MUCH has been written so far about the quality of Scientology as a religion. It is worth considering briefly the quantitative side of things. For instance, how many Scientologists are there? As with everything else about this controversial cult the answer is vehemently disputed. Official church statistics were supplied to me for the year 1980 (I asked for a current picture in 1984 but was given this set of figures which predated the 1982-3 split and stats crash). These claim 86 churches, 173 missions, 230 Dianetics groups in 32 countries around the world. They add this up to 5 million Scientologists worldwide and claim 2,500 every week starting a Scientology course, with $25 million invested during 1979-80 in new church quarters in England, Australia, Canada and the USA. There were, on the social reform front, 49 chapters of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, the anti-psychiatry group and 25 Narconon drug rehabilitation programmes. It looks impressive.
The British membership figure for 1977 in the book *What is Scientology?* was given as 336,000 and the world total as 5,437,000. However, in the *Daily Telegraph* of 28 February 1979, a Church of Scientology official gave the British membership figure as 236,000, and in 1984 church officials talked blithely about 200,000 in the UK. Jon Atack, who has become an archivist of Scientology as well as an antagonist from the independent movement with his journal *Reconnection*, wrote in October 1984: 'Recently I talked with a man who was a senior executive in the UK in 1981. He had access to some of the REAL figures at that time. 5,500 British residents had taken an HQS 1 or above or received paid auditing. That was the total training
1 Hubbard Qualified Scientologist
and processing list for the entire UK since records were started in the fifties. The total training and processing including non-residents (remembering that Saint Hill was the centre of the Scientology world from 1959-68) was 16,000 and the total central file figure for the UK was 57,000', which would include someone who had bought a small booklet or put down a ten-pence deposit to escape from the Registrar. In 1981 a Hubbard document (LRH ED 326 INT) issued on 13 March 1981 declared: 'I am told that there are TWO MILLION Scientologists active around the world today.' The wild divergence between these figures can only be explained as a mixture of lies and bluff or a different method of accounting for members. If everyone who has walked through the door of an org or taken a personality test is counted, then the five million may be nearer the mark. But one then has to add that many take the test as a joke or never follow it up. In Scotland I know of two people who got onto a Scientology mailing-list yet had expressed no interest at all and for years received regular unsolicited mail almost weekly. Both tried to have this dripping tap stopped but letters to Hubbard and a lawyer's letter failed to staunch the flow. Both persons had titled parents which may explain something about the target area of Scientology recruitment. But whether or not the Church of Scientology was operating a 'quality' recruitment policy, its phenomenal income from such small statistics tempts one to say never mind the quantity, feel the depth of commitment.
High price levels also had something to do with the high income of the Church of Scientology. Although the price of a 'bible' (DMSMH) was L3.50 in paperback in high-street bookshops in the UK in 1984, the price of the same book in hardback at the local org was L40.85. (To be fair, the org also sell the paperback but there is pride taken in buying the best edition available.) I bought 'Ron's Journal 38' in January 1983 at Saint Hill and was charged over L16 for a 30-min. speech cassette. The Philadelphia Doctorate cassettes of Hubbard's lecture-tour in December 1952 are more expensive. Originally delivered over 18 days, these 62 lectures on cassette cost $2,307 for the boxed set. At that rate they are antiques. Auditing prices are the luxury end of the market and in 1984 went up by 10% in July. Here are a few examples prevailing in September 1984 when I called at 'Flag' in Clearwater, which offers the most expensive part of the 'Bridge': Student Hat, $1,610; 'New Era Dianetics' course, $2,290. (These are the two courses for which 'Alyson' paid over L6,000 in 1980-81, which is roughly $8,000. Using her, a graduate, as a guide we can deduce that the actual cost to complete the courses with the extra auditing required would
be roughly four times the advertised prices.) To become a Class VII Auditor cost $9,012. Twelve hours regular auditing was $2,765. Twelve hours 'Confessional' was the same - $2,765. But the steepest slope was for thetans: OT I ($648); OT II ($2,222); OT III ($5,774). We may thus assume that the price of climbing to the 'heaven' of OT III in the Kingdom of Hubbard was a minimum of $10,000. There was little chance of those who reached it having laid up treasures on earth where moth and rust could corrupt them. They would have spent them trying to get there.
