“The Church of Scientology in the United States” – An Army Chaplin Assesses Scientology in 1973

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

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Why are there Only 87 Scientologists in Ireland? Because the Irish Push Back

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

The Revenge of the Guardian’s Office on “Amazing Science Fiction Stories”

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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

The Pulp SF Magazine “Amazing Stories” Assesses 20 years of Dianetics / Scientology in 1970

amazing-stories-malzbergAmazing Stories November 1970 | “Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science” – A Personal Report by Barry N Malzberg | Pg 75 | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).

In this issue Barry Malzberg marked the (more-or-less) 20th anniversary of the publication of  the iconic article by L Ron Hubbard in “Astounding Science Fiction” which kicked off the dianetics fad in May 1950.

Malzberg used the same title as Hubbard for his critical article – Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science”. However, he employs it with heavy irony:

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Mary Sue Hubbard (L Ron Hubbard’s Wife) Celebrates ‘Going Clear’ in 1967

mary-sue-hubbardClear No 208: Mary Sue Hubbard | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).

This strange document was published in 1967. It’s a simple folded piece of card approximately 15 x 23cm – two pages, four sides.

It commemorates the occasion upon which Mary Sue Hubbard (at that time the wife of L Ron Hubbard) celebrated her ascension to the state of Clear  -the 208th person to achieve this status.

There are only two pages of text (the other two are devoted to the title and a picture of Mary Sue). This consists of a potted biography of the lady which begins by describing her participation in Scientology’s early development, particularly the history of the Dianetics Institutes.

It also bestows the fulsome praise required to create a cult of personality for Mary Sue herself, so that she may be seen to be worthy of her place at the side of the founder of Scientology. This was not to last. Nine years later, in  1976, she would fall from grace in a most extraordinary way.

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A Scientology-influenced Science Fiction Story From 1954, Penned by a Minor Scientology ‘Celebrity’

Authentic Science Fiction #41 (Jan 1954) coverAuthentic Science Fiction Monthly No 41 | Jan 1954  | Featured Novel: The Phoenix Nest | Richard DeMille | Download Issue as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).

If you mention Scientology today, to anyone who who has not looked into it, a typical response will be: “Isn’t that the cult Tom Cruise is involved with?”

Scientology has cultivated celebrities for years, now and treats celebrity members like royalty. They are one of the few means that the Church has left to project a positive image and attract attention to its message. Tom Cruise is the Jewel in Scientology’s tarnished crown, but they also count a number of minor celebrities and fading stars among their members.

This obsession isn’t new. In early1955, an article in the Scientology periodical “Ability” by L Ron Hubbard offered a reward to any Scientologist who recruited anyone on a list of named celebrities .

That article is probably the first written evidence of such a policy, but Hubbard recruited minor celebrities before it became a fixed doctrine, and exploited the resources they provided him with and  interest they drew.

One of the early Scientology celebrities was Richard deMille who was, for many years, presented as the son of the film director Cecil B deMille. Among other things, he wrote for science fiction pulp magazines (as did L Ron Hubbard).

Although he was probably valued by Hubbard as much for his potential to influence his famous father as for himself, deMille did subtly promote Scientology in his writing, as we can see in the story featured in this post

Appearing in the British pulp science fiction magazine “Authentic Science Fiction” its plot depended crucially on Scientology concepts (principally the incorporeal ‘Thetan’) and developed a theme of personal immortality through Science. Continue reading