The Cult of
Researched and prepared by Marc
Fisher, February 26, 2001
© Marc Fisher,
Also see: A reader complains, and
In the course of discussions with a Compuserve Religion Forum
Scientologist, the subject of the cult of Scientology has come up. It is
my contention that Scientology conforms to all the standard criteria to
qualify as a "Cult": that is, focus on a central charismatic leader
(Hubbard); brainwashing/psychological control of members and suppression
of dissent through intimidation, slander, or legal threats. Cults also
typically foster outlandish, irrational ideas (Heaven's Gate, Branch
I was challenged to provide substantial support for my contention. I
was astounded to discover that such support is VERY easy to find around
the internet from a wide variety of sources. And, furthermore, that the
evidence and testimony provided are in such immense volume as to prohibit
full quotation here due to CIS' message limitations. Therefore I offer
illuminating excerpts and some distillation of the conclusions, but also a
number of web URLs so you, the casual reader, can educate yourself on this
insidious, dangerous modern junk science cult. I apologize in advance for
the length of this, but I could not in good conscience do less. The full
extent of the case against Scientology deserves nothing less.
I will try to limit this start-off to four posts, divided roughly
into this one (Intro), one on L. Ron Hubbard himself, another on the
"Science" and phony philosophy of Scientology, and lastly on the
many legal difficulties encountered by Scientology. After that, it
is entirely up to you to make your own mind up.
I fully expect our forum Scientologist to do her usual bargaining
with the truth. I'm sure she will question the credibility of the
sources -- fair enough, but we're not just talking about a few
ex-cult members here. We're also talking about official government
documents, newspaper accounts, the opinions of scientists and
psychologists AND the court decisions themselves which have
invariably found the ideas of Scientology to be both dangerous and
wrong. And frankly, I don't really care how she chooses to debate
the validity of the evidence. There's enough of it to show beyond a
shadow of a doubt that Scientology's claims to be based on "science"
are nothing short of laughable.
Some key sources to start off with :
- Jeff Jacobsen has written possibly one of the most comprehensive
indictments of L. Ron Hubbard and his phony-baloney Scientology religion
("The Hubbard is Bare"), and even he admits that his voluminous work
does not begin to scratch the surface on this junk science theology:
"I would submit that our goal should be not just feeling
good but also learning about and learning how to live in the Real
World. There is a Real World that we all share (except, perhaps, for
lobotomized drunks). In this world, both of us will die if hit by a
bus doing about 60 mph, even if one of us thinks that by positing a
world where he survives such an encounter that he thereby will
survive. In this world, neither of us can control street lights just
by our will so they will turn green before we get to the intersection.
And in this world, Scientology takes you away from the common sense
and actuality of the Real World by taking you to a Fake World where
you sacrifice reality for a sense of belonging and well-being."
- From "Operation Clam Bake", another exceptional anti-scientology
website at http://www.xenu.net/,
"Scientology is a vicious and dangerous cult that
masquerades as a religion. Its purpose is to make money. It practices
a variety of mind-control techniques on people lured into its midst to
gain control over their money and their lives. Its aim is to take from
them every penny that they have and can ever borrow and to also
enslave them to further its wicked ends."
- Another good source for information: http://www.scientology-lies.com/
- "Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious...It is
corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on
lies and deceit" - Justice Latey, ruling in the High Court of
- "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power": http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/time-behar.html
- Testimony of supporters and critics of Scientology: http://home.snafu.de/tilman/mystory/
- "The Scandal of Scientology" by Paulette Cooper: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/cooper-scandal.txt
- From Factnet ( http://www.factnet.org/ ):
"We have just expanded the largest on-line archive in the world of
the dirty secrets of Scientology Dianetics and L Ron Hubbard, (now
about 50 megabytes). Before you believe ANY claim made by Scientology,
Dianetics ... or L Ron Hubbard carefully review these materials and
link resources. Scientology has tried everything to block your access
to them. They even tried to shut us down with a raid. These free
materials have saved the lives, careers or resorces of tens of
thousands of individuals and/or their families and friends.
