Saturday, 24 August 2013

On this day...

Heaven (on earth) can wait
Date: Wednesday, 24 August 1977
Publisher: Albertan (Canada)
Author: Bob McKee
Main source: link (163 KiB)

Those not-so-saintly Scientologists are in the news again.

This time, it appears, our money-making missionaries have been up to their cassocks in — of all things — spying and as a result 11 members of the pay-as-you-learn church have been indicted in Washington on charges of stealing government documents and bugging government offices.

Some of the things the reverie reverends are accused of include planting scientology "agents" in the government to find out about its investigations into the church; and of planting a bugging device in a room where IRS officials were meeting to discuss a church application for tax-exempt status.

In an equally damning accusation the Scientologists are believed responsible for sneaking into the apartment of a woman who had written unfavorable things about their leader, of writing a bomb threat on her typewriter and then of using the note as evidence in a plot to frame her.

It goes without saying that Scientologists care little for the standards established by less neurotic religious devotees, and while some critics may bemoan the FBI's gangbusting-type tactics when they raided the Scientologists at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. July, 1977, there can be no disputing the argument that these irreverend revelations raise questions not only about certain practices performed in the name of Scientology, but of the new religions and their fads.

As every sinner knows there's nothing wrong with religion itself, orthodox or otherwise. If someone wants to believe in a 20th century savior, far be it from me to deny him or her that grace. But surely the tax-free buck has to stop somewhere.

Unfortunately, present-day legislation makes it easy for cranks and con-men to persuade wide-eyed followers that heaven, nirvana or whatever goal they are in search of, lies along a path neatly laid out by them. And you can bet your sweet bibles that many of our modern-day messiahs will blissfully milk their believers dry all along the path of righteousness. Tax free, of course.

Okay, so what else is new? Religion has always been a money-maker, Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard said as much himself when peddling science fiction novels before he found faith and fortune.

But the shame of religion today is that far too many of these fringe churches are all to ready to elect their bishops at the drop of a cheque. Nobody can convince me that being faithful means putting money where your heart should be.

Let's face it. We've got ourselves into a sorry state of affairs when we permit kooks the privilege of forming their own break-away faiths complete with tax-exempt status. And before someone starts attempting to ram freedom of religion down my throat, let me add that I am not against dissenters. There have been dissenters in every church that ever existed, and rightly so.

What I'm against is the ease with which many of these mind-bending cults, sects, or whatever, are allowed not only to operate but to flourish, particularly those whose business is conducted behind closed doors.

In war we demand the right to protect ourselves and our families, yet, when it comes to religion, we are told to let the young and easily influenced follow their own paths. I'll be damned if I'll ever let an offspring of mine stand on street corners peddling trinkets in everlasting, enlightened bliss.

For heaven's sake, how can parents be expected to stand idly by and watch their children waddle in poverty while making wealth for their gods.

Surely, it's time we examined this over-protective belief that freedom of religion is paramount to all else. If Scientology is as profound an applied religious philosophy as its believers make it out to be, why do they launch so many law suits against its dissenters? Or, as recent revelations show, why are they so notoriously zealous in their attempts to silence their critics?

Many people believe, as it appears do some governments, that Scientologists, like the Moonies and their ilk, are involved in tax-free money-making rackets. Investigations have shown that millions of dollars are being raked in by cult groups.

The question, of course, is how can we distinguish between genuine faith, crackpot or otherwise, and the rackets? At present we can't.

God knows why anyone would want to pay the price demanded by some of the new-found faiths. The going rate for Scientology courses is now I believe, somewhere in the region of $130 an hour. It takes a lot of bucks to reach heaven. The moonies, Hare Krishnas and other take bodies as well as souls.

If we are to be as tolerant of their religions as they are of ours then they'll have to put up with questions and criticisms. And if that drives them to a point of paranoia then it's too bad. I'll thank the Lord for the day we stop the gullible from giving these pious pitchmen their money.

Sect repaying disgruntled members
Date: Friday, 24 August 1984
Publisher: Clearwater Sun (Florida)
Author: George-Wayne Shelor
Main source: link (107 KiB)

The Church of Scientology has begun reimbursement of money to a number of current and former members who claimed refunds were owed them for services not delivered when they took courses in Clearwater, a California attorney said Thursday.

California attorney David Jordan, himself a former Scientologist, said about $160,000 has been repaid 14 of his clients in recent months, and another 19 persons with claims totaling about $240,000 should be paid within 30 days.

Jordan also represents another 237 current and former Scientologists who are demanding repayment of money given to the sect, which they expect to have returned.

But a 73-year-old Englishwoman traveled to Clearwater from New York this week in an attempt to get reimbursed $11,000 she claims is owed her for services not provided.

