The Church of Scientology in the United States | Albert C Skinner USAR | 1972 | Download as .pdf
This document was made available when the archive of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center & School Library was scanned. Its title page describes it as a term paper written by Albert C Skinner for Chaplin Gremmels.
At the end, Skinner signs himself “Albert C Skinner Chaplin (CPR) USAR”, so his paper was likely part of ongoing training as a Chaplin in the US Army Reserve.
Here we have a evidently intelligent person whose vocation requires him to understand and respect a wide range of faiths and interact with believers, sometimes in extreme circumstances. However, in 1971 information about the Church of Scientology was hard to come by and there was no Internet.
Today, there is controversy about religious scholars who uncritically accept the Church of Scientology’s account of itself as a bona fide world religion and overlooking credible accusations of bad faith and abusive behaviour
How realistic was Skinner’s assessment of Scientology, given his background and his relatively limited sources of reliable information? Continue reading
The New Birmingham ‘Church’ of Scientology
Every October, Scientologists come to Saint Hill Manor in England (just outside London) from all over the world to attend a formal event celebrating the International Association of Scientologists (IAS).
This organisation started life as a legal defence fund for Scientologists, and gradually morphed into a general-purpose fund for the leadership to spend at a whim.
David Miscavige, the current leader of the Church of Scientology is always the centre of attention at IAS events, and makes marathon speeches.
IAS funds were likely used to finance an expensive effort to complete new Scientology facilities in Dublin, Ireland and Birmingham, England so that Miscavige could open them while he was relatively nearby.
When I went to Ireland, to observe the opening there, I wondered if the trip would be worthwhile. After all, people like me, and the locals, would be utterly excluded. When I got there, I realised that showing the remarkable ‘security’ operation mounted by Scientology in order to do this was actually and excellent illustration of its paranoid and controlling nature.
An organisation which presents itself as a religion behaved as if their new Church was a military base. Measures taken included closing sidewalks, surrounding it with private security guards and using outward-facing loudspeakers to mask the sound of the speech.
I’ve given an eye-witness report from Dublin in a previous post. This one is from Birmingham, concerning the opening of Pitmaston house as a Church of Scientology on the 22nd of October.
Scientology remained true to form, and repeated the incredible behaviour they had exhibited in Ireland.
If you followed my marathon post yesterday about the opening of a new Scientology facility at Firhouse, in the republic of Ireland, you will have read some acerbic comments from the local press.
One of things they wondered is why Scientology was spending millions of Euros on a huge building in a country which only has 87 Scientologists (according to the 2016 census).
Part of the reason for these low numbers was the tenacity of one Mary Johnston. She was a Scientologist from for about two years (between 1992 and 1994). After leaving, disillusioned, she claimed damages in the Irish courts for conspiracy, misrepresentation, breach of constitutional rights and deliberate infliction of emotional harm.
She won an unspecified (but likely huge) out-of-court settlement, after presenting her case. Scientology had such little confidence in itself that it abandoned the litigation and offered an substantial sum of money just before they were due to present their evidence in rebuttal.
This victory must have had a chilling effect on Scientology’s activities in Ireland and, unable to be as ruthless in Ireland as they are elsewhere, suppressed their ability to recruit and retain members for years.
Now, they are spending millions in the country with the aim of… who knows what?
After the break there is an episode on Ireland’s “Late late show”, hosted by the legendary Gay Byrne. this was about Scientology, and featured Mary Johnston, the Irish woman who pushed back. Continue reading
This was the public’s view of Scientology’s new facility (in the Republic of Ireland at Firhouse, which is just outside Dublin). The picture to the left was taken on the day of its opening – the 15th of October 2017.
The white area all around the perimeter isn’t a wall. It is exterior quality board, painted white and firmly fastened onto the outside of railings. It’s only purpose is to stop local people seeing what is going on inside and must have cost a few thousand Euro in materials alone.
Just in case someone might have brought a stepladder and looked over the wall, the pavement and cycle track that run around the building were surrounded by crowd-control barriers (incidentally closing the bus stop, too). Private security guards, retained by the Church of Scientology excluded local people from the area for the entire day – but admitted Scientologists.
The council may have given permission for the closure because they were told it was necessary for building works. They may not have authorised this if they has known that the real purpose was to stop outsiders looking over the wall and seeing the leader of Scientology, David Miscavige, performing the opening ceremony.
Approximately 14 private security guards were retained. Most gathered at the main gate (at the opposite end to the guard in this picture) . However one man always ‘patrolled’ the fenced-off area, admitting Scientologists to the pavement and trying to turn away locals, forcing them to cross a fast road instead of using a public path.
This high-handed attitude has provoked a strong response from the people and the press of Ireland.
Read on for an eye-witness account, with pictures and video.
Every year, Scientology throws a huge party for members of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS). This takes place at the UK headquarters of Scientology, Saint Hill Manor, and up to five thousand members from all over the world turn up.
L Ron Hubbard bought this estate in 1959. He seems to have enjoyed playing English country squire because he ran Scientology’s affairs from the site until he was refused re-entry into the country in 1967.
The event is held every year, and its main purpose is to encourage donations to the IAS. As is the case with all Scientology fund-raising, this can involve a very hard sell indeed, and attendees are unlikely to leave without having given as much as they can afford.
The IAS started life as a legal defence fund for the Church of Scientology, but critics characterise it as a huge slush fund under the exclusive control of the present leader, David Miscavige. Little is known about how this money is spent, of even whether is spent at all.
This year, the event took place on the 6th, 7th and 8th of October, and I was there on the Friday with a small group of protesters.
After the Anonymous campaign against Scientology changed the game by seriously damaging Scientology’s ability to suppress opposition, protests have tailed off. It’s now rare to see more than small groups of activists, and the public might think that they don’t achieve much even as they support the effort (passing drivers frequently honked, waved and shouted approval).
In the case of protesters at the IAS event, however, this isn’t true. They cost Scientology at least tens of thousands of pounds just by being there. If that sounds incredible – it is. However, read on to understand why, and assess the figures for yourself.
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.
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”