("Scientology Audited"), another exceptional site which offers VERY
extensive documented references for the case against Scientology
(possibly the best that I found, though it focuses chiefly on England
- [Excerpt from the conclusion of The Anderson Report: Report of
the Board of Enquiry into Scientology, Published 1965 by the State of
Victoria, Australia ]
"If there should be detected in this Report a note of
unrelieved denunciation of scientology, it is because the evidence has
shown its theories to be fantastic and impossible, its principles
perverted and ill-founded, and its techniques debased and harmful.
Scientology is a delusional belief system, based on fiction and
fallacies and propagated by falsehood and deception. While making an
appeal to the public as a worthy system whereby ability, intelligence
and personality may be improved, it employs techniques which further
its real purpose of securing domination over and mental enslavement of
its adherents. It involves the administration by persons without any
training in medicine or psychology of quasi-psychological treatment,
which is harmful medically, morally and socially. Its founder, with
the merest smattering of knowledge in various sciences, has built upon
the scintilla of his learning a crazy and dangerous edifice. The HASI
claims to be "the world's largest mental health organization". What it
really is however, is the world's largest organization of unqualified
persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which
masquerade as mental therapy. "
Part 2: L. Ron Hubbard
Even a cursory review of Mr. Hubbard's claims concerning himself
would suggest a very egocentric, grandiose personality -- he is
worshipped by his followers as a man of genius and vision when in fact,
he was a pathological liar and a snakeoil salesman.
"The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a
pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and
achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally
reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness
and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or
hostile." Part 3: The "Science"
-California Superior Court Judge Breckenridge, speaking
of L. Ron Hubbard, in a 1984 decision.
Directly quoting from the article:
"Hubbard claimed he could ride before he could walk, and that he
was riding broncos at the age of three-and-a-half, by which time he
could also allegedly read and write.
He also claimed to have been a bloodbrother of the Blackfoot
Indians by the age of four. However, the Blackfoot Indians dismiss "
bloodbrothers" as a Hollywood fantasy, and there is no more truth in
Hubbard's other boasts. His early life was undistinguished, and one
childhood friend recalls that Hubbard was actually afraid of horses.
Hubbard asserted that his brandfather was a wealthy cattle-baron.
Factually, Lafayette Waterbury was a small town veterinarian, who ran
a series of failing businesses.
Hubbard said that his interest in the human mind was sparked by a
meeting with Commander Thompson, a U.S. Navy doctor, when he was
twelve. However, Hubbard's extensive teenage diaries-used as evidence
in a California court case-show no interest in psychological or
Hubbard told his followers that he spent five years between the
ages of fourteen and nineteen--travelling alone in China, Mongolia,
India and Tibet, and studying with holy men. He did not actually visit
Mongolia, India nor Tibet. His two visits to China were short
excursions in the company of his mother. Hubbard *CONFESSED* [emphasis
mine] the brevity of his Chinese stay in an interview with Adventure
magazine in 1935.
Hubbard was nineteen when he entered George Washington University,
where he intended to major in Civil Engineering. He failed to qualify
for the third year of the course, because his grades were too low. It
would later be claimed that Hubbard had degrees in both civil
engineering and mathematics. He graduated in neither, and his grades
in mathematics were very poor. While at University, Hubbard also
failed a short course in "molecular and atomic physics", which
prompted his ludicrous assertion that he was "one of America's first
Hubbard's eyesight had prevented his admission to the U.S. Naval
Academy, prior to his enrollment at University. In 1941, he was
accepted into the Navy Reserve after receiving a waiver for his
Many outlandish claims were made by Hubbard about his achievements
while in the U.S. Navy. For instance, he bragged that he had been the
first returned casualty from the Far east. In fact, he was shipped to
Australia in December 1941, and he sufficiently antagonised his
superiors to be returned to the U.S. after only a few months. After
his return, in March 1942, Hubbard was posted as a mail censor in New
The Scientologists have boasted that Hubbard "rose to command a
squadron". Factually, he oversaw the refitting of two small vessels in
U.S. harbours. His second such command was withdrawn after a cruise
down the west coast. During the course of this journey, Hubbard
managed to involve a number of craft in a 55-hour battle against what
he believed to be two Japanese submarines. The incident was reviewed
by Admiral Fletcher who pronounced "an analysis of all reports
convinces me that there was no submarine in the area ...The Commanding
Officers of all ships except the PC-815 (commanded by Hubbard) state
they had no evidence of a submarine and do not think a submarine was
in the area."
