With Margaret Grubb:
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard Jr.* (d. 1991)
Katherine May Hubbard*
With Sara Hollister
With Mary Sue Whipp:
Quentin Hubbard (d. 1976)
* Estranged from family
Jamie DeWolf (great-grandson)
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (/ˈhʌbərd/ HUB-ərd; March 13, 1911 –
January 24, 1986), often referred to by his initials LRH, was an
American author and the founder of the Church of Scientology. After
establishing a career as a writer, becoming best known for his science
fiction and fantasy stories, he published a "branch of self-help
Dianetics which was first expounded in book form in
May 1950. He subsequently developed his ideas into a wide-ranging set
of doctrines and practices as part of a new religious movement that he
called Scientology.. In 2014, Hubbard was cited by Smithsonian
magazine as one of the 100 most significant Americans of all time, as
one of eleven religious figures on that list.
Born in Tilden, Nebraska, Hubbard spent much of his childhood in
Helena, Montana. He traveled in Asia and the South Pacific in the late
1920s after his father, an officer in the United States Navy, was
posted to the U.S. naval base on Guam. He attended George Washington
Washington, D.C. at the start of the 1930s, before
dropping out and beginning his career as a prolific writer of pulp
fiction stories. He served briefly in the United States Marine Corps
Reserve and was an officer in the
United States Navy
United States Navy during World War
II, briefly commanding two ships, the
USS YP-422 and USS PC-815. He
was removed both times when his superiors found him incapable of
command. The last few months of his active service were spent in a
hospital, being treated for a duodenal ulcer.
After the war, Hubbard developed a philosophy named Dianetics, which
he called "the modern science of mental health". He founded
Scientology in 1952 and oversaw the growth of the Church of
Scientology into a worldwide organization. During the late 1960s and
early 1970s, he spent much of his time at sea on his personal fleet of
ships as "Commodore" of the Sea Organization, an elite inner group of
Scientologists. His expedition came to an end when Britain, Greece,
Spain, Portugal, and Venezuela all closed their ports to his fleet.
Hubbard returned to the United States in 1975 and went into seclusion
California desert. In 1978, a trial court in France convicted
Hubbard of fraud in absentia. Others convictions from the same trial
were reversed on appeal, but Hubbard died before the court considered
In 1983 Hubbard was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in an
international information infiltration and theft project called
"Operation Snow White". He spent the remaining years of his
life on his ranch, the "Whispering Wind," near Creston, California,
where he died in 1986. A small group of
Scientology officials and
physician Dr. Eugene Denk attended to him before his death, for a
number of ailments including chronic pancreatitis. In 1986, he died at
age 74 in a 1982 Blue Bird motor home, which was situated on his
The Church of
Scientology describes Hubbard in hagiographic terms,
and he portrayed himself as a pioneering explorer, world traveler, and
nuclear physicist with expertise in a wide range of disciplines,
including photography, art, poetry, and philosophy. Though many of
Hubbard's autobiographical statements have been found to be
fictitious, the Church rejects any suggestion that its account of
Hubbard's life is not historical fact. In Scientology
publications, he is referred to as "Founder" and "Source" of
Scientology and Dianetics.
His critics, including son Ronald DeWolf, have characterized Hubbard
as a mentally-unstable chronic liar.
1 Early life
2 University and explorations
3 Early literary career and Alaskan expedition
4 Military career
5 Occult involvement in Pasadena
6 Origins of Dianetics
Dianetics to Scientology
8 Rise of Scientology
9 Controversies and crises
10 Commodore of the Sea Org
11 Life in hiding
12 Death and legacy
15 See also
18 External links
Main article: Early life of L. Ron Hubbard
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born in 1911, in Tilden, Nebraska. He
was the only child of Ledora May (née Waterbury), who had trained as
a teacher, and Harry Ross Hubbard, a former United States Navy
officer. After moving to Kalispell, Montana, they settled in
Helena in 1913. Hubbard's father rejoined the Navy in April 1917,
during World War I, while his mother worked as a clerk for the state
During the 1920s the Hubbards repeatedly relocated around the United
States and overseas. After Hubbard's father Harry rejoined the Navy,
his posting aboard the USS Oklahoma in 1921 required the family to
relocate to the ship's home ports, first San Diego, then Seattle.
Hubbard was active in the Boy Scouts in
Washington, D.C. and earned
the rank of Eagle Scout in 1924, two weeks after his 13th birthday.
The following year, Harry Ross Hubbard was posted to Puget Sound Naval
Shipyard at Bremerton, Washington. His son was enrolled at Union
High School, Bremerton, and later studied at Queen Anne High
School in Seattle. In 1927 Hubbard's father was sent to the U.S.
Naval Station on
Guam in the
Mariana Islands of the South Pacific.
Although Hubbard's mother also went to Guam, Hubbard himself did not
accompany them but was placed in his grandparents' care in Helena,
Montana to complete his schooling.
Between 1927 and 1929 Hubbard traveled to Japan, China, the
Philippines and Guam. In the summer of 1927, Hubbard took up teaching
to the native Chamorros in
Guam for several weeks. He returned to Asia
in 1928 to stay longer. For fourteen months, he traveled around China
and served as a helmsman and supercargo aboard a twin-masted coastal
schooner, returning to finish high school at Swavely Prep School in
Virginia and Woodward school for Boys in Washington, D.C.
Hubbard's unofficial biographers present a very different account of
his travels in Asia. Hubbard's diaries recorded two trips to the east
coast of China. The first was made in the company of his mother while
traveling from the United States to
Guam in 1927. It consisted of a
brief stop-over in a couple of Chinese ports before traveling on to
Guam, where he stayed for six weeks before returning home. He recorded
his impressions of the places he visited and disdained the poverty of
the inhabitants of Japan and China, whom he described as "gooks" and
"lazy [and] ignorant". His second visit was a family holiday which
took Hubbard and his parents to China via the
Aerial view of Qingdao, China, taken in 1930, two years after
After his return to the United States in September 1927, Hubbard
enrolled at Helena High School, where he contributed to the school
paper, but earned only poor grades. He abandoned school the
following May and went back west to stay with his aunt and uncle in
Seattle. He joined his parents in
Guam in June 1928. His mother took
over his education in the hope of putting him forward for the entrance
examination to the
United States Naval Academy
United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.
Between October and December 1928 a number of naval families,
including Hubbard's, traveled from
Guam to China aboard the cargo ship
USS Gold Star. The ship stopped at
Manila in the Philippines
before traveling on to
Qingdao (Tsingtao) in China. Hubbard and his
parents made a side trip to
Beijing before sailing on to
Hong Kong, from where they returned to Guam.
Back on Guam, Hubbard spent much of his time writing dozens of short
stories and essays and failed the Naval Academy entrance
examination. In September 1929 Hubbard was enrolled at the Swavely
Preparatory School in Manassas, Virginia, to prepare him for a second
attempt at the examination. However, he was ruled out of
consideration due to his near-sightedness. He was instead sent to
Woodward School for Boys in
Washington, D.C. to qualify for admission
to George Washington University. He successfully graduated from the
school in June 1930 and entered the university the following
University and explorations
Professor's Gate at George Washington University
Hubbard studied civil engineering during his two years at George
Washington University at the behest of his father, who "decreed that I
should study engineering and mathematics".
During Hubbard's final semester he organized an expedition to the
Caribbean for "fifty young gentleman rovers" aboard the schooner Doris
Hamlin commencing in June 1932. The aims of the "Caribbean Motion
Picture Expedition" were stated as being to explore and film the
pirate "strongholds and bivouacs of the Spanish Main" and to "collect
whatever one collects for exhibits in museums". It ran into
trouble even before it left the port of Baltimore: Ten participants
quit and storms blew the ship far off course to Bermuda. Eleven more
members of the expedition quit there and more left when the ship
arrived at Martinique. With the expedition running critically
short of money, the ship's owners ordered it to return to
Hubbard blamed the expedition's problems on the captain: "the ship's
dour Captain Garfield proved himself far less than a Captain
Courageous, requiring Ron Hubbard's hand at both the helm and the
charts." Specimens and photographs collected by the expedition are
Scientology accounts to have been acquired by the University
of Michigan, the U.S. Hydrographic Office, an unspecified national
museum and the New York Times, though none of those
institutions have any record of this. Hubbard later wrote that the
expedition "was a crazy idea at best, and I knew it, but I went ahead
anyway, chartered a four-masted schooner and embarked with some fifty
luckless souls who haven't stopped their cursings yet." He called
it "a two-bit expedition and financial bust", which resulted in
some of its participants making legal claims against him for
Hubbard traveled to Puerto Rico in November 1932 after his father
volunteered him for the Red Cross relief effort following the
devastating 1932 San Ciprian hurricane. In a 1957 lecture Hubbard
said that he had been "a field executive with the American Red Cross
in the Puerto Rico hurricane disaster". According to his own
account, Hubbard spent much of his time prospecting unsuccessfully for
gold. Towards the end of his stay on Puerto Rico he appears to have
done some work for a
Washington, D.C. firm called West Indies Minerals
Incorporated, accompanying a surveyor in an investigation of a small
property near the town of Luquillo, Puerto Rico. The survey was
unsuccessful. A few years later, Hubbard wrote:
Harboring the thought that the Conquistadores might have left some
gold behind, I determined to find it ...
Gold prospecting in the
wake of the Conquistadores, on the hunting grounds of the pirates in
the islands which still reek of Columbus is romantic, and I do not
begrudge the sweat which splashed in muddy rivers, and the bits of
khaki which have probably blown away from the thorn bushes long
After a half year or more of intensive search, after wearing my palms
thin wielding a sample pack, after assaying a few hundred sacks of
ore, I came back, a failure.
Early literary career and Alaskan expedition
Excalibur (L. Ron Hubbard)
Excalibur (L. Ron Hubbard) and Written works of L. Ron
Hubbard's "Yukon Madness" was originally published in the August 1935
issue of New Mystery Adventures
Edd Cartier for Hubbard's story "Fear"
Hubbard's novella "The Kingslayer" was reprinted in Two Complete
Science-Adventure Books in 1950 after its original publication in a
1949 Hubbard collection
Hubbard became a well-known and prolific writer for pulp fiction
magazines during the 1930s.
Scientology texts describe him as becoming
"well established as an essayist" even before he had concluded
Scientology claims he "solved his finances, and his desire to
travel by writing anything that came to hand" and to have earned
an "astronomical" rate of pay for the times.
His literary career began with contributions to the George Washington
University student newspaper, The University Hatchet, as a reporter
for a few months in 1931. Six of his pieces were published
commercially during 1932 to 1933. The going rate for freelance
writers at the time was only a cent a word, so Hubbard's total
earnings from these articles would have been less than $100
(equivalent to $1,890 in 2017). The pulp magazine Thrilling
Adventure became the first to publish one of his short stories, in
February 1934. Over the next six years, pulp magazines published
around 140 of his short stories under a variety of pen names,
including Winchester Remington Colt, Kurt von Rachen, René Lafayette,
Joe Blitz and Legionnaire 148.
