Scientology - Science or New Age Cult?
Science or New Age Cult?*
Scientology, officially known as The Church of Scientology, was founded in 1953 by L. Ron Hubbard (1912-1986), and popularized through his 1950 book, DIANETICS: The Modern Science of Mental Health (over ten million copies sold). Dianetics was originally intended to be Hubbard's psychotherapeutic answer to the techniques of modern psychiatry. (The word "Dianetics" means "through the soul," and promises to reveal "the single source of all man's insanities, psychosomatic illnesses, and neuroses.") In addition to Dianetics, Scientology produces scores of other publications. A short list includes Source, The Delphian, Advance!, and The Auditor.
The history of Scientology actually begins much earlier than 1953. Hubbard had become a well known science fiction writer in the 1930s. In fact, some of his ideas which are "common to Scientology first appeared in his 1938 manuscript titled Excalibur" (Kingdom of the Cults, p. 345), more than a decade before its official founding. Wild claims have been made about Hubbard's earlier life by Scientology publications. For example, they have claimed that he "graduated in civil engineering from George Washington University as a nuclear physicist, although the university records show that he attended for two short years, during the second of which he was on academic probation, and failed physics. Hubbard's Ph.D. was said to be from a Sequoia University in California, although there is no proof of the existence of any accredited institution in California by that name that grants doctorates" (Podiatry Today, March 1990).
Gerry Armstrong, a devout Scientologist assigned by the Church to write an authorized biography of Hubbard, discovered other inconsistencies in Hubbard's history. Armstrong, who has now left Scientology, states: "Nor was Hubbard a World War II hero who miraculously cured himself of nearly fatal combat wounds, as he claimed. Hubbard never saw combat. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, he was granted 40% disability pay for arthritis, bursitis and conjunctivitis. He continued to collect this pay long after he claimed to have discovered the secret of how to cure such ailments" (Another Gospel, Ruth Tucker, p. 301). Hubbard's reputation as an explorer, prolific science fiction writer, and parabotanist (he was one of the first to expound the idea of "communicating" with plants) enlarged to make him the worldwide spokesman for this fast-growing cult.
Biographers have also uncovered Hubbard's involvement with the Occult, which probably influenced his writings. Hubbard claimed to have had a near-death experience where he learned everything that ever puzzled the mind of man. The notorious Satanist, Aleister Crowley, was Hubbard's mentor and he lived with Crowley protégé John Parsons, engaging in sex magic at their black magic mansion hospice (Los Angeles Times, 24 June 1990, p. A1).
Despite the inconsistencies in his history, Hubbard would become one of the wealthiest and most well known leaders of a religious movement in only a few years. Scientology currently holds assets of nearly $500 million, including a 440-foot cruise ship used as a "seagoing religious retreat." Assets also include two publishing houses, a 2,845-acre California ranch used as a school for the children of church staffers, and more than 45 buildings on 500 acres in Riverside County, California. Other assets include reinforced vaults designed to preserve the church's teachings in case of earthquake or nuclear attack. (These teachings include 500,000 pages of Hubbard's writings, 6,500 reels of tape, and 42 films.)
Scientology's methodology and beliefs have also led some members into a long history of criminal and civil actions and convictions. Both the U.S. Federal and Canadian courts have found top Scientology officials and the church guilty of charges such as burglarizing, wiretapping, and conspiracy against government agencies (Time, 6 May 1991, p. 50). In 1980, for example, eleven of Scientology's top leaders, including Hubbard's wife, were jailed for bugging and burglarizing the U.S. Justice Department and other federal agencies in the 1970s.
Within the church, there have been widespread purges and defections. Some former members have filed lawsuits accusing the church of intimidating its critics, breaking up families, and using high-pressure sales techniques to separate large sums of money from its followers. In 1986, Scientology paid an estimated $5 million to settle more than 20 of the suits, without admitting wrongdoing. In exchange, the plaintiffs agreed never again to criticize Scientology or Hubbard and to have their lawsuits forever sealed from public view.
