Scientology: Religion or racket?

Marburg Journal of Religion/September 2003
By Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi
University of Haifa

The name Scientology (a copyrighted and registered trademark) brings to mind a wide array of claims, observations, impressions, findings, and documents, reflecting a complex and controversial history. The religion/not religion debate over various groups and organizations, prominent in the Western media over the past thirty years, has usually presented the public and politicians with a religion versus "sect" or "cult" dichotomy. The classification issue in this article is framed differently. Hopkins (1969) offered us the terms of the debate in the bluntest and most direct way when he asked in the title of an article in Christianity Today more than thirty years ago "Scientology: Religion or racket?" Read today, the Hopkins article sounds naive and charitable, but this question still stands before us, and yet deserves an answer.

The question of whether any particular organization matches our definition of religion is not raised very often, and this is true for both old and new religions (cf. Beit-Hallahmi, 1989; Beit-Hallahmi, 1998; Beit-Hallahmi & Argyle, 1997). That is because there is no shortage of religious behaviors and groups whose authenticity is never in doubt, but in some rare cases, authenticity and sincerity are put into question.

Regarding Scientology, we have two competing claims before us. The first, espoused by most NRM scholars, as well as some legal and administrative decisions, asserts that Scientology is a religion, perhaps misunderstood and innovative, but a religion nevertheless, thus worthy of our scholarly attention. The second, found in most media reports, some government documents in various countries, and many legal and administrative decisions, states that Scientology is a business, often given to criminal acts, and sometimes masquerading as a religion. Let us start our examination of the issue with a piece of recent history, reported in a newspaper article, which is reproduced here in its entirety.

'Mental health' hotline a blind lead: The televised blurb offered mental health assistance dealing with the attacks. Callers reached Scientologists.

By Deborah O'Neil (c) St. Petersburg Times, published September 15, 2001

Television viewers who turned to Fox News on Friday for coverage of the terrorist attack also saw a message scrolling across the bottom of their screens -- National Mental Health Assistance: 800-FOR-TRUTH. Unknown to the cable news channel, the phone number connects to a Church of Scientology center in Los Angeles, where Scientologists were manning the phones. Scientology officials said the number is a hotline offering referrals to other agencies, as well as emotional support. "It was entirely a good-faith attempt to help people," said Ben Shaw, a Clearwater Scientology official. Church spokesman Kurt Weiland in Los Angeles said the phrase "National Mental Health Assistance" must have come from Fox. "I can assure you it didn't come from us," he said. Scientology firmly opposes psychiatry, and church members campaign to eliminate psychiatric practices in mental health. Fox News spokesman Robert Zimmerman said the station received an e-mail about the hotline and aired the number without checking it. The e-mail, which Zimmerman faxed to the Times, reads, "National Mental Health Assistance crisis hot line now open. Call 1-800-FOR-TRUTH." It makes no reference to Scientology.

"The bottom line is we (messed) up," Zimmerman said. "Unfortunately, it didn't get vetted. We apologize." The hotline information ran for several hours -- once appearing below the image of President Bush and his wife, Laura, at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in Washington. The news channel yanked the information Friday after learning of the Scientology connection, Zimmerman said. Michael Faenza, president and chief executive of the National Mental Health Association, called the hotline number outrageous" and said Scientology "is the last organization" emotionally vulnerable people should call. "They just leave a wake of destruction in the realm of mental health," he said. The mental health association, based in Virginia, is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness.

"This is a very important and sensitive time," Faenza said. "I'd urge the Church of Scientology to stay out of the mental health side of what happens in the country now."

Church officials said no one was being recruited on the hotline and it did not attempt to disguise Scientology's involvement. "There's no attempt to hide anything," Weiland said. "Given the circumstances, it's more or less irrelevant because no one even talks about Scientology when they call." In some cases, callers were referred by the four Scientologists answering the phones to agencies compiling information about missing people. In other cases, callers were directed to agencies taking collections, Weiland said. If people called crying and upset, he said, they were told they could visit a Scientology center. "These people are grief-stricken," Weiland said. "Our people are working with them to provide help through assistance methods we have in the church to relieve spiritual suffering." When a reporter called, a volunteer said free copies of a booklet, Solutions for a Dangerous Environment, were available to callers. The booklet is a Scientology publication based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard, although that was not mentioned in the phone call. The Church of Scientology has 450 volunteers assisting cleanup and rescue efforts in New York, Weiland said.

This text can serve as a journalism textbook example of asking all sides tell their versions, and then letting the readers reach their own conclusions. What shall we make of this recent event? The Issue in Scholarly Writings

Bryan Wilson (1970, p. 143) stated that " Scientology, though perhaps only for reasons of expedience, the style of 'church' and the simulation of religious forms has [sic] been adopted." Wilson later stated that in some religious movements "...activity that can be called worship or devotions is often very limited in time and scope (as in the cases of Christian Science, Scientology, and the Jehovah's Witnesses)" (1982, p. 110). Such an assertion reflects an apparent lack of familiarity with the actual practices of these groups. There is simply no comparison between the absence of worship or devotions in the lives of most Scientology operatives and clients and the significant presence of such acts among followers of Christian Science or Jehovah's Witnesses.

Eight years later Wilson calls Scientology "A secularized religion" (1990, p. 267) and starts his discussion of organization with a reference to the financial value of the religion label. We must note that Wilson has never mentioned finances when discussing Christian Science, the Disciples of Christ, the Salvation Army, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, or the Christadelphians (Wilson 1970, 1990). Moreover, the term "secularized religion" must strike most of us as an oxymoron, no more meaningful than "religious secularity."

Subsequently, Wilson (1990) compares Scientologists to Quakers, and also makes the quite startling claim that "early Christianity began with therapeutic practice and acquired its doctrinal rationale only subsequently" (1990, p. 283). Wilson (1990, p. 282-283) meets the question of classification and motivation head on and states that "even if it could be conclusively shown that Scientology took the title of 'church' specifically to secure protection at law as a religion, that would say nothing about the status of the belief-system". He then proceeds to test this particular belief-system by introducing a "probabilistic inventory" of 20 items against which he checks Scientology beliefs. His conclusion (p. 288) is that Scientology is a "congruous religious orientation for modern society", which sounds less like a definition and more like a promotional statement.

