The Child Custody Case
What can we do to refute what is stated in Scientology's own documents?
- Counsel for the Scientologist father in the custody case
In Spring 1984, I learned of a child custody case in which Scientology was at issue. The father, a Church Scientologist, was seeking to retain custody of his two young children. The mother and stepfather had left Scientology.
Prior to the hearing, the stepfather called me. He launched into a speech, saying he did not want to blacken Scientology, only to gain custody of the children. His caution was unnecessary, I had no desire to conceal the facts about either Hubbard or Scientology. Although prepared to help the Independents defend themselves, I was no longer a Scientologist. We began to work together on a daily basis.
The stepfather already had an enormous amount of material, much of which he could not use in court. His solicitor felt, for example, that the 1,500 page transcript of the Clearwater Hearings was inadmissible in an English court. The father, a convinced Scientologist, had insisted that he did not practice Disconnection. I was given three letters he had written to his business partner in 1983, Disconnecting from him, and suggesting that a screen be put in their office to avoid even visual contact with his Suppressive partner.
The head of the Scientology school in East Grinstead was being called as a witness. She denied that a twelve-year-old girl had received a "withhold pulling session" at the hands of three of the school's staff. To "pull withholds" is Scientologese for making someone confess to their transgressions. Minutes of the school's board meetings had to be publicly available, yet the filed copy made no reference to the "withhold-pulling" session. I obtained an unedited copy of the school's board minutes, which not only proved the headmistress's sworn statement untrue, but showed the school's attempt at concealment.
Then there were Hubbard's own published statements. I found references to Fair Game, a passage where Hubbard called non-Scientologists "raw meat," and much more.
Of course, Church members are forbidden by Policy from making any public criticism of either Hubbard or Scientology. The strength of this taboo is shown by the criticism I received from some Independents for my wholehearted involvement in the case. The future of the children, and their future happiness, was less important to them than maintaining a Public Relations shield for Hubbard and Scientology. This attitude stems from the belief that the Tech is a world-saving force, and that if anything is awry it will not help to broadcast it. It has to be emphasized that public admissions of wrongdoing, apologies, and steps to prevent repetition are foreign to the mentality instilled into Hubbard's converts.
The case concerned the custody of a ten-year-old boy, and an eight-year-old girl. To quote from the judgment:
At the heart of the mother's case is the contention that if the children remain in the care of the father they will be brought up as Scientologists and will be seriously damaged ...
It is important, indeed essential, to stress from the start that this is neither an action against Scientology nor a prosecution of it. But willy-nilly Scientology is at the center of the dispute of what is best for the children. The father and his counsel have stressed that they are not here to defend Scientology. That is true in the strict sense that the "Church" of Scientology is not a party to the proceedings. But they have known from the start what the mother's case is .... The father's solicitor is a Scientologist. He has been in communication with the solicitors who act for Scientology. There has been ample time and opportunity to assemble and adduce documents and evidence in refutation of the mother's allegations. None has been adduced. Why? Because the mother's case is based largely on Scientology's own documents and as the father's counsel... candidly albeit plaintively said "what can we do to refute what is stated in Scientology's own documents?"
. . . The parents were married in 1973 and late that year B [the son] was born. G [the daughter] was born in December, 1975. The parents separated in November, 1978. In December, 1978 and January, 1979, the parents signed agreements by virtue of which the father had custody of the children and the mother access .... In March, 1979 the father filed a petition of divorce on the ground of the mother's adultery with the stepfather.
In September, 1979 . . . by agreement, custody was committed to the father. The divorce was made absolute in November, 1979. The father and stepmother married. The mother and stepfather also went through a ceremony of marriage believing that they were free to do so. In fact, the stepfather's divorce had not gone through ....
. . . In May, 1980 there began a hearing by the Scientology "Chaplain's Court" concerning the custody of the children. The decision, inaccurately described as an "Agreement," was that custody should remain with the father.
The mother and stepfather subsequently left Scientology, and decided to take the matter to law. Justice Latey continued:
As to the separation in 1978, the father said in his Affidavit that this was caused by the mother's relationship with the stepfather. In his oral evidence the father accepted that he had drawn up what in Scientology language is described as a "Doubt Formula" ["Doubt" is one of the "Ethics Conditions"] in which he said that he considered himself the mother's intellectual superior, that he had doubts about the wisdom of the marriage and that separation had been discussed on a number of occasions .... It is scarcely surprising that with a husband who so regarded her, she became attached to a man who held her in full regard and affection.
As to the custody agreements in 1978 and 1979: The father naturally attaches much weight to them. The mother says that throughout she wanted the children and believed that it would be better for them to be with her. She was a committed Scientologist at the time. Scientology forbids recourse to the law courts of the country save in special circumstances with permission .... The mother says that she agreed to the father having custody because of the pressure brought to bear on her by the father and the Scientologists concerned. The father accepts that she agreed very reluctantly ....