Hubbard formalized his theories into a religion in order to obtain tax-exempt status and freedom from governmental interference for some of his organizations. Scientology currently claims to have more than eight million members in more than 3,000 "churches, mission-related organizations, and groups" in more than 133 countries. (Source: 11/2001, Scientology official Internet web site.) Closer to the truth is that there are only about 50,000 active members.
The cult claims "Celebrity Centers" (a chain of clubhouses that offer expensive counseling and career guidance) in more than 100 cities in more than 15 countries. The cult appeals strongly to intellectuals and the "gifted," relying extensively on endorsements from celebrities and corporations that employ Dianetics. Various world locations for Scientology include Washington, D.C.; Clearwater, Florida (a Scientology Training Center); Sussex, England (where it operates a thirty-room mansion and a fifty-seven acre estate); and Los Angeles (claiming such movie stars and entertainers as John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Karen Black, Jennifer Aspen, Isaac Hayes, Priscilla Presley, Kristie Alley, and the late Sonny Bono -- Scientology's "representative" in the U.S. Congress).
There are numerous front organizations in the Church of Scientology used as vehicles for their objectives. Some of the more prominent would include Advanced Organization of Los Angeles, Religious Technology Center, and FLAG. Some of the more clandestine vehicles for recruitment and dissemination of Scientology are its affiliated agencies and business programs, most of which are part of W.I.S.E. (Worldwide Institute of Scientology Enterprises). There are groups like Sterling Management Systems; Steller Management; Singer Consultants; Uptrends; Owl Management; Applied Scholastics; Citizens Commission on Human Rights; Citizens Against Taxes; The Way to Happiness Foundation; Hollander Consultants; Irons, Marcus & Valko; and Uptrends (Podiatry Today, March 1990; Watchman Expositor, 1997). They also work through Concerned Businessmen of America, and through The Way to Happiness and Set a Good Example Contest, the latter two aimed at school children, and through Narconon (meaning "non-narcosis" or "no drugs"), an alleged drug rehab program consisting of 50 alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers in 21 countries, operating in 750 prisons under the name "Criminon" (Criminon, meaning "no crime," is a volunteer criminal rehabilitation program which utilizes technologies developed by Hubbard to help convicts recover pride and self-esteem). Narconon is a classic vehicle for drawing addicts into the cult.
Hubbard was a best-selling author for more than 50 years, with over 589 published works to his credit. His fiction sales total over 25 million copies, and his non-fiction works have sold more than 23 million. Many may have first come in contact with Scientology through a clean-cut young man or woman at the door offering a "free personality analysis." But the 200 questions posed are part of the recruiting program for the Church of Scientology, which is nothing but an applied religious philosophy offering "a clear, bright insight to help you blaze toward your mind's full potential."
In a nutshell, Scientology teaches that all humans descended from a race of uncreated, omnipotent gods called Thetans, who gave up their powers to enter the Material-Energy-Space-Time (MEST) world of Earth. [Hubbard's Dianetics and Scientology: Technical Dictionary explains, "The Thetan is immortal and is possessed of capabilities well in excess of those hitherto predicted for man. In the final analysis what is this thing called Thetan? It is simply you before you mocked yourself up and that is the handiest definition I know of" (p. 432). The Thetan is thus that part of each individual which is immortal and which has become contaminated or debased by the influences of MEST.] Gradually, they evolved upward by reincarnation to become humans who could not remember their deified state. Scientologists are encouraged to awaken their dormant Thetan potential by removing all mental blocks called engrams. By doing so, they can realize their true personhood, achieving total power and control over MEST. Scientology offers a psychotherapeutic process for breaking through the engrams "picked up from traumas in prior lives," to "realize" once again one's true identity as an "operating Thetan" (God) beyond the limitations of MEST.
