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The selling of Scientology // Hubbard's motivations revealed in correspondence

Title: The selling of Scientology // Hubbard's motivations revealed in correspondence
Date: Sunday, 26 May 1985
Publisher: The Oregonian (Portland)
Author: Fred Leeson
Main source: link (385 KiB)

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Three years after publishing a best-selling book in 1950 about his theories for improving mental health, L. Ron Hubbard, 42, was living in Spain and worrying about money.

An idea struck him. Why not present Scientology as a religion, he suggested in a letter written to Helen O'Brien, then the head of an organization for marketing his mental health concepts known as the Hubbard Association of Scientologists.

This was the formative stage of the Church of Scientology. Over the next 30 years it evolved into a complex welter of legal entities and, with the help of sophisticated sales techniques, attracted millions of buyers to its courses and services.

As the church grew, Hubbard's original interest in money never waned, according to documents admitted as exhibits in the Multnomah County Circuit Court fraud trial that awarded former Scientologist Julie Christofferson Titchbourne $20 million in punitive damages against Hubbard, and another $19 million in damages against two church entities.

Church attorneys filed a motion for a mistrial on Friday. Circuit Judge Donald H. Londer scheduled a hearing for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Hubbard made his concerns about income clear to O'Brien in the 1953 letter. "I didn't go to all the work I went to on the HAS and other things to forget that my own revenue has to be a lot better than it has been in the past," he wrote her.

"As it is right now and as it cannot continue to be I am running an awful lot of show personally on no money," he continued.

Hubbard's claims for improving mental health and curing psychosomatic ills already had drawn criticism from portions of the medical and business world. But Hubbard outlined to O'Brien a new angle: "We don't want a clinic," he wrote. "We want one in operation but not in name. Perhaps we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Center. Think up its name, will you.

Practical business problem

"And we could put in nice desks and our boys in neat blue with diplomas on the walls and 1. knock psychotherapy into history and 2. make enough money to shine up my operating scope and 3. keep the HAS solvent. It is a problem in practical business.

"I await your reaction on the religion angle," Hubbard continued. "In my opinion we couldn't get worse public opinion than we have had or 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."

Armed with religious charters and aggressive sales techniques, the Church of Scientology proved to be a rapid financial success. Hubbard himself collected an unspecified total believed to range in the tens of millions of dollars from Scientology over the years, according to the testimony of former Scientologists who said they were familiar with the financial books of the church and Hubbard's personal accounts.

"None of these documents says Scientology is not a religion," said the Rev. John Carmichael of the Portland Scientology mission, referring to the O'Brien letter and the church sales policies. "Appeals courts and theologians have said Scientology is a religion."

Carmichael said the documents were offered at the trial "in an attempt to distract jurors from the issue of freedom of religion and the fact that Scientology is a religion." At the trial, the church did not call any high-ranking members to discuss the origins of the church or its sales policies.

By 1968, Hubbard, who also was a successful science fiction writer, had accumulated enough money to buy a 360-foot yacht. He spent the next seven years sailing to warm-water ports with a corps of 200 to 400 Scientologists known as the Sea Organization who were dedicated to expanding Scientology throughout the world. Hubbard gave himself the title of commodore, a title he still holds in the paramilitary structure of the Sea Org.

Follow statistics

Hubbard's emphasis on productivity was reflected in an internal policy letter he wrote in 1965. "We operate on statistics," he said. "These show whether or not a staff member or group is working or not working as the work produces the statistic. If he doesn't work effectively the statistic inevitably goes down. If he works effectively, the statistic goes up."

He wrote in 1967, "To me a staff member whose stats are up can do no wrong. I am not interested in wog (non-Scientology) morality. I am only interested in getting the show on the road and keeping it there."

Each Scientology organization prepares weekly stat sheets showing income and the number of people involved in courses, according to trial testimony. Hubbard also receives a weekly stat sheet showing his personal income and net worth, a former Scientologist who prepared the reports in 1982 testified.

Sales techniques used by the church have varied over the years but a common thread has been to keep any newcomer from leaving without buying books, courses or auditing. Auditing is the question-and-answer processing that occurs between an auditor and a subject while the subject is linked to an E-meter, a device described in court as a primitive lie detector. It measures electrical currents flowing through a person's hands.

In a bulletin issued in 1959, Hubbard outlined a Personal Efficiency Foundation to be used by 'Scientology organizations for recruiting newcomers. "The whole dream of a PE Foundation is to get the people in fast, get them invoiced in a congress type assembly line, no waiting, give them hot, excited, positive service and boot them through" to higher Scientology courses, he wrote.

Too tough

"And never let a student leave or quit — introvert him like a bullet and get him to get audited. If he gets no reality don't let him wander out. If he walks in that door for a free PE, that's it. He doesn't get out except into an individual auditor's hands in the real tough cases, until he's an HAS (Hubbard Apprentice Scientologist)."

But Hubbard warned in the same bulletin that advanced instructors should not teach the introductory communications course included in the PE. "The Academy man will be too tough and heartless for the public stomachs at this stage," he said.

The same year, Hubbard issued a bulletin on "dissemination tips" for Scientology recruitment. In descending order of importance, he listed personal contact, books, "casualty contact," newspaper ads and talking to groups.

Hubbard said casualty contact "is very old, is almost never tried and is always roaringly successful, providing the auditor goes about it in roughly the right way.

