Scientology Officials Accused of Falsifying Hubbard War Records

The New Yorker article by Lawrence Wright on the Church of Scientology is getting a great deal of attention. The article details the departure of screenwriter and director Paul Haggis from the church after 35 years. However, I found one of the most interesting aspects to be Wright’s confrontation of Church officials over the alleged heroic record and severe battle scars of founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The Church has long maintained that Hubbard was a war hero who was left blind and a ‘hopeless cripple’ at the end of World War II. The story is the basis of Hubbard claim that he healed himself with his own science that later became the basis of Dianetics.

Wright asked Church leaders and large contingent of Scientology lawyers to back up the claims. Church official Tommy Davis responded with what Wright says were forged documents:

Eventually, Davis sent us what is called a notice of separation — essentially discharge papers from World War II — along with some photographs of all of these medals that [Hubbard] had won. … At the same time, we finally gained access to Hubbard’s entire World War II records [through a request to the military archives] and there was no evidence that he had ever been wounded in battle or distinguished himself in any way during the war. We also found another notice of separation which was strikingly different than the one that the church had provided.”

What I find interesting about this account is that, if true, it is hard to believe that these Church officials actually believe that stuff that they are instilling in followers. Self-delusion is rather difficult if you are actively creating false documents. This would tend to support those who insist that the Church is a criminal and fraudulent organization so I am waiting to see the response of the Church to this particular allegation.

What is also interesting in this account is the possible legal consequences of forging U.S. military documents. Here they were not used commercial purposes technically, but it could still run afoul of the federal code. It is also an ironic twist on the “stolen valor” debate — here allegedly stealing valor for a dead man. Of course, if true, it was Hubbard who could be accused of building his church — and deriving financial benefits — from these claims.

Source: NPR

52 thoughts on “Scientology Officials Accused of Falsifying Hubbard War Records

  1. The link to the article itself is:

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/02/14/110214fa_fact_wright

    The article does not mention that “Dianetics” was first published in the April 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, whose editor John Campbell became one of its first “patients,” claiming that it cured his sinusitis.

    The early Dianetics was simply a talking-cure variety of psychoanalysis, and cribbed a lot from Freud.

    Hubbard had been famous in 1930s and 1940s science fiction circles, and often bragged that no one could get rich selling to the pulps at a penny a word. The real route wealth? Start a religion, he said. A lot of the fiction in the 1940s Astounding turned on the founding of new religions to change a future society. One of the best was Heinlein’s “If This Goes On.”

    After a few years, Hubbard made the decision to repackage his dianetic therapy as a religion, to secure First Amendment protection against government scrutiny and tax-exempt status. Over the next 50 years, he and his followers succeeded spectacularly.

    One of the most shocking points in the article is that, after years of litigation, scientology is now recognized by IRS as a religion, and all the “contributions” are tax-deductible.

    So the taxpayers of America are subsidizing this pseudo-scientific quack therapy disguised as a religion.

  2. What! Scientology a fraud? A brainwashing Ponzi scheme founded by a hack?

    Why next you’ll be saying the Flying Spaghetti Monster is made of ziti or cavatappi!

    It’s an outrage.

    Pass the garlic bread, please.

  3. “Our records are real. The government records have been altered due to persecution of Hubbard and Scientology.”

    Boom. Problem solved.

  4. I’m sure they keep the ‘real’ records in the safe-deposit box they share with the Mormons, right next to the golden tablets :-)

  5. Vince,
    you’ve got it right as usual and literally took the words out of my mouth. Scientology was formed as a tax dodge and confidence scheme by Hubbard. Having actually heard Hubbard on late night radio (Long John Nebel)in NYC in the mid fifties, with a panel of SF writers (Lester Del Rey and Fred Pohl)it was obvious that with his old comrades there, he couldn’t sustain the con. However, Hubbard was a pro both rhetorically and as a writer and he found enough disciples to start this phony religion and make a fortune.

  6. After reading the article, the forging of Hubbard’s war record is the least of their problems. How about enslavement of children and adults(the sea.org) and false imprisonment? How about making the fees these guys pay to Scientology to “go clear” and become “thetans” tax deductible as medical expenses? Haggis says he “spent” upwards of a million dollars to progress up the ranks of Thetans to the top level. All deductible. How about using sea.org slaves to remodel Tom Cruise’s pad and refinish two motorcyles? Sea.org slaves get paid $25 a week. Not to mention, kidnapping an escapee who flipped out and refusing her standard medical help. They fed her with a turkey baster and she died of dehydration in their “care.”