Although he was best known for his fantasy and science fiction
stories, Hubbard wrote in a wide variety of genres, including
adventure fiction, aviation, travel, mysteries, westerns and even
romance. Hubbard knew and associated with writers such as Isaac
Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein,
L. Sprague de Camp
L. Sprague de Camp and A. E. van Vogt.
His first full-length novel, Buckskin Brigades, was published in
1937. He became a "highly idiosyncratic" writer of science fiction
after being taken under the wing of editor John W. Campbell, who
published many of Hubbard's short stories and also serialized a number
of well-received novelettes that Hubbard wrote for Campbell's
magazines Unknown and Astounding Science Fiction. These included Fear,
Final Blackout and Typewriter in the Sky. Science fiction
newsletter Xignals reported that Hubbard wrote “over 100,000 words a
month” during his peak.
Martin Gardner asserted that his writing
“[wa]s done at lightning speed.”
He wrote the script for The Secret of Treasure Island, a 1938 Columbia
Pictures movie serial.
Hubbard's literary earnings helped him to support his new wife,
Margaret "Polly" Grubb. She was already pregnant when they married on
April 13, 1933, but had a miscarriage shortly afterwards; a few months
later, she became pregnant again. On May 7, 1934, she gave birth
prematurely to a son who was named Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Jr. and
the nickname "His Nibs", invariably shortened to "Nibs". Their
second child, Katherine May, was born on January 15, 1936. The
Hubbards lived for a while in Laytonsville, Maryland, but were
chronically short of money.
In the spring of 1936 they moved to Bremerton, Washington. They lived
there for a time with Hubbard's aunts and grandmother before finding a
place of their own at nearby South Colby. According to one of his
friends at the time, Robert MacDonald Ford, the Hubbards were "in
fairly dire straits for money" but sustained themselves on the income
from Hubbard's writing. Hubbard spent an increasing amount of time
in New York City, working out of a hotel room where his wife
suspected him of carrying on affairs with other women.
Hubbard's authorship in mid-1938 of a still-unpublished manuscript
called Excalibur is highlighted by the Church of
Scientology as a key
step in developing the principles of
Scientology and Dianetics. The
manuscript is said by Scientologists to have outlined "the basic
principles of human existence" and to have been the culmination of
twenty years of research into "twenty-one races and cultures including
Pacific Northwest Indian tribes, Philippine Tagalogs and, as he was
wont to joke, the people of the Bronx".
According to Arthur J. Cox, a contributor to John W. Campbell's
Astounding Science Fiction magazine, Hubbard told a 1948 convention of
science fiction fans that Excalibur's inspiration came during an
operation in which he "died" for eight minutes. (Gerry Armstrong,
Hubbard's archivist, explains this as a dental extraction performed
under nitrous oxide, a chemical known for its hallucinogenic
Hubbard realized that, while he was dead, he had received a tremendous
inspiration, a great Message which he must impart to others. He sat at
his typewriter for six days and nights and nothing came out. Then,
Arthur J. Burks, the President of the American Fiction Guild, wrote
that an excited Hubbard called him and said: "I want to see you right
away. I have written THE book." Hubbard believed that Excalibur would
"revolutionize everything" and that "it was somewhat more important,
and would have a greater impact upon people, than the Bible." It
proposed that all human behavior could be explained in terms of
survival and that to understand survival was to understand life.
As Hubbard biographer Jon Atack notes, "the notion that everything
that exists is trying to survive became the basis of
According to Burks, Hubbard "was so sure he had something 'away out
and beyond' anything else that he had sent telegrams to several book
publishers, telling them that he had written 'THE book' and that they
were to meet him at Penn Station, and he would discuss it with them
and go with whomever gave him the best offer." However, nobody bought
the manuscript. Forrest J Ackerman, later Hubbard's literary
agent, recalled that Hubbard told him "whoever read it either went
insane or committed suicide. And he said that the last time he had
shown it to a publisher in New York, he walked into the office to find
out what the reaction was, the publisher called for the reader, the
reader came in with the manuscript, threw it on the table and threw
himself out of the skyscraper window." Hubbard's failure to sell
Excalibur depressed him; he told his wife in an October 1938 letter:
"Writing action pulp doesn't have much agreement with what I want to
do because it retards my progress by demanding incessant attention
and, further, actually weakens my name. So you see I've got to do
something about it and at the same time strengthen the old financial
position." He went on:
Sooner or later Excalibur will be published and I may have a chance to
get some name recognition out of it so as to pave the way to articles
and comments which are my ideas of writing heaven ... Foolishly
perhaps, but determined none the less, I have high hopes of smashing
my name into history so violently that it will take a legendary form
even if all books are destroyed. That goal is the real goal as far as
I am concerned.
The manuscript later became part of
Scientology mythology. An
Scientology publication offered signed "gold-bound and
locked" copies for the sum of $1,500 apiece (equivalent to $15,257 in
2017). It warned that "four of the first fifteen people who read it
went insane" and that it would be "[r]eleased only on sworn statement
not to permit other readers to read it. Contains data not to be
released during Mr. Hubbard's stay on earth."
Ketchikan, Alaska, where Hubbard and his wife were stranded during the
"Alaskan Radio-Experimental Expedition"
The Explorers Club
The Explorers Club in February 1940 on the strength of
his claimed explorations in the Caribbean and survey flights in the
United States. He persuaded the club to let him carry its flag on
an "Alaskan Radio-Experimental Expedition" to update the U.S. Coast
Pilot guide to the coastlines of
British Columbia and
investigate new methods of radio position-finding. The expedition
consisted of Hubbard and his wife—the children were left at South
Colby—aboard his ketch Magician.
Hubbard told The
Seattle Star in a November 1940 letter that the
expedition was plagued by problems and did not get any further than
Ketchikan near the southern end of the
Alaska Panhandle, far from the
Aleutian Islands. Magician's engine broke down only two days after
setting off in July 1940. The Hubbards reached Ketchikan on August 30,
1940, after many delays following repeated engine breakdowns. The
Ketchikan Chronicle reported—making no mention of the
expedition—that Hubbard's purpose in coming to
Alaska "was two-fold,
one to win a bet and another to gather material for a novel of Alaskan
salmon fishing". Having underestimated the cost of the trip, he
did not have enough money to repair the broken engine. He raised money
by writing stories and contributing to the local radio station and
eventually earned enough to fix the engine, making it back to
Puget Sound on December 27, 1940.
Main article: Military career of L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard and Thomas S. Moulton in Portland,
After returning from Alaska, Hubbard applied to join the United States
Navy. His Congressman, Warren G. Magnuson, wrote to President
Roosevelt to recommend Hubbard as "a gentleman of reputation" who was
"a respected explorer" and had "marine masters papers for more types
of vessels than any other man in the United States". Hubbard was
described as "a key figure" in writing organizations, "making him
politically potent nationally". The Congressman concluded: "Anything
you can do for Mr Hubbard will be appreciated." His friend Robert
MacDonald Ford, by now a State Representative for Washington, sent a
letter of recommendation describing Hubbard as "one of the most
brilliant men I have ever known". It called Hubbard "a powerful
influence" in the Northwest and said that he was "well known in many
parts of the world and has considerable influence in the Caribbean and
Alaska". The letter declared that "for courage and ability I cannot
too strongly recommend him." Ford later said that Hubbard had written
the letter himself: "I don't know why Ron wanted a letter. I just gave
him a letter-head and said, 'Hell, you're the writer, you write
Hubbard was commissioned as a
Lieutenant (junior grade)
Lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S.
Naval Reserve on July 19, 1941. His military service forms a major
element of his public persona as portrayed by Scientologists.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Hubbard's official Navy service
records indicate that "his military performance was, at times,
substandard" and he received only four campaign medals rather than
twenty-one. He was never recorded as being injured or wounded in
combat and so never received a Purple Heart. Most of his military
service was spent ashore in the continental United States on
administrative or training duties. He served for a short time in
Australia but was sent home after quarreling with his superiors. He
briefly commanded two anti-submarine vessels, the
USS YP-422 and USS
PC-815, in coastal waters off Massachusetts,
1942 and 1943 respectively.
After Hubbard reported that the PC-815 had attacked and crippled or
sunk two Japanese submarines off
Oregon in May 1943, his claim was
rejected by the commander of the Northwest Sea Frontier. Hubbard
and Thomas Moulton, his second in command on the PC-815, later said
the Navy wanted to avoid panic on the mainland. A month later
Hubbard unwittingly sailed the PC-815 into Mexican territorial waters
and conducted gunnery practice off the Coronado Islands, in the belief
that they were uninhabited and belonged to the United States. The
Mexican government complained and Hubbard was relieved of command. A
fitness report written after the incident rated Hubbard as unsuitable
for independent duties and "lacking in the essential qualities of
judgment, leadership and cooperation". He served for a while as
the Navigation and Training Officer for the USS Algol while it was
based at Portland. A fitness report from this period recommended
promotion, describing him as "a capable and energetic officer, [but]
very temperamental", and an "above average navigator". However, he
never held another such position and did not serve aboard another ship
after the Algol.
The USS PC-815, Hubbard's second and final command
His medical records state that he was hospitalized with an acute
duodenal ulcer rather than a war injury. He told his doctors that
he was suffering from lameness caused by a hip infection and he
told Look magazine in December 1950 that he had suffered from "ulcers,
conjunctivitis, deteriorating eyesight, bursitis and something wrong
with my feet". He was still complaining in 1951 of eye problems
and stomach pains, which had given him "continuous trouble" for eight
years, especially when "under nervous stress". This came well after
Hubbard had promised that
Dianetics would provide "a cure for the very
ailments that plagued the author himself then and throughout his life,
including allergies, arthritis, ulcers and heart problems".
An October 1945 Naval Board found that Hubbard was "considered
physically qualified to perform duty ashore, preferably within the
continental United States". He was discharged from hospital on
December 4, 1945, and transferred to inactive duty on February 17,
1946. He resigned his commission with effect from October 30,
Occult involvement in Pasadena
Scientology and the occult
Jack Parsons in 1938
Hubbard's life underwent a turbulent period immediately after the war.