Hubbard completed this "shakedown cruise" by firing on a
fortunately uninhabited Mexican island. He was removed from command,
and Rear Admiral Braisted wrote in a fitness report, "Consider this
officer lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and
cooperation. He acts without forethought as to probable results ...
Not considered qualified for command or promotion at this time.
Recommend duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised."
Hubbard's "science" is another example of his bombastic grandiosity
at work. See http://xenu.phys.uit.no/lrhbare/science.html
for a detailed discussion of the gaping holes in his alleged "science":
"Despite his claims to the contrary, there is NO scientific
evidence for his theories and he has no academic background to make
such claims for his "theories".
Dianetics is a "science of mental health" as the full title of
Hubbard's 1950 book declares. The main theory of dianetics is that the
human has two minds, the Analytical mind and the Reactive mind. The
Analytical mind is a perfectly working device, and life would be
wonderful were it not for the Reactive mind lousing up the workings of
the Analytical mind. The Reactive mind stores memories of events in
our life when we were unconscious and in pain. These memories are
perfect recordings of the events, but the problem occurs because they
are not stored in the Analytical mind. These memories can be triggered
or restimulated by events in our environment that the Reactive mind
interprets as similar to one of its memories. When the Reactive mind
spots such a similarity, it attempts to take over from the Analytical
mind. This is a problem because the Reactive mind is "moronic" and
screws things up horribly and disrupts the proper activities of the
goal of dianetics is to re-file these memories, called Engrams, into
the Analytical mind, where they can be properly indexed and utilized.
The Reactive mind is an evolutionary throwback to how animals think,
and is therefore a weaker area of the mind in the human. The goal of
dianetics is to remove all Engrams from the Reactive mind and clear
them out, transferring these memories into the Analytical mind where
they can be properly utilized and processed. When the Reactive mind is
emptied, or cleared, of all Engrams, the person is declared a CLEAR,
and from then on the person is able to utilize his or her mind to the
utmost, operating on a heretofore unknown level of abilities. [end
Experiments conducted at University of California, Los Angeles in
1950, using Hubbard's "engram" theory, were a miserable failure.
"The Dianetic Research Foundation of Los Angeles cooperated with
the experimenters by providing a subject and several qualified
auditors. The subject was a 30 year old male who worked for the
foundation and was considered a good candidate for the experiment by
the foundation since he had "sonic" recall and had been audited. The
experiment was carefully laid out according to dianetic theory and was
at all times done under the cooperation and suggestions of the
"The experimenters concluded by stating that while
their test case was only one subject, they felt that the experiment
was well done and strongly suggested that the engram hypothesis was
not validated. I know of no other scientifically valid experiment
besides this one by non-dianeticists which attempted to prove
Hubbard's engram theory."
This, however, is not the end of it. While your mind may now
be running at an optimal level, your soul, known in Scientology as a
Thetan, is still troubled. Dianetics has supposedly fixed the problems
of our mind, but now the religion of Scientology must enter to cure the
problems of our soul. Every person is not just a person with a mental
problem, but is also a reincarnated spiritual being who has lived at
least millions of years. Each of us has experienced an identical
horrible event whereby other Thetans were fused on to our own Thetan,
and these interfere with the optimum activities of the main Thetan (our
own soul). Scientology processing teaches the Thetan how to rid itself
of these Body Thetans that are attached to us somewhat like leeches, and
also how to operate on a more efficient level.
"The results of applying their crackpot psychotherapy (called
"auditing") is to weaken the mind. The mind goes from a rational state
to an irrational one as the delusional contents of the subconscious
mind are brought to the surface and are assumed to be valid. It also
makes a person more susceptible to suggestion since it submerges the
critical thinking faculties of the mind into a partial subconscious
state. It results in a permanent light hypnotic trance and so from
thenceforth that person can be more easily controlled. The person
will, to a much greater extent, believe and do whatever they are told.
And of course this is used to the full in persuading them to hand over
further money and dedicating themselves further to the cult.
