Scientology: A History of Terror and Abuse

Craig Branch  

Comments from the May 6, 1991 cover story of Time magazine, "The Cult of Greed," described Scientology as "a hugely profitable, global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a 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. 32-33).

In the same Time piece, Vicki Aznaran, formerly "one of Scientology's six key leaders," is quoted saying "This is a criminal organization day in and day out" (p. 33). Time magazine was unsuccessfully sued by Scientology over this quite revealing story. The judge, after extensive review and many pleadings, threw out their case against Time. 

As noted above, Scientology has been called a terroristic, criminal cult. Much evidence exists to demonstrate the validity of these charges made against Scientology. There are "immutable," internal, policy letters or "scriptures" of Scientology. There are numerous civil and criminal convictions of the Church itself and various leaders and members, in the United States and other nations. All the above combine with testimonials of many people abused by Scientology, to establish a history of institutionalized harassment and suppression of its critics. These charges are best summarized by two men who incurred the wrath of Scientology after daring to expose it. 

One of its critics was senior editor for Reader's Digest, Eugene Methvin. After researching and publishing two articles in his magazine highly critical of Scientology and detailing the harassment which followed, he wrote, "Scientology is far more than a mere religion. An analysis of sworn testimony and the findings of official tribunals in 12 nations, plus independent investigation, reveals it to be a multinational racket masquerading as a religion" (The Santa Rosa News Herald, June 22, 1982, p. 1). 

Boston attorney Michael Flynn and six other colleagues wrote, "There is substantial, perhaps overwhelming evidence to support the conclusion that, despite Scientology's attempted religious front, it is in reality a criminal, fraud-ridden, commercial, profit-motivated enterprise engaged in the practice of psychotherapy with a military structure and operational methods designed to accumulate money, information, and power" (Ibid.). 

Scientology typically responds that it is being persecuted by bigots, that critics are themselves criminals and have some insidious ulterior motives. Indeed there has been sustained turbulence surrounding Scientology, but it is largely self-induced, perpetuated, and driven by the policies and practices of Scientology itself.

Apart from Scientology's counter-tactics of fear, propaganda campaigns, and cover-ups, one obstacle to reaching Scientologists with the truth is that their organization is tightly compartmentalized. It can be a long and expensive process before members are exposed to all of the policies and mind control techniques of Scientology. Thus, individual Scientologists are at different levels of indoctrination and understanding of the totalitarian nature of Scientology. 

By the time Gitta (true name withheld by request), a former Scientologist in Germany and mother of three, understood the true nature of Scientology, she had lost her husband and over $315,000 to the organization. She states that she joined Scientology believing that "it was a warm-hearted organization, out to save the world and its economy, that it wanted to build a world without criminality and drugs" (Chicago Tribune, February 10, 1997 p. 19). Now she believes much differently. 

Three current events help to illustrate the concern over the beliefs and practices of Scientology:

The death of 36 year old Lisa McPherson while in the "care" of fellow Scientologists at the Clearwater headquarters has led to an ongoing investigation by Clearwater police and has been the focus of numerous stories in the Tampa Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, The New York Times, local media, NBC Nightly News, and episodes on Inside Edition.

There is a history of conflict between Scientology and the governments of several European countries. Europe is more conservative than America concerning its understanding of freedom of religion. Governments and courts are more willing to scrutinize and restrict groups that identify themselves as religions, yet have a history of abuse or subterfuge. In Germany, which is understandably sensitive to totalitarian, anti-democratic organizations and movements because of its recent past (Nazism and communist East Germany), Scientology is viewed by many as an actual, and potentially serious, threat to the state. 

Ursula Caberta, head of the government's task force investigating Scientology "cites many of the usual complaints heard practically anywhere they [Scientology] have established their church" (Los Angeles Times, February 6, 1997, p. A6). The complaints involve "brainwashing members into thinking it was 'ethical' to commit tax evasion, fraud and other crimes" and manipulating people into giving up huge sums of money for personal growth seminars (Ibid.). 