Scientology, thereby, does nothing more than incorporate certain aspects of New Age pseudoscience, psychotherapy, and various occult practices into the ancient lie of promised godhood. Below are the highlights of what Scientology believes and practices concerning its source of authority, roots, tactics, sin and salvation, Christ, and spiritual practice:
1. Source of Authority. The official Scientology Internet web site says: "The writings and recorded spoken words of L. Ron Hubbard on the subject of Scientology collectively constitute the Scripture of the religion. He set forth the Scientology philosophy and technologies in more than 500,000 pages of writings, including dozens of books, and more than 2,000 tape-recorded lectures." Principally, Hubbard and his 1950 book, Dianetics, is the authority for Scientology. [The Church of Scientology's current Church president is Heber T. Jentzsch, but the real authority is David Miscavige.] Scientology has even found it necessary to publish a dictionary with 7,000 definitions for the use of over 3,000 Dianetic words. In 1951, Hubbard released his findings on the spirit of Man, which served as the foundation of the religion of Scientology, dealing with what Hubbard considered the fundamental truths concerning the essence of life, what came before, and the hereafter. This was later followed by another basic book, SCIENTOLOGY: The Fundamentals of Thought. Hubbard's own definition of Scientology is "Knowing how to know ... Know thyself ... and the truth shall set you free" -- an obvious twisting of the words of Jesus Christ in John 8:32 -- "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
2. Its Roots. Even though Hubbard himself declared Dianetics to be "the spiritual heir of Buddhism in the Western world," there is evidence of even darker roots. Hubbard was at one time closely linked with British Satanist and New Ager Aleister Crowley, and there are strong indications that the word Dianetics had its origins in the worship of the goddess Diana.
3. Its Tactics. Scientology attempts to give the appearance that it is both a science and a religion. Fifty hours of Scientology counseling can cost $2,350. Some former members say they invested up to $80,000, which may explain some claims that the organization's total take is over $3 million per day. ["Auditing" is by far Scientology's most expensive service. Auditing is purchased in 12 1/2-hour chunks, costing the Scientologist anywhere between $3,000 and $11,000 each, depending on where it is bought.] Members are usually well-scrubbed, respectable, middle-class types. Church "ministers" wear the conventional black priest-suit and white collar, and even sport crosses, though they point out it isn't representative of Christ's crucifix. When their teachings and tactics are questioned, Scientologists are not prone to turn the other cheek. Hubbard says, "you only get hurt when you duck." Scientology's alleged tactics of harassment, intimidation, and defamation of critics are well-known -- once an FBI raid on church quarters revealed a "hit list" of enemies. [The elite of Scientology's workers, at least 5,000 of them, belong to a zealous faction known as the Sea Organization and are given room, board, and a small weekly allowance. (Scientology web site: "Today, more than 5,000 members of this religious order occupy staff positions in upper level Scientology church organizations around the world.") They sign contracts to serve Scientology in this and future lifetimes -- for a billion years. Their motto is: "We come back." Dressed in mock navy uniforms adorned with ribbons, they bark orders with a clipped, military cadence. They hold ranks such as captain, lieutenant, and ensign. Officers, including women, are addressed as "Sir."]
4. Sin and Salvation. A major creed of L. Ron Hubbard states that "man is good," an immortal Thetan, able to create MEST. This tenet is consistent with the Dianetic belief that man is descended from the gods and may someday evolve to reclaim his Thetan potential. "Salvation" involves a process of working through levels of self-knowledge and knowledge of past lives (reincarnation) to awaken the pre-existent deity within and regain total godhood. As would be expected, the existence of an eternal heaven and hell is denied.
