The Ultimate Spin Doctor: L. Ron Hubbard - The Man and His Myth
In its May 6, 1991 cover story, "The Cult of Greed," Time magazine described the Scientology organization: "The Church of Scientology started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to 'clear' people of unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion. In reality, the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and cities in Mafia-like manner...Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious, and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen" (pp. 32-3).
In a previous issue of The Expositor (Vol. 13, No. 2, 1996) Watchman Fellowship began its own series exposing the Scientology/Dianetics cult. Part 1 in the series exposed Scientology's duplicitous claims of compatibility with Christianity, contrasting its own bizarre and secret teachings with the truth of Christianity, as well as demonstrating its contempt for Christ. Part Two focuses on the elaborate myths spun around Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
Jesus warned, "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matthew 24:4-5).
Hubbard was a man who was able to strongly and powerfully transfix his followers and seduce them into accepting his own fantastic delusions of grandeur. He was thus able to build a multi-million dollar international empire, and one of the most controversial, totalistic, and clandestine religions in history. Scientologists have idolized and eulogized Mr. Hubbard to the point of almost god-like status. It is no coincidence that biographers of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard titled their books, L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman, and The Bare-Faced Messiah.
[Note: These biographies and a third one, A Piece of Blue Sky by former Scientologist Jon Atack, were all targets of an aggressive Scientology legal campaign to prevent their being published and distributed. The courts denied Scientology's attempts to stop distribution of L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman and Atack's A Piece of Blue Sky. Scientology's suits were over copyright issues, not the authors' accuracy. In fact, author Jon Atack has probably the most extensive archives of primary Scientology documentation in the world.]
Between 1950 and his death in 1986, Hubbard "had skillfully transformed himself from a writer of pulp fiction to a writer of 'Sacred Scriptures'" (The Los Angeles Times, 24 June 1990, p. A1). Official Scientology spokesperson Lisa Goodman states that "Hubbard's writings and lectures on the human spirit comprise the Scripture of the Scientology religion." Hubbard is "the sole source of the Scriptures," and "he has no successor" (L. Ron Hubbard Founder of Dianetics and Scientology," emphasis added). It is "firm Church policy that LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] ISSUES [directives, statements] ARE TO BE LEFT INTACT AS ISSUED," and "No one except LRH may cancel his issues" (SCN Policy Directive 19, July 7, 1982).
Scientology is ego-centric. The ego of L. Ron Hubbard is essential and central. The leaders and followers of Scientology are on a never-ending quest to legitimize, establish, and spread both their "religious technology" and their grandiose image of Hubbard. And it seems this end always justifies the means.
During a March 13, 1992, satellite broadcast celebrating Hubbard's birthday, Scientology board chairman David Miscavage expressed their surrealistic belief, "We have arrived at a new plateau of recognition and respect in the world. More people in more countries 1/4 more officials and opinion leaders have come to realize that L. Ron Hubbard's tech is the answer to today's problems." L. Ron Hubbard's Personal Public Relations Officer, Mike Rinder, also related that Hubbard's popularity had grown among millions around the world through application of his tech (tape on file).
An honest examination of Hubbard uncovers a life of fantasy, fraud, lies, relentless pursuit of money and power, and apparent paranoia that parallels the history, beliefs, and practices of his Scientology organization.
Yet Rinder also stated, "When you look into any area of Hubbard's life, you find lessons in how to be successful in the art of living. Any single part of his life is a microcosm of the whole. He mastered every area of life" (Ibid.).
How was Hubbard able to weave this image that has captured the hearts, minds, and souls of so many? Where did he get his power?
This article and the one following will separate the facts from fantasy concerning the history of L. Ron Hubbard, and expose the diabolical source of occult power behind Scientology's origin and growth.
L. Ron Hubbard was born in Tilden, Nebraska in 1911. The Hubbards soon moved to Montana. Ron Hubbard's father, Harry, rejoined the U.S. Navy as an officer in 1917.
From this point on, the accounts of LRH's life by Hubbard and Scientology become fanciful. Hubbard and Scientology claim that he achieved wide recognition in the fields of "author, philosopher, educator, research pioneer, musician, photographer, cinematographer, horticulturist, navigator, explorer, and humanitarian" (L. Ron Hubbard: The Man and His Work, 1987, p. 3). Some of these claimed accomplishments are even attributed to his childhood; virtually all are incredible.