At the time of the separation B was aged just five and G not quite three. Had the dispute come to court one cannot be sure, of course, what the decision would have been, but it is not unlikely that children so young would have been put in the care of a good and devoted mother as this one is and always has been.
. . . As to the "Chaplain's" decision: There were written submissions and some oral hearings. It is noteworthy that from start to finish the father's submission is couched in Scientology terminology and stresses all he and the stepmother have done for Scientology, how correctly they have complied with Scientology "ethics" and how the mother has offended against those "ethics." The Chaplain of course was a Scientology official.
Both the mother and stepfather wanted to come to Court and in about May 1980 she was given permission to do so by the "Assistant Guardian" on condition that Scientology would not be involved. But the father intervened with the Guardian and the permission was withdrawn.
In the summer of 1982, the children stayed with the mother, and she decided to keep them, despite the previous "agreements." She fled to the United States, and the father followed her, taking the children back to England with him. Justice Latey continued, having admitted that were it not for the father's adherence to Scientology he would have ruled that the children stay with him:
What then is the Scientology factor and what weight should be attached to it'? "Horrendous." "Sinister." "A lot of rotten apples in it." Those words are not mine. They are the father's own words describing practices of the Cult and what it does to people inside it and outside it. "A lot of villains in it." "Dreadful things have been done in the name of Scientology." These words are not mine. They are the words of the father's counsel.
Justice Latey went on the describe Scientology as he saw it, and added:
Some might regard this as an extension of the entertaining science fiction which Hubbard used to write before he invented and founded the cult .... But in an open Society, such as ours, people can believe what they want to and band together and promulgate their beliefs. If people believe that the earth is flat there is nothing to stop them believing so, saying so and joining together to persuade others.
He then quoted the evidence given by American psychiatrist Dr. John Gordon Clark, during the trial:
Auditing is a simple, thoroughly designed means of concentrating the mind to a state of a controlled trance. The aim and result is progressively to enforce loyalty to, and identification with Scientology to the detriment of one's natural awareness of divergent ways of thinking and outside cultural influences. Love and allegiance are more and more given to Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard.
Justice Latey further wrote that "In blunt language 'auditing' is a process of conditioning, brainwashing and indoctrination." Justice Latey compared the truth about Hubbard with the Church's published claims:
To promote himself and the cult he has made these, among other false claims:
That he was a much decorated war hero. He was not. That he commanded a corvette squadron. He did not.
That he was awarded the Purple Heart, a gallantry decoration for those wounded in action. He was not wounded and was not decorated.
That he was crippled and blinded in the war and cured himself with Dianetic technique. He was not crippled and was not blinded.
That he was sent by U.S. Naval Intelligence to break up a black magic ring in California. He was not. He was himself a member of that occult group and practiced ritual sexual magic in it.
That he was a graduate of George Washington University and an atomic physicist. The facts are that he completed only one year of college and failed the one course on nuclear physics in which he enrolled.
There is no dispute about any of this. The evidence is unchallenged. . . . Hubbard has described himself as "Dr. Hubbard." The only doctorate he has held is a self-bestowed "doctorate" in Scientology. . . . Mr. Hubbard is a charlatan and worse, as are his wife Mary Sue Hubbard . . . and the clique at the top privy to the Cult's activities.
Further on Justice Latey spoke of "Confessional auditing":
Contrary to the assurance of confidentiality, all "auditing" files are available to Scientology's intelligence and enforcement bureau and are used, if necessary, to control and extort obedience from the person who was audited. If a person seeks to escape from Scientology his auditing files are taken by the intelligence bureau and used, if wished, to pressure him into silence. They are often so used and uncontraverted evidence of this has been given at this hearing.
. . . It is no surprise that to escape from the clutches of Scientology calls for great courage and resolution. The stranglehold is tight and unrelenting and the discipline ruthless. And of course there is the anguish of conscience in the escaper after usually many years of commitment to Scientology.
Justice Latey went on to read "TR-L" ("Training Routine-Lying") into the record. This is a drill used in the training of Guardian's Office staff members. Its purpose is to enable the trainee to tell a lie in a convincing fashion.
Much of a Hubbard Policy Letter, of August 15, 1960, was also read into the record. It contains the statement: "If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace .... Don't ever defend. Always attack."
Then Justice Latey read from a Guardian's Order of March 9, 1970, headed "Re: Successful and Unsuccessful Actions." Among the successful actions was seeking out the criminal acts of "traitors" (easy to do if you have their auditing folders). The Order describes a cross-filing system used to keep track of information on "traitors" (such as myself, I suppose). GO staff were to create a fictitious company (a press agency was recommended), and use letterheaded paper to make inquiries. Information is better discovered through phone calls than through personal visits. Sexual favors to members of governments had apparently also been successful. Hostile groups could be infiltrated and documents stolen. Letters can be forged for purposes of character assassination. Anonymous reports can be made to the tax authorities.
