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Subject: DOC: "Ministry of Fear" article from People (1/24/83)
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People, January 24, 1983
Ministry of Fear
Written by John Saar / Reported by Patricia Goldstone
Last October in San Francisco, some 70 local leaders of the Church of
Scientology gathered to hear nine church executives harangue them about
their shortcomings. Styling themselves with titles that ranged from the
quasi-military ("Commander," "Warrant Officer") to the quasi-lunatic
("International Finance Dictator"), the men announced that they
represented the new hierarchy of the organization, and that they were bent
on purging deviationists from the ranks. When they spoke of technical
impurities in the local missions' dogma and practice, they used a jargon
so arcane that outsiders needed a six-page, single-spaced glossary to read
minutes of the meeting. When they spoke of what would happen to their
enemies, they made themselves frighteningly clear: "That person's future
is black," one "Commander" ranted of anyone who might dare defy the
church. "It is so black I can't even describe it right now. I can't even
find the words to describe how black that person's future is ... I mean it
is really black."
In Washington, D.C. this month, a federal judge sentenced Mary Sue Hubbard
to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine for conspiracy to obstruct
justice by covering up Scientology break-ins at federal offices. Hubbard,
51, is the third wife of L. Ron Hubbard, the former writer for Astounding
Science Fiction magazine who founded Scientology 28 years ago to
promulgate Dianetics, the "science" of mental health Hubbard developed in
the 1940s. Mary Sue was the last of 11 Scientology leaders to be
sentenced for the conspiracy.
In Riverside, Calif., a judge has ordered L. Ron Hubbard himself to appear
in court next April. Hubbard, 71, has not been seen in public for nearly
three years. His son, who changed his name to Ron DeWolf in 1972, claims
that Hubbard Sr. is dead or incapacitated. He wants the court to appoint
a trustee, forcing the church to turn over copyrights to his father's
books and Scientology techniques worth $500 million by some estimates.
At the best of times, the Church of Scientology has been controversial.
The "church" has no definable theology beyond an adherence to Hubbard's
principle that everybody on earth should be "cleared" -- i.e.,
successfully put through a course of Dianetics training. A spectacular
money-maker, the cult has assets estimated at $1 billion, including a
massive estate in Gilman Hot Springs, Calif., a Clearwater, Fla. hotel
complex and the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles, now its
headquarters. At its peak, the sect claimed a membership of 6.5 million
in 17 countries, and it has numbered such celebrities as John Travolta and
Cathy Lee Crosby among its devotees. Yet critics have long accused
Scientologists of harassing opponents with groundless lawsuits and even
physical threats; defectors allege that the church's real reason for
existence has always been simply to make money.
Now Scientology faces the greatest crisis of its history. Its leader is
in hiding, its governance is in disarray, the U.S. Tax Court is reviewing
its tax-exempt status based on 1970-72 IRS audits, and it is under sharp
legal attack. According to disaffected church members, the church is
crumbling from within. Bent Corydon, a former leader of a Riverside,
Calif. "mission" -- or local church -- which recently broke away from the
main body, says, "We've got a very bad image to overcome. Over the last
two years we've lost 80 percent of our older members, and recruiting is
half what it used to be."
Scientology's troubles have become public knowledge largely through the
efforts of Michael Flynn, a Boston lawyer. Flynn started representing ex-
Scientologists in suits against the church three years ago and has become
Scientology's most vocal critic. "Outrageousness and personal abuse
permeate the organization," Flynn claims -- and he has filed charges
against the church and its officers for 32 clients in 22 cases across the
His most explosive case developed two years ago, when he met Ronald
DeWolf. Now 48 and working as the manager of a Carson City, Nev.
apartment complex, DeWolf is Hubbard's son by his first wife, the late
Margaret Louise Grubb. From 1950 until 1959 he was second in command of
Hubbard's cult. The father and son gradually became estranged, and the
younger Ron went off with his wife in 1959 to live in obscurity -- until
Papers Flynn filed to support DeWolf's suit make a startling series of
allegations, many subsequently dismissed by the judge as irrelevant.