    There’s a lot in this article that will make your hair stand on end. The FBI is investigating their Clearwater operation, where the woman died.

  7. I just had to point out some of the rank stupidity of Hubbard or whoever put together his “war record”:

    1. Some of the “medals” he received were not issued until AFTER he left the service.
    2. The “purple heart with palm leaf” he received is nonsense (as a quick search of the internet would reveal) because multiply wounded recipients of the purple heart have stars, not palm leaves, added to their award.
    3. The Lt Cdr who signed Hubbard’s separation papers never existed. It’s easy to check and see who were officers in the Navy in WWII.
    4. Form of separation from service is wrong form

    And so on and so on. I think people are entitled to believe any crazy thing they want and also to give to fraudsters, but I do not believe in “religions” which violate the law by child employment, slavery, assault and battery and false imprisonment.

  8. Mike, I remember Long John well. He had John Campbell as a guest. Campbell vividly described Hubbard’s sufferings in World War II. Those supposed wounds and injuries were all fiction, of course.

    It is very interesting to observe the birth and gestation of a new religion as it unfolds, at a time when we can easily access information about its fantastic claims and debunk them. The origins of a lot of other religions are lost in the mists of time.

  9. Vinve,
    Great work. I just can’t imagine why anyone would forge documents just to keep their meal ticket going.:) It is interesting that their are so many lies that can be proven, but yet people are so gullible that they keep sending money.

  10. Vince,
    glad to know you remember Long John too. It’s a pity that discussion shows like his no longer exist on Radio. I be then you remember Jean Shepard, who got his listener’s to have a fictitious book, “I Libertine” make number 1 on the NYT’s best seller list

  11. Yeah, Mike, I remember Jean Shepherd, too. The guys in New York at Ballantine got Ted Sturgeon to write up a novel of the same name and had it out in paperback, with cover by Kelly Freas, in a matter of weeks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I,_Libertine

    Long John took over the midnight to dawn shift when Jean had been fired by the station for doing an unauthorized commercial for Sweetheart soap, responding to the station’s complaint that he couldn’t sell soap.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Shepherd

    Jean lives on for 24 hours every Christmas when they broadcast the movie “Chrismas Story” with his narration.

  12. Jean Shepard:

    “Keep your knees loose and your eyes on the ball.”
    Made sense, but I was still a lousy fielder. I often think of myself and FFLEO as the old farts here. Guess I’ve got company.

  13. This is really fascinating. The New Yorker has posted the forged “discharge” with an interactive analysis by experts.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/02/l-ron-hubbard-leaves-the-navy.html

    The forgery claims that L. Ron was an engineering graduate of George Washington University, when the fact is that he dropped out after two years without a degree.

    At another post, they have his birth and death certificates.

    Most of his life was a fictional creation of his own.

  14. Does anyone else remember that years ago PBS ran 3 or 4 “made for TV” films of Jean Shepherd stories? They were well made, well acted, and very funny. The amazing thing about them was that they ran once and were, to my knowledge, never re-run. I always wondered why they disappeared and what became of them. Maybe a copyright problem?

  15. Hen, check the wiki entry above: “The PBS series American Playhouse aired a series of television movies based on Shepherd stories, also featuring the Parker family. These included Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss, The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters,[9] and The Phantom of the Open Hearth.[10]”

  16. The Church of Scientology can resolve the controversy regarding its authenticity by simply producing the original long form of Mr. Hubbard’s discharge papers.

  17. I agree with Mike A. Let’s see L. Ron Hubbard’s form DD-214. I am willing to wait while it is retrieved. Of course, we will want to have a forensic document examiner take a look at it for alterations. Not that I don’t trust the folks over at Scientology or anything. I am sure they would not do anything as dastardly as alter a document, but still…. Um, never mind. I want to see an original DD-214.

  18. If you do see a DD214, you can be sure it is a fake, since the form did not exist until after Elron was discharge, like two of the medals that the church claims that he earned.

    “The first DD Form 214s were issued in 1950, after replacing the older “WD AGO” (War Department Adjutant General) Forms and the NAVPERS (Naval Personnel) discharge documents. These documents, in turn, had existed since 1941.”

    Source, wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DD_Form_214

    It does look as if he got a NAVPERS NOTICE OF SEPARATION FROM THE U.S. NAVAL SERVICE, NAVPERS 553 (REV. 8-45). See the above link to the New Yorker at 3:59 PM

  19. The hell with the so-called Church of Scientology. They won’t produce anything and I don’t care. Mike A., I think Vinve already posted links to forensic studies of the Church’s documents. As was stated earlier, this whole “religion” is just a tax dodge.

