Scientology’s Propaganda Response to the 1977 FBI Raid

Press View The FBI Raid Download as .pdf (Download link will appear in a new tab) |Church of Scientology | 1977

When they were first presented, L Ron Hubbard quite explicitly asserted, in writing, that both Dianetics and Scientology were scientific enterprises – not religious in any way.

The problem with that approach was that dianetics and Scientology organisations had to pay tax, and Hubbard’s wild claims were subject to objective examination in the courts, where they could easily be refuted by real experts.

His eventual response was to reverse himself and register Scientology as a religion. This made it tax-exempt, and transformed easily falsifiable ‘scientific’ claims into religious doctrines protected by the US first amendment.

However, Hubbard made it clear to Scientologists that status as a ‘Church’ would not, “upset in any way the usual activities of any organization. It is entirely a matter for accountants and solicitors”. In other words, it was a convenient pretence

Scientology’s ‘religious cloaking’ was seriously  deployed in the aftermath of an FBI raid on ‘Guardian’ offices in Los Angeles and Washington, and today’s 31-page document shows it in action.

The Guardian’s Office was at that time Scientology’s secret police (subsequently replaced by the Office of Special Affairs or OSA). It had tasked two Scientologists with infiltrating the IRS. When they were apprehended by FBI agents,  raids were mounted to seize documentary evidence of suspicions that the Church of Scientology was running a systematic espionage operation.  It subsequently emerged that scientologists had been  illegally gathering information on an astonishing scale, stealing records from the offices of not only government agencies but also, bizarrely, psychiatrists. The operation was codenamed “Snow White

In “Press View the FBI Raid” Scientology’s case leaned heavily on claims of religious persecution. Since it was not associated with religion at that time, it went over the top in order to present that image.

The publication includes this full page photographs featuring a  Scientologist wearing an exaggerated version of Christian Clerical garb. he sported a dog collar, a huge (8-pointed) cross and carried a book (emblazoned with the same cross, just in case there was any doubt) in the same way that clerics will carry a copy of the bible.

Just how crude the presentation was, is shown in the picture below.

Yes. The chap in the clerical garb is a Scientologist.

Other photos tried to present the FBI agents as brutal. However, the best that Scientology could come up with was  pictures of Agents carrying boxes, one of a broken lock on an internal door, and an unsupported accusation that a Scientologist was hit on the head by a clipboard carried by an agent.

The rest of this 31 page publication features reproductions of favourable press coverage and quotations (often taken completely out of context).

For a more straightforward account of the raid we can turn to a Washington Post article which clearly laid out the facts.

Interestingly,the Washington Post article included statements from “The Rev. Vaughn Young, a Scientology official in Los Angeles” and the “Rev. Hugh Wilhere, Scientology spokesman in D.C.”. Suddenly everyone was a “Reverend”, having taken a ‘chaplain’s course’ that could be completed in a few days.

 “The Rev. Vaughn Young” was almost certainly Robert Vaughn Young, a Scientologist who worked for some time as Hubbard’s literary agent. He became the  national spokesman for Scientology fielding questions about the raid immediately after the event,  and for months to come.

Ironically Vaughn Young was entrusted with archive material in order to write Hubbard’s official biography. He concluded that the man had lied extensively about his life. Vaughn Young then defected, taking a lot of  the documents with him, and them leaking them. This led to the first accurate accounts of Hubbard’s mythologised life, and dealt a terrible blow to the founder’s reputation.

Hugh Wilhere seems to have remained a Scientologist, although the power he once held has been subsumed by the new ‘leader’ of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige. He is a token executive, possessed of limited personal freedom.

Despite  propaganda like today’s document, many senior Scientologists were arrested.  Hubbard was named as a co-conspirator and went into self-imposed exile, from which he never emerged.

Hubbards wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, ran the Guardian’s Office, and organised Snow White  on his direct orders She went to jail.   Hubbard allowed her to take the fall for him.

Ironically she had previously written a pamphlet about their ‘ideal marriage, which had been published by the Church of Scientology

 

 

The Religious Cloaking of Scientology

When Dianetics was first introduced to the world in the pages of the May 1950 edition of “Astounding Science Fiction” it was as a “new Science”. If you read the original article here, you will find that this was Hubbard’s pitch from the beginning. There was no suggestion whatsoever of a religious side to his creation. He explicitly states this on a number of occasions.

Scientology has opened the gates to a better World. It is not a psycho-therapy nor a religion. It is a body of knowledge which, when properly used, gives freedom and truth to the individual.”

The Creation Of Human Ability (1954), p. 251 ISBN 0884044300

This passage only exists in pre-1971 editions. It was removed from all later printings.

Scientology is a branch of psychology which treats of  human ability.

Fundamentals of Thought, L. Ron Hubbard, 1956, Bridge Publishing, 1983 edition, p. 7

That’s an odd observation, considering how hostile Hubbard was to psychology ever since academic psychologists panned his first book “Dianetics”. Perhaps he still needed to piggy-back on psychology’s respectability.

