All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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|LONDON (NEA) — The scene is a free
lecture sponsored by Scientology, the mind-bending cult
which has its world headquarters here in Britain, and
which is now being investigated by the British
government as "socially harmful."
"When Ron was discharged from the United States Navy after the war, he was blind and crippled. Now he is a cured man. O.K.? Ron has saved lots of famous people by his knowledge. Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra. O.K.?"
The "Ron" referred to by the speaker is Lafayette Ron Hubbard, Nebraska-born science fiction writer and founder of Scientology.
Hubbard, who is barred from living in Britain, now runs the movement from a yacht anchored off the Greek island of Corfu. Hubbard's presence is scarcely missed, though, for Scientology is booming both in Britain and the United States.
The weird religion now has over three million followers in America, I was told by the cult's official spokesman, with main command posts located in New-York and Los Angeles.
Chances are that Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor have never heard of Ron Hubbard. In fact, the Scientology lecturer carefully makes no claims that the two film stars had been "processed" as members of the cult.
By bandying such famous names around, Scientology has been able to rope in hundreds of gullible Britons, who pay up to [$864?] for a course of lectures, which are supposed to help them to discover their true identities and to lead better lives.
Film actor Stephen Boyd is a Scientology enthusiast, according to the newsletter put out by the cult. The 40-year-old actor, well-known for his roles in Western films, is quoted as saying that Scientology has helped his career "in every way."
Psychiatrists I have talked to readily agree that Scientology can do little harm to a person who is mentally and emotionally stable. But they are unanimous in warning of the damage it can do to those whose minds are disturbed.
The philosophy behind Scientology is a bizarre blend of science fiction and psychoanalysis. The actual "processing" consists of helping the individual to communicate better with his environment and with his fellow men, according to the cult's literature.
The movement has been condemned by a British minister of health as "socially harmful," and as a "potential menace to the personality and well-being" of its followers.
Headed by Sir John Foster, an eminent lawyer and Conservative Member of Parliament, a British government committee is expected to take testimony from those who have suffered by Scientology "processing."
Until last summer Americans came in droves to Saint Hill Manor, located in East Grinstead, Sussex, which is regarded as the "mother church" of Scientology. Last July the British government cracked down, announced that henceforth all such foreign "students" would be barred from entering Britain. Well over one hundred American Scientologists have since been turned away. A chartered flight of 180 New York "students" was canceled following the British ban.
Scientology now appears to have transferred the seat of its activity to the United States, and a "Saint Hill Manor" has actually been set up in Los Angeles, in emulation of the mother church here.
The real Saint Hill Manor was formerly owned by the Maharajah of Jaipur, and is set in 40 acres of magnificent parkland, with tennis courts, a swimming pool and other amenities. Nearby, the Scientologists have built a $750,000 castle in Norman baronial style, in which lectures are held.
In the absence of Ron Hubbard, on his yacht in the Mediterranean, David Gaiman, a Portsmouth business man, has become the spokesman for Scientology.
"It's true that we have in excess of three million members in the United States," he confirmed. "They come from all walks of life. "We even have officials of the National Aeronautics Space Agency as members, though no astronauts as yet."
Gaiman, who is in constant telex communication with Ron Hubbard in Greece, denies that Scientology preys upon those who are mentally disturbed.
"So far the authorities have been able to produce only one such case," he says. "It was that of a woman who worked for us for one month, and who was promptly discharged when we discovered that she had spent eight years in mental institutions."
East Grinstead natives, however, recall a girl who after taking a course in Scientology, rushed out in the street in her nightclothes and ended up in a police station in hysterical condition.
Last April an inquest was held in East Grinstead on a 20-year-old youth who had been found semiconscious and who died in hospital. He had been studying Scientology and it was said that he was suffering from "latent schizophrenia aggravated by his interest in Scientology."
|The inhabitants of this Sussex town
also claim that Scientologists have invaded the local
schools in an effort to recruit children aged from 6 to
14. These include mentally handicapped children
according to the complaints.
An armed truce now reigns in East Grinstead, though the townspeople regard the sect in their midst quite frankly as "a bunch of weirdies."
Ron Hubbard, 58-year-old, Nebraska-born founder of Scientology, has been accused of many things, but never of being short of cash.
Hubbard is in fact a millionaire whose millions are as mysterious as everything else about him.
The Scientologists claim Hubbard inherited his money from his grandfather, who was known as the cattle king of Montana. But others say that he made his pile from his book on "Dianetics," which was a long-time bestseller in America.
Hubbard is now supervising the design tests for a 225-foot yacht, which will cost him $2.5 million to build and will be christened "The Captain," according to Gaiman.
The cult leader has also been described as a nuclear physicist, which he is not, and as "Dr. Hubbard," for a Ph.D. awarded to him by the Sequoia University of California.
During World War II Hubbard served as a naval officer in the South Pacific and was severely wounded. He claims he was pronounced "dead" for eight minutes and later "given up" by a succession of doctors and psychiatrists.
During this period, Hubbard had his "blinding" revelation, which he formulated thus, "The human mind should be capable of solving the problem of the human mind." The statement figures prominently in all Scientology literature.
In 1950 he wrote a book, "Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health," which became an American best-seller. Science fiction fans took it up. So did university students and Hollywood film stars. Hubbard suddenly found himself in demand as a lecturer and could practically name his own fee.
By the time the Dianetics bubble finally burst, Hubbard offered the world Scientology, a religious philosophy based upon Dianetics.
One of the most striking features of Scientology is its jabberwocky jargon. Thus, "Preclears," or beginners, look forward to becoming "Operating Thetans," the "Ethics Officers," who are the movement's internal police, fight against "Suppressive Persons," while those unfortunates who are in a "Condition of Doubt" must wear a dirty rag around their left wrist.
The Melbourne commission which investigated the cult in 1965, prior to it being banned in Victoria, Australia, found: "Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially, and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill."
In recent months Scientology has taken steps to meet some of the objections of its critics:
However, this interpretation was encouraged by Ron Hubbard, who wrote that "we will become interested in the crimes of people who seek to stop us. If you oppose Scientology," Hubbard added, "we promptly look up — and find out and expose — your crimes."
When such "security checks" were given, the same questions were asked over and over, while the subject's emotional responses were measured by an "E-meter," a gadget not unlike a lie detector.
All the data thus gleaned was recorded and went into the subject's file. Sample questions prepared for the guidance of Scientology "Auditors" included the following:
Are you guilty of anything? Do you have a secret you're afraid I'll find out? Have you ever assaulted anyone, practiced cannibalism, been in jail? Have you ever plotted to destroy a member of your family? Have you had a member of your family in an insane asylum? Have you ever had unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology?
Quite apart from the objections to Scientology's brain-washing techniques, many Britons are alarmed by the power wielded by the "Ethics Officers," who act as the movement's internal police.
Among the "Ethics Orders" recently posted at London headquarters and rigidly enforced were the following:
"No staff or current students are to see the film '2001 — A Space Odyssey.' The film produces heavy and unnecessary restimulation."
"All staff are to wear a deodorant."
"Joe Doakes (real name withheld) is fined 2 pounds ($4.80) for being unshaven and scruffy on public lines. He is to open up his flows. He is to go out today before 3:00 p.m. and buy a 20 pounds suit (about $48 American). Something smooth. He is to have full hairdressing treatment after 2:00 p.m."
Pacific Stars & Stripes
Actor Stephen Boyd (above) is quoted by the sect as having been helped "in every way" by Scientology.