That Scientology should perhaps be put together with other secular self-improvement schemes was suggested by Richardson (1983): "Apparently because of considerable interest in techniques for self-improvement there is a very large market for groups like Scientology, est, TM, Silva Mind Control, and other such groups that offer courses for a fee" (Richardson, 1983, p. 73). Here Scientology is listed with est and Silva Mind Control, two groups that have never sought the religion label, as well as TM, which has actively resisted this label. Similarly, Passas (1994) classifies Scientology as offering self-improvement and self-enhancement, grouping it again together with est.

Bainbridge & Stark (1981) called Scientology a "vast psychotherapy cult" (p. 128) and ridiculed its claims about the "Clear" process and its outcome. They state that the "role demands of Clear" consist of "a confident acceptance of impossible ideas with a consequent willingness to make statements which outsiders would find incredible" (p. 131). While this assessment could easily be made about adherents to all religions, old and new, it is unheard of in the scholarly literature. One must wonder why the authors have used these mocking terms which they certainly would not use in discussing any recognized religious group, such as Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses or Roman Catholics. Bainbridge & Stark also state that the "Clear" process "... is a therapy in which patients rapidly are taught to keep silent about their dissatisfactions, and to perceive satisfaction in the silence of other members" (p. 133), which constitutes "pluralistic ignorance" (p. 132). Moreover, Bainbridge & Stark (1981, p. 132) use the occasion of their article about Scientology to remind their readers that "some quite successful contemporary cult leaders are conscious frauds."

Bednarowski (1995) cites the classification of Scientology as a racket by the media and legal scholars, and then (1995, p. 390) expresses her hope that "Scientology might choose to solicit the kind of outside critique that is essential for any religious movement to curb its own excessive traits." One must wonder whether such hopes have been expressed in any scholarly writings about any old or new religion. Can you imagine a scholar hoping that Christian Science, the Branch Davidians, or Jews for Jesus would "curb their excessive traits"?

Robbins (1988) quite clearly described the profit-oriented nature of Scientology activities, while Bromley & Bracey (1998), following Greil & Rudy (1990), called it a quasi-religion. "Quasi religions may be defined as collectives in which organizational and ideological tension and ambiguity regarding the group's worldview, perspective, and regimen are profitably used to facilitate affiliation as well as commitment" (Bromley & Bracey, 1998, p. 141; Greil & Rudy, 1990, p. 221). The use of the term 'quasi' in this context does not sound like a compliment, especially with the use of "profitably" in the same sentence. After all, Scientology demands and expects full recognition as the real thing, authentic and genuine, and not just "quasi." Bromley & Bracey (1998) also state that "ethics violations" in Scientology are actions which reduce profitability and productivity, but despite their use of 'quasi', Bromley & Bracey not only give the organization their seal of approval, but wax positively hagiographic about its "prophetic founder". Later on they refer to "prophetic revelations", "spiritual discoveries", and "theology," terms never used by Scientology itself.

Wallis (1977), in the best-known academic study of the organization, describes a long history of fraudulent activities and deceptive fronts, but still believes it is a religion. Thus, in writing about the history of the organization in the early 1950s, Wallis (1979, p. 29) claims that "...there were certainly strong arguments for declaring Scientology a religion broadly conceived."

The terms of the religion versus racket debate are framed indirectly by Eileen Barker when she states: "Unlike the Unification Church or the Hare Krishna, the Church of Scientology is not unambiguously a religion. There are, however, considerable economic advantages to be gained from being defined as a religion. Scientology has fought and, indeed, won court cases ... to the effect that it is a religion and, therefore, eligible for tax concessions"(Barker, 1994, p. 105).

Scientology in Court

Looking at the legal literature, including published court decisions, we discover that while scholars have been uniquely sympathetic to Scientology, the organization received much less sympathy from members of the legal profession. Of course, some lawyers have been generous in their praise, especially if they were being paid by Scientology. But presiding judges and jurists on commissions of inquiry worldwide have been definitely harsh and suspicious. This is not reflected in the total litigation record, where Scientology has scored some victories, but in cases where the definition of Scientology as an organization was at stake. What is significant is that courts in the United States have been even more decisive in rejecting Scientology's claim to be a religion than courts elsewhere.

If you ask legal scholars to classify Scientology, the consensus judgment is quite clear, and numerous legal scholars as well as judges clearly feel that there is something illicit and sinister about it. They are not just skeptical about its claims, but make decisive judgment calls and remain decidedly unconvinced that it is entitled to the religion label. John J. Foster, a British jurist charged with investigating it (1971), gave us the definitive study of Scientology, based solely on the organization's own writings, and nothing else. His conclusions, which seem to have been ignored by NRM scholars, were that Scientology can only claim to offer a system of psychotherapy, and as such should be regulated. Its only aim, he found, was to produce profits. Any claims of Scientology to be a religion were ridiculed, and many of its fraudulent acts were exposed in this report.

In two well-known cases, judges who encountered Scientology through cases before them volunteered a decisive diagnosis. In a 1984 ruling in London, Justice Latey: "Scientology is both immoral and socially is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and power for Mr. Hubbard, his wife and those close to him at the top" (see ). And in the same year in Los Angeles, Superior Court Judge Paul G. Breckenridge, Jr., called Scientology "a vast enterprise to extract the maximum amount of money from its adepts by pseudo-scientific theories ... The organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard" (Superior Court, Los Angeles County, June 22, 1984, Church of Scientology of California v. Gerald Armstrong, Case No. C420143). Such statements are truly unique in litigation involving religious organizations.

Burkholder (1974, p. 44) concluded that court decisions had only proven the "ambiguous religious status" of Scientology. Friedland (1985, p. 589) classified Scientology among the "numerous tax-motivated religions that are frequently before the courts" and suggested that the motivation of its founder was to avoid legal and tax interference in his business (cf. Heins, 1981; Schwarz, 1976)). Passas & Castillo (1992, p. 115) stated that it was a "deviant business... its deviance is its life blood". Reviewing the legal literature in the United States, Senn (1990) presents Scientology as a prime example of religious fraud. These scholars have not found Scientology "controversial," or having any "excessive traits." They have just asserted that it is a criminal fraud.