Violet Heckman, a Scientologist from East Grinstead, England, who is not represented by Jordan, came to the Clearwater Sun Tuesday to seek help, claiming she has spent four years trying to get her money back from the sect.

Mrs. Heckman said she had paid—in advance—$15,000 for accelerated courses known as the "OT Courses," but she subsequently became disenchanted with the courses and never finished them.

She also said that when she sought reimbursement, a sect official in Tampa wrote her stating: "I hope you realize the consequences of your actions."

Mrs. Heckman, who began taking Scientology courses in the early 1970s, also had letters from Scientologists in Clearwater and bank statements detailing the transfer of several thousand dollars from her English bank account to a European bank account, which is "payable to Religious Research Foundation Account."

Former high-ranking Scientologists who are knowledgable of the Liberian-chartered corporation, have told the Sun that RRF is "nothing more than a shell corporation set up to funnel money to (Scientology founder) L. Ron Hubbard."

RRF was mentioned in a Sept. 29, 1980, "strategy meeting" of the sect's Mission Corporation Category Sort-Out, in which a member of the sect's Legal Bureau called the operation to divert money to Hubbard "a classic case of inurement, if not fraud."

The Sun has learned that the Criminal Investigations Division of the IRS is investigating the sect's financial structure, including RRF.

Mrs. Heckman said she tried in vain to gain repayment of her money through the mail and being unsuccessful in that, decided to come to Clearwater to seek her money "in person."

"When I told them I was going to talk to the police, they said, 'If you do that you'll never get your money back,' " she told a reporter.

Richard Haworth, the sect's spokesman in Clearwater, said he doubted anyone in his organization would have said such a thing to Mrs. Heckman, but acknowledged he has not spoken with her.

He said the sect has had a standard policy for 20 years regarding refunds: "If somebody wants a refund—no argument," but noted the process may be a lengthy one.

Jordan said the sect's decision to make the reimbursements is "a combination of things." He said Clearwater's controversial charitable solicitation ordinance, presently being appealed in federal court, may be one reason.

"And we feel that the lawsuits were also a factor—a bigger factor," he said. "Actually it's hard to tell what prompted (the repayments). They have been paying—a little bit—all along."

Sun staff writer Howard French contributed to this report.

Letters // Ignoring achievements of L. Ron Hubbard
Date: Wednesday, 24 August 1988
Publisher: Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Virginia)
Main source: link (64 KiB)

To the Editor:

Modern journalism seems to have developed a nearly terminal case of "tunnel vision" — only believing things that are "controversial," "horrifying," "absurd" or "sexy." Things which conflict with this journalistic "formula" are either ignored or ridiculed.

Such is the sad fate of staff writer Patrick Lackey's June 26 review of a book ostensibly concerning the late American author and founder of the Scientology religion, L. Ron Hubbard (Bare-Faced Messiah, by Russell Miller). The book itself also suffered this fate. It was written by a tabloid journalist who declined to review large amounts of available documentation and research offered to him, and whose "research" was based on the word of a few disgruntled individuals, all outwardly and self-avowed critics of Mr. Hubbard and the Church of Scientology.

A (short) listing of some of the contributions and achievements of Mr. Hubbard follow:

* Mr. Hubbard's ground-breaking work on the problems of drugs, drug abuse and methods of drug rehabilitation have led to more than 100,000 individuals freed from the harmful effects of drugs. Mr. Hubbard's research and writings on drugs also led to the formation of a network of centers called Narconon, which use his methods exclusively.

* Mr. Hubbard's first major work on the mind (Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health), published in 1950, resulted in instantaneous and overwhelming response. It has remained a phenomenal best seller for 38 years with more than 10.5 million copies sold.

* As a result of his research into the human mind, Mr. Hubbard encountered the undeniable existence of the human soul. His research and discoveries into the nature of man as a spiritual being had unquestionably entered the realm of religion. A group of Mr. Hubbard's friends and associates formed the first Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C., in 1954. The Church of Scientology has rapidly expanded to hundreds of churches and missions, and millions of members internationally.

* Mr. Hubbard's prolific career as an author is a record that speaks for itself. His fiction works alone have sold more than 23 million copies. His magnum opus fiction work, Mission Earth, published in 10 volumes, has appeared regularly on The New York Times and other best-seller lists over the past 2½ years.

Mr. Hubbard also spoke out strongly and loudly against abuses of basic human dignities and violations of the right of men to live and work free. He was therefore not popular with psychiatrists who employ the barbaric and brutal "treatments" of slicing and cutting hu-man brains, drugging children and electric shocking our elderly, to name a few.

None of the above fits today's journalistic "mold": None of it made either Mr. Lackey's piece or the book he reviewed.

Department of Public Affairs
Church of Scientology
Boston, Mass.

The above letter is a reply to this piece written by Patrick Lackey on the 26th June.