Every Scientologist is required to show evidence of productivity. These 'stats' are used as a measure of performance, much as salesmen are given sales targets to meet. As everyone knows, a good salesman can sell a rotten product and in selling techniques the Church of Scientology has been one of the most successful new religious movements, or cults, of recent years. The Moonies are identified with selling on street corners, the Hare Krishna devotee with chanting in skimpy robes on chilly winter mornings, the Rajneeshee with free love on a campus, all these activities being somewhat offputting to the man on the Clapham omnibus. But the fresh young man from Scientology with his double-glazed eyes and cavity-foam insulated emotions, identifies much more with the values of Western consumer society. He offers a unique but apparently still marketable product - spiritual advancement (the one thing the suburban young man who has everything feels he lacks). Ron Hubbard could not have made all those millions if he did not have a very effective selling technique. Many of the critics of Scientology are reluctant to admit even this grudging compliment to Scientology's effectiveness. But company profits are not an endorsement of the quality of the product. If the 'product' analogy is continued it can also be seen that Scientology has not had mass appeal. It goes for a particular target consumer, one might even say the top end of the market in financial terms. The young middle-class business or professional person is the typical purchaser. Staff members are often recruited much younger than this. One young man I spoke to claimed to have been in charge of personnel records at Saint Hill at the grand old age of fourteen. That illustrates another facet of Scientology, the ease of promotion within the staff. The young ambitious person can rise quickly within the ranks to positions of power. This facet of Scientology satisfies both the thrusting young businessman type and the quester after spiritual truth. Both wish to feel that they have something (a product/esoteric knowledge) beyond the reach of the man in the street. Instead of climbing the ladder of
the rat race, there is a ready-made gnostic ladder and all that is needed is money. With other religions, social background or moral imperfection may count against one. The divorcee may not be able to take Mass, but in Scientology the only sin is ignorance (or perhaps inability to pay for courses). Any club likes to feel that its membership is 'special' and the Church of Scientology is no different. Outsiders are referred to as 'wogs' or 'raw meat'. This attitude was typified for me when I called at the New York City premises of Scientology and met Kevin Brown, the 35-year-old Director of Public Affairs. Educated at a prestigious Jesuit school, he was not slow to point out he had carried off various glittering prizes and had held down a hot-shot job at ABC TV before joining the Scientology staff. He now earns $30 per week plus commission on the copies of DMSMH, which is being pushed hard on the streets of New York by the org. He had worked on the streets himself for six years of the eight since he joined the staff, and acts and talks like a businessman on his way to the top. He became disillusioned with television as a career, regarding it as 'junk food' for the mind, and over-influenced by programme advisers who shared the outlook of psychiatry. 'Nothing in the world was going to change as a result of my doing that job. It lacked the technology,' he announced. 'I felt with all my background and experience that this subject needed the best and finest - and I was going to supply some of it. If people are alert and bright enough they will see that this planet is threatened with total annihilation. If people value the material universe more than Scientology then they are gonna have problems. We're not saying that material possibilities are bad - but don't let it interfere with Scientology. Its most effective method is to train people to receive and deliver. You can go a long way on not a lot if you go that route.'
These young highwaymen of the streets who stand and deliver the 'tech' are not short on dedication. In this they resemble many of the other religious cults which have arisen in Western society since the sixties. But when dedication is transmuted into fanaticism then problems are bound to arise. In a long letter describing his disillusionment with the Church of Scientology, a Los Angeles designer, Bruce Bishop, puts the moment of his break eloquently: 'I attended a meeting in which an intelligent CMO Executive named Brian Anderson, stated with righteous fervour that the tech is senior to the law, senior to the Bill of Rights...until then I had been unable to understand how these fellows could justify their actions, how they could find the concept of fundamental rights ludicrous. Now it became clear to me. These guys
honestly believe they are above the law. "God is on our side. We can do no wrong, for ours is the true faith. Any means are justified by our lofty end." This is the primrose path that led a number of our executives into prison.'
But the flaws in Scientology as a religion are far more fundamental than using the wrong means to achieve its declared aim of a world free from insanity, crime and nuclear war. Nor is its greed for money the root of its evil, for money is essentially morally neutral. It is my contention that Scientology is not so much misplaced idealism or corrupt practices, as inevitably and logically a system which contains the seeds of its own suppression and destruction. In Scientology, it is a fundamental postulate that any handicap to spiritual advancement is caused by engrams (incidents in the reactive mind which can be E-Metered out. This leads logically to the position that all past deeds and misdeeds can be managed by a process or technique and are therefore not moral or immoral - they are amoral. Scientology is religion without morality, since moral improvement is not derived from an outside source or power (spirit, grace, brahmin, karma etc). At first sight it resembles some of the Free Spirit heresies of the 14th century or the Anabaptists of the 16th century. But Scientology's Revelation is not from a divine source, it is the product of Hubbard's mind and personality. Therefore it inherits the flaws and characteristics of that personality, which we have amply demonstrated is self-seeking, paranoid and vindictive. It should therefore come as no surprise that the collective mind and system of Scientology is in essence paranoid and challenging to moral systems and forms of authority. It is truly suppressive in reacting to moral claims upon it. Since it does not acknowledge a source of meaning, morality or revelation superior to the tech, it resists these claims upon the amoral basis of strength and power. There is no appeal to higher authority - God, the law, human rights - when disputing with Ron and his men, for they have opted to be outside the moral assumptions upon which all these concepts are grounded. Thus in their struggles with governments, law, medicine, the media, they have become truly subversive. In so doing they effectively challenge Society to control them or be undermined. This is *not* a battle for the freedom of religion, with the State on one side and Scientology on the other ...It is a choice between freedom, as we know it, and *anarchy*. The Gotterdammerung for Scientology has arrived with the death of the god-hero Hubbard but it was not governments or the taxmen
or the lawyers or psychiatrists who lit the funeral pyre but the inflammatory nature of his own ideas. He was, according to the term he defined himself, a truly 'Suppressive Person'.
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