The treatment of Scientology in United States courts has been unique for an organization claiming the religion label. If we compare the case of Scientology to the case of the Universal Life Church, we discover that the latter (a mail-order ordination business treated by scholars as such, see Melton, 1999) easily won over the IRS and received a tax-exempt status, while Scientology lost every time it tried to gain this status, and received no sympathy from the courts (Friedland, 1985; Schwarz, 1976). Court decisions since the 1960s have held that Scientology practices were secular and fraudulent (See United States v. Article or Device, Etc., 333 F. Supp. 357 (D.D.C. 1971)) and over the twenty-five years between 1967 and 1993, courts in the United States supported all IRS rulings against the organization, denying it tax-exempt status. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled (Hernandez v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 1989) that payments for "auditing" were not tax-deductible.

The Media on Scientology

Not only judges, but several investigative journalists issued judgments which were diametrically opposed to that of NRM scholars. In 1991, Time magazine published a cover story on Scientology, authored by Richard Behar, a reporter who has specialized in writing on business and organized crime and had investigated Scientology in the 1980s (Behar, 1986). Time described the organization as "a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner" (Behar, 1991, p. 52). The 1991 Time expose was preceded by a series of articles by Sappell & Welkos (1990), which drew attention to some of the same matters. Behar's 1991 expose won several awards, including the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism and a Conscience-in-Media Award from the Society of Journalists and Authors.

The Behar article, as summarized in one court decision, asserted "that Scientology, rather than being a bona fide religion, is in fact organized for the purposes of making money by means legitimate and illegitimate. The Article details various alleged schemes that the church allegedly uses to increase its revenues, including charging ever increasing fees to members, deceiving non-members through the use of front groups, manipulating securities and currency markets through the use of inside information, and evading taxes... These statements were either not challenged by plaintiff [the Scientology organization] or held to be non-actionable by the Court on the grounds that no reasonable jury could find that they were published with actual malice. The sole statement still at issue in the case ("one source of funds for the Los Angeles-based church is the notorious, self-regulated stock exchange in Vancouver, British Columbia, often called the scam capital of the world") merely implies that the same view which this Court has held to be non-actionable as not made with actual malice: that Scientology's purpose is making money by means legitimate and illegitimate. Accordingly, the claim based on this statement must be dismissed as subsidiary to a non-actionable view expressed in the article" (US District Court, Southern District of New York, 92 Civ. 3024 (PKL) see

The treatment of Scientology in the media is highly unusual. Time magazine has been described as a true representation of US culture (cf. Fox, 1971). It has been formed in the image of its founder Henry Luce, born to missionary parents in China who became a devout believer in conservative Republicanism, and has served as a gatekeeper to mainstream legitimacy. The magazine has never in its history denied the religion label to any other groups, however controversial. Time did not call Scientology 'controversial', it did not refer to it as 'unorthodox', as many NRMs have been described. It called it a racket and a scam.

The way The New York Times has treated Scientology is quite similar. Frantz (1997a, 1997b) exposed Scientology's secular strategies and litigation tactics, while Rich (1997) ridiculed Scientology's claims about its persecution by Nazi-like governments, and expressed serious suspicions about the way it won its tax-exempt status, in a surprising and total surrender by the IRS, under circumstances that could only be described as highly mysterious. How IRS Commissioner Herb Goldberg, Jr. was suddenly converted by the organization has never been fully investigated.

26 Reason for Re-Examining the Consensus

If we want to produce not just heat, but also some light in this debate, a re-assessment of the consensus is called for, and for this re-assessment more observations are needed. We should not listen to jurists, legal scholars, law school professors, or accept the judgment of some journalists. We should not even accept the judgment of our colleagues without looking at more evidence. The public record, available and easily accessible, provides us with some additional materials, which, though far from hidden, rather oddly seem to have escaped proper and adequate notice. We find that some aspects of Scientology's operations have been overlooked, and their absence from the scholarly record is troubling.

In the process of observing the organization in action, we will examine both current practices and the organization's history. These observations, anchored in authentic documents, reflect significant, representative, and symptomatic behaviors, not marginal events. The documents cited are authentic, unassailable and unchallenged. Most of them are now accessible on the Internet. In every case, I am urging you to read the original documents in their entirety and reach your own understanding of their meaning.

Secular Operations and Self-Presentation

1. Self-Presentation at Recruitment: The "Oxford Capacity Analysis."

Let me introduce the concept of recruitment discourse, which refers to written and oral presentations directed at potential members as part of recruitment efforts. Groups and businesses, while attempting to recruit clients or members, use recruitment discourse or rhetoric, which defines what they claim to offer. One well-known component of the recruitment process in Scientology is the so-called "Oxford Capacity Analysis" (OCA), which is presented to the public as a "free personality test". "Your personality has everything to do with your income, your future, your personal relationships, and your life. A test of this kind would normally cost you $500.00 and up. It is offered to you here free of charge as a public service" (see

The claim about cost or value of the test happens to be false, because the "test" is totally worthless. The "Oxford Capacity Analysis" has nothing to do with Oxford, capacity, or analysis. No matter how you respond to this "personality test," its interpretation will lead to only one recommendation: an immediate registration in one of Scientology's "communication courses"(Foster, 1971). What is clear from observing the OCA and the way it has been used by Scientology, is that this fictitious "test" is a purely secular dissimulation, designed to attract the unsuspecting with promises of secular self-improvement. In addition to the fraudulent nature of the presentation, what it significant is that the OCA and all claims about it are purely and totally secular (Foster, 1971).

2. Self-Presentation at Recruitment: Dianetics.

Another concept used in recruitment discourse has been Dianetics, defined as "the science of thought" and as "The Modern Science of Mental Health." "It can, in the realm of the individual, prevent or alleviate insanity, neurosis, compulsions, and obsessions and it can bring about physical well-being, removing the basic cause of some seventy percent of man's illnesses" (

Over the years, Dianetics has been claimed as a cure for cancer, polio, arthritis, migraines, "radiation sickness", bronchitis, myopia, and asthma. In addition, Hubbard claimed that Dianetics was "the total antidote for the eradication of brainwashing"[sic] (HCOB No. 19, December 1955). There is reportedly one case where a child was raised from the dead through "auditing". Whatever Dianetics is and does, if anything, it is always presented as a purely secular way to self-improvement, one of countless similar schemes on the market.

