Scientology and the Bible | 1967 | View Online | Download as .pdf (click on ‘Download through your browser”)
When L Ron Hubbard created Dianetics, it was presented as a rigorously scientific subject whose results were as reliable as mechanical engineering.
For a time, Scientology was presented in the same way – then Hubbard came under official pressure for the pseudo-medical practices mandated by his creation, and his incredible claims to cure disease.
In 1954 Hubbard decided to sidestep these difficulties (and avoid tax) by incorporating the Church of Scientology in California. Religious practice is protected in the US by the first amendment, which provides considerable protection for religious organisations (the legislature can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”). Also, religious organisations can apply for tax exemption.
Scientology’s exploitation of this provision has proved controversial. The problem is that there is no legal way of defining what is, or is not, a religion and US politicians and judges tend to steer clear of the question for fear of offending powerful religious lobbies.
While established religions may not approve of Scientology, they are also liable to see any attempt to deny it religious status as ‘the thin end of the wedge’, and support Scientology for fear of losing their own privileges at a future date.
In 1967 (the year in which this booklet was published) the US tax authorities withdrew tax exemption from the Church of Scientology and it took until years for them to recover that status. This text was likely a propaganda exercise designed to present Scientology as a bona fide religion by trying to associate it with the most widespread religious tradition practised in the US – Christianity. It prints extracts from Hubbard’s writings alongside extracts from the Bible, and attempts to argue that they are equivalent.
Did Even L Ron Hubbard Really Believe that Scientology Was a Religion?
Hubbard had consistently presented Scientology as a religion as a Science until 1954, when he abruptly decided that it was actually a religion all along (alienating many followers in the process). In private, however, he acknowledged that this was just a legal manoeuvre. For example, this internal letter seized by the FBI in a raid on Scientology headquarters in 1953 – less than a year before the Church of Scientology was created
Note: HAS is “The Hubbard Association of Scientologists, the precursor organisation to the Church of Scientology.
RE CLINIC, HAS
The arrangements that have been made seem a good temporary measure. On a longer look, however, something more equitable will have to be organized. I am not quite sure what we would call the place – probably not a clinic – but I am sure that it ought to be a company, independent of the HAS but fed by the HAS. We don’t want a clinic. We want one in operation but not in name. Perhaps we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Center. Think up its name, will you. And we could put in nice desks and our boys in neat blue with diplomas on the walls and 1. knock psychotherapy into history and 2. make enough money to shine up my operating scope and 3. keep the HAS solvent. It is a problem of practical business. I await your reaction on the religion angle. In my opinion, we couldn’t get worse public opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we’ve got to sell. A religious charter would be necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick. But I sure could make it stick. We’re treating the present time beingness, psychotherapy treats the past and the brain. And brother, that’s religion, not mental science.Best Regards, Ron
This document suggests Hubbard’s claim that Scientology was a religion was false and cynical – a question examined in depth by Professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, whose arguments can be examined here.
Non-denominational – or Not?
On page three, we are assured by Mary Sue Hubbard in a preface that “Scientology is a Religion”.
Mary Sue was L Ron Hubbard’s wife at the time,and wielded considerable power in Scientology for until he abandoned her in the wake of the Snow White scandal. She was one of the few people other than Ron who was allowed to publish (now suppressed) Scientology pamphlets – for example “Marriage Hats“, an hilarious guide to a ‘successful’ Scientology marriage.
When you are recruited to Scientology you are still told that there is no reason you cannot be an observant Jew, Christian, Muslim or a member of another faith. However, gradually ‘other practices’ (that it the practice of traditional religions) will be strongly discouraged – but only after you have completed a number of courses, are committed, and have something to lose.
In practice, you cannot progress in Scientology unless you are fully and exclusively committed to it.
Scientology and the Bible: A MANIFEST PARALLELING THE DISCOVERIES OF SCIENTOLOGY by L RON HUBBARD WITH THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
This is followed by a list of seven compilers – presumably Scientologists with an extensive knowledge of both Hubbard’s writings and the bible.
