubbard’s absolute control by banning anyone else from writing ‘official’ books about Scientology.

It’s also quite possible that, one fine day  in 1983, Hubbard’s paranoia flared up, and he perceived even brief pamphlets (which he had turned a blind eye to for years) as a threat to his absolute control over doctrine, and took action.

The Miscavige Connection

Another possible explanation for timing of this blanket ban is that Hubbard was subjected to a power play by David Miscavige, the man who replaced him as ‘leader’ of Scientology.

hubb and miscav filming

A younger David Miscavige is behind the camera below Hubbard (top).

We have to remember that, in 1983, Hubbard was in hiding from the US government. He was terrified that he would be arrested for his part in Scientology’s ‘Snow White Project‘ and was also sought by the IRS.

Hubbard still ran the Church of Scientology, but all information reached him through intermediaries, and his orders were passed on through the same people. Miscavige had become Hubbard’s principal amanuensis and the power behind the throne.

The problem with this arrangement is that Hubbard was suffering a serious  and ongoing mental and physical decline. He was now a sick and paranoid old man. Miscavige could manipulate him into ordering almost anything.

Also, Hubbard was distracted by a pet project of his own. He was busy writing science fiction. First, the long novel “Battlefield Earth”, then the 1.2 million words that were to be published in 10 volumes as “Mission Earth”. He believed that this would establish his reputation as an all-time-great science fiction writer (despite having produced no fiction more than 30 years). He not only wrote  all of this material but also supervised the placement of press articles to promote the books before they were released by a Scientology-owned publisher.

Behind the scenes, Miscavige used his trusted position to make changes that placed him in an ideal position to take the Church of Scientology over after Hubbard’s death. It’s possible he could have manipulated Hubbard into making his blanket ban.

The copyrights to all of Hubbard’s work were safely vested in the Church of Scientology. After Hubbard’s death, his successor could do anything he liked with them, and their author would be in no position to object. On the other hand, independent authors might prove more difficult to control (even though the copyright to their works was also controlled by the Church of Scientology).

When you are planning a coup you need to eliminate who might have a claim to authority. Consequently, all authors other than L Ron Hubbard had to go. This has been the firm policy of the Church of Scientology ever since.

This ban was likely due to a desire to eliminate potential rivals in advance – but did Hubbard or Miscavige finally put it into effect?

Unintended Consequences

A blanket ban served its purpose, but it has also had an unanticipated effect on the Church of Scientology.

Since Hubbard died, Scientology doctrine has been effectively frozen in the 1950’s. Although the Church of Scientology revises Hubbard’s books to eliminate many of his mistakes (e.g. mentions of Piltdown Man) and dated attitudes (e.g. his racism, sexism, and homophobia) his books  have dated badly.

Also, Scientology is silent so many modern issues, for example – ubiquitous computing, biotechnology, terrorism, computer networking, genetic engineering and  robotics. This situation will not change as long as new doctrine cannot be written and contributes to Scientology’s waning appeal to the general public.

Banned Books From the List Already Available on This Site

Omar GarrisonThe Church of Scientology commissioned several books from the non-Scientologist and freelance writer Omar Garrison, including an official biography of L Ron Hubbard which never saw the light of day .

These works were propaganda, distorting events to suit the Church of Scientology.

The Hidden Story of Scientology
Playing Dirty
The Secret World of Interpol

The first two are available elsewhere on this site. Why Garrison’s books should be banned is a mystery. Perhaps the Church of Scientology decided that the events they were trying to spin (which included the seizure of e-meters by the FDA) were now passing into history, and it was better to pretend that they had never happened.

Banned Books From the List  to Come in Future Posts

So far, I have acquired four texts by Ruth Minshull and these will be examined in future posts.

They are transcriptions of the originals – it anyone has access to an original pamphlet, or any of the other titles listed below, I would greatly appreciate a scan. Please contact me via this sites feedback page.

I hope that I can turn up Ruth Minshull’s book “When in Doubt, Communicate”, just for the irony.

The Complete List of Banned Books

Many of the French and German books are translations of English originals.