There are parts of his life that can be accurately known. For example, in 1950 he published an article in Astounding Science Fiction which he later expanded into the book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. In 1953, Hubbard incorporated the Church of Scientology and the Church of American Science.
Also, Hubbard was married at least three times. His third wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, and ten other Scientologists were imprisoned for conspiracy and burglary. Hubbard himself was named as an unindicted co-conspirator (The Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990, p. A39).
Scientology claims that Hubbard produced "over 800 written works selling 94 million copies in 31 different languages" (L. Ron Hubbard: The Man and His Work, p. 3). Of Hubbard's Dianetics book alone, the church claims that over 16 million copies have been sold. In the late 1980s it appeared regularly in Publisher Weekly's bestseller list.
However, there is ironic truth in the statement that "Any single part of his life is a microcosm of the whole." Examining the microcosm of the issue of popularity gained through the high rate of book sales, one does gain insight into the pattern of contrived success that characterized Hubbard's whole life.
When The Los Angeles Times produced their in-depth investigative report of Scientology, they discovered how Scientology accomplished their best-seller feat. "The sales have been fueled by a radio and TV advertising blitz virtually unprecedented in book circles (June 28, 1990, p. A1). And it was discovered that Scientology employees and members were showing up at the major bookstores paying cash for "armloads" of Hubbard's books, sometimes "50 to 100 to 200 copies at a crack" (Ibid., pp. A1, 22).
Probably the most detailed and damaging revelations concerning the myths Scientology has crafted about Hubbard occurred in a court of law. Gerald Armstrong introduced devastating documents into testimony during his trial in a 1984 suit brought against him by the Church of Scientology.
Armstrong had been a devoted member of Sea Org (a branch of the Scientolgy organization). He was also a close aid to Hubbard, who had approved him as "Personal Public Relations Research Officer" for Hubbard's Biography Project (Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky, pp. 328-9, 333).
Armstrong began to collect and compile an enormous amount of extant Hubbard documents which included letters, diaries, medical records and official documents relating to Hubbard's earlier years. When Armstrong began to discover that reality had little resemblance to Hubbard's own autobiography, he left the church. Feeling threatened, he copied and/or kept the documents for his own protection.
Scientology sued Armstrong, charging him with stealing their private papers. Scientology lost the case and the evidence and documents presented in the case brought about critically revealing statements by Judge Paul Breckenridge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. He wrote, "The organization [Scientology] clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder, LRH. The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background, and achievements" (Church of Scientology v. Armstrong, No. C420153 California Supreme Court, 1984).
Armstrong demonstrated, through the documents, that contrary to Hubbard's claims, he was not educated in higher mathematics or physics, did not obtain a bachelor of science degree, was not a civil engineer, nor a nuclear physicist, was not in China at age 14, and lied about the time he did spend traveling in Asia, did not study with Lama priests, was never in India, was not crippled and blinded during the war, was not twice pronounced dead, did not cure himself with his discoveries, was not awarded 21 medals and palms, did not see combat, and that Hubbard had lied about many other things to embellish his image (Croydon and Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman?, pp. 220-2).
Fact vs. Fiction
The following is a comparison of some of Scientology's and Hubbard's claims compared with the facts.
Scientology: Soon after Hubbard was born, the family settled in Helena, Montana. He befriended the neighboring Blackfoot Indians, was eventually initiated into the tribe, and, "At the age of six he became a bloodbrother of the Blackfeet1/4" (What is Scientology?, p. 89).
Fact: There are no records to verify the possibility of Ron becoming a bloodbrother of the Blackfeet. It is highly unlikely, since their reservation was over 100 miles from his parents' home in Helena. "In the 1930s Hubbard admitted that what he knew of the Blackfeet came second hand from someone who really had been a bloodbrother" (A Piece of Blue Sky, p. 48).
Scientology: In 1923, Hubbard's family transferred to Seattle, Washington, where he joined the Boy Scouts of America. In 1924, he was honored as the youngest Eagle Scout ever, at 13 (What is Scientology?, p. 90).