According to his own account, he "was abandoned by family and friends
as a supposedly hopeless cripple and a probable burden upon them for
the rest of my days". His daughter Katherine presented a rather
different version: his wife had refused to uproot their children from
their home in Bremerton, Washington, to join him in California. Their
marriage was by now in terminal difficulties and he chose to stay in
In August 1945 Hubbard moved into the Pasadena mansion of John "Jack"
Whiteside Parsons. A leading rocket propulsion researcher at the
California Institute of Technology and a founder of the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Parsons led a double life as an avid occultist and
Thelemite, follower of the English ceremonial magician Aleister
Crowley and leader of a lodge of Crowley's magical order, Ordo Templi
Orientis (OTO). He let rooms in the house only to tenants who
he specified should be "atheists and those of a Bohemian
Hubbard befriended Parsons and soon became sexually involved with
Parsons's 21-year-old girlfriend, Sara "Betty" Northrup. Despite
this Parsons was very impressed with Hubbard and reported to Crowley:
[Hubbard] is a gentleman; he has red hair, green eyes, is honest and
intelligent, and we have become great friends. He moved in with me
about two months ago, and although Betty and I are still friendly, she
has transferred her sexual affection to Ron. Although he has no formal
training in Magick, he has an extraordinary amount of experience and
understanding in the field. From some of his experiences I deduced
that he is in direct touch with some higher intelligence, possibly his
Guardian Angel. He describes his Angel as a beautiful winged woman
with red hair whom he calls the Empress and who has guided him through
his life and saved him many times. He is the most Thelemic person I
have ever met and is in complete accord with our own principles.
Hubbard, whom Parsons referred to in writing as "Frater H", became
an enthusiastic collaborator in the Pasadena OTO. The two men
collaborated on the "
Babalon Working", a sex magic ritual intended to
summon an incarnation of Babalon, the supreme Thelemite Goddess. It
was undertaken over several nights in February and March 1946 in order
to summon an "elemental" who would participate in further sex
Richard Metzger describes it,
Parsons used his "magical wand" to whip up a vortex of energy so the
elemental would be summoned. Translated into plain English, Parsons
jerked off in the name of spiritual advancement whilst Hubbard
(referred to as "The Scribe" in the diary of the event) scanned the
astral plane for signs and visions.
The "elemental" arrived a few days later in the form of Marjorie
Cameron, who agreed to participate in Parsons' rites. Soon
afterwards, Parsons, Hubbard and Sara agreed to set up a business
partnership, "Allied Enterprises", in which they invested nearly their
entire savings—the vast majority contributed by Parsons. The plan
was for Hubbard and Sara to buy yachts in
Miami and sail them to the
West Coast to sell for a profit. Hubbard had a different idea; he
wrote to the U.S. Navy requesting permission to leave the country "to
visit Central & South America & China" for the purposes of
"collecting writing material"—in other words, undertaking a world
Aleister Crowley strongly criticized Parsons's actions,
writing: "Suspect Ron playing confidence trick—Jack Parsons weak
fool—obvious victim prowling swindlers." Parsons attempted to
recover his money by obtaining an injunction to prevent Hubbard and
Sara leaving the country or disposing of the remnants of his
assets. They attempted to sail anyway but were forced back to
port by a storm. A week later, Allied Enterprises was dissolved.
Parsons received only a $2,900 promissory note from Hubbard and
returned home "shattered". He had to sell his mansion to developers
soon afterwards to recoup his losses.
Hubbard's fellow writers were well aware of what had happened between
him and Parsons.
L. Sprague de Camp
L. Sprague de Camp wrote to
Isaac Asimov on August
27, 1946, to tell him:
The more complete story of Hubbard is that he is now in Fla. living on
his yacht with a man-eating tigress named Betty-alias-Sarah, another
of the same kind ... He will probably soon thereafter arrive in
these parts with Betty-Sarah, broke, working the poor-wounded-veteran
racket for all its worth, and looking for another easy mark. Don't say
you haven't been warned. Bob [Robert Heinlein] thinks Ron went to
pieces morally as a result of the war. I think that's fertilizer, that
he always was that way, but when he wanted to conciliate or get
something from somebody he could put on a good charm act. What the war
did was to wear him down to where he no longer bothers with the
On August 10, 1946, Hubbard bigamously married Sara, while still
married to Polly. It was not until 1947 that his first wife learned
that he had remarried. Hubbard agreed to divorce Polly in June that
year and the marriage was dissolved shortly afterwards, with Polly
given custody of the children.
Origins of Dianetics
Masters of Sleep, one of Hubbard's last works of pulp fiction, on the
cover of the October 1950 issue of Fantastic Adventures
After Hubbard's wedding to Sara, the couple settled at Laguna Beach,
California, where Hubbard took a short-term job looking after a
friend's yacht before resuming his fiction writing to supplement
the small disability allowance that he was receiving as a war
veteran. Working from a trailer in a run-down area of North
Hollywood, Hubbard sold a number of science fiction stories that
Ole Doc Methuselah
Ole Doc Methuselah series and the serialized novels The
End Is Not Yet and To the Stars. However, he remained short of
money and his son,
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard Jr, testified later that Hubbard was
dependent on his own father and Margaret's parents for money and his
writings, which he was paid at a penny per word, never garnered him
any more than $10,000 prior to the founding of Scientology. He
repeatedly wrote to the Veterans Administration (VA) asking for an
increase in his war pension. In October 1947 he wrote:
After trying and failing for two years to regain my equilibrium in
civil life, I am utterly unable to approach anything like my own
competence. My last physician informed me that it might be very
helpful if I were to be examined and perhaps treated psychiatrically
or even by a psychoanalyst. Toward the end of my service I avoided out
of pride any mental examinations, hoping that time would balance a
mind which I had every reason to suppose was seriously affected. I
cannot account for nor rise above long periods of moroseness and
suicidal inclinations, and have newly come to realize that I must
first triumph above this before I can hope to rehabilitate myself at
The VA eventually did increase his pension, but his money
problems continued. On August 31, 1948, he was arrested in San Luis
Obispo, California, and subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of
petty theft, for which he was ordered to pay a $25 fine (equivalent to
$255 in 2017). According to the Church of Scientology, around
this time he "accept[ed] an appointment as a
Special Police Officer
Los Angeles Police Department
Los Angeles Police Department and us[ed] the position to
study society's criminal elements" and also "worked with
neurotics from the Hollywood film community".
In late 1948 Hubbard and Sara moved to Savannah, Georgia. Here,
Scientology sources say, he "volunteer[ed] his time in hospitals and
mental wards, saving the lives of patients with his counseling
techniques". Hubbard began to make the first public mentions of
what was to become Dianetics. His first thoughts on the subject were
compiled in a short book called The Original Thesis, which contained
basic conclusions about human aberrations and handling them with
auditing. His first published articles in
Dianetics were “Terra
Incognita: The Mind” in the
Explorer Club Journal and another one
that impacted people more heavily in Astounding Science Fiction. The
positive public response to these articles led Hubbard to expand it to
Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Scientologists
consider the publication of the volume in May 9, 1950 as “a seminal
event of the century.”
He wrote in January 1949 that he was working on a "book of psychology"
about "the cause and cure of nervous tension", which he was going to
call The Dark Sword, Excalibur or Science of the Mind. In April
1949, Hubbard wrote to several professional organizations to offer his
research. None were interested, so he turned to his editor John
W. Campbell, who was more receptive due to a long-standing fascination
with fringe psychologies and psychic powers ("psionics") that
"permeated both his fiction and non-fiction".
Campbell invited Hubbard and Sara to move into a cottage at Bay Head,
New Jersey, not far from his own home at Plainfield. In July 1949,
Campbell recruited an acquaintance, Dr. Joseph Winter, to help develop
Hubbard's new therapy of "Dianetics". Campbell told Winter:
With cooperation from some institutions, some psychiatrists, [Hubbard]
has worked on all types of cases. Institutionalized schizophrenics,
apathies, manics, depressives, perverts, stuttering, neuroses—in
all, nearly 1000 cases. But just a brief sampling of each type; he
doesn't have proper statistics in the usual sense. But he has one
statistic. He has cured every patient he worked with. He has cured
ulcers, arthritis, asthma.
Hubbard collaborated with Campbell and Winter to refine his
techniques, testing them on science fiction fans recruited by
Campbell. The basic principle of
Dianetics was that the brain
recorded every experience and event in a person's life, even when
unconscious. Bad or painful experiences were stored as what he called
"engrams" in a "reactive mind". These could be triggered later in
life, causing emotional and physical problems. By carrying out a
process he called "auditing", a person could be regressed through his
engrams to re-experiencing past experiences. This enabled engrams to
be "cleared". The subject, who would now be in a state of "Clear",
would have a perfectly functioning mind with an improved IQ and
photographic memory. The "Clear" would be cured of physical
ailments ranging from poor eyesight to the common cold, which
Hubbard asserted were purely psychosomatic.
Winter submitted a paper on
Dianetics to the Journal of the American
Medical Association and the
American Journal of Psychiatry but both
journals rejected it. Hubbard and his collaborators decided to
Dianetics in Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction instead.
In an editorial, Campbell said: "Its power is almost unbelievable; it
proves the mind not only can but does rule the body completely;
following the sharply defined basic laws set forth, physical ills such
as ulcers, asthma and arthritis can be cured, as can all other
psychosomatic ills." The birth of Hubbard's second daughter
Alexis Valerie, delivered by Winter on March 8, 1950, came in the
middle of the preparations to launch Dianetics. A "Hubbard
Dianetic Research Foundation" was established in April 1950 in
Elizabeth, New Jersey, with Hubbard, Sara, Winter and Campbell on the
board of directors.
Dianetics as “the hidden source of all
psychosomatic ills and human aberration” when he introduced
Dianetics to the world in the 1950s. He further claimed that “skills
have been developed for their invariable cure.”
duly launched in Astounding's May 1950 issue and on May 9, Hubbard's
companion book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was
published by Hermitage House. Hubbard abandoned freelance writing
in order to promote Dianetics, writing several books about it in the
next decade, delivering an estimated 4,000 lectures while founding
Dianetics research organizations. The etymological origin of the
Dianetics are the words dia, meaning "through" and nous, meaning
"soul." Hubbard defined it as “a spiritual healing technology” and
“an organized science of thought.”
Dianetics to Scientology
Main article: History of Dianetics
Hubbard conducting a
Dianetics seminar in Los Angeles, 1950
Dianetics "a milestone for man comparable to his
discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and the
arch". It was an immediate commercial success and sparked what Martin
Gardner calls "a nationwide cult of incredible proportions". By
August 1950, Hubbard's book had sold 55,000 copies, was selling at the
rate of 4,000 a week and was being translated into French, German and
Japanese. Five hundred Dianetic auditing groups had been set up across
the United States.
Dianetics was poorly received by the press and the scientific and
medical professions. The American Psychological Association
criticized Hubbard's claims as "not supported by empirical
Scientific American said that Hubbard's book contained
"more promises and less evidence per page than any publication since
the invention of printing", while
The New Republic
The New Republic called it a
"bold and immodest mixture of complete nonsense and perfectly
reasonable common sense, taken from long acknowledged findings and
disguised and distorted by a crazy, newly invented terminology".
