by Keith Edward Tolbert Judy Norton Taylor, former TV star of The Waltons, has recently tu
by Keith Edward Tolbert
Judy Norton Taylor, former TV star of The Waltons, has recently
turned to exploiting her bygone celebrity status for promoting
Dianetics, the controversial self-help book written by L. Ron
Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology. According
to Taylor, she is not alone as a performer who adheres to
Scientology as "other artists; Christy Allie, John Travolta,
Karen Black and Michael McNeal" are all scientologists.
Taylor promoted Dianetics in two shows at the Universal Mall in
Warren, MI, before hundreds of shoppers. The highly
coordinated show included a dramatic video tape on a large
screen TV touting Dianetics, followed by a session in which
scripted questions were asked of Taylor. In addition, there
were two literature tables filled with Dianetics
advertisements. As if that were not enough, the B.Dalton book
store, within easy sight of the show, featured two large
displays of Dianetics in the store's front.
While the show was certainly entertaining and Taylor congenial,
two aspects of the show might not have been clear to the
audience. First, in the video tape, Dianetics seemed to be
portrayed as a new scientific discovery when a paralyzed
football player is diagnosed as beyond the hope of medical
doctors. However, after a friend drops off a copy of
Dianetics, he is healed. [The doctors, seeing their economic
future in jeopardy, behind the back of the healed football
player, remark "We have to get rid of that book."]
Though unspoken, the visual grammar of the video speaks loudly
that Dianetics works like, if not better than, medical science.
However, in reality, the film never makes any spoken claim that
practicing Dianetics is able to heal anyone of anything.
Instead, the carefully scripted film has the healed football
player rejoicing "I read the book and Im healed." He does not
say "I read the book causing me to be healed" or "Im healed
because I read the book." In fact, a disclaimer embedded in
the credits at the end of the video dissociated Dianetics from
any claim to heal.
This is consistent with the history of Scientology.
Originally, L. Ron Hubbard attempted to establish Scientology
as a mental science, but was drummed out of the scientific
community. Later, he repackaged Scientology and began
marketing it as a religion. Taylor concurs on this point when
she said "It (Scientology) classifies itself as a religious
philosophy. Its a religion in the oldest sense of the word ...
the overall aspect is dealing with man as a spiritual being as
opposed to just a body. ... We are going in and treating the
persons mind and their spiritual side. Its considered a
religion from that aspect.... We are trying to raise the
spiritual awareness of the person and make them freer as a
spiritual being." Of course Scientologists have every right to
advertise their religion, but during this show, to me, it
seemed to be portrayed once again more as a science than as a
Secondly, to the typical shopper at the mall, the connection
between Dianetics and the Church of Scientology was not
apparent. "Scientology" was never mentioned
once in the film, from the platform or in the advertisements.
This may have been accidental, but in the face of all the
recent negative press regarding the Church of Scientology, I
doubt it. (For instance, several Scientology leaders were
recently arrested in Spain.)
The connection between Scientology and Dianetics is certainly
underscored as the film touting Dianetics is copyrighted by the
Church of Scientology and all of the addresses in the Dianetics
literature were of Scientology churches - not to mention that
Dianetics was authored by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church
of Scientology. Likewise, Judy Norton Taylor, her scripted
questioner and all the table-workers were Scientologists. In
fact, Taylor has achieved the level of "clear" inside
Scientology. During my interview, Taylor nicely summed up the
relation between Dianetics and the Church of Scientology when
she said "Dianetics is a separate subject within Scientology"
and that "it (Dianetics) is certainly a good introduction to
the subject (of getting clear)."
The Church of Scientology believes that man is a spirit
("Thetan" - usually residing in the skull) linked to a Body
which he controls through his Mind. Although this
"Spirit/Mind/Body" model bears some resemblance to a Biblical
model, it is in fact quite different. Each Thetan (Spirit),
according to Scientology, has existed for approximately 75
trillion years. Through our supposed thousands of
reincarnations during the past 75 trillion years we have had an
untold number of bad experience which have left their impact on
our brains ("Engrams"). Scientology seeks to remove our
alleged "Engrams" and thus make us all "clear."
When I asked Taylor about the charges some make that
Scientology is a cult, she replied "I certainly wouldnt
consider it (Scientology) a cult. My feeling is that its a
very workable technology." [A Biblical critique of Scientology
appeared in the April, 1987 issue of the ARC UPDATE or can be
order through the enclosed ARC Resource Catalogue.]
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank