If you have ever thought that Scientology may not be as bad as is being reported than you need to read the latest expose on Scientology entitled, Going Clear Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2013, hardback, 430 pages, $28.95). The book is a page turner.
Author Lawrence Wright is a graduate of TulaneUniversity and the AmericanUniversity in Cairo and is a staff writer for The New Yorker. He has authored six other books and has won a Pulitzer Prize. He is also a screenwriter. He is a meticulous writer and lists 6 pages of sources for this new book.
In spite of Scientology’s claim of millions of members Wright says that there really are about 25,000 that call themselves Scientologists. He explains that there are 3 tiers in Scientology. The majority of Scientologists are just average run of the mill Scientologists. Then there are celebrity and Hollywood Scientologists. Tier 1 would love to mix and mingle with tier 2 but that rarely if ever happens. The third tier consists of what might be called “clergy” that run the church mainly from Florida and California. There are approximately 3,000 to 5,000 and they are called the Sea Organization or Sea Org. The name is a remnant from the time that founder Ron L. Hubbard ran the organization while on the high seas.
Wright explains what motivated him to write this book: “I was drawn to write this book by the questions that many people have about Scientology: What is it that makes the religion alluring? What do its adherents get out of it? How can seemingly rational subscribe to beliefs that others find incomprehensible? Why do popular personalities associate themselves with a faith that is likely to create a kind of public relations martyrdom?” (page Xll).
On page 19 the author introduces us to the classic 4 step program used to draw others into Scientology. Wright then explains the process called auditing which is the ongoing indoctrination process for the movement.
Scientology would never use the word sin. The founder Lafayette Ronald Hubbard taught that wrong ideas root themselves in the mind and become fears, obsessions, insecurities and hang ups. These embedded negatives are called engrams. Engrams can even be acquired in the womb. They become like post hypnotic suggestions that we cannot resist. Hubbard’s insights, it is claimed, can release these engrams over time. The seeker is introduced to a small machine called an E-meter which is supposed to detect the irrational urges and the affixed negativity and with the help of an auditor (or overseer) the person can work on becoming “clear” or free of engrams. This state of being clear releases one to become and operating thetan. The thetan is the soul or spirit of a person. The insider terminology was created by Hubbard.
Wright explains that an operating thetan (and there are various levels of operating thetans) report paranormal and clairvoyant experiences. They report exhilaration, knowledge of past lives and encounters with spirits from other ages (Page 18). We might call it altered states of consciousness or fantasy. Anyone familiar with the Bible would inform us that scientology is clearly esoteric, occultic and a form of spiritism. Hubbard who has written numerous Science Fiction books has created a religion filled with contrived code words and obvious mythology.
Wright takes us from the birth of Hubbard in 1911 to his death in 1986, (pages 20-183). Hubbard’s obesity and heavy smoking no doubt hastened his death. He died a physical and mental wreck, (pages 363-365). Scientology bestowed no evident powers on him. Believers are still awaiting his return.
In his early years everything that the young Hubbard did was formative and explains his creativity in the construction of Scientology. Hubbard’s first job consisted of writing pulp fiction which honed his ability for inventing extremist scenarios. He wrote under his own name and under 20 aliases as well. He penned everything from Arabian Nights to Zombies and with great flair, (pages 27-32). Imagination was the key in writing these kinds of books and Hubbard demonstrated that he had lots of it.
Hubbard claims that in 1938 while undergoing dental work and under anesthetic he died and somehow received esoteric information and divine mysteries and revelations while in an out of body experience, (page 29-30). Soon after this his career in writing Science Fiction was launched. It is out of this muddy mix that Hubbard eventually invented Scientology.
Over time Hubbard would father 7 children by 3 wives, (page 36).
Commitment to family is much less important than commitment to the organization.
It is hard to know how much of Hubbard’s military career is fiction and embellishment as opposed to facts since so many of his public military record read differently from his personal verbal reports.