Hubbard: A writer who founded a religion
Date: Sunday, 26 June 1988
Publisher: Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Virginia)
Author: Patrick K. Lackey
Main source: link (141 KiB)

You've probably seen television commercials for the book "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health," by L. Ron Hubbard. They show a volcano erupting.

Ten million copies of the book have been sold since a large portion of it appeared in the April 1950 issue of the pulp publication "Astounding Science Fiction." It remains on the best-seller lists even today. Yuppies are said to love it.

Hubbard, who died in 1986 at age 74, was already one of the best-selling science fiction writers of all time when he wrote "Dianetics." He subsequently founded the religion "Scientology," which apparently prospers to this day, despite numerous lawsuits against it, some successful.

Late in his life, Hubbard led a three-ship convoy of his followers for 10 years, as several countries barred them as undesirable. They sailed hither and yon, supposedly looking for treasures he had buried in previous lives. He was waited on by prepubescent, girls who relayed his orders to lesser crew members.

British journalist Russell Miller has written a biography of Hubbard titled "Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard."

"Bare-Faced Messiah" obviously is a play on "bare-faced liar." And the book is an expose that makes only feeble attempts to understand Hubbard and his followers. It's always worth remembering that any religion seems cockamamie to non-believers. In fact, a religion isn't a religion unless it's farfetched. Religious belief requires a leap of faith.

This book, though shallow, is a good read, mainly because Hubbard was so bizarre, both in real life and in the life he made up for himself and swore was true.

Hubbard lied constantly to promote himself, says Miller. He claimed his grandfather owned half of Montana. Actually, his father was a small-time veterinarian.

As a young penny-a-word writer for the pulps, Hubbard traded yarns with other writers over beers, except he claimed his stories were true. Once a fellow writer named Frank Gruber told Hubbard, "Ron, you're 84, aren't you?" Gruber had added up the years Hubbard had claimed to have done different things.

Miller was greatly helped in writing his book by the discovery of boxes full of Hubbard's early journals. For example, Hubbard exagerated war-related injuries and ailments in an attempt to increase his veterans' disability payments. He wrote in his journal, "When you tell people you are ill, it has no effect upon your health. And in Veterans Administration examinations you'll tell them how sick you are; you'll look sick when you take it; you'll return to health one hour after the examination and laugh at them."

One of his claims as a Scientologist is that he healed himself from horrible war-related afflictions.

No claim was too bizarre for him to make it.

He wrote once that he learned "Igoroti, an Eastern primitive language, in a single night."

In a May 1963 bulletin, Hubbard wrote that he had twice visited heaven, 43 trillion and 42 trillion years earlier. The first time the place was nice, he said, but the second time it was deserted and shabby.

And thousands if not millions of people believe him. Scientology claims 6 million members.

Hubbard indisputably was one of the better pulp science fiction writers. One of his early fans was Isaac Asimov. Several of the best-selling science fiction books of all time were by Hubbard. He wrote "Battlefield Earth" and "An Alien Affair." In his heydey, he churned out several novels a year.

Poorly educated, he was as bad at science as he was good at writing, though he claimed to base his scientific assertions on painstaking research. In "Dianetics," he presented pure malarkey with the absolute assurance and sincerity of the insane.

"The ability of the fetus to repair damage is phenomenal," Hubbard wrote. "Brain damage can ordinarily be repaired perfectly regardless of how many foreign substances were introduced into it." That is 180 degrees wrong.

He wrote that abortion attempts seldom succeed. What?

A main contention of the "science" of Dianetics is that fetuses record images called engrams, many of them frightening. According to the book "Dianetics," "a large proportion of allegedly feebleminded children are actually attempted-abortion cases whose engrams place them in fear paralysis or regressive palsy and which command them not to grow but to be where they are forever."

Needless to say, the new biography has not been well-received by Scientologists. When I asked Scientologists in California what they thought of the book, they mailed me an inch-high pile of documents that they said refuted it.

They did seem to catch the author in a couple of errors: Hubbard did, in fact, have a Purple Heart; and a person the author said didn't exist apparently did. But basically the book withstands the Scientologists' attack.

Miller wrote that Hubbard once said the way to make big bucks was to form a religion. The Scientologists say Hubbard never said that. They mailed me proof that George Orwell wrote that. But the fact that George Orwell wrote something does not constitute proof that Hubbard never said it.

Miller says Hubbard told incredible lies about his naval service in World War II. Scientologists say Hubbard didn't lie. His stories are not supported by government documents, they say, because Hubbard served in intelligence. The official records of intelligence officers typically are changed to keep secrets, the Scientologist explain.

Scientologists say Hubbard was a brilliant explorer, philosopher, drug rehabilitator, musician, educator, administrator, artist, humanitarian and fiction writer. To this non-believer, they are one-ninth right. Miller wouldn't give Hubbard that much credit.

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