German officials also cite the many civil and criminal convictions of Scientology and Scientologists around the world and Scientology's written policies or "Scriptures" which institutionalize these abuses.

One such document is Hubbard's HCO Policy Letter of August 15, 1960, titled "Department of Government Affairs." The policy states "The object of the Department is to broaden the impact of Scientology upon governments and other organizations and is to conduct itself so as to make the name and reputation of Scientology better and more forceful. Therefore, defensive tactics are frowned upon..only attacks resolve threats." 

Hubbard continued, "In the face of danger from governments or courts there are only two errors one can make: (a) do nothing and (b) defend." The policy directs Scientologists to "Make enough threat or clamor to cause the enemy to quail..Make every attack by us also sell If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organizations, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace..Always attack" (p. 484, emphasis added). 

The policy includes a totalitarian statement that should cause any government concern: "The goal of the Department is to bring the government and hostile philosophies or societies into a state of complete compliance with the goals of Scientology. This is done by high level ability to overwhelm. Introvert such agencies. Control such agencies. Scientology is the only game on earth where everybody wins" (Ibid.; emphasis added).

A chain of events resulted in the German government's decision "to put the Church of Scientology under nationwide surveillance by counterintelligence agents because it contends that the church is a threat to democracy" (AP report, June 6, 1997). Monitoring by "federal and state anti-extremist watchdogs" is justified, said Women and Family Affairs Minister Claudia Nolte, because "our citizens must be protected against the unscrupulous profiteering of Scientology" (Reuters report, June 6, 1997). 

A key link in the chain of events was a German Supreme Federal Labor Court decision stating that Scientology's "claim to be a religious community was 'only a pretext for pursuing business interests' is insufficient for a group to proclaim itself a religious community. The spiritual content and appearance of the community should reflect its religious nature..With the Church of Scientology, this is not the case. In reality it is engaged in trade..heavily commercialized" (AP report, March 22, 1995). 

Scientology lost at least three more court decisions dealing with engaging public advertising and personality test distribution in Hannover and Dusseldorf (The Stars and Stripes, November 16, 1995; Chicago Tribune, January 24, 1996, Section 1). A German court also ruled that the political parties were within their rights to exclude Scientologists from party membership (Reuters report, July 9, 1997).

True to their "always attack" policy, Scientology began to retaliate. They took out large full page ads in major U.S. and international newspapers. The ads accused the German government of returning to its Nazi past, paralleling the Nazi treatment of Jews with the current persecution of Scientology. 

Scientology celebrities John Travolta and Tom Cruise, and others, were used to send a highly publicized celebrity letter from the U.S. entertainment industry to the German government with the same sort of charges. The letter included the names of Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn, Oliver Stone, Larry King, Gore Vidal, and 29 others (Washington Post, January 14, 1997, A11). 

Scientology also used its entertainment celebrities and others to move the U.S. State Department to pressure the German government in its annual Human Rights Report. Scientology even filed a suit with the European Commission of Human Rights claiming persecution and discrimination. Most recently, Scientologists were in the news again after they organized a public demonstration against German government policies, which drew an estimated 3,000 Scientologists, who marched in Bonn. (Akron Beacon Journal, October 28, 1997).

Most of their efforts have backfired. The European Commission on Human Rights threw out the discrimination case. Their comparisons of the treatment of Scientologists with the Jewish holocaust drew angry and loud protests from Jews in the U.S. and Germany. 

While Secretary of State Madeline Albright and the State Department rightly did issue a mild rebuke to the German government for its actions against some individual members of Scientology, they also issued a strong denunciation of Scientology's ads, calling them "historically inaccurate and totally distasteful" (AP report, February 17, 1997).

While Scientologists seek to find refuge and support among Americans by contrasting the more liberal U.S. freedom of religion views with those of Germany and Europe, Americans should be aware that their own government also did not grant tax-exempt religious status to the Church of Scientology for 26 years, from 1967 to 1993. 