3. Self-Presentation at Recruitment: Cyberspace Testimonials.

Cyberspace is being inundated by Scientology testimonials, all prepared by the organization and designed to sound sincere, personal and genuine. These texts use an extremely limited vocabulary and grossly deficient syntax. They might have been produced by an intellectually-challenged computer that ate some Dale Carnegie books, and uses the words "amazed" and "wonderful" too often. Read for example, where David Tidman, who has been an employee of the Scientology organization for 18 years, and now has a "field Auditing Practice", tells us about himself and his success in Scientology.

Often the testimonials are quite brief and can be reproduced in their entirety, preserving their original level of (il)literacy: "Hello, my name is Dr. George Springer, and here is a little bit about myself. I am a physician for 15 years turned inventor and entrepreneur. I have been in Scientology since 1986 and with this cleverness grew and my inventions is reach around the world....With my success in Scientology being so large its hard to encapsulate it with just a few words. Overall I would say that much of what I have gained is a vastly increased awareness about life and livingness and the ability to create and expand in life" (see On further inspection, "Dr." Springer, the successful Scientologist, turns out to be an impostor, who has never been a physician, and his inventions turn out to be typical rejuvenation scams (see"

While testimonials by scholars (see emphasize the religious nature of Scientology, cyberspace personal statements emphasize purely secular success, with no hint of religion. All testimonials are by Scientology employees and franchisees who certainly owe their material success to the organization (see

What we should be concerned about when reading the cyberspace testimonials is not literary quality or financial interests, but religious content. In these testimonials, Scientology's carefully selected representatives are supposedly proselytizing, i.e. teaching the faith, and we can ask what that faith is. There is simply nothing remotely religious in any of the messages.

4. Secular products and activities.

When we examine whether an activity could be construed as religious, the question to ask is if there could be a religious context or logic toit. Does it relate to any specific belief? Is it a ritual?

"The average man is up against problems. He's asking himself, how can I make more money? How can I make my wife faithful to me? Scientology processing he resolves these questions"(Hubbard, 1970, cited in Passas & Castillo, 1992, p. 105). Are these humanity's two main religious concerns? I will remind you that Bromley and Bracey (1998) consider this "processing" a religious ritual, and seem to be ignorant of the fact that this religious ritual was designed by its creator to help the faithful with making more money and with avoiding wifely infidelity.

The majority of activities conducted by Scientology and its many fronts and subsidiaries involve the marketing of secular products such as the "Clear" program, Sterling Management Systems executive training, and self-improvement in scholastics. The "Clear" sales pitch is totally secular: "On the Clearing Course you will smoothly achieve the stable state of Clear with Good Memory, Raised I.Q., Strong Will Power, Magnetic Personality, Amazing Vitality, Creative Imagination" (Bainbridge & Stark, 1981, p. 128).

Another case in point is the Purification Rundown, marketed by Scientology all over the world. "The Purification Rundown is a detoxification program which enables an individual to rid himself of drugs, toxins and other chemicals...a major breakthrough by L. Ron Hubbard that has enabled hundreds of thousands to be freed from the harmful effects of drugs and toxins" (see We do know that the "Purification Rundown" includes sauna and vitamins, both offered at exorbitant prices ($1200). Officially, the Purification Rundown is a "religious program" (Mallia, 1998c), which every scientologist is required to take as the first step on the "Bridge to Total Freedom". What could be its religious context? The purification scam is similar to many products being offered all over the world by various quacks and crooks, with no claims to religion. Heber C. Jentzsch claims that he was cured of radiation sickness through the Purification Rundown, which means that it is indeed an amazing medical breakthrough, still purely secular (Mallia, 1998c).

In other cases, the same Scientology product is defined as "religious" in one setting and secular in another. Study Technology is claimed to be a religious practice, sold at a price of $600 as part of the "church" program. The same Study Tech is taught in schools and there is claimed to be secular (Mallia, 1998b).

5. The Secular "Way To Happiness."

Scientology has been offering the public a document titled The Way to Happiness, described as "a non-religious moral code, based entirely on common sense, which is having profound effects around the world". It was authored by L. Ron Hubbard and distributed by Scientology front organizations, protected by copyrights and trademarks (see The Way to Happiness Foundation is a front organization, created to operate within United States public and government-supported institutions, and so claims to be specifically nonreligious. In recent years, the Way to Happiness has been offered in other countries. In early 2003, hundreds of thousands of copies of its Hebrew version were distributed in Israel.

6. Self-Presentation as a Secular Movement.

Some Scientology representatives state that the so-called church is not a religion. When a Scientology branch opened in Japan in 1985, it was careful to present itself as a 'philosophy' and not a religion (Kent, 1999). In the United States, an article in a Maine newspaper that solicited thoughts about the "new millennium" from local church leaders reports that "Barbara Fisco, mission holder of the Church of Scientology in Brunswick, said that Scientology is not a religion and therefore not subject to the religious implications of the Year 2000" (Smith, 1999\

The case of Scientology in Israel is quite instructive. In various organizational forms, Scientology has been active among Israelis for more than thirty years, but those in charge not only never claimed the religion label, but resisted any such suggestion or implication. It has always presented itself as a secular, self-improvement, tax-paying business. Otherwise, they offered the familiar products and deceptions, from the Oxford Capacity Analysis to Dianetics and Purification. The current Israeli franchise-holder told me rather proudly that he pays all required taxes. In its history as a commercial venture, the organization still got into legal trouble, and was charged with tax evasion at least once.

7. The Anti-Psychiatry Campaign.

Scientology has attracted much attention through its propaganda effort against what it calls psychiatry. This has involved great expense and organizational effort, carried out through a variety of fronts. If the book Psychiatrists: The Men Behind Hitler (Roder, Kubillus, & Burwell, 1995) is a representative example, and I believe it is, it proves decisively that the campaign is rooted in total paranoia and pathetic ignorance. Reading this book, and I will urge you not to waste too much time doing it, makes clear that the authors simply have no idea what psychiatry is. But that is the least of their problems.