5. Christ. Christ is deemed merely a "cleared" individual (see #6 below), i.e., "just a man."
6. Spiritual Practice. Other doctrines and practices of Scientology include astral travel, regression to past lives, and the "urge toward existence as spirits." Through the use of a Scientology "E-meter" (something like a lie detector) in an "auditing" session, members undergo exercises and counseling to eliminate negative mental images from past lives and achieve a state of "clear." (Hubbard believed all illnesses were psychosomatic and could be cured by eliminating these past experiences from the brain.) Scientology promises members higher intelligence and greater business success through Scientology courses that cost thousands of dollars. "Upper-level" or "OT6" ("OT" stands for "Operating Thetan") teachings of Scientology are available only to members who graduate through preliminary Church of Scientology programs. Scientologists tell their members that if they get into Level 6 before going through the preliminary levels, they could "dematerialize or develop [fatal] illnesses." Scientology is creating a powerful group of brainwashed robots who believe they have found a solution for their own problems as well as a master plan for every person and nation in the world, now and forever.
7. Summary of Scientology Theology. In the beginning were the Thetans. These were to eventually create the MEST, which in actuality would not be the best thing they could have done. For when the Thetan, who inhabits the MEST, comes into conflict with other MEST, an engram is recorded in the reactive mind. This engram, whether it be remembered or not, due to unconsciousness which accompanies every engram, is stored in the reactive mind and causes the Thetan to believe false data [erroneous ideas]. It is the purpose of Scientology, through its auditing efforts, to rid the Thetan of all engrams so that in turn that Thetan, who now possesses a new educational perspective on reality, as a result of the auditing, may advance to a higher state of being or Clear. Once one reaches "Clear" (a 38-step process), there are 20 more steps before one reaches "OT," when one supposedly doesn't need a body to exist and is clear of all "engrams."
MEST -- As Scientology endeavors to render this MEST mess intelligible they write, "An engram comes about when the individual organism suffers an intense impact with MEST. Every moment of physical pain contains with it a partial or major shutdown of the analytical function of the mind" (Science of Survival, Book Two, p. 28). Thus, an engram is a memory which is caused when any accidental event (be it major or minor) is experienced. However, at the instant that the engram is formed, often the person is unaware of the event. How is this possible?
In a series of lectures given during August and September 1950, Hubbard explained the process: "An engram is a moment of pain and unconsciousness which contains perceptics. Actually there are thousands of moments of pain with just a little unconsciousness. Even a little thing such as someone burning his finger still causes a flick of attenuation of the analytical mind. The engram has one common denominator above all else, unconsciousness. But unconsciousness is common to every single engram, because unconsciousness does just one thing; it closes down the analytical mind. So, we have coined the word anaten. It is a contraction of the two words analytical attenuation (Attenuation means shutting or closing down)" (Research and Discovery Series: A Running Record of Research into the Mind and Life, Vol. 3, pp. 114-115).
This engram is thus that "mental picture" which "contains, as part of its content, unconsciousness and physical pain" and is stored in the individual's mind (Dianetics and Scientology: Technical Dictionary, p. 114). But which mind?
As Hubbard explained, every person has two minds -- the analytical mind and the reactive mind. Both have very specific functions, though not necessarily beneficial functions. In the booklet, Basic Dictionary of Dianetics and Scientology, the two minds are defined in the following ways: "analytical mind: In Dianetics and Scientology the analytical mind is the one which is alert and aware and the reactive mind simply reacts without analysis." It continues with, "reactive mind: the portion of the mind which works on a stimulus-response basis. It consists of locks, secondaries, engrams and chains of them and is the single source of human aberrations and psychosomatic ills" (pp. 2, 23).