"Using his minister's card, an auditor need only barge into any non-sectarian hospital, get permission to visit the wards from the superintendent, mentioning nothing about processing but only about taking care of people's souls, to find himself wonderfully welcome."

As a practical tip, Hubbard advised, "Don't pick on the very bad off unconscious cases. Hit the fracture ward and the maternity ward." He advised the auditors to make sure they leave a phone number behind and to make sure an answering service will take the calls. He said some auditors "fail to tell the people they snap away from death's yawning door that they can have more of this stuff simply by calling in."

Scientology witnesses in the case said the casualty contact method has not been used in Portland.

New techniques

Starting in 1972, Hubbard approved new sales policies based on a book called "Big League Sales" written by an automobile salesman.

"A situation exists in some orgs (Scientology organizations) where sales are very low," Hubbard wrote in 1974. "A second situation exists in several orgs where only very tiny payments are made by the public on the 'sales' that are made.

"Further data is that Big League Sales has not been pushed for a year," he continued.

"Selling, closing deals, getting the money is a highly specialized tech. I have seen a Reg (registrar) actually offer credit or suggest a tiny payment when the prospect was sitting there with the full price in his pocket, ready to hand it over," Hubbard wrote.

"On the other side of the scene, there are Reges who seem utterly magical. People walk in and buy in droves, the money mounts up to great heights.

"One could say these magical people may have a 'knack' for selling, a talent. And leave it to mystery. It is no mystery. They use the tech of selling and use it straight. They are not in doubt about what they are doing. They do it ... They just plow right ahead and SELL and CLOSE and take the money in full."

The sales policy outlined by Hubbard called for the placing of electronic listening devices in sales rooms so the executive director could overbear "at any time any interview in progress." Hubbard also urged that listening devices be placed on telephones "so that at any time a phone interview can be monitored but not interrupted."

Martin L. Samuels, former head of the Portland mission, testified that he thought the sales rooms were bugged in Portland during his tenure in accordance with the policy. Laird D. Caruthers, a former registrar who sold courses to Titchbourne, said he was not aware of any bugging in the Portland office.

Other components of the sales program written by Hubbard called for the registrars to be indoctrinated that, "one customer walking out without buying something is a goofed Reg. action."

"Indoctrinate Reges into thinking big in terms of sales. But not to go after only some rumored big package and lose the rest," Hubbard wrote.

"Good luck and propserity," Hubbard wrote at the end of the sales directive. "The planet is ours. Grow up big enough to handle it."

[Picture / Caption: THE COMMODORE — Framed pictures of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Church of Scientology, are displayed prominently at Portland church, 215 S.E. Ninth Ave., where Rev. Heber Jentzsch (left) met with supporters after trial verdict May 17 against church. Jentzsch is president of Church of Scientology International. Hubbard is called commodore among Scientologists, the highest position in church's structure.]

Some Scientology claims and some evidence

Here is a list of the key representations Julie Christofferson Titchbourne said were made to her and on which she based her decision to join Scientology, followed by the evidence presented in court.

* Representation: L. Ron Hubbard is a nuclear physicist, a civil engineer and holds a degree from George Washington University.
* Evidence: Hubbard attended George Washington University during 1930-32 but did not graduate. His grades included an "F" in molecular anatomic phenomena, a "B" in civil engineering and a "D" in physics.

* Representation: L. Ron Hubbard is a graduate of Princeton University.
* Evidence: Hubbard while in the Navy attended a military government course given by the Navy on the Princeton campus during late 1944 and early 1945.

* Representations: L. Ron Hubbard was severely wounded in World War II and cured himself of being crippled and blind with Scientology techniques.
* Evidence: Hubbard never saw combat. He complained of a duodenal ulcer, arthritis, bursitis and conjunctivitis (an inflammation of the inner eyelids) and was granted a 40 percent Navy disability pension, which he still was receiving in 1973. He was granted 10 percent disability for conjunctivitis.

* Representation: Hubbard personally makes no more income from Scientology than a lowly Scientology staff member.
* Evidence: Plaintiff's witnesses said Hubbard collected millions of dollars from Scientology, including a six-month period of aggressive income collection in 1982 when his net worth rose from $10 million to $44 million. The defense did not offer detailed income evidence.

* Representation: Scientology courses come with a money-back guarantee.
* Evidence: The church discourages refunds and people insisting on them are subject to being declared "suppressive persons." Suppressives, according to a policy written by Hubbard, "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 destroyed."

* Representation: Scientology auditing improves creativity and increases personal intelligence by one IQ point for each hour of auditing.
* Evidence: Defense witnesses said auditing improved their creativity. No specific evidence was offered about 10 improvement per hour.

* Representations: Scientology processing can cure what they say are psychosomatic illnesses such as nearsightedness, arthritis, bursitis, allergies, plus criminal behavior, insanity, homosexuality and drug dependence.
* Evidence: Some defense witnesses said their eyesight had improved, some said theirs had not. Some defense witnesses also testified to improvement of allergies. The plaintiff did not offer expert testimony on these points.

* Representations: Titchbourne said she was told in 1975 that she could take college courses in architecture or civil engineering at the Delphian Foundation in Sheridan, that the foundation received government grants, that the college would be accredited in 1976 and that credits she earned could be transferred to any university in the nation.
* Evidence: No college courses were offered at the Delphian Foundation, and it did not become accredited as a college. The foundation received no government grants.