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L. Ron Hubbard was portrayed yesterday in court as a devious cult leader who believed he'd gone to heaven — twice — and was ruthless in his treatment of those perceived as enemies of the church he founded.
Hubbard, who died last year, advised his followers to use the courts to "harass and discourage" critics, lawyers for Key Porter Books argued in Federal Court.
They said a court bid to stop publication of a biography of Hubbard is a thinly disguised attempt by followers of his Church of Scientology to "circumvent the rule that the dead can't sue for libel."
New Era Publications International of Denmark is seeking an injunction to halt publication of Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story Of L. Ron Hubbard, by British author Russell Miller.
Hubbard, an American science fiction writer, founded the Church of Scientology in 1954. It now has an estimated following of between 2 million and 6 million people worldwide.
New Era lawyer Ken McKay told Mr. Justice Bud Cullen that the new book will damage Hubbard's reputation, affecting potential sales of his other books. It also violates copyright laws by using excerpts from documents that belong to his estate and "copies" extensively from some of Hubbard's books on Scientology, he said.
McKay said New Era paid $100,000 for the sole rights to publish an "authorized" biography using some of Hubbard's diaries and letters, which have never been published.
Church officials in California refused Miller's request for access to the documents, but he obtained them from a former church member, Gareth Armstrong, who was also sued by the church.
Included among Hubbard's little-known writings, which were brought up in the court hearing:
* Hubbard reported his own wife to the U.S. government because she was "friendly with many Communists."
* He once wrote that "the yellow race" — Chinese people — "lack endurance."
* He believed he had visited heaven twice, 42 trillion and 43 trillion years ago.
* He wrote that nuclear radiation is "more of a mental than a physical problem and Scientology handles that."
* In 1960 (or AD 10, according to Hubbard's Scientology calendar), he wrote a policy letter to deal with critics: "Always find or manufacture enough threats against them to cause them to sue for peace," it said.
* Hubbard's "fair game policy" called for enemies of the church to be deprived of property or injured by Scientologists, including being "tricked, sued, lied to, or destroyed."
Key Porter lawyers David Potts and Julian Porter, whose wife Anna Porter heads the company, argued that the case has little to do with copyright laws.
The "real plaintiff" in the case is the Church of Scientology, which is trying to suppress Miller's critical analysis of Hubbard's philosophy, Potts said.
The church lost two recent challenges in British courts to stop publication of Miller's book, which was released in England last month. New Era was not a party to those actions.
Porter said an order to ban the book from being published here would be a "waste" because wholesalers could bring it in from England.
The case continues today.
Copyright (c) 1987 Toronto Star. All Rights Reserved.