Fact: The Boy Scouts have record of a Ronald Hubbard becoming an Eagle Scout on March 28, 1924 in Washington, D.C. However, there is no way to know whether he was the youngest Eagle Scout ever, because the Boy Scouts do not officially record the age of Eagle Scouts. However, a national office spokesperson estimated the average age of Eagle Scouts as 11, with some as young as 10 (Watchman telephone interview with national office of Boy Scouts of America).
Scientology: In 1927, at sixteen, Ron decided to take several voyages studying with wise men at Buddhist lamaseries in the western hills of China, and exploring the Far Eastern culture, including Beijing, Tartar tribes and nomadic bandits from Mongolia. He once wrote, "I was made a Lama priest after a year as a neophyte" (The Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990, p. A39). L. Ron Hubbard returned to the U.S. in 1929. By age nineteen, he had traveled to Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and other locations in the Orient. During these travels he concluded that, despite the wisdom of the East, there were still unanswered questions about life and how to solve the pains and sufferings in it (What is Scientology?, pp. 93-102).
Fact: L. Ron Hubbard, accompanied by his mother, took a round-trip to Guam in 1927 to visit his father who was stationed there. The ship spent a brief time in two Chinese ports, visited Hawaii, Yokohama, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. His diary entries show that he was unimpressed with the culture and the people, in fact, his comments were full of contempt. He spent six weeks on Guam (A Piece of Blue Sky, pp. 53-4). He was back in Helena, attending high school from September 6, 1927 to May 11, 1928 (Ibid., p. 55). He failed to graduate due to lack of credits.
In July 1928, Hubbard decided to return to his parents in Guam and it was during this period that he visited China with both parents. The ship docked at Tsingtao, the Hubbards traveled to Peking, Cheffoo, Shanghai, and finally Hong Kong. In Peking, young Ron did visit a Buddhist temple. The trip, in its entirety, lasted two months (Ibid., pp. 55-7). His diary said nothing about studying with wise men of the East, or any other spiritual insights. However, it did describe the Lama temples as "very odd and heathenish" (The Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990, p. A39). The diary reveals Hubbard's intolerance for other cultures and/or races in noting that China's problem was that there were too many "Chinks" (Ibid.).
Scientology: L. Ron Hubbard entered George Washington University, studying mathematics and engineering. After taking one of the first nuclear physics classes taught in the U.S., Ron began to formulate the idea of explaining human thought processes, and even life itself, in a wholly scientific manner. He approached the psychology department at George Washington University with his theories, but they were not interested in his findings. Ron left the University in search of what he called "a common denominator of existence" (What is Scientology?, pp. 102-11).
Fact: L. Ron Hubbard was a student in the School of Engineering at George Washington University from 1931 to 1932, but was placed on probation after the first year and was placed on academic probation the second. He received an "F" grade in a course on Molecular and Atomic Physics. He did not return to the University (Letter and transcript from Geo. Washington Univ. on file).
Scientology: In 1932, Ron led two expeditions, the first was the Caribbean Motion Picture Expedition and the other was the West Indies Mineralogical Expedition, in which he completed the first mineralogical survey of the island of Puerto Rico (What is Scientology?, p. 112).
Fact: The Caribbean Expedition only made it to three of the sixteen proposed destinations, and there was no filming done. As far as the West Indies Expedition was concerned, it was found that "a Bela Hubbard had make a survey of the Lares District of Puerto Rico in 1923." Furthermore, the "Puerto Rican Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey, and a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, who had prepared the Geology of Puerto Rico in 1932-1933, had no knowledge of L. Ron Hubbard" (A Piece of Blue Sky, pp. 62-3; emphasis added).
Scientology: World War II broke out and Hubbard was commissioned as a junior grade lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and served as a corvette commander (What is Scientology?, p. 119). He had seen combat in the South Pacific and Atlantic (The Church of Scientology - 40th Anniversary, p. 50). Hubbard claimed, in a tape-recorded lecture, that his eyes were injured due to a bomb exploding in his face. He was "flown home in the late spring of 1942 in the secretary of the Navy's private plane as the first U.S.-returned casualty from the Far East" (The Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990, p. A38). By 1945, he had received 29 medals and palms, including a Purple Heart, and suffered injuries to his optic nerves, hip, and back. Hubbard was admitted to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, California for treatment. It was there that he was pronounced partially blind and lame (The Church of Scientology - 40th Anniversary, p. 50; The Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990, p. A38).
