What is Scientology | The ‘Reverend’ Robert H Thomas | Amazing Science Fiction Stories | March 1971 | Pages 104 – 112 | Download entire issue as .pdf (download link will appear in new tab).
I have posted an issue of “Amazing” here before . That one was from November 1970. It featured a reassessment of ‘Dianetics, more-or-less 20 years after it was introduced to the world in the May 1950 issue of “Amazing’s” rival, “Astounding Science Fiction“.
In it, Barry N Malzberg went along to a Scientology org, took a ‘communications course’ and was generally very unimpressed by the whole proposition. He was scathing about Hubbard and dianetics.
It must be said that this expression of scepticism was good for the magazine. “Amazing” had a little catching up to do in the credibility stakes and knew it. Five years before “Astounding Science Fiction” published the first article about dianetics, they had fallen for a author whose claims were at least as implausible as Hubbard’s. Although they had traded on “The Shaver Mystery” fad that resulted, it ultimately damaged their reputation.
Now they had an opportunity to implicitly criticise the credulity of the editor of the market-leading “Astounding Science Fiction”, John W Campbell, for falling for dianetics to the extent that he heavily promoted it as “a new science of the mind”. They took it.
However, in March 1971 “Amazing” had been struggling with a falling circulation for some time, and was in dire straits. It was vulnerable. At this time, it incomprehensibly published an propaganda piece entitled “What is Scientology” written by the ‘Reverend’ Robert H Thomas – Deputy Guardian for the US Churches of Scientology.
The Guardian’s Office was, of course, Scientology’s secret police and dirty tricks department. I think it’s likely that this uncritical article appeared as a result of improper pressure from the Guardian’s Office – Scientology took the opportunity to kick “Amazing” when it was down and settle a score.
The Guardian’s Office – Scientology’s Secret Police
At this time, the Guardian’s Office was was approaching the peak of its power, before being laid low in 1977 by the Snow White affair. It was then replaced, after a purge, by the Office of Special Affairs or OSA which resumed business as usual.
As I have described in a recent post, Scientology had adopted religious cloaking in order to evade tax and to transform vulnerable ‘scientific’ claims into religious doctrines protected by the US first amendment. Senior Scientologists now appeared wearing all of the trappings of Christian priests, including clerical collars and (8-pointed) crosses.
The ‘Reverend’ Thomas was a member of Scientology’s secret police, hiding behind a dog collar.
In his article Scientology is no longer presented as a Science, as it originally was by Hubbard. The ‘Reverend’ author explicitly claims that Scientology is a religion and (somewhat inconsistently) a psychological therapy as well.
He even gets a dig in at psychology and psychiatry (almost a requirement for Scientology propaganda) in the very first line: “In a field as retarded as human science…” (which presumably is meant to mean science as applied to human beings, not science in general).
This was very, very, far from natural material for a previously sceptical science fiction magazine.
The only practical difference between this article and Hubbard’s original presentation is some new terminology which is first seen on page 108 (image right). ‘Dianetic Processing’ has now become ‘Dianetic Pastoral Counselling’ in line with Scientology’s new ‘religious’ pretensions.
Only a year previously, “Amazing” had published an article which had been scathing about Scientology. A year later, it publishes what amounts to propaganda for Scientology.
What’s more, apparently embracing another fringe belief system didn’t serve to cast off the shadow of ‘The Shaver Mystery’, which the magazine desperately needed to do. Even John W Campbell, who had given dianetics its start in “Astounding Science Fiction”, had become totally disillusioned with Hubbard in a little over six months.
It is, I think, quite plausible that the Guardian’s Office forced the editor to run this article by threatening legal action over the previous article, designed to bankrupt a struggling business rather than to win.
This was, even then, an established Scientology tactic – and the ‘Reverend’ Thomas was in the thick of it.
The Guardian’s Office Role in the Suppression of Print Media
This theory is supported by the fact that, in 1973, the ‘Reverend’ Thomas was a principal in legal action which argued that the publisher and the author of “Scientology: The Now Religion“, written by George Malko, had defamed the corporation of Scientology.
Their motion for summary judgement (recorded in the linked document) was denied. However, after further legal argument the published was forced to pay a legal settlement and did not release the book again.
The Church of Scientology subsequently threatened legal action against Canadian libraries which held copies, some of which were stolen from their shelves. If Scientology was prepared to undertake such scorched earth tactics, it’s not a stretch to suggest that the ‘Reverend’ threatened a struggling pulp science fiction magazine with legal action that would bankrupt both the magazine, and the editor personally (remember, in the case above they went after Malko personally, as well as his publisher).
It’s not a threat to suggest that the price for being left in peace was to publish a hymn of praise to Scientology and, quite likely. to agree never to discuss Scientology there ever again. Faced with the huge resources commanded by the ‘Church’, the editor of “Amazing” would have had no choice but to capitulate.
The same thing seems to have happened in England in 1971 to a counter-culture magazine called “Oz” This publication was no stranger to legal action. It attracted the attention of the Guardian’s office when it mentioned the association between Charles Manson and Scientology, in passing, in book review.
They mounted something of a rearguard action, but were also forced to capitulate or be ruined.
In the 1970’s Scientology could effectively suppress criticism in the print media on an international scale.
This Is a ‘Religious Sacrament’ For Scientology
Everything that Hubbard wrote is considered to be the final word on the subject. When Scientology was transformed from pseudo-science to religion his writings became unquestionable religious doctrine. This resulted in some outrageous policies which were accepted by believers on the principle that the ends justified the means.
The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than win.
The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.
This was originally aimed at people who practised Scientology outside of the Church, but is also used to justify using the law against anyone whom they perceive to be an enemy.
The ‘Reverend’ Thomas was only following the religious doctrine of Scientology
In closing, I invite you to read the summary written by the Reverend Thomas on page 112 of “Amazing” (image left).
This clearly does not belong in a science fiction magazine. It’s a statement of unquestioning faith by a true believer and goes completely unquestioned.
Significantly, the editor made no subsequent comment upon this article at all, and no readers letters on the subject were ever published.
You can download the entire issue and read this article in context, for yourself. You can also download the issue in which the previous critical article appeared, and compare them.
I’m betting that this article was published in “Amazing” due to improper pressure placed upon the editor by the Guardian’s Office.