Church of Scientology in Victoria (Australia)

clambake.org, a site highly critical of the Church of Scientology, is down. However, Google cache allows me to re-publish extracts from Chapter 15 of Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller (Michael Joseph, London, 1987) concerning the cult’s misadventures in Victoria in the 1960s. But first!

LRH goes to Heaven (pp.248–249):

…1963 was one of the few years in which Hubbard did not produce a single book. Instead, he chose to remain at Saint Hill issuing increasingly bizarre proclamations. On 13 March – his fifty-second birthday – he bestowed a general amnesty on his followers, in the fashion of some middle-eastern potentate: ‘Any and all offences of any kind before this date, discovered or undiscovered, are fully and completely forgiven. Directed at Saint Hill, on March the thirteenth, 1963, in the 13th year of Dianetics and Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard.’

The amnesty was followed in May by the foudroyant revelation that Hubbard had twice visited heaven, 43 trillion and 42 trillion years earlier. In a four-page HCO Bulletin – dated 11 May AD 13 (meaning ‘After Dianetics’) – he claimed the first visit had taken place 43,891,832,611,177 years, 344 days, 10 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds from 10.02pm Daylight Greenwich Mean Time 9 May 1963. Nit-pickers might have pointed out that ‘Daylight Greenwich Mean Time’ was a term unknown in horology and that, in any case, at 10.02pm on a May evening in Britain it would be dark, but this was a trifling matter compared with what was to come.

The first surprise was that heaven was not a floating island in the sky as everyone imagined, but simply a high place in the mountains of an unnamed planet. Visitors first arrived in a ‘town’ comprising a trolley bus, some building fronts, sidewalks, train tracks, a boarding house, a bistro in a basement and a bank building. Although there seemed to be people around – in the boarding house, for example, there was a guest and a landlady in a kimono, reading a newspaper – Hubbard quickly discovered they were only effigies and probably radioactive, since ‘contact with them hurts’. However, he was able to report he saw ‘no devils or satans’ [perhaps because he was supposed to be in heaven].

The bank was the key point of interest in the town. It was an old-fashioned corner building of granite-like material with a revolving door. Inside, to the left of the door, was a counter and directly opposite was a flight of marble stairs leading to the Pearly Gates! ‘The gates . . . are well done, well built,’ Hubbard wrote. ‘An avenue of statues of saints leads up to them. The gate pillars are surmounted by marble angels. The entering grounds are very well kept, laid out like Bush Gardens in Pasadena, so often seen in the movies.’

On his second visit to heaven, a trillion years later, Hubbard noticed marked changes: ‘The place is shabby. The vegetation is gone. The pillars are scruffy. The saints have vanished. So have the angels. A sign on one side (the left as you “enter”) says “this is Heaven”. The right has a sign “Hell” with an arrow and inside the grounds one can see the excavations like archeological diggings with raw terraces, that lead to “Hell”. Plain wire fencing encloses the place. There is a sentry box beside and outside the right pillar . . .’

Hubbard’s visits to heaven would become something of an embarrassment to Scientologists in future years and they would strive to explain that he had intended his description to be allegory, but Hubbard himself attached a note to the bulletin seeming to deny its contents were allegorical. ‘This HCO Bulletin’, he stressed, ‘is based on over a thousand hours of research auditing . . . It is scientific research and is not in any way based upon the mere opinion of the researcher.

‘The foundation of Victoria consists of the riff-raff of London’s slums – robbers, murderers, prostitutes, fences, thieves – the scourings of Newgate and Bedlam . . . the niceties of truth and fairness, of hearing witnesses and weighing evidence, are not for men whose ancestry is lost in the promiscuity of the prison ships of transportation . . .’

A w e s o m e.

Pp.249–255:

Hubbard’s sensitivity towards newspapers was understandable, since Scientology was an easy target and wherever it flourished it was attacked by a universally unsympathetic press. In Australia, the church had suffered a great deal of unfavourable publicity, in particular from a Melbourne newspaper, Truth, which published a series of hostile features about Scientologists being ‘brainwashed’ and alienated from their families. The media attacks led to questions in the Parliament of Victoria, allegations of blackmail and extortion, and accusations that Scientology was affecting the ‘mental well-being’ of undergraduates at Melbourne University. In November 1963, the Victoria government appointed a Board of Inquiry into Scientology.