Thus, Man in his true nature is an immortal Thetan. However, the Thetan is responsible for the creation of MEST. Though the Thetan created the MEST, sometimes the MEST collides with the Thetan resulting in the acquisition of an engram. Because every engram is accompanied by unconsciousness to a greater or lesser degree, not all engrams are known to exist by the Thetan's analytical mind. As a result of the build-up of thousands of known and unknown engrams, stored in his reactive mind, man seems to experience problems throughout his life. These engrams have accumulated not only in this life but in many past lives as well through reincarnation. Thus, it is Scientology's purpose to rid the Thetan of these unwanted engrams. How is this accomplished? By becoming Clear. [Return to Text]
Clear State -- In defining Clear, Hubbard used an interesting analogy. Clear is "The name of a button on an adding machine. When you push it, all the hidden answers in the machine clear and the machine can be used for a proper computation. So long as the button is not pressed the machine adds all old answers to all new efforts to compute and wrong answers result. Really, that's all a Clear is. Clears are beings who have been Cleared of wrong answers or useless answers which keep them from living or thinking." The Clear "can create energy at will, and can handle and control, erase or re-create an analytical mind or reactive mind. The Clear has no engrams which can be restimulated to throw out the correctness of computations by entering hidden and false data in it" (Dianetics and Scientology: Technical Dictionary, pp. 75-76).
Hence, the Thetan who has reached the desired state of Clear has, in actuality, become a blank slate simply waiting for new data to be entered. As Hubbard explained in a lecture series, "you have to have a new education if you are going to change a Clear's viewpoint" (Research and Discovery Series, Vol. 2, p. 408). Thus, the new data given by Scientology is not merely a rearrangement of already existing beliefs and ideas. Rather, it is completely "new" material, which is precisely what is needed for the "new education." The "Clear" is now free to start working towards immortality again by practicing higher disciplines that will re-educate him about his archaic origins in space. (As he learns more and more about his past, he will become an "Operating Thetan," or OT. There are six levels ranging from OT-1 to OT-6, the highest of Scientology disciplines. Hubbard, however, was said to be working on OT-7 or OT-8 a few years before his disappearance.) Without this new education it is impossible to reach the state of Clear. But if Clear is a higher state of being to which all should desire to evolve, then how is this to be accomplished? By the Scientology practice of Auditing. [Return to Text]
Auditing -- Since the reactive mind consists of "locks" and chains of engrams, in order for the Thetan to be declared Clear, the reactive mind with its engrams must be removed by auditing. "The reactive mind is removed by 'returning' the pre-clear to the engram, and laying its contents before the scrutiny of the analytical mind" (Dianetics: The Original Thesis, p. 54).
Once the engram is openly expressed by the pre-clear [Scientology student], then "Auditing gets rid of unwanted barriers that inhibit, stop or blunt a person's natural abilities as well as gradiently increasing the abilities a person has so that he becomes more able and his survival, happiness and intelligence increase enormously. An activity of an auditor taking over the control of and shepherding the attention of a pc [pre-clear] so as to bring about a higher level of confront ability" (Dianetics and Scientology: Technical Dictionary, p. 28). After the Thetan has remembered the engram, it is then removed from the reactive mind during the auditing session with the aid of the Scientology E-Meter. This device, similar in function to a lie-detector, is said to be "An electronic instrument for measuring mental state and change of state in individuals, as an aid to precision and speed in auditing" (Basic Dictionary of Dianetics and Scientology, p. 11). [Return to Text]
Note on Science Fiction: Hubbard first gained notoriety in the minds of Americans as the author of numerous science fiction novels. He would later use his skills to tightly weave the web of science fiction and religion. His theology, which is today accepted by millions, eventually leads to tales of preincarnate souls trapped in ice cubes from the planet Mars: "One preclear (student of Scientology) said that this Thetan (somewhat similar to 'soul' or 'spirit') had inhabited the body of a doll on the planet Mars 469,476,600 years ago. Martians seized the doll and took it to a temple, where it was zapped by a bishop's gun while the congregation chanted 'God is Love.' The Thetan was then put in an ice cube, placed aboard a flying saucer, and dropped off at Planet ZX 432, where it was given a robot body, then put to work unloading flying saucers. Being a bit unruly, it zapped another robot to death and was shipped off in a flying saucer to be punished. But the flying saucer exploded, and the Thetan fell into space" (story as reprinted in Kingdom of the Cults, p. 346, 1985 ed.). While this may be where the theology of the Church of Scientology eventually leads, it is not explained to the initiate in these precise words. Rather, it is touted to the world as the cure for all man's problems and a way to gain every desire. [Return to Text]