Some of Hubbard's fellow science fiction writers also criticized it;
Isaac Asimov considered it "gibberish" while Jack Williamson
called it "a lunatic revision of Freudian psychology".
Several famous individuals became involved with Dianetics. Aldous
Huxley received auditing from Hubbard himself; the poet Jean
Toomer and the science fiction writers Theodore Sturgeon and
A. E. van Vogt
A. E. van Vogt became trained
Dianetics auditors. Van Vogt temporarily
abandoned writing and became the head of the newly established Los
Angeles branch of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation. Other
branches were established in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and
Dianetics was not cheap, a great many people were nonetheless
willing to pay; van Vogt later recalled "doing little but tear open
envelopes and pull out $500 checks from people who wanted to take an
auditor's course". Financial controls were lax. Hubbard himself
withdrew large sums with no explanation of what he was doing with it.
On one occasion, van Vogt saw Hubbard taking a lump sum of $56,000
(equivalent to $0.5 million at 2010 prices) out of the Los Angeles
Foundation's proceeds. One of Hubbard's employees, Helen O'Brien,
commented that at the Elizabeth, N.J. branch of the Foundation, the
books showed that "a month's income of $90,000 is listed, with only
$20,000 accounted for".
Hubbard played a very active role in the
Dianetics boom, writing,
lecturing and training auditors. Many of those who knew him spoke of
being impressed by his personal charisma. Jack Horner, who became a
Dianetics auditor in 1950, later said, "He was very impressive,
dedicated and amusing. The man had tremendous charisma; you just
wanted to hear every word he had to say and listen for any pearl of
Isaac Asimov recalled in his autobiography how, at a
dinner party, he, Robert Heinlein,
L. Sprague de Camp
L. Sprague de Camp and their wives
"all sat as quietly as pussycats and listened to Hubbard. He told
tales with perfect aplomb and in complete paragraphs." As Atack
comments, he was "a charismatic figure who compelled the devotion of
those around him". Christopher Evans described the personal
qualities that Hubbard brought to
Dianetics and Scientology:
He undoubtedly has charisma, a magnetic lure of an indefinable kind
which makes him the centre of attraction in any kind of gathering. He
is also a compulsive talker and pontificator ... His restless
energy keeps him on the go throughout a long day—he is a poor
sleeper and rises very early—and provides part of the drive which
has allowed him to found and propagate a major international
Hubbard's supporters soon began to have doubts about Dianetics. Winter
became disillusioned and wrote that he had never seen a single
convincing Clear: "I have seen some individuals who are supposed to
have been 'clear,' but their behavior does not conform to the
definition of the state. Moreover, an individual supposed to have been
'clear' has undergone a relapse into conduct which suggests an
incipient psychosis." He also deplored the Foundation's omission
of any serious scientific research.
Dianetics lost public
credibility in August 1950 when a presentation by Hubbard before an
audience of 6,000 at the
Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles failed
disastrously. He introduced a Clear named Sonya Bianca and told
the audience that as a result of undergoing Dianetic therapy she now
possessed perfect recall. However, Gardner writes, "in the
demonstration that followed, she failed to remember a single formula
in physics (the subject in which she was majoring) or the color of
Hubbard's tie when his back was turned. At this point, a large part of
the audience got up and left."
Hubbard also faced other practitioners moving into leadership
positions within the
Dianetics community. It was structured as an
open, public practice in which others were free to pursue their own
lines of research and claim that their approaches to auditing produced
better results than Hubbard's. The community rapidly splintered
and its members mingled Hubbard's ideas with a wide variety of
esoteric and even occult practices. By late 1950, the Elizabeth,
N.J. Foundation was in financial crisis and the Los Angeles Foundation
was more than $200,000 in debt (equivalent to $1,678,995 in
2017). Winter and Art Ceppos, the publisher of Hubbard's book,
resigned under acrimonious circumstances. Campbell also resigned,
criticizing Hubbard for being impossible to work with, and blamed him
for the disorganization and financial ruin of the Foundations. By
the summer of 1951, the Elizabeth, N.J. Foundation and all of its
branches had closed.
The collapse of Hubbard's marriage to Sara created yet more problems.
He had begun an affair with his 20-year-old public relations assistant
in late 1950, while Sara started a relationship with
Miles Hollister. Hubbard secretly denounced the couple to the FBI
in March 1951, portraying them in a letter as communist infiltrators.
According to Hubbard, Sara was "currently intimate with [communists]
but evidently under coercion. Drug addiction set in fall 1950. Nothing
of this known to me until a few weeks ago." Hollister was described as
having a "sharp chin, broad forehead, rather Slavic". He was said to
be the "center of most turbulence in our organization" and "active and
FBI did not take Hubbard seriously: an agent
annotated his correspondence with the comment, "Appears mental."
Three weeks later, Hubbard and two Foundation staff seized Sara and
his year-old daughter Alexis and forcibly took them to San Bernardino,
California, where he attempted unsuccessfully to find a doctor to
examine Sara and declare her insane. He let Sara go but took
Alexis to Havana, Cuba. Sara filed a divorce suit on April 23, 1951,
that accused him of marrying her bigamously and subjecting her to
sleep deprivation, beatings, strangulation, kidnapping and
exhortations to commit suicide. The case led to newspaper
headlines such as "Ron Hubbard Insane, Says His Wife." Sara
finally secured the return of her daughter in June 1951 by agreeing to
a settlement with her husband in which she signed a statement, written
by him, declaring:
The things I have said about
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard in courts and the public
prints have been grossly exaggerated or entirely false. I have not at
any time believed otherwise than that
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard is a fine and
Dianetics appeared to be on the edge of total collapse. However, it
was saved by Don Purcell, a millionaire businessman and Dianeticist
who agreed to support a new Foundation in Wichita, Kansas. Their
collaboration ended after less than a year when they fell out over the
future direction of Dianetics. The Wichita Foundation became
financially nonviable after a court ruled that it was liable for the
unpaid debts of its defunct predecessor in Elizabeth, N.J. The ruling
prompted Purcell and the other directors of the Wichita Foundation to
file for voluntary bankruptcy in February 1952. Hubbard resigned
immediately and accused Purcell of having been bribed by the American
Medical Association to destroy Dianetics. Hubbard established a
"Hubbard College" on the other side of town where he continued to
Dianetics while fighting Purcell in the courts over the
Foundation's intellectual property.
Only six weeks after setting up the Hubbard College and marrying a
staff member, 18-year-old Mary Sue Whipp, Hubbard closed it down and
moved with his new bride to Phoenix, Arizona. He established a Hubbard
Association of Scientologists International to promote his new
"Science of Certainty"—Scientology. W. Vaughn Mccall,
distinguished Professor and Chairman, Georgia Regents University,
Scientology and Dianetics:
Dianetics is all about
releasing the mind from the "distorting influence of engrams", and
Scientology "is the study and handling of the spirit in relation to
itself, universes and other life".
Rise of Scientology
Main article: Scientology
See also: Timeline of Scientology
Hubbard established an "Academy of Scientology" at this Northwest,
Washington, D.C. building in 1955. It is now the
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard House
The Church of
Scientology attributes its genesis to Hubbard's
discovery of "a new line of research"—"that man is most
fundamentally a spiritual being (a thetan)". Non-Scientologist
writers have suggested alternative motives: that he aimed "to reassert
control over his creation", that he believed "he was about to
lose control of Dianetics", or that he wanted to ensure "he would
be able to stay in business even if the courts eventually awarded
Dianetics and its valuable copyrights to ... the hated
Hubbard expanded upon the basics of
Dianetics to construct a
spiritually oriented (though at this stage not religious) doctrine
based on the concept that the true self of a person was a thetan —
an immortal, omniscient and potentially omnipotent entity.
Hubbard taught that thetans, having created the material universe, had
forgotten their god-like powers and become trapped in physical
Scientology aimed to "rehabilitate" each person's self
(the thetan) to restore its original capacities and become once again
an "Operating Thetan". Hubbard insisted humanity was
imperiled by the forces of "aberration", which were the result of
engrams carried by immortal thetans for billions of years.
Ohio State University
Ohio State University professor Hugh Urban asserted that
Hubbard had adopted many of his theories from the early to mid 20th
century astral projection pioneer
Sylvan Muldoon stating that
Hubbard's description of exteriorizing the thetan is extremely similar
if not identical to the descriptions of astral projection in occult
literature popularized by Muldoon's widely read Phenomena of Astral
Projection (1951) (co-written with Hereward Carrington)  and that
Muldoon's description of the astral body as being connected to the
physical body by a long thin, elastic cord is virtually identical to
the one described in Hubbard's "Excalibur" vision.
Hubbard introduced a device called an
E-meter that he presented as
having, as Miller puts it, "an almost mystical power to reveal an
individual's innermost thoughts". He promulgated Scientology
through a series of lectures, bulletins and books such as A History of
Man ("a cold-blooded and factual account of your last sixty trillion
years") and Scientology: 8-8008 ("With this book, the ability to
make one's body old or young at will, the ability to heal the ill
without physical contact, the ability to cure the insane and the
incapacitated, is set forth for the physician, the layman, the
mathematician and the physicist.")
Scientology was organized in a very different way from the
Dianetics movement. The Hubbard Association of
Scientologists (HAS) was the only official
Training procedures and doctrines were standardized and promoted
through HAS publications, and administrators and auditors were not
permitted to deviate from Hubbard's approach. Branches or "orgs"
were organized as franchises, rather like a fast food restaurant
chain. Each franchise holder was required to pay ten percent of income
to Hubbard's central organization. They were expected to find new
recruits, known as "raw meat", but were restricted to providing only
basic services. Costlier higher-level auditing was only provided by
Hubbard's central organization.
Although this model would eventually be extremely successful,
Scientology was a very small-scale movement at first. Hubbard started
off with only a few dozen followers, generally dedicated Dianeticists;
a seventy-hour series of lectures in
Philadelphia in December 1952 was
attended by just 38 people. Hubbard was joined in Phoenix by his
18-year-old son Nibs, who had been unable to settle down in high
school. Nibs had decided to become a Scientologist, moved into
his father's home and went on to become a
Scientology staff member and
"professor". Hubbard also traveled to the United Kingdom to
establish his control over a
Dianetics group in London. It was very
much a shoestring operation; as Helen O'Brien later recalled, "there
was an atmosphere of extreme poverty and undertones of a grim
conspiracy over all. At 163
Holland Park Avenue
Holland Park Avenue was an ill-lit lecture
room and a bare-boarded and poky office some eight by ten
feet—mainly infested by long haired men and short haired and tatty
women." On September 24, 1952, only a few weeks after arriving in
London, Hubbard's wife Mary Sue gave birth to her first child, a
daughter whom they named Diana Meredith de Wolfe Hubbard.