At Saint Hill Manor, Hubbard at first professed himself to be pleased about the Australian inquiry and even hinted that it bad been set up at his instigation. But it soon became evident that the inquiry was basically antagonistic to Scientology and when an invitation arrived from Melbourne for him to appear, he contrived to find compelling reasons to refuse…

In October 1965, the Australian Board of Inquiry into Scientology published its report. Conducted by Kevin Anderson QC, the inquiry sat for 160 days, heard evidence from 151 witnesses and then savagely condemned every aspect of Scientology. No one needed to progress beyond the first paragraph to guess at what was to follow:

‘There are some features of Scientology which are so ludicrous that there may be a tendency to regard Scientology as silly and its practitioners as harmless cranks. To do so would be gravely to misunderstand the tenor of the Board’s conclusions. This Report should be read, it is submitted, with these prefatory observations constantly in mind. Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill.’

In many cases, the report continued, mental derangement and a loss of critical faculties resulted from Scientology processing, which tended to produce subservience amounting almost to mental enslavement. Because of fear, delusion and debilitation, the individual often found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to escape. Furthermore, the potentiality for misuse of confidence was great and the existence of files containing the most intimate secrets and confessions of thousands of individuals was a constant threat to them and a matter of grave concern.

As for L. Ron Hubbard, the report suggested that his sanity was to be ‘gravely doubted’. His writing, abounding in self-glorification and grandiosity, replete with histrionics and hysterical, incontinent outbursts, was the product of a person of unsound mind. His teachings about thetans and past lives were nonsensical; he had a persecution complex; he had a great fear of matters associated with women and a ‘prurient and compulsive urge to write in the most disgusting and derogatory way’ on such subjects as abortions, intercourse, rape, sadism, perversion and abandonment. His propensity for neologisms was commonplace in the schizophrenic and his compulsion to invent increasingly bizarre theories and experiences was strongly indicative of paranoid schizophrenia with delusions of grandeur. ‘Symptoms’, the report added, ‘common to dictators.’

It continued in similar vein for 173 pages, concluding: ‘If there should be detected in this report a note of unrelieved denunciation of Scientology, it is because the evidence has shown its theories to be fantastic and impossible, its principles perverted and ill-founded, and its techniques debased and harmful. Scientology is a delusional belief system, based on fiction and fallacies and propagated by falsehood and deception . . . Its founder, with the merest smattering of knowledge in various sciences, has built upon the scintilla of his learning a crazy and dangerous edifice. The HASI claims to be “the world’s largest mental health organization”. What it really is however, is the world’s largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy.’

It was not difficult to ‘detect’ a note of unrelieved denunciation in the Anderson report; indeed, in its intemperate tone, its use of emotive rhetoric and its tendency to exaggerate and distort, it bore a marked similarity to the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. In his determination to undermine Scientology, Anderson completely ignored the fact that thousands of decent, honest, well-meaning people around the world believed themselves to be benefiting from the movement. To condemn the church as ‘evil’ was to brand its followers as either evil or stupid or both – an undeserved imputation.

Bloodied but unbowed, Hubbard began fighting back against the Anderson report on the day of its publication, beginning with a rebuttal written exclusively for the East Grinstead Courier, accusing the Australian inquiry of being an illegal ‘kangaroo court’ which had refused to allow him to appear in his own defence. Its findings were ‘hysterical’, he said, and not based on the facts. He compared the inquiry to the heresy trials which had led to witches being burned at the stake in the dark ages.

However, Dr Hubbard – described as ‘the son of a Montana cattle baron’ – still found it in his heart to be munificent: ‘Well, Australia is young. In 1942, as the senior US naval officer in Northern Australia, by a fluke of fate, I helped save them from the Japanese. For the sake of Scientologists there, I will go on helping them . . . Socrates said, “Philosophy is the greatest of the arts and it ought to be practiced.” I intend to keep on writing it and practicing it and helping others as I can.’

For his fellow Scientologists, Hubbard had a slightly different message. What had gone wrong in Australia, he explained, was that he had approved co-operation with an inquiry into all mental health services. (‘We could have had a ball and put psychiatry on trial for murder, mercy killing, sterilization, torture and sex practices and could have wiped out psychiatry’s good name.’) Unfortunately, because of bungling somewhere along the line, the inquiry had been narrowed to Scientology only, ‘so it was a mess’.