Eventually Hubbard linked up with a Rocket Scientist named Jack Parsons. Parsons was a libertine and proponent of free love. His frequent house guest and comrade was the notorious Aleister Crowley who practiced black magic and who taught that there should be no moral code whatsoever. Crowley authored books on magic, witchcraft and mysticism and called himself the Great Beast. His grand tenant was “Do as thou wilt”. Parsons had absorbed much of Crowley’s occultic and evil teachings. L. Ron moved in with Parsons and this was the mental petrie dish he lived in for a time. They together would invoke spirits in night time rituals, (pages 42-48). One of Hubbard’s sons (who has changed his name to Ronald DeWolf) says without hesitation that Scientology is black magic. Scientologists today are told that Hubbard was involved with Parson’s to infiltrate and destroy black magic. Facts show the opposite.
Wright has surfaced court documents that give an intimate look into Hubbard’s bizarre and conflicted mental state in the 1940’s, (pages 50-56). Shortly after this in 1950 Hubbard moved to Bayhead, N. J. with his second wife. The book Dianetics and its introduction to Scientology was launched with its semantic maze. It is pretty much agreed that Hubbard’s system is based on the writings of Polish Philosopher Alfred Korzbski, (page 60). Hubbard’s book became an instant sensation. On February 18, 1954, the Church of Scientology of California was inaugurated, (page 83). Scientology after many skirmishes with the IRS became a tax exempt religion.
It is hard to detail and describe the ups and downs of Hubbard’s weird, zany, drama filled and fraudulent life. All the details and documentation are in Wright’s book. Much of it is jarring and shocking and at other points downright silly. Scientology’s official board at one juncture claimed Hubbard had toured the universe even stopping off at the planet Venus, (page 91). At first the idea of past lives was ruled out but then ruled in. Moving into the Scientology universe is truly a journey into science fiction.
Hubbard founded Sea Org in the late 1960’s and spent his days on the water wandering the globe (on the run from the courts) and strutting in his naval uniforms. There were 3 ships in his “navy”, (pages 94-134). As Hubbard spun out tall tales and science fiction stories for the crew he was in fact inventing the doctrines of Scientology. The crew would endure his negative moods, hurtful whims and horrible punishments. After all they had signed billion year contracts, (page 110 – 130). If only one half of the things documented in the book about Hubbard are true they show him to be a sadistic, paranoid tyrant who loved money and control over people’s lives. They show Scientology to be a destructive cult of mind control.
In September 1973 Hubbard suffered a motorcycle accident in which he broke an arm and some ribs. His poor handling of the situation and of his pain had some of those closest wondering if his claims about himself and his powers were really true.
A short time later Hubbard’s son Quentin was found in a car in Las Vegas unconscious with a tube running from the exhaust into the closed car interior. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Hubbard was convinced his son was murdered, (pages 133-134).
A branch of Scientology had already been started in Hollywood in 1954 (mentioned above) so Hubbard and his followers were already on a hunt for the rich and famous. Some of the Hollywood icons came to the new religion. Wright names them all. The idea of meeting stars of stage and screen led ordinary people to jump aboard the Scientology band wagon. For many well known movie stars Scientology was a revolving door (page 140). Of course the most well known Scientologists today are Tom Cruise and John Travolta. There are a number of pages in Wright’s book given to the relationship of Travolta to Scientology.
Chapter 5 chronicles the end of Hubbards reign. It gives the details of his death, cremation, and the scattering of his ashes in the ocean. The second half of the book then moves into the volatile and violent Miscavige years and runs to the present. These are the years when the organization was run and continues to be run by the bizarre and sadistic David Miscavige. This period is marked by internal violence, scandals, defections, law suits, legal wrangles, negative press and in spite of it – some expansion. In November 2012 a Scientology center was opened in JaffaIsrael after multi million dollar renovations of the old Alhambra theatre. It has a fully equipped office for Ron Hubbard.
There is an enormous amount of material giving information about Tom Cruise’s relationship to Miscavige and other incredible insider information that is just too detailed for the space we have here. One caution – Wright’s quotes of others language is raw and vulgar here and there but is how Scientologists speak. Biblical morals seem unimportant to them.
I do recommend the purchase of this book as the contents are an excellent inoculation against Scientology and dangerous, deadly mind control cults like it. Though long it is worth the read.