In February 1953, Hubbard acquired a doctorate from the unaccredited
Sequoia University. According to a
Scientology biography, this was
"given in recognition of his outstanding work on Dianetics" and "as an
inspiration to the many people ... who had been inspired by him
to take up advanced studies in this field ..." The British
government concluded in the 1970s that
Sequoia University was a
"degree mill" operated by Joseph Hough, a Los Angeles
chiropractor. Miller cites a telegram sent by Hubbard on February
27, 1953, in which he instructed Scientologist Richard de Mille to
procure him a
Ph.D. from Hough urgently—"FOR GOSH SAKES EXPEDITE.
WORK HERE UTTERLY DEPENDANT ON IT." Hough's "university" was
closed down by the Californian authorities in 1971. British government
officials noted in a report written in 1977: "It has not and never had
any authority whatsoever to issue diplomas or degrees and the dean is
sought by the authorities 'for questioning'."
A few weeks after becoming "Dr." Hubbard, he wrote to Helen
O'Brien—who had taken over the day-to-day management of Scientology
in the United States—proposing that
Scientology should be
transformed into a religion. As membership declined and finances
grew tighter, Hubbard had reversed the hostility to religion he voiced
in Dianetics. His letter to O'Brien discussed the legal and
financial benefits of religious status. The idea may not have
been new; Hubbard has been quoted as telling a science fiction
convention in 1948: "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a
man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to
start his own religion." Scholar J. Gordon Melton
notes, "There is no record of Hubbard having ever made this statement,
though several of his science fiction colleagues have noted the
broaching of the subject on one of their informal conversations."
The Church of
Scientology has denied that Hubbard said this and
insists that it is a misattributed quote that was said instead by
George Orwell. Hubbard outlined plans for setting up a chain
of "Spiritual Guidance Centers" charging customers $500 for
twenty-four hours of auditing ("That is real money ... Charge
enough and we'd be swamped."). He wrote:
I await your reaction on the religion angle. In my opinion, we
couldn't get worse public opinion than we have had or have less
customers with what we've got to sell. A religious charter would be
necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick. But I sure could
make it stick.
O'Brien was not enthusiastic and resigned the following September,
worn out by work. She criticized Hubbard for creating "a
temperate zone voodoo, in its inelasticity, unexplainable procedures,
and mindless group euphoria". He nonetheless pressed ahead and on
December 18, 1953, he incorporated the Church of Scientology, Church
of American Science and Church of Spiritual Engineering in Camden, New
Jersey. Hubbard, his wife Mary Sue and his secretary John Galusha
became the trustees of all three corporations. Hubbard later
denied founding the Church of Scientology, and to this day,
Scientologists maintain that the "founding church" was actually the
Scientology of California, established on February 18, 1954,
by Scientologist Burton Farber. The reason for Scientology's
religious transformation was explained by officials of the HAS:
[T]here is little doubt but what [sic] this stroke will remove
Scientology from the target area of overt and covert attacks by the
medical profession, who see their pills, scalpels, and
appendix-studded incomes threatened ... [Scientologists] can
avoid the recent fiasco in which a Pasadena practitioner is reported
to have spent 10 days in that city's torture chamber for "practicing
medicine without a license."
Scientology franchises became Churches of
Scientology and some
auditors began dressing as clergymen, complete with clerical collars.
If they were arrested in the course of their activities, Hubbard
advised, they should sue for massive damages for molesting "a Man of
God going about his business". A few years later he told
Scientologists: "If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or
anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat
against them to cause them to sue for peace ... Don't ever
defend, always attack." Any individual breaking away from
Scientology and setting up his own group was to be shut down:
The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to
win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment
on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that
he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his
professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.
The 1950s saw
Scientology growing steadily. Hubbard finally achieved
victory over Don Purcell in 1954 when the latter, worn out by constant
litigation, handed the copyrights of
Dianetics back to Hubbard.
Most of the formerly independent
Dianetics groups were
either driven out of business or were absorbed into Hubbard's
organizations. Hubbard marketed
Scientology through medical
claims, such as attracting polio sufferers by presenting the Church of
Scientology as a scientific research foundation investigating polio
cases. One advertisement during this period stated:
Plagued by illness? We'll make you able to have good health. Get
processed by the finest capable auditors in the world today [...]
Personally coached and monitored by L. Ron Hubbard.
Scientology became a highly profitable enterprise for Hubbard. He
implemented a scheme under which he was paid a percentage of the
Church of Scientology's gross income and by 1957 he was being paid
about $250,000 (equivalent to
US$ 2,178,318 in 2017). His family
grew, too, with Mary Sue giving birth to three more
children—Geoffrey Quentin McCaully on January 6, 1954; Mary
Suzette Rochelle on February 13, 1955; and Arthur Ronald Conway
on June 6, 1958. In the spring of 1959, he used his new-found
wealth to purchase Saint Hill Manor, an 18th-century country house in
Sussex, formerly owned by Sawai Man Singh II, the Maharaja of Jaipur.
The house became Hubbard's permanent residence and an international
training center for Scientologists.
Controversies and crises
L. Ron Hubbard House
L. Ron Hubbard House at Camelback in Phoenix, Az. The house is
listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
L. Ron Hubbard’s car, a 1947 Buick Super 8. The car is parked behind
By the start of the 1960s, Hubbard was the leader of a worldwide
movement with thousands of followers. A decade later, however, he had
Saint Hill Manor
Saint Hill Manor and moved aboard his own private fleet of ships
as the Church of
Scientology faced worldwide controversy.
The Church of
Scientology says that the problems of this period were
due to "vicious, covert international attacks" by the United States
government, "all of which were proven false and baseless, which were
to last 27 years and finally culminated in the Government being sued
for 750 million dollars for conspiracy." Behind the attacks,
stated Hubbard, lay a vast conspiracy of "psychiatric front groups"
secretly controlling governments: "Every single lie, false charge and
Scientology has been traced directly to this group's
members. They have sought at great expense for nineteen years to crush
and eradicate any new development in the field of the mind. They are
actively preventing any effectiveness in this field."
Hubbard believed that
Scientology was being infiltrated by saboteurs
and spies and introduced "security checking" to identify those he
termed "potential trouble sources" and "suppressive persons". Members
of the Church of
Scientology were interrogated with the aid of
E-meters and were asked questions such as "Have you ever practiced
homosexuality?" and "Have you ever had unkind thoughts about L. Ron
Hubbard?" For a time, Scientologists were even interrogated about
crimes committed in past lives: "Have you ever destroyed a culture?"
"Did you come to Earth for evil purposes?" "Have you ever zapped
He also sought to exert political influence, advising Scientologists
to vote against
Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election and
establishing a Department of Government Affairs "to bring government
and hostile philosophies or societies into a state of complete
compliance with the goals of Scientology". This, he said, "is done by
high-level ability to control and in its absence by a low-level
ability to overwhelm. Introvert such agencies. Control such
The U.S. Government was already well aware of Hubbard's activities.
FBI had a lengthy file on him, including a 1951 interview with an
agent who considered him a "mental case". Police forces in a
number of jurisdictions began exchanging information about Scientology
through the auspices of Interpol, which eventually led to
prosecutions. In 1958, the U.S.
Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service withdrew
Washington, D.C. Church of Scientology's tax exemption after it
found that Hubbard and his family were profiting unreasonably from
Scientology's ostensibly non-profit income. The Food and Drug
Administration took action against Scientology's medical claims,
seizing thousands of pills being marketed as "radiation cures" as
well as publications and E-meters. The Church of
required to label them as being "ineffective in the diagnosis or
treatment of disease".
Following the FDA's actions,
Scientology attracted increasingly
unfavorable publicity across the English-speaking world. It faced
particularly hostile scrutiny in Victoria, Australia, where it was
accused of brainwashing, blackmail, extortion and damaging the mental
health of its members. The Victorian state government established
a Board of Inquiry into
Scientology in November 1963. Its report,
published in October 1965, condemned every aspect of
Hubbard himself. He was described as being of doubtful sanity, having
a persecution complex and displaying strong indications of paranoid
schizophrenia with delusions of grandeur. His writings were
characterized as nonsensical, abounding in "self-glorification and
grandiosity, replete with histrionics and hysterical, incontinent
Roy Wallis comments that the report
drastically changed public perceptions of Scientology:
The former conception of the movement as a relatively harmless, if
cranky, health and self-improvement cult, was transformed into one
which portrayed it as evil, dangerous, a form of hypnosis (with all
the overtones of
Svengali in the layman's mind), and
The report led to
Scientology being banned in Victoria, Western
Australia and South Australia, and led to more negative publicity
around the world. Newspapers and politicians in the UK pressed the
British government for action against Scientology. In April 1966,
hoping to form a remote "safe haven" for Scientology, Hubbard traveled
to the southern African country
Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) and looked
into setting up a base there at a hotel on Lake Kariba. Despite his
attempts to curry favour with the local government—he personally
delivered champagne to Prime Minister Ian Smith's house, but Smith
refused to see him—
Rhodesia promptly refused to renew Hubbard's
visa, compelling him to leave the country. In July 1968, the
British Minister of Health, Kenneth Robinson, announced that foreign
Scientologists would no longer be permitted to enter the UK and
Hubbard himself was excluded from the country as an "undesirable
alien". Further inquiries were launched in Canada, New Zealand
and South Africa.
Hubbard took three major new initiatives in the face of these
challenges. "Ethics Technology" was introduced to tighten internal
discipline within Scientology. It required Scientologists to
"disconnect" from any organization or individual—including family
members—deemed to be disruptive or "suppressive". According to
church-operated websites, “A person who disconnects is simply
exercising his right to communicate or not to communicate with a
particular person." Hubbard stated: “Communication, however, is a
two-way flow. If one has the right to communicate, then one must also
have the right to not receive communication from another. It is this
latter corollary of the right to communicate that gives us our right
to privacy.” Scientologists were also required to write
"Knowledge Reports" on each other, reporting transgressions or
Scientology methods. Hubbard promulgated a long
list of punishable "Misdemeanors", "Crimes", and "High Crimes".
The "Fair Game" policy was introduced, which was applicable to anyone
deemed an "enemy" of Scientology: "May be deprived of property or
injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of
the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or
At the start of March 1966, Hubbard created the Guardian's Office
(GO), a new agency within the Church of
Scientology that was headed by
his wife Mary Sue. It dealt with Scientology's external affairs,
including public relations, legal actions and the gathering of
intelligence on perceived threats. As
increasingly negative media attention, the GO retaliated with hundreds
of writs for libel and slander; it issued more than forty on a single
day. Hubbard ordered his staff to find "lurid, blood sex crime
actual evidence [sic] on [Scientology's] attackers".