The sudden and secret 1993 capitulation to Scientology by the IRS provoked bewildered suspicion for many, especially in view of the history of litigation between the two parties. After a legal challenge by Scientology, a 1984 U.S. tax court decision upheld the IRS. The court found that Scientology's continued operation was "for a substantial commercial purpose," and it was "founded for the primary purpose of gaining tax-exempt status to serve the financial goals of other, non-exempt entities." It thus ruled that the Church of Scientology was not to be allowed tax exemption (Wall Street Journal, March 25, 1997, A18; Case No. 581-88T Church of Spiritual Technology vs. The United States). 

The decision was upheld by the U.S. Appeals Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider it only one year before the IRS reversal. The U.S. Supreme Court had also found for the IRS in 1989 in another suit where a Scientologist wanted to be able to deduct charges for his Scientology counseling (auditing) (Wall Street Journal, March 25, 1997, A18). The tax court utilized the records captured during an FBI raid on Scientology headquarters in 1977. Those records demonstrated that the church had for the previous eight years "perpetrated a conspiracy involving 'manufacturing and falsifying records to present to the IRS, burglarizing IRS offices and stealing government documents, and subverting Government processes for unlawful purposes'" (Wall Street Journal, March 25, 1997, A18). 

In the same raid, the FBI procured much documentation which revealed the covert, criminal, and terroristic nature of Scientology, particularly in the operations of its Guardian Office, now renamed the Office of Special Affairs. This was a special arm of Scientology, which carried out Hubbard's watchdog and preservation policies. It was directed by none other than Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue.  
The raid uncovered numerous plots and covert activities designed to intimidate and silence, by one means or another, any opposition to the advance of Scientology. 

Scientology had planted spies in the IRS and the Justice Department. They had planted bugging devices and stolen many confidential documents and plans. Other evidence was discovered detailing countless smear campaigns and operations against church "enemies" (Los Angeles Times, June 24, 1990, p. A39). 

In court cases stemming from the 1977 FBI raid, eleven of the church's leaders, including Mary Sue Hubbard, were convicted of conspiracy and burglary and received 5 years in prison (Ibid.).

Scientology now claims that the Guardian Office was a renegade group within Scientology, people who were acting on their own against standard policy. The continued history of litigation and many testimonials of former members indicate otherwise. This defense is especially laughable when one considers that Hubbard's written policies, as well as a secret program code named "Snow White," actually instruct Scientology members to use just such tactics as the Guardian Office had employed, in order to make Scientology win. 

The 1993 IRS decision to grant Scientology tax exempt status in spite of all this evidence of criminal activity by the church remains a mystery - a mystery deepened by its decision to seal the negotiation and any record of the agreement. The IRS cited taxpayer privacy laws as justification for the sealing. 

But Tax Analysts, a taxpayer lobby, notes that the privacy laws pertain only to individuals under Section 6103, not to tax-exempt organizations, Section 6104, which provides public disclosure. 

Tax Analysts filed a lawsuit to force disclosure and won the first round. The court has ordered the documents released to the court to review and determine their status. A year and a half later, however, Judge Thomas Hogan has yet to release or rule on the status of those documents. 

Through the legal discovery process, Tax Analysts have surfaced some amazing information. This information should cause the legislature to demand a special review of the IRS reversal.

The New York Times investigated and printed a long front page exposé of the details leading up to the IRS surrender. Some of the specifics are as follows: 

Consistent with its official policy of intimidation, Scientology had over 100 costly lawsuits in progress against the IRS. Supposedly most of these were actions by individuals, but they were all dropped after the IRS/Scientology agreement.  
Also consistent with Scientology policy and tactics, "Scientology's lawyers hired private investigators to dig into the private lives of IRS officials and to conduct surveillance operations to uncover potential vulnerabilities." 

Scientology took out many large ads in USA Today and distributed thousands of its own magazine,Freedom, ruthlessly attacking the IRS, comparing it with the KGB and Nazism. 

