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by William H. Benson

March 13, 2013

     Today is March 13, L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday, a day that Church of Scientology’s members on every continent observe. Born in 1911, Hubbard’s biography is an incredible story of erratic behavior, pathological lying, adultery, and estrangement from previous wives and children. You can read about Hubbard’s trail of deceit in a new book by Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief.

      Hubbard was a prolific writer who wrote hundreds of books, mainly pulp fiction, adventure tales, and science fiction, but then in 1950 he wrote Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, a self-help book that explores how the mind works within the body. By the process called auditing—holding cans or rods wired to an Electro-psychometer or E-meter—a person is supposed to rid his mind of negative human emotions and experience a “clear” state of happiness and fulfillment.

     In December of 1952, Hubbard opened his first Church of Scientology, transforming dianetics into a theology. Thetans, he wrote, are the souls that Xenu banished to Planet Earth where they are forced to live in a series of human bodies for millions of years. Yes. It does sound like science fiction.

     There are at least eight levels of Operating Thetans, or OT, above “clear.” Disciples of scientology pay thousands of dollars for Hubbard’s books, courses, and audio tapes in order to move up the Bridge to Total Freedom. A religious scholar, J. Gordon Melton, said that “It’s basically a variation of the Gnostic myth about souls falling into matter and the encumbrances that come with that.”

     There are three tiers of membership in the Church. The first are the public scientologists who buy the courses and work to recruit others. The second are the Hollywood celebrities: John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and Tom Cruise. The third tier is the Sea Org, the church’s equivalent of the clergy.

     Because Hubbard once belonged to the U.S. Navy, and he later traveled about the world aboard a yacht, he considered those with him on the sea as most-favored. Thus, the Sea Organization, or Sea Org. The church is well organized, and administered similar to the navy’s chain of command.

     The current COB, or chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center (RTC) at Hemet, California is David Miscavige, fifty-two years old, who seized control of the church following Hubbard’s death twenty-seven years ago in January 1986. Critics say that “Scientology is more and more whatever David Miscavige says it is.”

     The church is exceedingly wealthy. According to Lawrence Wright, it has “one billion in liquid assets,” plus hotels in Hollywood, plus the RTC in Hemet, and properties in Clearwater, Florida.

     Defections from the Sea Org are constant, and membership has declined. Lawrence Wright believes that there are at most 25,000 members today, and perhaps 5,000 Sea Org members. David Miscavige’s father recently left the church, as did David’s brother, Ron, and Ron’s daughter Jenna. Marty Rathbun and Amy Scobee, members of WDC, the Watchdog Committee, have also left, and Shelley Miscavige, David’s wife, has not been seen in public for years.

     It is not easy to leave the Sea Org. If a person “blows,” or leaves without being “routed out,” he or she is labeled an SP, a Suppressive Person, and other scientologists are forbidden to speak to SP’s, a policy that divides families and friends.

     Marty Rathbun says that Tom Cruise divorced his first two wives—Mimi Rogers and Nicole Kidman—because “both women got cold on David Miscavige.” In 2012 Katie Holmes divorced Tom Cruise and with her daughter Suri moved to New York City because she wanted out of the Church.

     To remain in the Sea Org is also difficult. There is the family disconnection policy. Husbands are sent on missions different from their wives. A woman said that she had not seen her husband in nine years. This policy leads to affairs, divorces, and re-marriages. Children in the Sea Org suffer. Jenna Miscavige said that between the ages of twelve and sixteen she saw her mother only three times.

     The pay for a Sea Org member is poor, $45 per week, according to Amy Scobee, but the work is non-stop, often around the clock, and so people are sleep-deprived. If they turn negative on the church, Miscavige and his henchmen will send them to an RPF,  Rehabilitation Project Force, where they scrub dumpsters or clean toilets with a toothbrush.

     In the 1960’s comedy “Get Smart,” Maxwell Smart belonged to CONTROL, and he and agent 99 were constantly fighting KAOS. In most institutions those in control fear that others will attack and drive them out, and chaos will rush in, and so they adopt an us-against-them attitude.

     Defectors have admitted that David Miscavige is vicious, and has verbally and physically abused his underlings, calling them “scumbags,” and slapping them in public. Chaos has overwhelmed control.


     L. Ron Hubbard created an organization similar to himself: vindictive, committed to a wild and questionable mythology, paranoid, desperate, adulterous, litigious, grasping for more money, and capable of defamation and dirty tricks—a miserable prison of belief. Today is LRH’s birthday.