Ruth Minshull

How to Cure the Selfish Destructive Child
Ups and Downs
Miracles for Breakfast
How to Choose Your People
All The Happiness
Efficiency
What Is Scientology? (This has been replaced by a book “Based on the works of L Ron Hubbard” with the same title)
What Every PreClear Should Know
When In Doubt, Communicate

Peter Gillham

Tell It Like It Is
Fundamentals of Success

Omar Garrison

The Hidden Story of Scientology
Playing Dirty
The Secret World of Interpol

Miscellaneous Other Authors

Drugs and Drug Rehabilitation (K.J. Pitt)
Handbook For Parents (Faust)
How Natural Childbirth Can Protect You and Your Baby (Phelps)
How To Flourish, Prosper and Survive the 80’s Despite Everything (Dennis Winfrey)
(Take the Lid Off Your Income and Get Up the Bridge Despite Everything (Dennis Winfrey)
How to Have Money(Wooderson)
Look It Up (Mazzarella)
The Money Game – Who Wins… Who Loses (Shapiro)
Pregnancy and Natural Childbirth Picture Book (Martin)
The Truth About Drugs (Chill and Duff)
The Truth About Scientology (Meldal Johnson)
The Basics of Creativity and The Arts (Morgan)
Creative Public Speaking (Morgan)
Who Are You? (Hedges)
The Learning Book (Delphian School)
Spirit In a Bottle(Ruedi and Saverteig)
Introduction to Scientology Ethics (Chronis  – NB this has the same title as a later work by Hubbard)
Scientology, Twentieth Century Religion (no author listed)
Sanity For The Layman (Raymond Kemp)
Scientometric Testing Booklet (Kemp and Morgan)
This Is Life (Reg Sharpe)
Summary of Scientology (J.F. Horner)
Scientology: Its Contribution to Knowledge (Gerry)
Children’s Study Course ( he Guardian Office)
Grammar With Alice (Peter Paul)

French  Texts

Ruth Mishull

‘L’ Enfant Egoiste Et Destructeur Le Remede’
Emotiorren_ – Ruth Minshull_Les Hauts – Les Bas
Die-Moi Qui Tu Es
Dans Le Dut, Communiquez
Efficacite
Ce Que Tout PreClair Devriat Savoir

Peter Gillham

Les Fundaments De La Reussite_
Dite-Le Sans Detour

Miscellaneous Other Authors

Tout Le Bonheur (Lefson)
Vingt Huit Promenades A Deux A Travers La Philosophie (Atlan)
Decouvrir Qu’Apprendre Est Amusant (The Guardian Office)
Gestion Du Temps (Smith and Acheson)
Comment Avoir De L’Argent (Wooderson)

German Texts

Ruth Minshull

Auf Und Ab_ – Ruth Minshull
Was Ist Scientology_ – Ruth Minshull
Im Zweitel – Kommunikation_ – Ruth Minshull
Emotienen_ – Ruth Minshull
Wenn Kinder (Zer-) Storen_ – Ruth Minshull

Miscellaneous Other Authors

Salmer and Sange_ – Salmer and Sange
Wer Bist Du?_ – Hedges
Geist In Der Flasiche_ – Rue di & Sauerteig
Wie Man Mit Geld Umgent_ – Wooderson

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5 thoughts on “The Church of Scientology Bans Its Own books (Pt 1) – Introduction

    • That title might be appearing in three or four posts time on a blog near you…
      You should have hung on to it – hardback version now changes hands online for >$80.

        • Yes… I should have thought of that. Sorry.

          I wonder if the rarity value of these pamphlets is driven by scholars and historians of fringe religions, or believers. The only believers who would bid are Church of Scientology members who don’t know that these publications are banned or Independent Scientologists (who might want to see why they were banned).

          Either way, they will likely be disappointed. These pamphlets are short, and very orthodox indeed. They say nothing that Hubbard didn’t say in the books upon which they are based.

          • don’t be sorry, you are doing the work of the Angels….some of the things in the work of Ruth Minshull might have been her own ideas….but it is not that important. The words of LRH were the words of a Madman

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