Justice Latey moved on to life inside Scientology:
Discipline is ruthless and obedience has to be unquestioning. Scientologists working on the staff are required to work inordinately long hours for their keep and a pittance...
Scientology must come first before family or friends. Much evidence has been given and not disputed of how it leads to alienation of one spouse from another, of alienation from children and from friends.
Another witness, Mrs. B, was a Scientologist from 1972 and rose quickly in the organization. She had a three year old daughter. Nonetheless, for a period of months she was required to work from 8:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. She was allowed only fifteen minutes daily to put her daughter to bed. On one occasion when the child broke her arm and she took her to the doctor she was directed to work all night as a penalty.
In January 1982, Mrs. B was made Commanding Officer of the Organization, Saint Hill U.K. Foundation. At around this time the Commodore's Messenger's Org... in the United States were originating an increasing number of international directives which seemed to her wrong or bad. She wrote a report addressing it to L. Ron Hubbard. Eight days later in November 1982, she was removed from her post and assigned to the "RPF" (Rehabilitation Project Force). She was refused counselling, required to do at least twelve hours physical work a day (shifting bricks, emptying bins etc.) [sic] and to communicate with no one, except to receive orders. The work aggravated a chronic back condition. When she protested she was threatened with being declared a "Suppressive Person".... Her time with her children was limited to one half hour per day.
Another witness worked at Flag [in Florida] and became an "L. Ron Hubbard Public Relations Officer," one of only three in the world and a high appointment. In 1977 she declined to undertake a mission that would cause her to leave her young daughter for at least two months. She was shouted at and abused because she put the care of her child first. She was subjected to a Committee of Evidence (disciplinary tribunal): She left Flag.
Those are a few of many illustrations, proved in evidence, of the ruthless and inhuman disciplinary measures.
Justice Latey then quoted from an Ethics Policy Letter, and from the 1968 cancellation of "Fair Game." He gave the following example to demonstrate that the "Fair Game Policy" (that a Suppressive can be "tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed") was still in force after its apparent cancellation:
Beginning in 1977 the Church of Scientology has conducted a campaign of persecution against Dr. Clark. They wrote Fetters to the Dean at the Harvard Medical School and to the Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital. They [the Dean and the Director] refused to gag him. Their [the Church's] agents tracked down and telephoned several of his patients and interviewed his neighbors looking for evidence to impugn his private or personal actions. They submitted a critical report to a Committee of the Massachusetts State Senate. On three occasions during the last five years a Scientology "front" called the Citizens' Commission on Human Rights have brought complaints against him to the Massachusetts Medical Board of Registration alleging improper professional conduct. In 1980 he was declared a "Number One Enemy" and in 1981 they brought two law suits against him (summarily dismissed, but costly and worrying). They distributed leaflets at the Massachusetts General Hospital offering a $25,000 reward to employees for evidence which would lead to his conviction on any charge of criminal activity. They stole his employment record from another Boston hospital. They convened press conferences calculated to ruin his professional reputation.
Justice Latey quoted Hubbard: "The law can be used very easily to harass," and continued:
A sad episode during the hearing was the evidence of a young man. He is greatly gifted and did exceptionally well at School and University. His parents are Scientologists as are his brother and sister. They are all totally committed. He did his first simple course at the age of six, and a further basic course, "The Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course," two years later. Since then he has continued with course after course. . . . It became apparent that he simply could not accept that there was or could be anything wrong with Scientology. The part of his mind which would otherwise have been capable of weighing objectively the criticisms of Scientology had been blocked out by the processing. He has indeed been enslaved.
In his conclusion as to Scientology itself, Justice Latey had this to say:
Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious .... In my judgment it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and power for Mr. Hubbard, his wife and those close to him at the top. It is sinister because it indulges in infamous practices both to its adherents who do not toe the line unquestioningly, and to those who criticise or oppose it. It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.
Mr. Justice Latey awarded custody of the children to the mother. Late in the hearing the father had made a heart-rending proposal: he and his new wife would abandon Scientology until the children had grown up. It was moving, not because he would have to abandon Scientology, but because for making such a suggestion in court he risked being ostracized by the Scientology Church and community, whatever the outcome. The Justice felt that because the father and his wife were committed Scientologists, their removal from East Grinstead, and from the Church, would not be enough: "The baleful influence of the 'Church' would in reality still be there and the children would remain gravely at risk."
The Justice also gave two very telling examples of that "baleful influence":
Recently B asked his mother whether he could have a certain friend to stay for the weekend with him "because he's the only one whose parents will let him come to your house."
Recently G asked her mother why she was not a Scientologist. Her mother pointed out that people could be good people without being Scientologists and observed that two widely respected personages in whom G is interested were not Scientologists. To this G replied "they would be better if they were."
Source: Decision in "Re B & G Wards," Royal Courts of Justice, High Court, London, 23 July 1984.