Then, according to Scientology leader David Miscavage, he and fellow Scientologist Marty Rathburn, just dropped in at the IRS headquarters, with no appointment, and were allowed to see the head of the IRS, Commissioner Fred Goldberg. After that meeting "Mr. Goldberg created a special committee to negotiate a settlement with Scientology outside normal agency procedures" (March 9, 1997, pp. 1, 20). 

Later, Miscavage, addressing 10,000 cheering Scientologists at their victory celebration in Los Angeles, bragged about their incursion into the IRS and smugly recalled that while he and Rathburn were taking a break from a Washington court, they set out to "create a little mischief" with the IRS. 

Miscavage said that he told the IRS building security that he didn't have an appointment but if Goldberg was informed they were from the Church of Scientology, then, "I'm sure he'd love to see us. Apparently I was right. We did see the commissioner and the rest is history" (video tape on file). 

Scientology is now trying to deny this account of the impromptu meeting (New York Times, March 19, 1997).

Also, uncovered in the Tax Analyst case was information that many unexplained irregularities took place in the IRS/Scientology negotiations. Goldberg's appointed negotiation committee bypassed the agency's normal exempt organizations division. 

According to Tax Analysts, the tax law specialists who were to review Scientology's new application for tax exemption were instructed by the negotiations committee they "were not to evaluate the Scientology applications for issues of inurement or 'any other substantive issues,' including issues of private benefit and commerciality." The processing was "strictly procedural, not substantive" (Tax Notes, June 26, 1995, p. 1699). 

In other words they were to verify only that the correct forms were all completed properly. They were not to evaluate whether the information submitted on the forms actually qualified Scientology to tax exemption as a religious organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It appears that decision had already been made by the negotiating committee before the final forms were ever submitted (Ibid., p. 1702).

So many questions need answering. How can the IRS grant privacy to the Church of Scientology when it required both the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and Jerry Falwell's Old Time Gospel Hour to disclose the financial details of their tax settlements? 

German governmental policy on Scientology is based largely on court decisions that found Scientology to be a business rather than a religion. For twenty-five years a U.S. government agency, the IRS, likewise viewed Scientology as a business and not a church. Its refusal to grant Scientology tax-exempt status as a church was upheld by U.S. courts at all levels, the Supreme Court refusing even to hear their appeal. It would be bitter irony then, for Germans, if the U.S. were to yield to Scientology pressure to condemn Germany. This is especially true given the dubious manner in which the IRS position was reversed.

Many of the scandals, investigations and convictions that have plagued Scientology have resulted from actions taken under the authority of Hubbard's personal directives contained in HCO Policy Letters. These are regarded as "scripture" by Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard, Founder of Dianetics and Scientology, p.1). They were given to direct Scientology policy, and were not to be changed or abrogated except by Hubbard himself (SCN Policy Directive 19,.July 7, 1982). 

In addition to the "Department of Government Affairs" policy described earlier, Scientology has a policy defining an enemy or critic of the church as a "Suppressive Person" or "SP." Hubbard wrote, "A Suppressive Person or Group is one that actively seeks to suppress or damage Scientology or a Scientologist by Suppressive Acts..A Suppressive Person or Group becomes 'fair game'" (HCO Policy Letter, December 23, 1965). 

As noted earlier, Scientology's official position on documented abuse of its perceived enemies is that the abuse was carried on by individual Scientologists acting without authorization. This is pure subterfuge. Scientology's official policies regarding so-called "Suppressive" Acts, Persons (SPs), and Organizations, and its "fair game" policy authorize the abuses of which Scientologists have been convicted. According to the "fair game" policy, anyone so regarded "May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, lied to or destroyed" (HCO Policy Letter, October 18, 1967).

When this "fair game" policy became public it caused, and is causing, many problems for Scientology. Scientology attempts to deny its continuation by claiming Hubbard canceled this order one year later. But HCO Policy Letter of October 21, 1968, only says that "the practice of declaring people fair game will cease..It causes bad public relations" (emphasis added). It specifically "does not cancel any policy on the treatment or handling of an SP." 