He laid out the procedure to be followed if there were further official inquiries into Scientology. The first step was to identify the antagonists, next investigate them ‘for felonies or worse’ and then start feeding ‘lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers’ to the press. ‘Don’t ever tamely submit to an investigation of us,’ he warned. ‘Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way.’

Hubbard soon showed he was prepared to take the lead. The storm caused by the Anderson report was not merely restricted to ephemeral headlines: it provoked further and continuing media investigation into Scientology and prodded governments into taking punitive measures against the church. The reaction, sociologist Roy Wallis noted, was comparable to an international moral panic: ‘The former conception of the movement as a relatively harmless, if cranky, health and self-improvement cult, was transformed into one which portrayed it as evil, dangerous, a form of hypnosis (with all the overtones of Svengali in the layman’s mind), and brainwashing.’

The Australian government was first to act: in December 1965, the State of Victoria passed the Psychological Practices Act [since superseded] which effectively outlawed Scientology and empowered the Attorney General to seize and destroy all Scientology documents and recordings. Then the country playing host to the ‘evil Dr Hubbard’ could hardly be expected to ignore the Anderson report and on 7 February 1966, Lord Balniel, MP, then chairman of the National Association for Mental Health, stood up in the House of Commons and asked the Minister of Health to initiate an inquiry into Scientology in Britain.

Two days later, Hubbard issued an instruction from Saint Hill Manor: ‘Get a detective on that Lord’s past to unearth the titbits. They’re there.’ On 17 February he set up a ‘Public Investigation Section’ to be staffed by professional private detectives. Its function was to ‘help LRH [Hubbard became known in Scientology by his initials] investigate public matters and individuals which seem to impede human liberty’ and ‘furnish intelligence’. The first private investigator hired to head the section was told to find at least one bad mark (‘a murder, an assault, or a rape’) on every psychiatrist in Britain, starting with Lord Balniel. Unfortunately for Hubbard, the gallant detective promptly scuttled off and sold his story to a Sunday newspaper, creating more unfavourable publicity for Scientology.

Scientology’s ‘official’ reply to the Anderson report was a forty-eight-page document, bound in black and gold, and titled ‘Kangaroo Court. An investigation into the conduct of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology.’ It was hardly designed to win the hearts and minds of the average Australian. ‘Only a society founded by criminals, organized by criminals and devoted to making people criminals, could come to such a conclusion [about Scientology] . . .’ the introduction declared. ‘The foundation of Victoria consists of the riff-raff of London’s slums – robbers, murderers, prostitutes, fences, thieves – the scourings of Newgate and Bedlam . . . the niceties of truth and fairness, of hearing witnesses and weighing evidence, are not for men whose ancestry is lost in the promiscuity of the prison ships of transportation . . .’

After airing the manifold grievances of the church, ‘Kangaroo Court’ returned to its initial theme: ‘The insane attack on Scientology in the State of Victoria, can best be understood if Victoria is seen for what it is – a very primitive community, somewhat barbaric, with a rudimentary knowledge of the physical sciences.’ There followed a defiant quote from L. Ron Hubbard: ‘The future of Scientology in Australia is bright and shiny. We will continue to grow and progress. No vested interests or blackhearted politicians, no matter how much power they seem to ally themselves with, can stop our thoughts or our communications . . . We will be here teaching and listening when our opponents’ names are merely mis-spelled references in a history book of tyranny.’

“Religion undoubtedly surpasses every other human activity in sheer quantity and variety of bullshit. If one considers in addition its role as accomplice of class domination throughout history, it is little wonder that it has brought upon itself the contempt and hatred of ever increasing numbers of people, in particular of revolutionaries…” ~ Ken Knabb, The Realization and Suppression of Religion (1977)

See also : “Hey! Great idea Ron!” or Church of Scientology versus Anonymous (January 28, 2008) | Google hearts Scientology? (February 2, 2008) | South Park: “Trapped in the Closet” | The Cruise Indoctrination Video Scientology Tried To Suppress

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2021 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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3 Responses to Church of Scientology in Victoria (Australia)

  1. Asher says:

    Operation Clambake is still up at http://xenu.net/

  2. Cap'n Noodlesword says:

    http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfmconte.htm is up for me, and the whole book can be read.

  3. @ndy says:

    Sweet. I swear it was down last time I checked!

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