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Scientology responds

Title: Scientology responds
Date: Friday, 1 October 1993
Publisher: Premiere (magazine)
Main source: link (1.95 MiB)

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Last month we published an article by PREMIERE senior writer John H. Richardson that carefully examined the growing influence of Scientology in Hollywood. The Church vehemently protested the article, and we have given David Miscavige, the head of the Church, the right of reply. —Ed.

IT IS AN UNFORTUNATE FACT THAT late in the 20th century, I find myself defending my religion between these covers. It is, however, a necessity, for if truth is not presented, then untruths become accepted as fact.

It's a simple fact that prominence generates media coverage and, in turn, media coverage generates even greater visibility. But an inherent tension underlies that situation. The press lives on controversy. In fact, the media need controversy the way that people need oxygen, and since survival depends upon that basic need being met, there is no guarantee that any reporter will write the pure and simple truth about anything. That has certainly been the case with Scientology.

This is not just my opinion. Tom Maurstad in The Dallas Morning News said the recent PREMIERE article on Scientology ["Catch a Rising Star," September] was "written in classic conspiracy-theory fashion—full of vague, threat-filled innuendo." He also noted that "unsubstantiated rumors are treated as authoritative" and "normal facts are presented as abnormal."

PREMIERE's prejudice against my religion is so transparent that substituting Judaism for Scientology in the lead paragraph of the article, PREMIERE would find it somehow sinister that at a party celebrating the marriage of a Jewish couple, there "were two full tables Jews."

That sort of prejudice permeates the article.

Even when given the opportunity to find out what Scientology really is, PREMIERE chose not to. PREMIERE's writer had unparalleled access to top Church officials, conducting four days of interviews and tours of Church facilities. Yet he quotes only 77 of their words in his 8,700-word article, and even those were out-of-context responses to wild allegations. Instead, he relied on the words of people who were either never in the Church or had not been involved for years, some for two decades!

All manner of negatives have been written about Scientology by the media. Not one of them is new. A result of laziness, faulty research, or more vindictive motives, these misstatements of fact are invariably lifted from earlier stories, dusted off, sometimes reworded, and used again.

Yet in spite of this recycling of tired ideas, Scientology continues to grow. That's an undeniable fact. How can this be?

If one tenth of what has been written about Scientology in PREMIERE and elsewhere were true, Scientology wouldn't exist. Nobody would be involved. Nobody would want to be. But that isn't the case. Scientology continues to grow, and it's that very growth that generates media interest in the first place.

It's only logical to assume, then, that there must be something more to Scientology than what is portrayed in the pages of the press.

That something more begins with L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Dianetics and Scientology. The media, which can count among their faults the urge to simplify things to the point of incomprehensibility, also like to categorize people and things as part of this process. Yet Mr. Hubbard's accomplishments are so wide-ranging, and so numerous that he defies simple categorization.

Mr. Hubbard not only developed Scientology: he was also a highly successful and popular writer. In the 1930s and 1940s, his name on the cover of a magazine virtually guaranteed increased circulation. His association with Hollywood goes back to the 1930s, when he wrote screenplays for Columbia Pictures' first big-screen serials, The Secret of Treasure Island and The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok.

His prolific career as a writer spanned more than half a century, during which he produced over 800 written, works in a variety of genres which have sold more than 110 million copies in 31 different languages. In the 1980s alone, he had eleven consecutive New York Times best-sellers and, today, he still sells more books than most best-selling authors.

His greatest accomplishments, however, were his discovery and development of the technologies of Dianetics and Scientology, the research for which was financed by the success of his early writing, Dianetics gives a thorough understanding of the human mind, and Scientology offers a thorough understanding of the human spirit. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health is the number one best-selling self-help book of all time, still appearing on best-seller lists 43 years after its publication with over 16 million copies sold.

But that's not all. He also developed the most successful drug rehabilitation program in the world, with the highest statistical rate of success, which in turn spawned what is now the biggest drug rehabilitation center in the world: Narconon.

Mr. Hubbard researched and discovered the technology of study that is successfully applied by millions today in thousands of schools in countries across the planet. Not just some quick reading system, his technology isolates the barriers to study and provides methods to make true learning and comprehension possible.

L. Ron Hubbard also wrote an immensely popular nonreligious moral code: The Way to Happiness. It promotes 21 precepts based entirely on common sense. Mr. Hubbard wrote this code to fill a void, because no such moral code was previously available. Parents and teachers alike have applauded its value and utility. Literally tens of millions of copies have been distributed and used by people the world over.

Deplorable though it may be in view of these accomplishments, the fact that controversy exists about Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard is not unexpected. Since 1950, when Dianetics was first released, there have been thousands of new ideas about man. Most were never attacked. You've also never heard of them, because obscurity is the reward for insignificance. Every significant new idea in history—every idea that truly challenges the way we think—has been attacked.

When Galileo espoused the theory that the planets in our Solar System revolve around the Sun, he was ridiculed and placed under house arrest by the Catholic Church for the last eight years of his life. Later, when Harvey had the audacity to claim that arteries carry blood, not air, he also suffered derision from the entrenched establishment of the day. And of course, Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross for his ideas and teachings. It is only the great ideas that generate controversy; it is only great thinkers who are the subject of sustained attacks.