What I would definitely urge you to read is a brief statement by Hubbard, titled "Constitutional Destruction" (

In it you will find the rationale (if such a word can be used here) for the anti-psychiatry campaign. You will discover that the World Federation of Mental Health represents a conspiracy, directed by Communists, to destroy "the West". You will also discover that "Electric shock and brain operations to depersonalize dissident elements were developed by Hitler...The turmoil of schools and universities [the statement is dated June 9, 1969, and reflects events in the 1960s] trace back [sic] to the agents of these groups and their advice to corrupt puppet politicians...But all of these groups, whose control is uniform over the world and whose lines go straight to Russia, may be in for a terrible surprise. Since Scientology became aware of them they have lost seven of their top dozen leaders". The last sentence is puzzling, and implies physical liquidation and physical threat. This 1969 document is still presented by Scientology on its Internet sites (an earlier version is Appendix III in Wallis, 1977). Foster (1971) quotes the "Address by Beria to American Students at Lenin University", which was obviously authored by Hubbard and purports to demonstrates how "Mental Health campaigns" are run from the Kremlin. What hasn't been noticed by Scientology is that the Soviet Union has disappeared, while the worldwide "mental health" industry is still going strong.

Most of Hubbard's writings, still presented on Scientology's web sites, carry the flavor of the 1950s, or earlier. His writings about psychiatry as the handmaiden of Communism show him to be a classical 1950s right-wing paranoid. We know that The John Birch Society held the same views, and attacked the "mental health racket", run by Communists (Westin, 1963).

In 1956, in an obvious reference to the 1954 Supreme Court decision to outlaw school segregation, he attacked the "... Supreme Court Justice who does not recognize the rights of the majority, but who stresses the rights of the minority and who uses psychology textbook s written by Communists to enforce an unpopular opinion" (Wallis, 1977, p. 199). The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, handed down on May 17, 1954 enraged white supremacists like Hubbard. The Court considered as evidence findings of research done by Kenneth Clark (1955), an African-American psychologist, which further enraged those supporting segregation. We know that later on, Hubbard supported the apartheid regime in South Africa.

In 1957 Hubbard started the National Academy of American Psychology, which offered its own 'loyalty oath' to "prevent the teaching of only foreign psychology in public schools and universities" (Wallis, 1977, p. 200). Hubbard obviously does not know what psychology is, and sounds like a classical nativist (Higham, 1970), seeking to drive out foreign influences. He refers to psychotherapy in the US as "Euro-Russian" (Wallis, 1977, p. 200), and plans to introduce red-blooded American psychotherapy to replace it. Hubbard clearly did not know anything about the historical origins of twentieth-century psychotherapy, which had nothing to do with Russia, and much to do with German-speaking Central Europe. What is interesting is that "psychiatry", in Scientology's world, is accused of being connected to both Nazism and Communism

At a conference organized by CESNUR and others in 1991 and held in California, Heber C. Jentzstch was invited to present a history lesson. Among his many original discoveries were the composition of the participants in the Wannsee Conference, where on January 20, 1942 fifteen Nazi officials met to discuss the Final Solution (they were all psychiatrists, according to Jentzsch. For the record: no psychiatrists were present) and the origin of electroconvulsive therapy (developed in "Nazi death camps", according to Jenzstch). The assembled participants rewarded Jentzsch with a warm applause.

Ideas about the connections between psychiatrists and the Nazis can be heard every day from hospitalized schizophrenics all over the world. Jentzsch's history lessons were not the rantings and ravings of a paranoid schizophrenic. They were the crude lies of a cynic using the memory of the Nazis and the Holocaust for profit. Here we are not dealing with psychotic delusions but with cold-blooded propaganda, seeking to take advantage of our natural reaction of horror. In this case, as in others, Scientology will exploit any human sentiments to generate more profits.

Two years later, in 1993, a gathering of NRM scholars at the London School of Economics, organized by CESNUR and INFORM, was again treated to a history lesson by Jentzsch. This time the topic was the historical similarity between Germany in the 1930s and Germany in the 1990s. The way the German government was allegedly treating Scientology was said to be identical to the way Nazi Germany treated Jews. This time the audience reacted with thunderous applause.

The anti-psychiatry campaign, as far as can be told, started with a bit of reality, and then became delusional. When Hubbard first introduced his "Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health", he was in apparent competition with psychotherapy, which, because of ignorance, Hubbard regarded as identical with psychiatry. The next step is the delusion that his "mental health" system would be superior to other ones, and would be perceived as a threat or competition by other "mental health" providers. That those providers were Communists and directed from "Russia" is a nice cold-war paranoid touch. The notion that Scientology has ever been a threat to psychotherapy or "psychiatry" is purely illusory. Most psychiatrists and psychotherapists in this world have never heard of Scientology, and its impact on the worldwide "mental health" or psychotherapy industry (Beit-Hallahmi, 1992) has been non-existent.

What is significant for our discussion is that this particular case of paranoia (cf. Meissner, 1978; Robins & Post, 1997), so central to Scientology's identity and public activities, is totally secular. It clearly overlaps with some of the claims made by Lyndon LaRouche, again in the framework of a totally secular paranoia (King, 1990). Despite his opposition to psychiatry, an autopsy reportedly showed that Hubbard was a user of psychiatric prescription drugs, as well as a regular user of the popular CNS suppressor ethanol, available without prescription in liquid form.

8. Challenges to the Religion Label.

Among all organizations claiming to be new religions, only Scientology's claim has so often been put into question. Most NRMs have never had to face such challenges anywhere. Since the 1960s, courts and governments have ruled that Scientology is a secular, profit-making organization, and should be treated as such. Thus, the tax-exempt status of the organization in France was revoked in 1985, after it had been determined that its aim was profit-making. Later on, Spain, Greece, Germany, and Denmark decided to treat it as a for-profit organization.

9. Solicitation of imprimatur.

Since the 1970s, in an obvious response to the challenges to its claim to be a religion, Scientology has solicited, and received, testimonials about its religious nature from recognized religion scholars. Scientology is unique in this respect.