Denouncing his father as a paranoid schizophrenic, DeWolf charges that
Hubbard dabbled in black magic and practiced ritual abortion on his wife,
Margaret. In addition to these allegations, DeWolf says his father is
"one of the biggest con men of the century" and once ordered him to steal
an atomic bomb as part of a plot to take over the world. Hubbard's
followers believe that their leader spent 30 years researching the theory
of Scientology; DeWolf says that Ron Sr., author of Dianetics, the best-
selling bible of Scientology, wrote his books "off the top of his head"
while tripping on drugs like mescaline and cocaine throughout the 1950s.
"One of the most difficult things to deal with," says DeWolf, "is that it
sounds like a soap opera, but it's all true."
In DeWolf's account, based on his own experiences and reports from former
members, his father is an eccentric who lived in fear of germs and dust
and ordered his followers to wash his clothes 13 times in spring water
before he would put them on. Long a recluse, Hubbard Sr. dropped entirely
from sight in March of 1980 -- and that disappearance is the basis for De
Wolf's attempt to have his father declared dead or incompetent by the
court. Scientology officials point to the publication last year of
Hubbard's latest science fiction novel, Battlefield Earth, and his taped
New Year's greeting as proof that he is still alive. But one of Hubbard's
former intimates backs up the theory that something is drastically wrong
with the aging guru. Gerry Armstrong, a member from 1971 to 1981 who was
compiling Hubbard's papers for an official biography and is now suing the
church through Flynn, remembers the last time he saw the leader. "In
1980," Armstrong says, "Hubbard was physically weak and deteriorating
mentally. He lashed out irrationally at whoever was around him in mad
screaming fits. His paranoia grew progressively worse. He traveled
incognito in the back of a black panel van. He was obsessed about
cleanliness. His messengers preceded him everywhere wearing white gloves
to check for dust. He was an embarrassment to me, this person who had
been revered as a god."
The best evidence that Hubbard is at least incapacitated is the rapid
decay of his organization. DeWolf's court petition suggests a fierce
struggle for control of the cult between old-line Scientologists and a
handful of members in their early 20s who were brought up in the sect.
With Hubbard absent, and his wife sentenced and other Scientology leaders
serving prison terms, these people have apparently moved into a power
vacuum. The offspring of Scientologists, they are members of the "Sea
Organization" -- youngsters who served as personal attendants aboard
Hubbard's yacht, Apollo, during the 1970s, when Hubbard used the converted
English Channel steamer as a floating mansion-headquarters. Like the
prisoners in Plato's cave, the Sea Org staff has never really known the
outside world. They speak an ear-jarring mixture of computerese and Star
Trek terminology, rambling on about such things as being "on Source" --
following Hubbard's doctrine -- and "squirreling tech" -- using unapproved
versions of Dianetics.
Chief among these hierarchs may be David Miscavige, 22 a "Commander" who
presided at the San Francisco conference with local church leaders. "The
'anything goes' days are over," he railed at them. Warned a Miscavige
cohort: "You have a new breed of management in the church. They're tough,
they're ruthless, they are on Source."
Larry Heller, a church attorney, announced at the meeting that the
Religious Technology Center, a private corporation of which Miscavige was
an incorporator and initial trustee, now owns all of Hubbard's copyrights.
Flynn and DeWolf charge that the copyright assignment is a scheme to milk
hundreds of millions of dollars which belong to the Hubbard estate.
Already, says Flynn, Scientology officials have made more than $100
million from the copyrights. According to DeWolf's affidavit, there was
an attempt last June to withdraw $2 million with a forged check from an
account in Hubbard's name that contained copyright proceeds. "If you have
control of the copyrights, you have control of everything," Flynn
observes. At Scientology's world headquarters in L.A., Heber Jentzsch,
the cult's titular president -- who claims that Miscavige is merely an
employee -- says the copyright move was just a matter of re-organization:
"We wanted to show that Scientology technology will be preserved in its
pure state forever and the church will be preserved for the next 5,000
years," he says.