Obviously the concern of this so-called cancellation was not about abuses committed, but over public image. And it only means that formal declarations naming people as "fair game" will cease. However, one may still be condemned as a Suppressive Person. And as all Suppressive Persons are, ipso facto, fair game, no formal statement of their being fair game is needed. A number of subsequent court cases and other documents in Watchman's possession indicate this terroristic policy continues. 

In the HCO Bulletin of August 27, 1987, Scientology reprinted an earlier Hubbard article which dealt with "Critics of Scientology." In typical totalistic language Hubbard wrote, "We do more good in any ten minutes..than the combined efforts of all social ministries on Earth to better mankind..It is totally hopeless and fatal not to be a Scientologist." 

The policy continues, "We do not find critics of Scientology who do not have criminal pasts. Over and over we prove this.. Never discuss Scientology with a critic. Just discuss his or her crimes.." 

In a similar policy, "Attacks on Scientology," Hubbard wrote, "Never agree to an investigation of Scientology. Only agree to an investigation of the attackers..Start feeding lurid, blood, sex, crime, actual evidence on the attacker to the press..make it rough, rough, on attackers all the way" (HCO Policy Letter, February 25, 1966). The Washington Post printed a story, "Scientology Fiction: The Church's War Against It's Critics - and Truth." In it they quoted several other Scientology governing policy directives such as "Harass these persons in any possible way..They are declared enemies of mankind, the planet and all life. They are fair game [according to a 1968 "Ethics Order" on SPs]..Never treat a war like a skirmish. Treat all skirmishes like wars" (December 25, 1994, C1, 4). 

Destructive mind-control groups vary in the scope and intensity of their attempts to control. Scientology is totalistic and goes "all out." In every bound Scientology technical bulletin volume is found printed the order "Keeping Scientology Working." It exhorts the Scientologist to be totally sold out to the cause, to "win or die in the attempt.. only the tigers survive.. It's a tough universe..We'd rather have you dead than incapable." 

In this same order Hubbard presses, "The whole agonized future of this planet, every man, woman and child on it, and your own destiny for the next endless trillions of years depend on what you do here and now in Scientology. This is a deadly serious activity." 

This type of fanaticism produces an "end justifies the means" mindset. It feeds a "we versus you" and a "dispensing of existence" mentality which are key components in the classic mind-control model of cult indoctrination.

Consider some of Hubbard's requirements in the "Code of Honor" for Scientologists: Never withdraw an allegiance once granted; Never fear to hurt another in a just cause" (The Creator of Human Ability: A Handbook for Scientologists, pp. 4, 5). 

Hubbard even wrote a training routine that, in typical cult fashion, justified lying to those who would impede Scientology. He called lying, "to outflow negative data effectively" (Intelligence Specialist Training Routine - TR L). 

Scientology denigrates non-Scientologists as "WOGS" or "raw meat." In fact, describing many non-Scientologists, Hubbard writes ".any person from 2.0 down on the tone scale should not have, in any thinking society, any civil rights of any kind" (Science of Survival, part 1, p. 131). 

The "tone scale" is Hubbard's rating or classification of emotions. Hubbard assigned level 2.0 to "antagonism." Emotions rated still lower include, but are not limited to, Pain (1.8), Anxiety (1.02), Sympathy (0.9), Propitiation (0.8), Grief (0.5), Making Amends (0.375) (What Is Scientology, p. 150). Hubbard, who Scientologists repeatedly assure us was "mankind's greatest friend," (e.g., L. Ron Hubbard, A Profile, p. 100) would deny "any civil rights of any kind" to persons experiencing the emotions named above. Watchman Fellowship has experienced some of Scientology's harassing tactics, but we will not be deterred from exercising our freedom of speech and religious practice. Scripture requires us to expose the "unfruitful works of darkness" (Ephesians 5:11-13). 

Scientology continues to add to its legacy of abuse through the implementation of its policies.

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