Office of Special Affairs (OSA, earlier known as Dept. 20 or Guardian's Office) is the division within Scientology which is "responsible for interfacing with the society at large, including legal affairs, public relations, and community" (see Among other things, this division is charged with intelligence and with taking care of Scientology "enemies." Scientology at some point decided to cultivate contacts with NRM scholars, and this has taken place through the OSA. Its members have registered as participants at meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Most recently, scholars have been invited to visit the organization's headquarters in Los Angeles, with all their expenses paid.

10. Self-presentation as a Research Enterprise.

Unlike all known religions, and very much like some secular psychotherapy systems, Scientology's claims have been couched not only in the language of self-improvement, but of research and discovery, rather than the language of revelation, prophecy, or salvation (contra Bromley & Bracey, 1998). This is the case not only in its recruitment texts, but in all publications. Hubbard first attracted public attention with Dianetics, which he himself dubbed a "Modern Science of Mental Health". In 1956, Hubbard claimed that Scientology "improves the health, intelligence, ability, behavior, skill and appearance of people. It is a precise and exact science, designed for an age of exact science" (Hubbard, 1956/1983, p. 8).

Later, Hubbard claimed that Scientology "is today the only validated psychotherapy in the world... Scientology is a precision science...the first precision science in the field of the humanities... The first science to put the cost of psychotherapy within the range of any person's pocketbook... The first science to contain the exact technology to routinely alleviate physical illness with predictable success" (The Hubbard Information Letter of April 14, 1962).

When J.L. Simmons, a well-known sociologist then acting as the spokesman for the organization, gave the official Scientology response to the Wallis (1977) study, he used terms such as "discoveries" (p. 266) and "scientifically objective" (p. 269). Not a word on revelation, divine inspiration, or theology.

Commercial Nature of Operations

11. Recruitment Style and Goals.

Throughout Scientology's history, recruitment has been known as "procurement actions", and handling potential clients has been driven by a sales orientation. Potential customers have always been known as "raw meat", and the goal is "to get the meat off the street". "The operative terms here are 'toughness', 'effectiveness', 'getting the job done'. There are no compunctions about hard-sell, no embarrassment about instrumental values or bureaucratic rationality" (Straus, 1986, p. 80). In the words of the founder, "...promote until the floors cave in because of the number of people?and don't even take notice of that" (Hubbard, in Foster, 1971, p. 69).

12. Non-exclusive Membership.

Unique to the recruitment rhetoric is the official claim by Scientology that members of other religions can join its ranks, with no implications for either commitment. "It insists that membership in Scientology is not incompatible with being a Catholic, Protestant, or Jew and goes so far as to encourage dual membership" (Bednarowski, 1995, p. 389).

13. Self Presentation as a Business: Trademarks and Trade Secrets.

A trademark is legally defined as "any word, name, symbol, or device or any combination thereof, adopted and used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify its goods and distinguish them from those manufactured or sold by others" (15 U.S.C. , article 1121). Examples of trademark are Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or Big Mac. The Scientology organization owns more trademarks than McDonald's, Disney, Microsoft, and probably the world's leading 100 corporations combined. Moreover, Scientology has claimed to own not only trademarks, but trade secrets as well (see

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (1985) defined trade secrets as "information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program device, method, technique that derives economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use". Another definition states: "A trade secret is any information that can be used in the operation of a business or other enterprise and is sufficiently valuable and secret to afford an actual or potential economic advantage over others" (Restatement, Unfair Competition, article 39). We realize that a business engages in trade, and relies on trade secrets. Why would a religion do that?

14. Operation as a Business: Franchising.

"A franchise is a business arrangement where the developer/owner (the franchisor) of a business concept grants others (the franchisees) the licensed right to own and operate businesses based on the business concept, using the trademark associated with the business concept" ( The Arthur Murray Dance Studios, McDonald's, and Burger King are well-known global businesses that operate by franchising. Scientology branches (or sales outlets) are operated by franchise, just like McDonald's, with the organization receiving licensing fees, as well as a stipulated percentage of earnings. In addition, recruiters, known as "body routers", are paid commissions of 10 to 35 percent for signing up new clients (Mallia, 1998a; Passas & Castillo, 1992).

15. Operation as a Business: Profit as the Goal.

Passas & Castillo (1992) state that Scientology is "an ordinary profit-making enterprise". Wallis (1977, p. 138)) reports that "Hubbard has 'sold his name' to the Church", which is a peculiar way of describing the transmission of religious authority, but consistent with the way a for-profit operation is run. Wallis (1979, p. 29) also asserts that the motives for major changes in Scientology's history were financial. The move to England in 1959 came about because "...the success of the Church of Scientology of Washington came to the attention of tax authorities concerned about the three-quarters of a million dollars earned during this period [1955-1959] by the tax-exempt Church". Findings in Church of Scientology of California v. Commissioner (1984) showed that the organization operated only for profit, siphoning off its earnings to Swiss bank accounts controlled by Hubbard and his associates.

In the words of its founder, Scientology's governing financial policy is





L. MAKE OTHER PEOPLE PRODUCE SO AS TO MAKE MORE MONEY (Hubbard, 1972, cited in Senn, 1990, p. 345).

Hubbard's practical advice on tax matters follows:

"Now as to TAX, why this is anybody's game of what is PROFIT. The thing to do is to assign a significance to the figures before the government can...So I normally think of a better significance than the government can. I always put enough errors on a return to satisfy their blood-sucking appetite and STILL come out zero. The game of accounting is just a game of assigning significance to figures. The man with the most imagination wins...Income does not mean profit. One can and should make all the INCOME one possibly can. But when one makes INCOME be sure it is accounted for as to its source and that one covers it with expenses and debts. Handling taxation is as simple as that" (Church of Scientology of California V. Commissioner., 83 T.C., p. 430). These statements by Hubbard, are according to Bromley & Bracey (1998), and to Hadden (, part of sacred scriptures.