Fact: Through the Freedom of Information Act, The Los Angeles Times received Hubbard's actual military, V.A., and medical records. The highest rank Hubbard ever received was Lieutenant senior grade, not Commander, which is the rank between Captain and Rear Admiral. Hubbard's service record shows that he never saw action against the enemy, and received only four awards, none for combat or wounds. He was never awarded the Purple Heart (Ibid.; also, military service records on file).
Naval records described Hubbard: "By assuming unauthorized authority and attempting to perform duties for which he has no qualification he became the source of much trouble.1/4This officer is not satisfactory for independent duty assignment. He is garrulous and tries to give impressions of his importance. He also seems to think that he has unusual ability in most lines. These characteristics indicate that he will require close supervision for satisfactory performance of any intelligence duty" (Memo from U.S. Naval Attache L.D. Causey to the Commandant, Twelfth Naval District, February 14, 1942). And more than a year later, "Consider this officer lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results.1/4Not considered qualified for command or promotion at this time. Recommend duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised" (File # 113392, "Report on the Fitness of Officers," Period from May 29, 1943 to July 7, 1943).
After claiming to have destroyed two enemy submarines, an investigation concluded it didn't happen. Later, L. Ron Hubbard, according to an investigation, disregarded orders and conducted gunnery practice in Mexican territorial waters. He was relieved of command and a letter of admonition was placed in his files. "In Hubbard's defense, Scientology officials accused others of distorting and misrepresenting his military glories. They say the Navy 'covered up' Hubbard's sinking of the submarines" (Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990; also, military service records on file).
Furthermore, the medical files show that when he was admitted to Oak Knoll he had 20/20 vision, with glasses, and there is no mention of "injured optic nerves." At the time he left the hospital his eyesight was 12/20 in the right eye and 14/20 in the left, with glasses. This coincided with Hubbard's application for a disability pension. Interestingly, his military records show Hubbard stating he "contracted conjunctivitis from exposure to excessive tropical sunlight" (Ibid.).
Scientology: It was at Oak Knoll where Ron began to theorize that the mind could effect the body's functions. He decided to test the therapeutic techniques he had developed along this vein. He tested his techniques of removing "mental blocks" in patients who were previously unresponsive to medical treatment, with great success (What is Scientology?, p. 121). He helped over 400 individuals by 1950. He fully recovered his own health by 1949, and the Naval Retiring Board that reviewed his case was in shock to find that the very same man who had suffered so many battle injuries passed his full physical examination. They were forced to designate him fit for active duty (What is Scientology?, p. 123).
Fact: In October 1947 Hubbard wrote to the Veteran's Administration asking for psychiatric treatment due to suffering from wartime service. By 1948, Hubbard was able to get a disability award of 40% for his "duodenal ulcer, infection of the eyes, bursitis of the right shoulder and arthritis of multiple joints." In an August 1951 medical examination, Hubbard complained of the same conditions listed in his disability award, and according to a letter from the Veteran's Administration, he was still receiving the 40% disability compensation in 1973. In fact, he continued to receive his 40% disability check through at least 1980 (The Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990, p. A38, and records on file).
"Hubbard's Sea Org 'Medical Officer,' Kim Douglas, testified in court that while she attended him from 1975 to 1980, he suffered from arthritis, bursitis and coronary trouble, which Dianetics was supposed to alleviate." He wore glasses, in private, the rest of his life (A Piece of Blue Sky, p. 87).
Even Hubbard's death is mythologized. The Church now claims that rather than Hubbard dying, "The fact that he 1/4 willingly discarded the body after it was no longer useful to him signifies his ultimate success: the conquest of life that he embarked upon half a century ago." Now he "was off to the next phase of his spiritual exploration" (The Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990, p. A1).
The truth is that this false messiah, described as a madman by his own son, who supposedly had achieved the ability to exert power over matter, energy, space, and time, died a physically and mentally sick man, of a stroke.
The Bible says, "1/4it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). And, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).
Hubbard today is not "charting the course" for anyone to follow. Unfortunately, the only course he ever charted for anyone in this life was a road to eternal ruin and hell. Between there and heaven "is a great gulf fixed" (Luke 16:26) which no "bridge" can cross.