The results of applying their oversimplified and inapplicable
rules in life is to lose the ability to think rationally and
logically. A person loses the ability to think for themselves and so
they lose the ability to challenge incorrect ideas. This makes them
easier to control. It also isolates and alienates the person from
society so that they withdraw from normal society and into their
"Scientology" society. This further increases their susceptibility to
the influence of their group. They end up being afraid of society,
believing all society to be controlled by a group of drug companies,
psychiatrists and financiers all of whom report to more remote
masters. In other words they are in a state of mass paranoia. They
therefore avoid reading newspapers and the like since they fear it
will disturb their safe Scientology world. It is a downward spiral
The science fiction content of Scientology is revealed to them
after they have reached the state they call "Clear", meaning freed
from the aberrations of the mind. However, perhaps "brainwashed" would
be a more applicable word to describe the mental state of someone who
has survived the near entire delusional contents of their subconscious
mind brought to the surface and presented to them as "truth". On the
"advanced" levels (called OT levels) above the state of "Clear" they
encounter the story of Xenu. Xenu was supposed to have gathered up all
the overpopulation in this sector of the galaxy, brought them to Earth
and then exterminated them using hydrogen bombs. The souls of these
murdered people are then supposed to infest the body of everyone. They
are called "body thetans". On the advanced levels of Scientology a
person "audits out" these body thetans telepathically by getting them
to re-experience their being exterminated by hydrogen bombs. So people
on these levels assume all their bad thoughts and faulty memories are
due to these body thetans infesting every part of their body and
influencing them mentally. Many Scientologists go raving mad at this
point if they have not done so already."
After Dianetics was written, Volney Mattheison introduced Hubbard to
a galvanic skin response meter. Hubbard decided to use this device as a
tool to find Engrams. This device, which appeared in 1941 as a "new
fun-provoking stunt for parties," simply registers the differing
conduction of a weak electrical flow through the body which can differ
by how hard a person squeezes the cans held in each hand or how much the
person is sweating. Hubbard called this device an E-meter. In any event,
the goal was still to re-file all memories in the Reactive mind to the
(So, essentially, Hubbard took a simple parlor-trick machine which
did nothing useful and tried to use it to support his crackpot theories.
And this man tried to style himself as a visionary thinker!!)
The Case of Lisa McPherson:
On December 5, 1995, Lisa McPherson was dead on arrival at a
hospital north of Clearwater Florida. According to the coroner's
report, Lisa was underweight, severely dehydrated, and had bruises and
bug bites. Lisa had been a Scientologist from the age of 18 to her
death at age 36. On November 18, 1995, Lisa was involved in a minor
car accident. She was apparently not hurt, but she got out of her car
and took all her clothes off and seemed mentally unstable. She was
taken to a hospital where she was physically evaluated as being
unharmed, but the hospital wanted her to be psychologically cared
for.However, some Scientologists arrived and stated that Lisa did not
believe in psychiatry, and she checked out after a short evaluation
and left with the Scientologists. She went with them to the Ft.
Harrison Hotel for "rest and relaxation" according to the church, but
church logs from Lisa's stay there (or here) from November 18 to her
death December 5 show differently. Some logs are missing, and a high
ranking ex-Scientologist has written an affidavit in which he claims
that the church has in the past destroyed documents that might get the
church in trouble.
On June 12, 2000 the criminal charges were
dropped against Scientology because (so the prosecutor claims) the
medical examiner could not be counted on to confidently testify, even
though the criminal charges were abuse of a disabled person and
practicing medicine without a license.
Mary Johnston recently sued Scientology, saying she underwent a
personality change and her health suffered while she was undergoing
Scientology processing. She recently won the right to see her auditing
folder (notes kept on her from Scientology processing sessions).
Michael Pattinson is suing Scientology for several counts of fraud
and a variety of other extremely serious charges. The suit garnered
some national press (including stories in the Guide and Fab! and at
MSNBC ) because it names John Travolta, alleging that Scientology
claimed they could "cure" Pattinson's homosexuality and used Travolta as
an example of a homosexual whose orientation they had changed.
After years of investigation, the Madrid state attorney's
office has held out for a strike against Scientology. The office has
charged 18 leading members of the pseudo-church, reported the Spanish
daily newspaper, "El Pais." 30 years in prison was demanded for Heber
Jentzsch, the international President of the organization. ( http://www.rickross.com/reference/Scien100.html
) The indictment described Scientology as extremely dangerous. The
members are said to be financially exploited and subjected to
brainwashing. The twelve charges range from tax evasion to the formation
of an illegal organization. The Scientologists promise cures without
possessing the proper education or permits.