Finally, at the end of 1966, Hubbard acquired his own fleet of
ships. He established the "Hubbard Explorational Company Ltd"
which purchased three ships—the Enchanter, a forty-ton
schooner, the Avon River, an old trawler, and the Royal
Scotman [sic], a former
Irish Sea cattle ferry that he made his home
and flagship. The ships were crewed by the
Sea Organization or
Sea Org, a group of Scientologist volunteers, with the support of a
couple of professional seamen.
Commodore of the Sea Org
Main article: Sea Org
Corfu town, where the
Sea Org moored in 1968–1969
After Hubbard created the
Sea Org "fleet" in early 1967 it began an
eight-year voyage, sailing from port to port in the Mediterranean Sea
and eastern North Atlantic. The fleet traveled as far as
Corfu in the
eastern Mediterranean and
Dakar and the
Azores in the Atlantic, but
rarely stayed anywhere for longer than six weeks. Ken Urquhart,
Hubbard's personal assistant at the time, later recalled:
[Hubbard] said we had to keep moving because there were so many people
after him. If they caught up with him they would cause him so much
trouble that he would be unable to continue his work, Scientology
would not get into the world and there would be social and economic
chaos, if not a nuclear holocaust.
When Hubbard established the
Sea Org he publicly declared that he had
relinquished his management responsibilities. According to Miller,
this was not true. He received daily telex messages from Scientology
organizations around the world reporting their statistics and income.
The Church of
Scientology sent him $15,000 (equivalent to $110,090 in
2017) a week and millions of dollars were transferred to his bank
Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Couriers arrived
regularly, conveying luxury food for Hubbard and his family or
cash that had been smuggled from England to avoid currency export
Along the way, Hubbard sought to establish a safe haven in "a friendly
little country where
Scientology would be allowed to prosper", as
Miller puts it. The fleet stayed at
Corfu for several months in
1968–1969. Hubbard renamed the ships after Greek gods—the Royal
Scotman was rechristened Apollo—and he praised the recently
established military dictatorship. The
Sea Org was represented as
Philosophy School" in a telegram to the Greek
government. In March 1969, however, Hubbard and his ships were
ordered to leave. In mid-1972, Hubbard tried again in Morocco,
establishing contacts with the country's secret police and training
senior policemen and intelligence agents in techniques for detecting
subversives. The program ended in failure when it became caught
up in internal Moroccan politics, and Hubbard left the country hastily
in December 1972.
At the same time, Hubbard was still developing Scientology's
Scientology biography states that "free of organizational
duties and aided by the first
Sea Org members,
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard now had
the time and facilities to confirm in the physical universe some of
the events and places he had encountered in his journeys down the
track of time." In 1965, he designated several existing
Scientology courses as confidential, repackaging them as the first of
the esoteric "OT levels". Two years later he announced the
release of OT3, the "Wall of Fire", revealing the secrets of an
immense disaster that had occurred "on this planet, and on the other
seventy-five planets which form this Confederacy, seventy-five million
years ago". Scientologists were required to undertake the first
two OT levels before learning how Xenu, the leader of the Galactic
Confederacy, had shipped billions of people to Earth and blown them up
with hydrogen bombs, following which their traumatized spirits were
stuck together at "implant stations", brainwashed with false memories
and eventually became contained within human beings. The
discovery of OT3 was said to have taken a major physical toll on
Hubbard, who announced that he had broken a knee, an arm, and his back
during the course of his research. A year later, in 1968, he
unveiled OT levels 4 to 6 and began delivering OT training courses to
Scientologists aboard the Royal Scotman.
Scientologists around the world were presented with a glamorous
picture of life in the
Sea Org and many applied to join Hubbard aboard
the fleet. What they found was rather different from the image.
Most of those joining had no nautical experience at all.
Mechanical difficulties and blunders by the crews led to a series of
embarrassing incidents and near-disasters. Following one incident in
which the rudder of the Royal Scotman was damaged during a storm,
Hubbard ordered the ship's entire crew to be reduced to a "condition
of liability" and wear gray rags tied to their arms. The ship
itself was treated the same way, with dirty tarpaulins tied around its
funnel to symbolize its lower status. According to those aboard,
conditions were appalling; the crew was worked to the point of
exhaustion, given meagre rations and forbidden to wash or change their
clothes for several weeks. Hubbard maintained a harsh
disciplinary regime aboard the fleet, punishing mistakes by confining
people in the Royal Scotman's bilge tanks without toilet facilities
and with food provided in buckets. At other times erring crew
members were thrown overboard with Hubbard looking on and,
occasionally, filming. David Mayo, a
Sea Org member at the time,
We tried not to think too hard about his behavior. It was not rational
much of the time, but to even consider such a thing was a
discreditable thought and you couldn't allow yourself to have a
discreditable thought. One of the questions in a sec[urity] check was,
"Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about LRH?" and you could get
into very serious trouble if you had. So you tried hard not to.
From about 1970, Hubbard was attended aboard ship by the children of
Sea Org members, organized as the Commodore's Messenger Organization
(CMO). They were mainly young girls dressed in hot pants and halter
tops, who were responsible for running errands for Hubbard such as
lighting his cigarettes, dressing him or relaying his verbal commands
to other members of the crew. In addition to his wife Mary
Sue, he was accompanied by all four of his children by her, though not
his first son Nibs, who had defected from
Scientology in late
1959. The younger Hubbards were all members of the
Sea Org and
shared its rigors, though
Quentin Hubbard reportedly found it
difficult to adjust and attempted suicide in mid-1974.
Life in hiding
Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service building in Washington D.C., one of the
targets of Hubbard's "Snow White Program"
During the 1970s, Hubbard faced an increasing number of legal threats.
French prosecutors charged him and the French Church of Scientology
with fraud and customs violations in 1972. He was advised that he was
at risk of being extradited to France. Hubbard left the Sea Org
fleet temporarily at the end of 1972, living incognito in Queens, New
York, until he returned to his flagship in September 1973 when
the threat of extradition had abated.
Scientology sources say
that he carried out "a sociological study in and around New York
Hubbard's health deteriorated significantly during this period. A
chain-smoker, he also suffered from bursitis and excessive weight, and
had a prominent growth on his forehead. He suffered serious
injuries in a motorcycle accident in 1973 and had a heart attack in
1975 that required him to take anticoagulant drugs for the next
year. In September 1978, Hubbard had a pulmonary embolism,
falling into a coma, but recovered.
He remained active in managing and developing Scientology,
establishing the controversial
Rehabilitation Project Force
Rehabilitation Project Force in
1974 and issuing policy and doctrinal bulletins. However,
the Sea Org's voyages were coming to an end. The Apollo was banned
from several Spanish ports and was expelled from
October 1975. The
Sea Org came to be suspected of being a CIA
operation, leading to a riot in Funchal, Madeira, when the Apollo
docked there. At the time, The Apollo Stars, a musical group founded
by Hubbard and made up entirely of shipbound members of the Sea Org,
was offering free on-pier concerts in an attempt to promote
Scientology, and the riot occurred at one of these events. Hubbard
decided to relocate back to the United States to establish a "land
base" for the
Sea Org in Florida. The Church of Scientology
attributes this decision to the activities on the Apollo having
"outgrow[n] the ship's capacity".
In October 1975, Hubbard moved into a hotel suite in Daytona Beach.
Fort Harrison Hotel
Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, was secretly acquired
as the location for the "land base". On December 5, 1975, Hubbard
and his wife Mary Sue moved into a condominium complex in nearby
Dunedin. Their presence was meant to be a closely guarded secret
but was accidentally compromised the following month. Hubbard
immediately left Dunedin and moved to Georgetown, Washington, D.C.,
accompanied by a handful of aides and messengers, but not his
wife. Six months later, following another security alert in July
1976, Hubbard moved to another safe house in Culver City, California.
He lived there for only about three months, relocating in October to
the more private confines of the Olive Tree Ranch near La Quinta.
His second son Quentin committed suicide a few weeks later in Las
Throughout this period, Hubbard was heavily involved in directing the
activities of the
Guardian's Office (GO), the legal
bureau/intelligence agency that he had established in 1966. He
Scientology was being attacked by an international Nazi
conspiracy, which he termed the "Tenyaka Memorial", through a network
of drug companies, banks and psychiatrists in a bid to take over the
world. In 1973, he instigated the "Snow White Program" and
directed the GO to remove negative reports about
government files and track down their sources. The GO was ordered
to "get all false and secret files on Scientology, LRH ... that
cannot be obtained legally, by all possible lines of approach ...
i.e., job penetration, janitor penetration, suitable guises utilizing
covers." His involvement in the GO's operations was concealed through
the use of codenames. The GO carried out covert campaigns on his
behalf such as Operation Bulldozer Leak, intended "to effectively
spread the rumor that will lead Government, media, and individual
[Suppressive Persons] to conclude that LRH has no control of the C of
S and no legal liability for Church activity". He was kept informed of
GO operations, such as the theft of medical records from a hospital,
harassment of psychiatrists and infiltrations of organizations that
had been critical of
Scientology at various times, such as the Better
Business Bureau, the American Medical Association, and American
Members of the GO infiltrated and burglarized numerous government
organizations, including the
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice and the
Internal Revenue Service. After two GO agents were caught in the
Washington, D.C. headquarters of the IRS, the
FBI carried out
simultaneous raids on GO offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
on July 7, 1977. They retrieved wiretap equipment, burglary tools and
some 90,000 pages of incriminating documents. Hubbard was not
prosecuted, though he was labeled an "unindicted co-conspirator" by
government prosecutors. His wife Mary Sue was indicted and
subsequently convicted of conspiracy. She was sent to a federal prison
along with ten other Scientologists.
Hubbard's troubles increased in February 1978 when a French court
convicted him in absentia for obtaining money under false pretenses.
He was sentenced to four years in prison and a 35,000FF ($7,000) fine,
equivalent to $26,264 in 2017. He went into hiding in April 1979,
moving to an apartment in Hemet, California, where his only contact
with the outside world was via ten trusted Messengers. He cut contact
with everyone else, even his wife, whom he saw for the last time in
August 1979. Hubbard faced a possible indictment for his role in
Operation Freakout, the GO's campaign against New York journalist
Paulette Cooper, and in February 1980 he disappeared into deep cover
in the company of two trusted Messengers, Pat and Anne
For the first few years of the 1980s, Hubbard and the Broekers lived
on the move, touring the Pacific Northwest in a recreational vehicle
and living for a while in apartments in
Newport Beach and Los
Angeles. Hubbard used his time in hiding to write his first new
works of science fiction for nearly thirty years—Battlefield Earth
(1982) and Mission Earth, a ten-volume series published between 1985
and 1987. They received mixed responses; as writer Jeff Walker
puts it, they were "treated derisively by most critics but greatly
admired by followers". Hubbard also wrote and composed music for
three of his albums, which were produced by the Church of Scientology.