Note on Religion: In 1967, the Church of Scientology of California was stripped of its tax-exempt status by the IRS (deeming Scientology a for-profit business that enriched church officials), an action the church considered unlawful and thus ignored. (The church also replied with more than 2,000 lawsuits against the IRS.) The IRS, in turn, undertook a mammoth audit of the church for the years 1970 through 1974. A federal court ruled in 1971 that Hubbard's medical claims were bogus and that E-meter auditing could no longer be called a scientific treatment. Hubbard responded by going fully religious, seeking First Amendment protection for Scientology's strange rites. Scientology ministers (formerly "counselors") started to wear white collars, dark suits, and silver crosses. Sunday services were mandated, chapels were erected in Scientology buildings, franchises became "missions," fees became "fixed donations," and Hubbard's comic-book cosmology became "sacred scriptures." It was made a punishable offense for a staffer to omit from church literature the notation that Scientology is a "religious philosophy." Many of the changes flowed from a flurry of "religious image" directives issued by high-level Scientology executives. One policy put it bluntly: "Visual evidences that Scientology is a religion are mandatory."
IRS-conducted audits proved that Hubbard was skimming millions of dollars from the church, laundering the money through dummy corporations in Panama, and stashing it in Swiss bank accounts. Moreover, church members stole IRS documents, filed false tax returns, and harassed the agency's employees. By late 1985, with high-level defectors accusing Hubbard of having stolen as much as $200 million from the church, the IRS was seeking an indictment of Hubbard for tax fraud. Scientology members "worked day and night" shredding documents the IRS sought, according to a defector who took part in the scheme. (Hubbard, who had been in hiding for five years, died before the criminal case could be prosecuted.) None of this, however, convinced the IRS, which assessed the church more than $1 million in back taxes for the years 1970 through 1972. Scientology appealed to the U.S. Tax Court, where, in 1984, it was handed one of the worst financial and public relations disasters in its history. The battle with the Internal Revenue Service was finally resolved on October 1, 1993. On that day, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the IRS issued letters recognizing the Church of Scientology and its related churches and organizations as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In return, the Church of Scientology paid the IRS $12.5 million to settle any tax assessments prior to 1993, and dropped all its lawsuits against the IRS. The IRS also agreed to drop any outstanding audits of Scientology organizations and declared several related Scientology organizations as tax-exempt, including a trust that oversees the church's 440-foot cruise ship, Freewinds. Also, church members were permitted to henceforth deduct from their personal income taxes the fees they pay for "auditing." [Return to Text]
Note on Tactics: Frequently, a person's first contact with Scientology comes when he is approached by a staff member on the street and offered a free personality test, or receives a lengthy questionnaire in the mail. Using charts and graphs, the idea is to convince a person that he has some problem, or "ruin," that Scientology can fix, while assuaging concerns he may have about the church. According to Hubbard, "if the job has been done well, the person should be worried." With that accomplished, the customer is pushed to buy services he is told will improve his sorry condition and perhaps give him such powers as being able to spiritually travel outside his body -- or, in Scientology jargon, to "exteriorize." Church members are then required to write testimonials -- "success stories" -- as they progress from one level to the next.
The Scientology organization uses sophisticated sales tactics to sell a seemingly endless progression of expensive courses, each serving as a prerequisite for the next. Known collectively as "The Bridge," the courses promise salvation, higher intelligence, superhuman powers, and even possible survival from nuclear fallout -- for those who can pay. Church tenets mandate that parishioners purchase Scientology goods and services under Hubbard's "doctrine of exchange." A person must learn to give, he said, as well as receive. For its programs and books, the church charges "fixed donations" that range from $50 for an elementary course in improving communication skills to more than $13,000 for Hubbard's secret teachings on the origins of the universe and the genesis of mankind's ills.