The term Scientology is taken from the Latin word scio (knowing in the fullest sense of the word) and logos (study of). “Scientology, used by the untrained and the trained person, improves the health, intelligence, ability, behavior, skill and appearance of people. It is a precise and exact science, designed for an age of exact sciences.

Fundamentals of Thought, L. Ron Hubbard, 1956, Bridge Publishing, 1983 edition, p. 8

Science then (and an exact science too). Not a religion.

Hubbard Reverses Himself

In a 1953 letter to a colleague (reproduced in full  below) Hubbard has already tired of the drawbacks of being expected to provide objective evidence for his unsupportable claims. He was considering transforming his creation into a religion.

This would transform his ‘theories’ into religious doctrines protected by the first amendment, and provide tax exemption.

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.

Subsequently, a policy document that was once only available to executive members of the Church of Scientology, made it perfectly plain that that the presentation of Scientology as a religion was just a front – a pretence that has since been characterised as ‘religious cloaking’.

Scientology 1970 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*.

Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter (HCOPL) 29 Oct. 1962, “Religion

*Hubbard was running Scientology from Saint Hill Manor in England at the time. Here, a solicitor is a lawyer who gives advice, but does not represent you in court (which is typically the job of a  barrister).

Full Text of the Letter to Helen O’Brien

APRIL 10
DEAR HELEN
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.

The auditor arrangements of 40% are out of line in view of what is going to be happening. The HAS will be paying for lights, quarters, stenography, reception, furniture and janitor service. These will be found to come rather high in a clinic that really starts to run if the clinic is going to be any credit to anybody. Further, it is from the HAS main line that the preclears will be coming and those preclears and the clinic revenue, now that we aren’t going to try to make too much off books, are all that will support the HAS. I didn’t go to all the work I went to on HAS and other things to forget that my own revenue has to be a lot better than it has been in the past. As it is right now and as it cannot continue to be I am running an awful lot of show personally on no money. If you think Detroit would occur or continue to be if I had a couple thousand, think again – newspapers are for sale in any direction, not just to the AMA. And I can’t even support a press agent! All this adds up to is that a lot of expenses should be on the routine list that can’t be and a lot of things that are done are paid for by my abstaining from a new overcoat. And this directly concerns such things as the clinic.

I do not in the least object to an auditor working for $200 a week, his rent and reception paid for and his preclears procured. Beyond that it gets silly. Even $200 a week is pretty silly. If I were there I’d be getting paid by somebody to work in the joint as an auditor for it means his future reputation and his current training. At most I would pay $125 a week and put two auditors on every case – current procedure here.

The preclears come in by the dozens through that mail. If we didn’t have a clinic set up we’d have to watch that mail line of because of this fact. We should anyway. In Phoenix we gave them to field auditors. If we were to run there the United States Central Processing Office or whatever, we’d be able to count on ten to fifteen preclears per week at $500 for 24 hours of processing. That’s real money. I have seen it happen before. We’d get more preclears at $850 per week’s intensive. Charge enough and we’d be swamped. We need that money. We should not long plan to have it siphoned away. The HAS is the cause of that inflow and it is granting the favor in providing preclears and income. From that income I would like to see go into a general fund for general operating expenses from here – press, communications, stenos – at least $2,500 per month. If I had that much to operate with you couldn’t see over the amount of business we’d get or the number of dead bodies piled up before trial. You get the idea. But it takes money, lots of it. The clinic, as I see it, is the most eligible bet to provide that money. For one reason, 24 hours of processing now is 500 old style. I have here a short, quick package, carefully saved. I can raise the dead, which is, of course what I mean when I say “dead bodies piled up.” Resurrection would so influence public opinion.

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.

Glad you are using my typewriter. I make you a clear gift of it. It’s a nice little mill. I have a ten pound Olivetti here, got it from Italy, the world’s tiniest but it types like a well greased dream.

I am writing THIS IS SCIENTOLOGY. I couldn’t make it by the issue you now have.

I have wired you to the effect that the type is okay you’re using in view of the price. All that is really wrong is the type masthead. Makes it look old-fashioned. Get another masthead drawn. Nice and black and simple. Also, use another type face for the headline under it. Didn’t know prices could be so wide. Looks like we make it a 12 page edition every time at that price. I could review in it everything we’ve got to keep hold of as knowledge and do all the axioms for it as well. Then we could make the axioms into a book.

Boy, are these new ones easy to teach and work. I sent Noyga one. There are about three. Clears. Hell, I never saw so many so fast. Case V, easier than Case I! When the problem cracked, it really cracked wide open.
You’ll have the most recent tapes soon. One batch has already gone to you. We’re in, O’Brien –
Best regards,
Ron

“The Religion angle”. Hubbard could not have made it more explicit… until he actually did (his quote is already above, but it’s worth repeating)

Scientology 1970 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.

Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter (HCOPL) 29 Oct. 1962, “Religion”

So it has remained to this day.

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3 thoughts on “Scientology’s Propaganda Response to the 1977 FBI Raid

  1. ironically, this was just about the time that I “joined” this cult!!! I had met the “wasband” (my ex husband) around April of 1977…..married and stayed with him for 27 years. The I was declared SP. So he left me.

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