PREMIERE made a point that L. Ron Hubbard was a "fiction writer who had founded a religion." The attempted swipe is obvious. But why stop there? He was also a barnstorming pilot, explorer, musician, Marine Corps drill sergeant, naval intelligence officer, photographer, press reporter, special officer of the L.A. Police Department, horticulturist, composer, radio broadcaster, balladeer, and more. He was even a master mariner, licensed to captain vessels upon the waters of any ocean.

The truth is that L. Ron Hubbard was a genius, ahead of his time and beyond simple categorization. And since the media are fixated on categories to fit preconceived ideas, they are generally unable to come to grips with Mr. Hubbard.

Finally, on top of all these accomplishments, Mr. Hubbard was a remarkably caring man whose humor, compassion, and insight deeply affected those around him. And yes, I do know better than those who write about him. I knew him personally; they didn't.

So just what is Scientology? Founded on the principles of the mind and life discovered by L. Ron Hubbard, it is a religion born of the nuclear age, and like its founder, it also defies quick and easy comparison or categorization.

In Scientology, a spirit is not something you possess, it is what you are. It is you. The basic tenet of Scientology is that man is an immortal spirit who has lived through a great many lifetimes and who has the potential for infinite survival. Although each person has a mind and a body, he or she is a spiritual being who is basically good, not evil. It is each person's past experiences, not his or her nature, that have led to evil deeds or diminished awareness and ability.

The central practice of Scientology—auditing—is a very unique form of personal counseling that helps an individual look at his own existence and improves his ability to confront what he is and where he is. Auditing offers the chance to embark on an adventure of self-discovery unlike any other.

Auditing is not similar to any other form of counseling and certainly cannot be compared with psychology or psychiatry, both of which attempt to enforce opinions through evaluation by the practitioner. Nor does it resemble in any way the gimmickry of those motivational fads that perennially pass through Hollywood, where you follow some guru's ideas or strategy, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

Instead, Scientology provides a path that shows you how to find your own answers so you can think and solve your problems for yourself.

Some people have said they didn't achieve what they wanted from Scientology. They were free to leave and have done so. They travel their own path, while we continue to help those who do wish to participate. But isn't it a little much for a magazine to put my religion to the test of 100 percent satisfaction? What other religion could face and pass that test in these pages?

Without attempting to explain why this is so, PREMIERE makes the claim that Scientology is "making Hollywood its priority." This is false. (We also have large facilities in Florida. Does this mean our priority is beachgoers?) The only source for this allegation is the fact that many famous artists are Scientologists. That popularity is a reflection of the value of Scientology to these artists. Why cast aspersions upon it?

The fact is, the Church of Scientology's Celebrity Centre has catered to people in the arts for more than twenty years. It provides Scientology services similar to all our other churches in Los Angeles and cities across the world. Celebrity Centre offers a safe, peaceful, and private environment in which Hollywood artists and professionals can pursue their Scientology studies without distraction. We think other churches should accommodate their artists too.

As Mr. Hubbard said, "A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists."

In today's world, creative people are subject to attack because of their visibility. Standing right on the front lines, they set the standards, and tone of society, and where they work to improve the culture we think they should be supported in their efforts. Celebrity Centre does precisely that. And in our rapidly deteriorating society, riddled with scandals, drugs, and moral decline, Celebrity Centre has even more relevance and appeal than when it was first established.

But there are also thousands of non-Scientologists who visit the Church's Celebrity Centre annually and utilize its facilities. It is a cultural and civic hub in the community. Their beautifully restored building with its magnificent grounds and facilities is much admired by all who visit. The only person I am aware of who ever toured Celebrity Centre and commented unfavorably about it is PREMIERE's reporter.

As for the Hollywood celebrities in Scientology, we don't really comment on them much. Certainly not as much as everybody else does. Our interest is in helping individuals, not using them. In fact, this is where PREMIERE first went off the rails. If using celebrities to hook people was our goal, we'd have had them lined up to be interviewed by PREMIERE. The opposite occurred—a fact nobody disputes.

You may find it unusual to be reading about Scientology in a movie magazine. Well, so do I. It's strange enough that PREMIERE ran a story on a religion at all. To then challenge its beliefs and efficacy is shameful. Can you imagine an article on the Jews, requiring a response to defend the validity of their beliefs? Or on the Catholics, forcing them to defend the "scientifically impossible" virgin birth? And in a movie magazine, no less?

There are those who believe what they read in the media and then denigrate Scientology or don't want to be associated with us. Sadly, they don't really have any idea who we are or what we stand for. And they would probably be ashamed by their ignorance if they actually knew the truth.

Still, the test of any great innovation or philosophy is its endurance. After more than 40 years of relentless media attacks, Scientology is not only still here but its global presence has increased to more than 1,100 churches, missions, and groups in more than 75 countries that work to achieve the aims of Scientology: "A civilization without insanity, without criminals, and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights."

Having read this, do you feel you thoroughly understand all there is to know about Scientology?

Of course not.

Scientology is growing because it works. But don't take my word for it. You've heard enough "about" Scientology. Find out what it really is. Get a book on the subject by L. Ron Hubbard. Read it. Try it for yourself. And when it works for you, you'll know what the fuss is all about.