The book soundtrack
Space Jazz was released in 1982. Mission
Earth and The Road to Freedom were released posthumously in 1986.
In Hubbard's absence, members of the
Sea Org staged a takeover of the
Scientology and purged many veteran Scientologists. A young
Messenger, David Miscavige, became Scientology's de facto leader. Mary
Sue Hubbard was forced to resign her position and her daughter Suzette
became Miscavige's personal maid.
Death and legacy
The ranch in San Luis Obispo County,
California where Hubbard spent
his final years
For the last two years of his life, Hubbard lived in a luxury Blue
Bird motorhome on Whispering Winds, a 160-acre ranch near Creston,
California. He remained in deep hiding while controversy raged in the
outside world about whether he was still alive and if so, where. He
spent his time "writing and researching", according to a spokesperson,
and pursued photography and music, overseeing construction work and
checking on his animals. He repeatedly redesigned the property,
spending millions of dollars remodeling the ranch house—which went
virtually uninhabited—and building a quarter-mile horse-racing track
with an observation tower, which reportedly was never used.
He was still closely involved in managing the Church of Scientology
via secretly delivered orders and continued to receive large
amounts of money, of which Forbes magazine estimated "at least $200
million [was] gathered in Hubbard's name through 1982." In September
1985, the IRS notified the Church that it was considering indicting
Hubbard for tax fraud.
Hubbard suffered further ill-health, including chronic pancreatitis,
during his residence at Whispering Winds. He suffered a stroke on
January 17, 1986, and died a week later. His body was
cremated and the ashes were scattered at sea.
announced that his body had become an impediment to his work and that
he had decided to "drop his body" to continue his research on another
planet, having "learned how to do it without a body".
Hubbard was survived by his wife Mary Sue and all of his children
except his second son Quentin. His will provided a trust fund to
support Mary Sue; her children Arthur, Diana and Suzette; and
Katherine, the daughter of his first wife Polly. He disinherited
two of his other children. L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. had become
estranged, changed his name to "Ronald DeWolf" and, in 1982, sued
unsuccessfully for control of his father's estate. Alexis
Valerie, Hubbard's daughter by his second wife Sara, had attempted to
contact her father in 1971. She was rebuffed with the implied claim
that her real father was Jack Parsons rather than Hubbard, and that
her mother had been a
Nazi spy during the war. Both later
accepted settlements when litigation was threatened. In 2001,
Diana and Suzette were reported to still be Church members, while
Arthur had left and become an artist. Hubbard's great-grandson, Jamie
DeWolf, is a noted slam poet.
The copyrights of his works and much of his estate and wealth were
willed to the Church of Scientology. In a bulletin dated May 5,
1980, Hubbard told his followers to preserve his teachings until an
eventual reincarnation when he would return "not as a religious leader
but as a political one". The
Church of Spiritual Technology
Church of Spiritual Technology (CST),
a sister organization of the Church of Scientology, has engraved
Hubbard's entire corpus of
Dianetics texts on steel
tablets stored in titanium containers. They are buried at the
Trementina Base in a vault under a mountain near Trementina, New
Mexico, on top of which the CST's logo has been bulldozed on such a
gigantic scale that it is visible from space.
Hubbard is the Guinness World Record holder for the most published
author, with 1,084 works, most translated book (70 languages for
The Way to Happiness) and most audiobooks (185 as of April
2009). According to Galaxy Press, Hubbard's Battlefield Earth has
sold over 6 million copies and Mission Earth a further 7 million, with
each of its ten volumes becoming
New York Times
New York Times bestsellers on their
release; however, the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times reported in 1990 that
Hubbard's followers had been buying large numbers of the books and
re-issuing them to stores, so as to boost sales figures. Opinions
are divided about his literary legacy. Scientologists have written of
their desire to "make Ron the most acclaimed and widely known author
of all time". The sociologist
William Sims Bainbridge
William Sims Bainbridge writes that
even at his peak in the late 1930s Hubbard was regarded by readers of
Astounding Science Fiction as merely "a passable, familiar author but
not one of the best", while by the late 1970s "the [science fiction]
subculture wishes it could forget him" and fans gave him a worse
rating than any other of the "Golden Age" writers.
Posthumously, the Los Angeles City Council named a part of the street
close to the headquarters of
Scientology in 1996, as recognition of
Hubbard. In 2011, the West Valley City Council declared March 13
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard Centennial Day. On April 2016, the New Jersey
State Board of Education approved Hubbard’s birthday as one of its
In 2004, eighteen years after Hubbard's death, the Church claimed
eight million followers worldwide. According to religious scholar J.
Gordon Melton, this is an overestimate, counting as Scientologists
people who had merely bought a book. The City University of New
American Religious Identification Survey
American Religious Identification Survey found that by 2009
only 25,000 Americans identified as Scientologists. Hubbard's
presence still pervades Scientology. Every Church of Scientology
maintains an office reserved for Hubbard, with a desk, chair and
writing equipment, ready to be used.
Lonnie D. Kliever notes that
Hubbard was "the only source of the religion, and he has no
successor". Hubbard is referred to simply as "Source" within
Scientology and the theological acceptability of any
Scientology-related activity is determined by how closely it adheres
to Hubbard's doctrines. Hubbard's name and signature are official
trademarks of the Religious Technology Center, established in 1982 to
control and oversee the use of Hubbard's works and Scientology's
trademarks and copyrights. The RTC is the central organization within
Scientology's complex corporate hierarchy and has put much effort into
re-checking the accuracy of all
Scientology publications to "ensur[e]
the availability of the pure unadulterated writings of Mr. Hubbard to
the coming generations".
The Danish historian of religions
Mikael Rothstein describes
Scientology as "a movement focused on the figure of Hubbard". He
comments: "The fact that [Hubbard's] life is mythologized is as
obvious as in the cases of Jesus,
Muhammad or Siddartha Gotama. This
is how religion works. Scientology, however, rejects this analysis
altogether, and goes to great lengths to defend every detail of
Hubbard's amazing and fantastic life as plain historical fact."
Hubbard is presented as "the master of a multitude of disciplines" who
performed extraordinary feats as a photographer, composer, scientist,
therapist, explorer, navigator, philosopher, poet, artist,
humanitarian, adventurer, soldier, scout, musician and many other
fields of endeavor. The Church of
Scientology portrays Hubbard's
life and work as having proceeded seamlessly, "as if they were a
continuous set of predetermined events and discoveries that unfolded
through his lifelong research" even up to and beyond his death.
According to Rothstein's assessment of Hubbard's legacy, Scientology
consciously aims to transfer the charismatic authority of Hubbard to
institutionalize his authority over the organization, even after his
death. Hubbard is presented as a virtually superhuman religious ideal
Scientology itself is presented as the most important
development in human history. As Rothstein puts it, "reverence
for Scientology's scripture is reverence for Hubbard, the man who in
the Scientological perspective single-handedly brought salvation to
all human beings."
David G. Bromley of the University of Virginia
comments that the real Hubbard has been transformed into a "prophetic
persona", "LRH", which acts as the basis for his prophetic authority
Scientology and transcends his biographical history.
According to Dorthe Refslund Christensen, Hubbard's hagiography
directly compares him with Buddha. Hubbard is viewed as having made
Eastern traditions more accessible by approaching them with a
scientific attitude. "Hubbard is seen as the ultimate-cross-cultural
savior; he is thought to be able to release man from his miserable
condition because he had the necessary background, and especially the
Hubbard, although increasingly deified after his death, is the model
Thetan to Scientologists and their founder, and not God.
Hubbard then is the "Source", "inviting others to follow his path in
ways comparable to a Bodhisattva figure" according to religious
scholar Donald A. Westbrook. Scientologists refer to
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard as
"Ron", referring to him as a personal friend.
Gerry Armstrong, formerly Hubbard's official biographical researcher,
whose trial disclosed many details of Hubbard's life
Following Hubbard's death, Bridge Publications has published several
stand-alone biographical accounts of his life. Marco Frenschkowski
notes that "non-Scientologist readers immediately recognize some parts
of Hubbard's life are here systematically left out: no information
whatsoever is given about his private life (his marriages, divorces,
children), his legal affairs and so on." The Church maintains an
extensive website presenting the official version of Hubbard's
life. It also owns a number of properties dedicated to Hubbard
including the Los Angeles-based
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition (a
presentation of Hubbard's life), the Author Services Center (a
presentation of Hubbard's writings), and the
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard House
in Washington, D.C.
In late 2012, Bridge published a comprehensive official biography of
Hubbard, titled The
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard Series: A Biographical
Encyclopedia, written primarily by Dan Sherman, the official Hubbard
biographer at the time. This most recent official Church of
Scientology biography of Hubbard is a 17 volume series, with each
volume focusing on a different aspect of Hubbard's life, including his
music, photography, geographic exploration, humanitarian work, and
nautical career. It is advertised as a "Biographic Encyclopedia" and
is primarily authored by the official biographer, Dan Sherman.
To date, there has not been a single-volume comprehensive official
biography published  During his lifetime, a number of brief
biographical sketches were also published in his
The Church of
Scientology issued "the only authorized LRH Biography"
in October 1977 (it has since been followed by the Sherman "Biographic
Encyclopedia"). His life was illustrated in print in What Is
Scientology?, a glossy publication published in 1978 with paintings of
Hubbard's life contributed by his son Arthur.
In the late 1970s two men began to assemble a very different picture
of Hubbard's life. Michael Linn Shannon, a resident of Portland,
Oregon, became interested in Hubbard's life story after an encounter
Scientology recruiter. Over the next four years he collected
previously undisclosed records and documents. He intended to write an
exposé of Hubbard and sent a copy of his findings and key records to
a number of contacts but was unable to find a publisher.
Shannon's findings were acquired by Gerry Armstrong, a Scientologist
who had been appointed Hubbard's official archivist. He had been
given the job of assembling documents relating to Hubbard's life for
the purpose of helping Omar V. Garrison, a non-Scientologist who had
written two books sympathetic to Scientology, to write an official
biography. However, the documents that he uncovered convinced both
Armstrong and Garrison that Hubbard had systematically misrepresented
his life. Garrison refused to write a "puff piece" and declared that
he would not "repeat all the falsehoods they [the Church of
Scientology] had perpetuated over the years". He wrote a "warts and
all" biography while Armstrong quit Scientology, taking five boxes of
papers with him. The Church of
Mary Sue Hubbard
Mary Sue Hubbard sued
for the return of the documents while settling out of court with
Garrison, requiring him to turn over the nearly completed manuscript
of the biography. In October 1984 Judge Paul G. Breckenridge
ruled in Armstrong's favor, saying:
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. At the
same time it appears that he is charismatic and highly capable of
motivating, organizing, controlling, manipulating and inspiring his
adherents. He has been referred to during the trial as a "genius," a
"revered person," a man who was "viewed by his followers in awe."