1999: Greece: Scientologists found guilty 15 Scientologists
were accused of systematically keeping files on politicians,
journalists, judges, clergymen and other Greek leading personalities.
The Scientologists were found guilty , but they were not sentenced, due
to procedural errors. (In other words, they got off on a technicality.)
In 1998, a judge ordered the Scientology organization in Athens to stop
operating, since the organization was established under false pretenses
. According to the ruling, the organization was not operating as a
non-profit, and was putting people's mental and physical health at
1995: Canada: Scientology pays the largest libel award (almost
$3 million) in Canadian history. Scientology was found guilty of
libelling Casey Hill, the prosecutor responsible for bringing
Scientology to justice for its egregious illegal acts in Canada. http://www.rickross.com/reference/Scien9.html
In 1986, former Scientologist Larry Wollersheim sued Scientology for
intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury awarded him
$35,000,000, which was reduced on appeal to $2,500,000. Scientology
refuses to pay, and now owes Larry more than twice that (with interest
accruing). The appeals court agreed that Larry had been badly hurt by
Scientology: it found that Scientology "coerced Wollersheim into
continued participation," "seized Wollersheim and held him captive," and
that "the Church's conduct was manifestly outrageous." In October 1997,
the court found that the Church of Scientology International and
Religious Technology Center are liable for the debt . http://www.rickross.com/reference/Scien24.html
Scientology vs the Internet
In one of the most well known attempts by Scientology to suppress
dissent, in 1994 the COS actually launched attempts to bring down the
alt.religion.scientology newsgroup - first by spamming the newsgroup
with COS representatives ("no less than 50 posts per day"), then by
threatening posters with legal action. (Former scientologist Arnie
Lerma was visited by COS reps, and when he refused to sign their
affidavit, he was sent a fax which threatened legal action. Lerma
turned it over to the FBI and the Washington Post).
article is well worth the read to anyone interested in the lies and
manipulation this cult has engaged in. To claim that it is a benign
religion is to fly in the face of the evidence and the experiences of
thousands of former Scientologists who are now speaking out against
Scientology and the IRS:
>>"On 1 October 1993, the Church of Scientology obtained tax
exemption from the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This
ended 26 years of what the Church itself has described as a "war"
against the IRS, in which it used extraordinary and in many cases
illegal tactics - bugging of government offices, theft of mountains of
classified files, private detectives pursuing senior government
officials, thousands of lawsuits, full-page attack adverts in US daily
newspapers, and so on.
So perhaps it is not such a great
surprise that the settlement itself came about in some very unusual
circumstances, raising questions about the actions of both the Church
of Scientology and the IRS. Neither party has been willing to provide
answers, with the IRS refusing to disclose the terms of the exemption
agreement in defiance of a court order and US taxation law. But with
the leak in December 1997 of the secret agreement, the relationship
between Scientology and the IRS is under greater scrutiny now than
This Secret Agreement provided many sweetheart deals for
- The IRS states that it will no longer have any interest in an
audio tape (known as the Zolin tape) that a court had ruled was of a
meeting by Scientology officials and attorneys to defraud the IRS.
- Grants en masse tax exemption to dozens of Scientology's
corporate structures, including Church of Spiritual Technology.
- the IRS sent a Fact Sheet to other countries concerning their
new agreement, which included a pro-Scientology pamphlet written by
- changes the status of many of the 1023 forms so that they cannot
be viewed by the public as required by IRS rules (1023 forms are any
documents the church provides the IRS in order to obtain tax
exemption. The majority of these documents are not available to the
- makes fixed costs of church courses tax deductible. This goes
against the US Supreme Court's ruling.
- any future violations of IRS rules by Scientology will be taken
out of the hands of regular auditors and now placed in the highest
officials of the IRS' duties.
- requires that both parties keep the agreement secret.
(IRS documents follow at http://www.primenet.com/~cultxpt/irs.htm)
That, in 4 overly-brief (!) posts, sums up most of the case against
the COS. We can see that their philosophy is faulty, their "religion"
dangerous, their leader a liar, their tactics those of a fascist bully,
and the thrust of legal opinion and the testimony of ex-members against
them chilling in its portent. To pretend that this CULT is anything but
a CULT is to bargain with the real truth -- it fits the criteria far
more perfectly than many examples I've seen in my 50-some years of life.
And begging the question and bargaining with terms are not going to
change that essential fact.