A Google search for Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, founder of Scientology and creator of that movement's core philosophy, Dianetics, yields no less than 2,840,000 results, all offering information - some positive, some negative.
Scientology's official Web site, scientology.org, claims Hubbard "has described his philosophy in more than 5,000 writings, including dozens of books, and in 3,000 tape-recorded lectures."
In fact, the church even founded two publishing companies - Bridge Publications in the US and New Era Publications for the rest of the world - to keep Hubbard's words about Scientology in print.
"New volumes of his transcribed lectures continue to be produced; that series alone will ultimately total a projected 110 large volumes. Hubbard also wrote a number of works of fiction between the 1930s and 1980s, which are published by the Scientology-owned Galaxy Press. All three of these publishing companies are subordinate to Author Services Inc., another Scientology corporation," states on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia.
While Hubbard's literary career is pretty easy to follow, details of his private life are far more hazy, with conflicting schools of thought.
The Church of Scientology's official doctrine says that Hubbard was born on March 13, 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska to Harry Ross Hubbard and Ledora May Hubbard. According to the information, it was Hubbard's friendship with the Blackfeet Indians while growing up in Montana, his study of Freudian theory with US Navy Cmdr. Joseph C. Thompson, his journeys to Asia and his years as a student at George Washington University that all contributed to his development of Scientology.
Until his death in 1986, the official Scientology Web site claims that Hubbard achieved great scientific and spiritual accomplishments. He is described as a "writer and professional in dozens of fields," including being a humanitarian, an adventurer/explorer, a master mariner and even a horticulturist. He is also said to have dedicated his life to helping others: "He saw that this world had to change drastically, and he created a workable technology so that needed changes could occur."
While the story seems straightforward, many of Scientology's critics offer a conflicting tale, preferring to highlight Hubbard's weaknesses as a man and focusing on his work in black magic, exaggerated science fiction tales and drug abuse.
In the introduction to his book The Barefaced Messiah, Russell Miller writes: "For more than 40 years, the Church of Scientology has vigorously promoted an image of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, as a romantic adventurer and philosopher whose early life fortuitously prepared him, in the manner of Jesus Christ, for his declared mission to save the world. The glorification of 'Ron,' superman and savior, required a cavalier disregard for facts: Thus it is that every biography of Hubbard published by the church is interwoven with lies, half-truths and ludicrous embellishments. The wondrous irony of this deception is that the true story of L. Ron Hubbard is much more bizarre, much more improbable, than any of the lies."
At the Tel Aviv Scientology Center on Rehov Soncino, Hubbard's name (pronounced with a strong Israeli accent on the "r") and face is everywhere. His books fill library shelves, posters of him hang on the walls and even a bronzed bust of the man greets everyone who arrives at the building.
"Hubbard wanted to give people the tools to improve their lives," claims Gil Klopstock, the organization's chaplain.
He maintains that the various processes developed by Hubbard have helped many people improve their lives. Auditing, he continues, helps a person examine himself and listen well to other people, a definite technique for improving one's life.
Klopstock also says that Hubbard's philosophy against drugs and psychology serves to make individuals and society as a whole much stronger.
"Look at me, I am 73 and have not touched any drugs for nearly 30 years," says Klopstock, who really does look younger than his years.
Hubbard's anti-drugs policy, however, has been called into question by critics ever since his death on January 24, 1986.
In a 1983 interview with Penthouse magazine, Hubbard's estranged son L. Ron Hubbard Jr. is quoted as saying that his father had been taking massive amounts of drugs since the age of 16. When the interviewer asked: "Did your father take a lot of drugs?" Hubbard replied: "Yes. Since he was 16. You see, drugs are very important in the application of heavy black magic. The personal use of drugs expands one's conscious ability to break open the doors to the realm of the deep."
Furthermore, many of Hubbard's critics, suggest that contrary to his wishes, an autopsy was performed on the 74-year-old's body after he died. The Web site clambake.org has published on-line what it says to be a full copy of the coroner's report (file #8936) from the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Office, which confirms that a drug called hydroxyzine, which is disapproved of under Scientology doctrines, was found in his system. Several other Web sites (Wikipedia, sourcewatch.com) echo the same information.
Scientology followers, however, maintain that no such autopsy was carried out.
According to Miller's The Barefaced Messiah, "David Miscavige made the announcement that Ron had moved on to his next level of research, a level beyond the imagination and in a state exterior to the body: 'Thus, at 2000 hours, Friday 24 January 1986, L. Ron Hubbard discarded the body he had used in this lifetime for 74 years, 10 months and 11 days. The body he had used to facilitate his existence in this universe had ceased to be useful and in fact had become an impediment to the work he now must do outside its confines. The being we knew as L. Ron Hubbard still exists. Although you may feel grief, understand that he did not, and does not now. He has simply moved on to his next step. LRH in fact used this lifetime and body we knew to accomplish what no man has ever accomplished - he unlocked the mysteries of life and gave us the tools so we could free ourselves and our fellow men...'"
Whatever the truth behind Hubbard's life and death, it does not change the fact that thousands of people worldwide still adhere to his teachings whether they are proven science or not.