Obviously, he is and has been a very complex person and that
complexity is further reflected in his alter ego, the Church of
In November 1987, the British journalist and writer Russell Miller
published Bare-faced Messiah, the first full-length biography of L.
Ron Hubbard. He drew on Armstrong's papers, official records and
interviews with those who had known Hubbard including
ex-Scientologists and family members. The book was well-received by
reviewers but the Church of
Scientology sought unsuccessfully to
prohibit its publication on the grounds of copyright
infringement. Other critical biographical accounts are found in
L. Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman? (1987) and Jon
A Piece of Blue Sky
A Piece of Blue Sky (1990).
Hagiographical accounts published by the Church of Scientology
describe Hubbard as "a child prodigy of sorts" who rode a horse before
he could walk and was able to read and write by the age of four.
Scientology profile says that he was brought up on his grandfather's
"large cattle ranch in Montana" where he spent his days "riding,
breaking broncos, hunting coyote and taking his first steps as an
explorer". His grandfather is described as a "wealthy Western
cattleman" from whom Hubbard "inherited his fortune and family
interests in America, Southern Africa, etc."
that Hubbard became a "blood brother" of the Native American Blackfeet
tribe at the age of six through his friendship with a Blackfeet
Queen Anne High School, Seattle, which
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard attended in
However, contemporary records show that his grandfather, Lafayette
Waterbury, was a veterinarian, not a rancher, and was not wealthy.
Hubbard was actually raised in a townhouse in the center of
Helena. According to his aunt, his family did not own a ranch but
did own one cow and four or five horses on a few acres of land outside
the city. Hubbard lived over a hundred miles from the Blackfeet
reservation. While some sources support Scientology's claim of
Hubbard's blood brotherhood, other sources say that the tribe did not
practice blood brotherhood and no evidence has been found that he had
ever been a Blackfeet blood brother.
Scientology biographies, during a journey to Washington,
D.C. in 1923 Hubbard learned of
Freudian psychology from Commander
Joseph "Snake" Thompson, a U.S. Navy psychoanalyst and medic.
Scientology biographies describe this encounter as giving Hubbard
training in a particular scientific approach to the mind, which he
found unsatisfying. In his diary, Hubbard claimed he was the
youngest Eagle Scout in the U.S.
Scientology texts present Hubbard's travels in Asia as a time when he
was intensely curious for answers to human suffering and explored
ancient Eastern philosophies for answers, but found them lacking.
He is described as traveling to China "at a time when few Westerners
could enter" and according to Scientology, spent his time
questioning Buddhist lamas and meeting old Chinese magicians.
According to church materials, his travels were funded by his "wealthy
Scientology accounts say that Hubbard "made his way deep into
Manchuria's Western Hills and beyond — to break bread with
Mongolian bandits, share campfires with Siberian shamans and befriend
the last in the line of magicians from the court of Kublai Khan".
However, Hubbard did not record these events in his diary. He
remained unimpressed with China and the Chinese, writing: "A Chinaman
can not live up to a thing, he always drags it down." He characterized
the sights of
Beijing as "rubberneck stations" for tourists and
described the palaces of the
Forbidden City as "very trashy-looking"
and "not worth mentioning". He was impressed by the Great Wall of
China near Beijing, but concluded of the Chinese: "They smell of
all the baths they didn't take. The trouble with China is, there are
too many chinks here."
Despite not graduating from George Washington, Hubbard claimed "to be
not only a graduate engineer, but 'a member of the first United States
course in formal education in what is called today nuclear
physics.'" However, a Church of
Scientology biography describes
him as "never noted for being in class" and says that he "thoroughly
detest[ed] his subjects". He earned poor grades, was placed on
probation in September 1931 and dropped out altogether in the fall of
Scientology accounts say that he "studied nuclear physics at George
Washington University in Washington, D.C., before he started his
studies about the mind, spirit and life" and Hubbard himself
stated that he "set out to find out from nuclear physics a knowledge
of the physical universe, something entirely lacking in Asian
philosophy". His university records indicate that his exposure to
"nuclear physics" consisted of one class in "atomic and molecular
phenomena" for which he earned an "F" grade.
Scientologists claim he was more interested in extracurricular
activities, particularly writing and flying. According to church
materials, "he earned his wings as a pioneering barnstormer at the
dawn of American aviation" and was "recognized as one of the
country's most outstanding pilots. With virtually no training time, he
takes up powered flight and barnstorms throughout the Midwest."
His airman certificate, however, records that he qualified to fly only
gliders rather than powered aircraft and gave up his certificate when
he could not afford the renewal fee.
Luquillo, Puerto Rico, near where Scientologists say Hubbard carried
out the "West Indies Mineralogical Survey" in 1932
After leaving university Hubbard traveled to Puerto Rico on what the
Scientology calls the "Puerto Rican Mineralogical
Expedition". Scientologists claim he "made the first complete
mineralogical survey of Puerto Rico" as a means of "augmenting his
[father's] pay with a mining venture", during which he "sluiced inland
rivers and crisscrossed the island in search of elusive gold" as well
as carrying out "much ethnological work amongst the interior villages
and native hillsmen". Hubbard's unofficial biographer Russell
Miller writes that neither the
United States Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey nor the
Puerto Rican Department of Natural Resources have any record of any
According to the Church of Scientology, Hubbard was "called to
Hollywood" to work on film scripts in the mid-1930s, although
Scientology accounts differ as to exactly when this was (whether
1935, 1936 or 1937). The Church of
Scientology claims he
also worked on the Columbia serials
The Mysterious Pilot
The Mysterious Pilot (1937), The
Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1938) and The Spider Returns
(1941), though his name does not appear on the credits. Hubbard
also claimed to have written Dive Bomber (1941), Cecil B.
The Plainsman (1936) and John Ford's Stagecoach (1939).
Scientology accounts of the expedition to
Alaska describe "Hubbard's
recharting of an especially treacherous Inside Passage, and his
ethnological study of indigenous Aleuts and Haidas" and tell of how
"along the way, he not only roped a Kodiak Bear, but braved
seventy-mile-an-hour winds and commensurate seas off the Aleutian
Islands." They are divided about how far Hubbard's expedition
actually traveled, whether 700 miles (1,100 km) or 2,000
miles (3,200 km).
The Church disputes the official record of Hubbard's naval career. It
asserts that the records are incomplete and perhaps falsified "to
conceal Hubbard's secret activities as an intelligence officer".
In 1990 the Church provided the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times with a document that
was said to be a copy of Hubbard's official record of service. The
U.S. Navy told the Times that "its contents are not supported by
Hubbard's personnel record."
The New Yorker
The New Yorker reported in February
2011 that the
Scientology document was considered by federal
archivists to be a forgery.
The Church of
Scientology presents him as a "much-decorated war hero
who commanded a corvette and during hostilities was crippled and
Scientology publications say he served as a "Commodore
Corvette squadrons" in "all five theaters of World War II" and was
awarded "twenty-one medals and palms" for his service. He was
"severely wounded and was taken crippled and blinded" to a military
hospital, where he "worked his way back to fitness, strength and full
perception in less than two years, using only what he knew and could
determine about Man and his relationship to the universe". He
said that he had seen combat repeatedly, telling
A. E. van Vogt
A. E. van Vogt that
he had once sailed his ship "right into the harbor of a Japanese
occupied island in the Dutch East Indies. His attitude was that if you
took your flag down the Japanese would not know one boat from another,
so he tied up at the dock, went ashore and wandered around by himself
for three days."
Hubbard's war service has great significance in the history and
mythology of the Church of Scientology, as he is said to have cured
himself through techniques that would later underpin
Dianetics. According to Moulton, Hubbard told him that he had been
machine-gunned in the back near the Dutch East Indies. Hubbard
asserted that his eyes had been damaged as well, either "by the flash
of a large-caliber gun" or when he had "a bomb go off in my face".
Scientology texts say that he returned from the war "[b]linded with
injured optic nerves, and lame with physical injuries to hip and back"
and was twice pronounced dead.
The Church of
Scientology says that Hubbard's key breakthrough in the
Dianetics was made at
Oak Knoll Naval Hospital
Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in
Oakland, California. According to the Church,
In early 1945, while recovering from war injuries at Oak Knoll Naval
Hospital, Mr. Hubbard conducts a series of tests and experiments
dealing with the endocrine system. He discovers that, contrary to
long-standing beliefs, function monitors structure. With this
revolutionary advance, he begins to apply his theories to the field of
the mind and thereby to improve the conditions of others.
Scientology accounts do not mention Hubbard's involvement in
occultism. He is instead described as "continu[ing] to write to help
support his research" during this period into "the development of a
means to better the condition of man". The Church of Scientology
has nonetheless acknowledged Hubbard's involvement with the OTO; a
1969 statement, written by Hubbard himself, said:
Hubbard broke up black magic in America ...
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard was
still an officer of the U.S. Navy, because he was well known as a
writer and a philosopher and had friends amongst the physicists, he
was sent in to handle the situation. He went to live at the house and
investigated the black magic rites and the general situation and found
them very bad ...
Hubbard's mission was successful far beyond anyone's expectations. The
house was torn down. Hubbard rescued a girl they were using. The black
magic group was dispersed and destroyed and has never recovered.
The Church of
Scientology says Hubbard was "sent in" by his fellow
science fiction author Robert Heinlein, "who was running off-book
intelligence operations for naval intelligence at the time". However,
Heinlein's authorized biographer has said that he looked into the
matter at the suggestion of Scientologists but found nothing to
corroborate claims that Heinlein had been involved, and his biography
of Heinlein makes no mention of the matter.
The Church of
Scientology says Hubbard quit the Navy because it
"attempted to monopolize all his researches and force him to work on a
project 'to make man more suggestible' and when he was unwilling,
tried to blackmail him by ordering him back to active duty to perform
this function. Having many friends he was able to instantly resign
from the Navy and escape this trap." The Navy said in a statement
in 1980: "There is no evidence on record of an attempt to recall him
to active duty."
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard bibliography
See also: Bibliography of
Scientology and Written works of L. Ron
According to the Church of Scientology, Hubbard produced some 65
million words on
Dianetics and Scientology, contained in about 500,000
pages of written material, 3,000 recorded lectures and 100 films. His
works of fiction included some 500 novels and short stories.
Hubbard “published nearly 600 books, stories, and articles during
his lifetime.” He sold over 23 million copies of fiction and 27
million copies of nonfiction.
Norton S. Karno, an attorney for the Church of
Scientology and for L.
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