Scientology technology is simple. Basically, it is the use of a crude,
lie-detector-type device called an "E-meter" to diagnose an individual's
emotional state, followed by lengthy and expensive Dianetics counseling
sessions to deal with "problems" the meter detects -- and it is the basis
of the church's wealth. DeWolf and Flynn stand to profit greatly if they
win the copyrights. But both claim that they have suffered greatly as
well. DeWolf says that he, his wife, Henrietta, and their five children
have been harassed by Scientologists under his father's 1967 "Fair Game"
doctrine, which holds that any enemy of the church is open to harassment
and attack. DeWolf alleges that he was assaulted once in his own home,
and that the wheel nuts on his car were twice loosened in an attempt to
cause an accident. "You don't say goodbye to L. Ron Hubbard," he says.
Flynn and DeWolf see themselves as locked in mortal struggle with
Scientology -- and Hubbard, if he is alive. Claiming that his father has
an IQ of 200, DeWolf says, "It was a deadly combination, paranoia and that
IQ." In DeWolf's telling, Hubbard is a mad genius who, among other
deceits, fabricated his war record; he claimed that he had twice been
declared dead but brought himself back to life through Dianetics. DeWolf
asserts that records indicate he merely suffered from ulcers. DeWolf says
Hubbard also passed himself off as an expert on nuclear physics and
psychology -- though according to DeWolf his father had no training in
either. Gerry Armstrong supports this by stating that Hubbard once
attempted to buy himself a Nobel Prize.
In an affidavit submitted in connection with his suits, Flynn has detailed
a church operation (which he says was codenamed "Juggernaut") aimed at
putting an end to Flynn's lawsuits -- and perhaps to the lawyer himself.
Partially substantiated by some of the defectors from the cult whom he
represents, Flynn says that Juggernaut included hundreds of abusive phone
calls, a mailed murder threat, theft of documents from his office, nine
complaints against him filed with the Massachusetts Bar Association -- all
dismissed -- and even a telephone call to a friend of Flynn's in which the
lawyer was falsely accused of murdering a client's husband. What may have
been Juggernaut's most sinister operation may never be proved, however.
In October 1979, while Flynn was piloting his private plane on a trip to
South Bend, Ind., the engine failed. According to his affidavit, Flynn
made an emergency landing, and mechanics discovered that both fuel tanks
had been contaminated with water. Flynn cannot prove who sabotaged the
plane, but he has his suspicions.
The revolver that Michael Flynn now keeps in his desk drawer shows that he
is not unscarred by his brush with Scientology. Withal, he remains
confident of ultimate vindication. California Superior Court Judge J.
David Hennigan has openly challenged Hubbard to appear in his courtroom --
and has indicated that he may turn the copyrights over to an independent
trustee if Hubbard does not. "The only way they can defeat us is by
producing Hubbard -- and they can't," Flynn says. "If he's not dead, he's
old, sick and degenerate. His appearance would puncture forever the
church myth about his being the perfect man."
[box] An Org-speak sampler
The argot used by Scientology's new young leaders is so obscure that no
one outside the cult can understand it. The following are a few examples
of their virtually incomprehensible speech, taken from the minutes of the
October Mission-holders' meeting in San Francisco:
By association if no other reason you have allowed the missions to go
squirrel and I mean *squirrel!* ... Now right now you guys are CI on my
lines .. because you guys are sitting on public, you're ripping off the
-- International Finance Dictator Wendell Reynolds
Kingsley Wimbush's "dinging process" is completely squirrel. You won't
find it in any tech.
-- Commander David Miscavige
There's a little technique of make wrong when someone tries to put in
ethics. It's actually a suppressive make wrong. It goes "If you put in
ethics, we're going to crash our stats to show you that you can't put our
ethics in and that is a wrong indication."
Those of you who see to it, for some reason or another to fall by the
wayside and get caught up in squirreling get into a thing of trying to
tip-off pcs from orgs or downgrade tech or join up with squirrels.
-- Commander Ray Mithoff
As a commanding officer for many years, one of the main things I've been
dealing with is people not wearing their hat.
-- Captain Guillaume Lesevre