The subtitle gets its attempt at archaic grammar wrong. They seem to have meant to have meant to have said something like: “The manifest [i.e. obvious] parallels between the discoveries of L Ron Hubbard, known as Scientology, and the holy scriptures” but completely missed the mark.
A Back-Handed Tribute
An L Ron Hubbard publication for this vintage would not be complete without a number of features. The first to appear here is Hubbard’s traditional dig at scientific medicine (which he perceived as a threat). It exploits a recent death to elicit sympathy:
To Katie Steele, who on August 8, 1966, left her body for life elsewhere, our love and gratitude for having concluded and piloted the completion of this pamphlet.
Before you think this is an example of the tender feelings of a sincerely religious person, follow the asterisk. At the bottom of the same page, in small print, is the following:
*Killed by medical doctors administering an incorrect drub in Melbourne, Australia, 1966.
The Dreaded “Misunderstood Word”
Now we come to the second inevitable feature of a Hubbard text – the notion that the only reason you can’t understand him is that you have misunderstood a single work of his and this (like a falling row of dominoes) has prevented you understanding anything that follows.
This, of course, makes the text infallible. If you think is author is wrong, he will tell you that you must have misunderstood a word or you would understand him. If you accept this, Hubbard can never be wrong.
Unsurprisingly this manipulative concept is part of a fundamental teaching of Scientology called “Study Tech”. It reinforces Hubbard’s claim that Scientology always works and, if it appears to fail, that is your fault for not practising it correctly.
Some “Manifest Parallels” – Or Not
This publication apes a biblical concordance. However, instead of showing a number of different translations of the same biblical passages side by side, it randomly presents excerpts from Hubbard’s writing and juxtaposes them with biblical quotations which are implied to be equivalent.
This is supposed to present Hubbard as a man who has had great insights which harmonise with Christianity. Unfortunately for Scientology:
- There is no meaningful connection between the quotes. At best, they sound vaguely similar -if you trawled through enough political manifestos in this uncritical way, you could probably come up with quotes from communists and fascists which share more common ground. At worst, the Hubbard quotes are simply incoherent.
- Since those biblical passages were around for a long time before Hubbard, he hardly deserves credit for coming up with similar concepts (in fact, that sounds more like admitting plagiarism)
I’ll give just two examples, in which Hubbard can at least be understood:
In the first, it’s difficult to understand what Hubbard is saying, not because it’s profound but because it’s obscure. To understand it, you have to know that Scientologists are taught that they are naturally immortal, incorporeal, beings (Thetans) who take on new bodies after death. They believe that Scientology training will allow to ‘operate’ and act upon the world without their bodies. This is the goal of the OT or ‘Operating Thetan’ levels.
The biblical passage promises bodily resurrection. Although this includes the vitalist concept of the soul, Christians do not expect to become semi-divine after death, but to live as embodied entities in the presence of their God. That’s a completely different thing to Hubbard’s proposition – that they become God-like themselves – which is blasphemous from a Christian perspective.
As for the second comparison, Hubbard is saying that we know time is passing because things change. That’s hardly a profound spiritual insight. This is juxtaposed with a biblical passage which tells us that we don’t live for ever, and must adapt to changing circumstances as we age, if we are to fulfil ourselves and our purpose in life. It’s also expressed in enduring poetry that still speaks to the human condition. here is simply no connection between Hubbard and the biblical passage.
When there is some correspondence, the ideas are quite banal because they are both taken completely out of context. Placing them in context show how utterly different Christianity and Scientology actually are (I speak as an atheist, so that is no judgement on their relative doctrinal merits) .
Scientology – Salvation for Sale
The pamphlet starts to wind up on page 51 with a “glossary of Scientology terms” and an injunction to “buy Scientology books” and the 1967 Scientology price list, before a a closing statement by L Ron Hubbard. These are all common features of other publications.
If there was ever a demonstration that Christianity and Scientology were quite different, it’s surely the presence of a price list in the Scientology text. Christ did not include a price list among his teachings.