From time to time, the church offers "limited time only" deals on a select package of Hubbard courses, which represent a small portion of The Bridge. One such offer packaged courses that if bought individually would supposedly cost $55,455; the sale price was $33,399.50. To complete Hubbard's progression of courses, a Scientologist could conceivably spend a lifetime and more than $400,000. The Scientology Bridge is always under construction, keeping the Supreme Answer one step away from church members -- a potent sales strategy devised by Hubbard to keep the money flowing, critics contend.
New courses continually are added, each of which is said to be crucial for spiritual progress, each heavily promoted. Church members are warned that unless they keep purchasing Scientology services, misery and sickness may befall them. For the true believer, this is a powerful incentive to keep buying whatever the group is selling. Through the mail, Scientologists are bombarded with glossy, colorful brochures announcing the latest courses and discounts. Letters and postcards sound the dire warning, "Urgent! Urgent! Your future is at risk! ... It is time to ACT! NOW! ... You must buy now!"
Scientology staffers who sell Hubbard's courses are called "registrars." They earn commissions on their sales and are skilled at eliciting every facet of an individual's finances, including bank accounts, stocks, cars, houses, whatever can be converted to cash. Like all Scientology staffers, a registrar's productivity is evaluated each week. Performance is judged by how much money he or she brings in by each Thursday afternoon. And, in Scientology, declining or stagnant productivity is not viewed favorably. (Source: "The Scientology Story, Pt.2," L.A. Times, 6/25/90.) [Return to Text]
Note on David Miscavige: To the public, Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International, is portrayed as Scientology's top official. He appears regularly at news conferences and on talk shows, appearing to be chiefly responsible for church public relations. The real power is consolidated among a handful of Scientologists who keep low public profiles. The Church of Scientology serves as the mother church and is responsible for the overall ecclesiastical management, dissemination, and propagation of Scientology and the various churches of Scientology, but the Religious Technology Center (RTC) serves as "protector of the religion." And, more importantly, RTC is Scientology's final arbiter of orthodoxy.
David Miscavige (41) (a high school drop out) has served as RTC's Chairman of the Board, its most senior position, since 1987. Miscavige has been an active Scientologist for most of his life, and has been involved with nearly every aspect of the Church's activities, closely working with Hubbard. Miscavige wields power with the iron-fisted approach of his mentor. RTC owns the trademarks that Scientology churches need to operate, including the words Scientology and Dianetics. RTC licenses the churches to use the trademarks and can revoke permission if a church fails to perform properly. Therein rests much, but not all, of Miscavige's power. He is the man in control, charting a direction for the organization that is at once expansionist and combative -- in keeping with the dictates and personality of Hubbard, his role model. [Return to Text]
More Detail on Scientology’s Wide Array of Front Groups and Financial Scams (Source: 5/6/91, Time Magazine):
CONSULTING. Sterling Management Systems, formed in 1983, has been ranked in recent years by Inc. magazine as one of America's fastest-growing private companies (estimated 1988 revenues of $20 million). Sterling regularly mails a free newsletter to more than 300,000 health-care professionals, mostly dentists, promising to increase their incomes dramatically. The firm offers seminars and courses that typically cost $10,000. But Sterling's true aim is to hook customers for Scientology. Sterling's founder, dentist Gregory Hughes, is now under investigation by California's Board of Dental Examiners for incompetence. Nine lawsuits are pending against him for malpractice (seven others have been settled), mostly for orthodontic work on children.