Hubbard's financial ideals may have something to do with his estate, reportedly worth $640 million (Mallia, 1998a). They are also well reflected in the prices Scientology clients are charged, where $376,000 is the cost of reaching "total freedom" (Mallia, 1998d). Documents made public over the years show staggering profits from the operation (Behar, 1991; Passas & Castillo, 1992). Richardson (1983) reported that the estimated annual income of the Scientology organization in the US alone was $100 million. In 1993, the last time Scientology had to report, it had $398 million in assets and $300 million in annual income (Mallia, 1998a). We can safely assume that if these are the reported figures, the real figures were even higher, as taxpayers are given to underreporting (see Hubbard's advice above). According to David Miscavige, Scientology's CEO, winning a US tax-exemption in 1993 saved Scientology from a tax bill that could have reached $ 1 billion (Frantz, 1997b).

16. Operation as a Business: Membership and Economic Interests.

The record shows that most of the loyal members of the organization, those who are willing to identify themselves in public as "Scientologists," are actually employees or entrepreneurs working with and for the organization, and whose livelihood depends on the survival of Scientology. As Wilson (1970, p. 165) put it "... the esoteric doctrines become not so much an aid to leading a normal life as a means of making a new livelihood." There may be a small minority of heavily invested clients who also identify strongly with the organization. This lopsided division of labor is very much in evidence in the well-publicized cases of litigation involving "ex-Scientologists." In the vast majority of cases, the individuals involved have been employees of the organization.

Thus, loyalty to the organization is connected to economic ties. Membership is created by either a heavy investment through fees paid (a minority of cases) or by substantial earnings (a majority). This membership pattern seems unique and unusual.

17. Operation as a Business: The 1982 Mission Holders Conference.

This document, consisting of the official minutes of a meeting between Scientology's top management and its franchise holders, is consistent with other documents and observations (see The occasion can be compared to a meeting between McDonald's corporate managers and its franchisees or a gathering of Buick dealers, an annual event where the retailers get a picture of company strategy and a pep talk It could be a meeting of Coca Cola bottlers, except that I imagine the atmosphere there to be much nicer.

(Steve Marlowe:"On this team you're playing with the winning team...It's tough, it's ruthless"). We can see here some (and just some) of the internal workings of post-Hubbard Scientology (Hubbard was then alive, but in hiding from law enforcement agencies).

The internal world of Scientology as revealed here shows us an unattractive corporate culture, with management displaying no trust, and using threats and intimidation to keep the money coming in. Wendell Reynolds is introduced as "International Finance Dictator." He introduces the "International Finance Police" and warns "So if I hear one person in this room who is not coughing up 5% as a minimum you've got an investigation coming your way because you got other crimes in your mission. Questions on that?". This is a world of quotas and "stats", by which activities are measured. Guillaume Leserve: "Now you've got to double those quotas...Just take those quotas, double them for this week!". David Miscavige: "We are winning legally. We are winning statistically. And Scientology is going up". Statistically here means financially.

What is clear is that there is money to be made in Scientology, and lots of it. The atmosphere of threats, fear, and intimidation focuses on MAKE MORE MONEY, as cited above, and not on transgressions of any religious or moral codes. But there is something else in the air, something which could only be described as criminality. When describing the misdeeds of those breaking Scientology discipline and their fate, Ray Mithoff states, when he wants to express extreme disdain: "I think the only thing lower would probably be an FBI agent". This reference to the FBI and another one to the IRS express open hostility to the law. We cannot imagine such references at the Buick or Coca Cola events. These frank expressions are most damning, and could only reflect criminal intent.

The meeting deals with trademarks and their legal meaning (with a warning by an attorney!), organizational charts, and licensing. Lyman Spurlock says: "This new corporate paper are [sic] designed to make the whole structure impregnable, especially as regards the IRS. Have any of you read the religious language in these corporate papers? Before we came along and did this overhaul you couldn't tell whether you were dealing with a 7 Eleven store or Church of Scientology from corporate papers...The scriptures being defined as the recorded and written words of L. Ron Hubbard with regard to the technology of Dianetics and Scientology and the organizations". So we realize that in 1982 the Scientology Mission Holders, supposedly members of a religious organization, had to be told for the first time that they are in the business of selling scriptures, something which they could never have guessed. Other than the reference to "scriptures" there are no expressions of anything remotely resembling religious sentiments or rituals and no references to faith.

Norman Starkey mentions "a judicial statement that Scientology is a bona fide religion entitled to the protection of the free enterprise clause". This is an interesting and revealing slip, which could serve as a perfect example for Sigmund Freud's theory of parapraxes (Freud, 1915/1916). A "Freudian slip" reveals hidden intentions and thoughts, not necessarily unconscious. Whoever was taking down the minutes possibly did not know what the free exercise clause was, but clearly knew about free enterprise. That this error has not been noticed by anybody until today offers added proof of the authenticity of the document.

Scientology's History and Credibility

18. Early History: Two Stages and the Conversion to Religion.

Scientology's early history is quite well known (Foster, 1971; Malko, 1970; Miller, 1987; Passas & Castillo, 1992; Wallis, 1977; Wilson, 1970). There is universal agreement that the Church of Scientology was preceded by a "pre-religion" stage, during which first Dianetics and then Scientology were presented to the world as secular self-improvement schemes, specifically and explicitly based on "science," not religion.

Scientology itself appeared as an improvement over Dianetics, and only later did it adopt the "Church" identity. "Scientology emerged originally as a form of lay psychotherapy" (Wallis, 1979, p. 30). The year 1953 was, according to most accounts, the year of identity transformation, the transition from secular Scientology to a religion and a Church. What was the motivation for this sudden conversion? During the years 1950-1953, before the Great Conversion, Hubbard was experiencing ups and downs, mostly downs, and was desperately seeking to re-organize and relocate his operations.The years 1952-1953 are marked by extreme stress and despair. Then, in 1953, the decision to seek the religion label was made.

In a letter written from England to Helen O'Brien, who was managing his US business at the time, on April 10, 1953, Hubbard wrote: "We don't want a clinic. We want one in operation but not in name. Perhaps we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Center. Think up its name, will you...It is a problem of practical business. I await your reaction on the religion angle... A religion charter could be necessary in Pennsylvania on NJ to make it stick. But I sure could make it stick". This letter (see; Miller, 1987) makes clear that Hubbard was only concerned with making "real money" through "practical business", and that the "religion angle" seemed useful for that. Choosing the religion cover was clearly a "practical business" consideration. It was more profitable to appear as a religion, thus avoiding taxes and other kinds of interference or scrutiny.