PUBLIC INFLUENCE. One front, the Way to Happiness Foundation, has distributed to children in thousands of the nation's public schools more than 3.5 million copies of a booklet Hubbard wrote on morality. The church calls the scheme "the largest dissemination project in Scientology history." Applied Scholastics is the name of still another front, which is attempting to install a Hubbard tutorial program in public schools, primarily those populated by minorities. The group also plans a 1,000-acre campus, where it will train educators to teach various Hubbard methods. The disingenuously named Citizens Commission on Human Rights is a Scientology group at war with psychiatry, its primary competitor. The commission typically issues reports aimed at discrediting particular psychiatrists and the field in general [not a bad goal]. The CCHR is also behind an all-out war against Eli Lilly, the maker of Prozac, the nation's top-selling anti-depression drug, claiming that Prozac drives people to murder or suicide. Another Scientology-linked group, the Concerned Businessmen's Association of America, holds anti-drug contests and awards $5,000 grants to schools as a way to recruit students and curry favor with education officials.
HEALTH CARE. HealthMed, a chain of clinics run by Scientologists, promotes a grueling and excessive system of saunas, exercise, and vitamins designed by Hubbard to purify the body. Experts denounce the regime as quackery and potentially harmful, yet HealthMed solicits unions and public agencies for contracts. The chain is plugged heavily in a book, Diet for a Poisoned Planet, by journalist David Steinman, who concludes that scores of common foods (among them: peanuts, bluefish, peaches and cottage cheese) are dangerous. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop labeled the book "trash," and the Food and Drug Administration issued a paper in October [of 1990] that claims Steinman distorts his facts. "HealthMed is a gateway to Scientology, and Steinman's book is a sorting mechanism," says physician William Jarvis, who is head of the National Council Against Health Fraud.
DRUG TREATMENT. Hubbard's purification treatments are the mainstay of Narconon, a Scientology-run chain of  alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers -- some in prisons under the name "Criminon."
FINANCIAL SCAMS. Three Florida Scientologists, including Ronald Bernstein, a big contributor to the church's international "war chest," pleaded guilty in March of 1991 to using their rare-coin dealership as a money laundry. Other notorious activities by Scientologists include making the shady Vancouver stock exchange even shadier, and plotting to plant operatives in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Export-Import Bank. The alleged purpose of this scheme: to gain inside information on which countries are going to be denied credit so that Scientology-linked traders can make illicit profits by taking "short" positions in those countries' currencies.
BOOK PUBLISHING. Scientology mischief-making has even moved to the book industry. Since 1985, at least a dozen Hubbard books, printed by a church company, have made best-seller lists. They range from a 5,000-page sci-fi decology (Black Genesis, The Enemy Within, An Alien Affair, etc.) to the -year-old Dianetics. Critics pan most of Hubbard's books as unreadable, while defectors claim that church insiders are sometimes the real authors. Even so, Scientology has sent out armies of its followers to buy the group's books at such major chains as B. Dalton's and Waldenbooks to sustain the illusion of a best-selling author. A former Dalton's manager says that some books arrived in his store with the chain's price stickers already on them, suggesting that copies are being recycled. Scientology claims that sales of Hubbard books now top  million worldwide. [Back to Text]
* Unless otherwise cited, this report has been excerpted and/or adapted from the following sources: (1) "Church of Scientology," Rick Branch (Watchman Fellowship Profile, 1996); (2) "Scientology: Science or Science Fiction," G. Richard Fisher, PFO Quarterly Journal, Vol.17 No.3; (3) "Lafayette Ronald Hubbard and the Theology of the Church of Scientology," The Discerner, and (4) "Church of Scientology: A Religious Mafia?," The Watchman Expositor (Vol. 15, No. 1, 1998, p. 5). [Christian books on the cults also have chapters or sections on Scientology. For example, The Kingdom of the Cults, 1997; Ruth A. Tucker, Another Gospel, 1989; William Watson, A Concise Dictionary of Cults and Religions, 1991; and J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedic Handbook of Cults in America, 1986. Two works by secular writers are Bent Coryden's L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman?, 1992; and Russell Miller's Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard, 1987. One is advised that in both of these works Hubbard frequently is quoted verbatim and any Christian will find his words vulgar, obscene, and offensive.]