And so, on December 18, 1953, the Church of Scientology, the Church of Spiritual Engineering, and the Church of American Science were all incorporated in Camden, New Jersey by L. Ron Hubbard, Sr., L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., Henrietta Hubbard, John Galusha, Barbara Bryan, and Verna Greenough. Appointed as administrators of the three churches were L. Ron Hubbard, Mary Sue Hubbard, and John Galusha. The official history of the organization states that the first "Scientology church" was founded on February 14, 1954 in Los Angeles. This California outfit ordained ministers, and offered doctoral degrees in Scientology and theology, as well as certification as "Freudian psychoanalyst". It was also paying a 20% "tax" to the Church of American Science.

The 1953 conversion was apparently short-lived, because on June 12, 1954, we find the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International (HAS) writing to the Phoenix, Arizona Better Business Bureau, and presenting itself as a business "of good repute" with a "gross of about $10,000 a month". John Galusha, an administrator for the three Hubbrd churches, gives a fictitious biography of Hubbard (trained in "nuclear physics and "psycho-analysis", served with distinction in the navy, etc.), goes on to tell a bizarre tale of Hubbard's misadventures since 1950, and then states: "Awakening recently to the fact that many of its interested people were ministers, the HAS has assisted them to form churches such as the Church of American Science and the Church of Scientology. Also, ...Hubbard helped finance the organization of the Freudian Foundation of America...In the latter and in the churches, the HAS has no further control or interest" (see ).

Then, in the summer of 1954, Hubbard decided that he was after all in the religion business. Some of his associates were apparently quite upset over this zigzagging, and so in August 1954, in an article titled 'Why Doctor of Theology', Hubbard wrote: " For a few this may seem like a [sic] sheer opportunism, for a few it may appear Scientology is only making itself unassailable in the eyes of the law, and for still others it may appear any association with religion would be a reduction of the ethics and goals of Scientology itself". Around the same time, Hubbard claimed to have discovered an Asian religion known as Dharma. One follower of that religion was named by Hubbard as Gautama Skyamuni. Later, Hubbard discovered Scientology's ties to Veda, "Gnosis", Tao, Buddhism, and Christianity. As we can see, a frantic search for a flag of convenience occupied Hubbard for most of the early 1950s. This search ended with the choice of religion as a the best cover.

In 1962 Hubbard made clear again his motivation for seeking the religion label: "Scientology 1970 is being planned on a religious organization basis throughout the world. This will not upset in any way the usual activities of any organization. It is entirely a matter for accountants and solicitors" (Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, HCOPL, 29 October 1962).

According to Bromley and Bracey (1998) Hubbard had a conversion after discovering the reality of the human spirit, and this led from "the religion angle" to a transformed "prophetic founder". Wilson (1970, p. 163) stated that the change occurred "when mystical and metaphysical legitimation could be provided for what had previously been a pseudo-scientific orientation." Wallis (1979, p. 33), speaking of Hubbard and Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, wrote: "Transcendentalization permitted the founders to claim the doctrine as a direct personal revelation". However, that's exactly what Hubbard did not do.

When dealing with what seems to Bromley and Bracey (1998) like a religious idea, Hubbard claimed that his was a discovery, not a revelation: "Probably the greatest discovery of Scientology and its most forceful contribution to mankind has been the isolation, description and handling of the human spirit, accomplished in July, 1951, in Phoenix Arizona. I established, along scientific rather than religious or humanitarian lines that the thing which is the person, the personality, is separate from the body and the mind at will and without causing bodily death or derangement" (Hubbard, 1956/1983, p. 55). Hubbard expresses himself clearly and does not regard the religion label as a blessing or a great honor. Bromley and Bracey (1998) apparently are not aware of this document, and do not realize that their "quasi- religion"'s own official scriptures deny the religion label and mock its defenders.

The scholarly literature contains specific discussions of the reasons for the conversion from secular psychotherapy to a religion (Bainbridge & Stark, 1981; Wallis, 1977). There seems to be a consensus on the secular reasons for this transformation: "The switch to a religion, however, can be regarded as a managerial decision, as it was better able to retain its "clientele" and compete" (Passas & Castillo, 1992, p. 105). As Wallis (1977, 1979) shows, Hubbard used only one way of measuring his success: financial liquidity and solvency. This is the only motive and the only consideration mentioned by Wallis as Hubbard keeps changing organizations and moves across the USA from New Jersey to Arizona and back to New Jersey.

It took many years for the transformation into a "Church" to take hold, as we can see in the minutes of the 1982 Mission Holders Conference. Religious terms, such as 'scripture', 'fixed donations' instead of fees, and 'mission' instead of franchise first appeared in 1967. In 1969, Hubbard wrote: "Visual evidences [sic] that Scientology is a religion are mandatory ...Stationary is to reflect the fact that orgs are churches" (Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, HCOPL, February 12, 1969).

19. Early History and Motivation: Hubbard's World

Scientology is L. Ron Hubbard's personal enterprise and legacy and any explanations of its nature and development must start with that fact.The key to understanding this organization is its biography, starting with the early years and the early developments, which defined its style and operations. A group's history and the biography of its founder seem to be a key or the key to its later development and Hubbard (1911-1986) indeed created Scientology in his own image and in the image of his own paranoia (cf. Wallis, 1984).

Hubbard consistently lied about every aspect of his life. He claimed to have had a distinguished military career and decorations, which he never had. He claimed an education in engineering and physics which he never had, and so on. His failures in higher education and the navy were turned into fantasied success stories. "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" (Judge Paul G. Breckenridge, Jr., Superior Court, Los Angeles County, June 22, 1984, Church of Scientology of California v. Gerald Armstrong, Case No. C420143).

But beyond that, Hubbard's actions reflected a kind of criminal megalomania, a morality of those who see themselves as above conventional moral edicts. What he consistently displayed were the components of what has been called psychopathy: selfishness, deceitfulness, and callousness. The psychopath may seem poised and articulate, but actually lies with ease to serve his own needs. Thanks to his well-developed social ski

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