  20. I received a letter from the CoS in 1969 declaring that I had been officially made an “enemy of the church” due to my trying to dissuade a roommate at the time of becoming a member. The letter asserted that I was a corrupting force and demanded that I have no further interaction with the roommate.

    I still have it framed on my wall.

  21. Mike S.,

    That K20RS quote was from the introduction Shepherd recorded for the Morse Code study tape we played in Electronics class for the Ham radio license test.

    Shepherd’s intro was so hokey, we memorized his intro far more than the course material.

  22. Vince & Bob,
    Thanks for the additional info on Shep. It brought back many bittersweat memories, especially the Slate piece. I too was disillusioned by Shep at Syracuse University (visiting a friend) when he was doing a pilot for the soon to be TV Show called “Hullabaloo.” Won’t relate it though, I’ve already hijacked to much thread with my ruminations and it’s not as good as the Slate stuff. It is nice though to know that we have some great memories in common of our misspent youth.

  23. OK on the DD-214. I thought it pre-dated 1950, but have never actually looked it up. At any rate, anything they actually produced would be suitable only for lining the bird cage. But only if you dislike the bird.

  24. rafflaw:

    I was trying to make a sarcastic birther analogy. I guess I need to learn how to do these things better.

  25. About 25 years ago a British journalist called Russell Miller produced a biography of L. Ron Hubbard. He found that Hubbard had falsified his own history and that the church had connived in this.

    The result was Bare-Faced Messiah, which the Church of Scientology unsuccessfully attempted to suppress using the courts. About 15 years ago Miller regained the publishing rights and gave Chris Owen permission to publish it on the web, where it has lived ever since.

    This is a chapter from the book about what Hubbard actually did during the Second World War. The fake wounds are in there.

    http://www.clambake.org/archive/books/bfm/bfm06.htm

  26. Joe G said, “‘Our records are real. The government records have been altered due to persecution of Hubbard and Scientology.’

    “Boom. Problem solved.”

    How about this one, then? The Scienos showed the author pictures of Hubbard’s “medals,” and medals of that kind were not in use until after Hubbard was discharged from the military. One of the medals had a star and a palm tree on it, and the Navy has never issued a medal with a palm tree on it.

    How will the RTC “handle” that one?

  27. Reminds me of the totally fabricated “Golden Hour” for trauma victims, which was invented over drinks by a couple of highly distinguished Maryland doctors in order to – you guessed it – make money, via “life-flight” type medical helicopters, which would bypass all other hospitals and take the patient to – yep, you guessed it – their hospital.

    Like the legal drug cartels pushing their wares via TV ads a thousand times per day, it all gets down to . . .

    Money.

    So by this time no one even of middling mind ought be too surprised that a “church” – and there is no taller one than the Church of Modern Medicine – might be stoop to the level of the “Liar, liar, pants on fire” technique of saving souls.

  28. Everyone of you is wrong, Dianetics is a superior system and the people who have become “clears” are at very top positions within our government and some of our industries.

    Many “clears” run our daily life and you have L. Ron Hubbard and his wonderful system to thank. Shame on all of you for trying to Give Mr. Hubbard a bad name.

    Dianetics has saved many people from a life of misery. Before you denounce it, you should try a few sessions. Once you get your mind right maybe you will have a different opinion.

  29. Jean Shepherd’s creative work is still alive and well. Check out the great website flicklives.com, and note on ebay and elsewhere the many hundreds of his radio broadcasts available very cheaply. Shep fans and the curious could also check out the only book about him and his creative world, my EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD. As for availablwe video material, only marginal quality amateur VHS copies are available, on VHS and transferred to DVD (see ebay). In addition to the already noted “Phantom…” and “Fourth of July…” the third one in the trilogy is “The Star-crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski,” all based on his previously published stories in Playboy and his books.

  30. Dianetitian is parroting the dogma of his religion. We’re all, in that view, afflicted with masses of “body thetans” and the “engrams” of unresolved stressful experiences from our current and previous lives, and crucially, from a time 70 million years ago when we were all dumped into a volcanic crater in Hawaii and resolutely nuked to a cinder by an evil space emperor.

    If only we paid a few thousand dollars to go to Scientology level OT3 we’d realise how sensible and true this is, and the facts would change and Battlefield Earth would win the Oscar for best picture every year forever in one big blissful Ground Hog Day.

  31. “Dianetics has saved many people from a life of misery. Before you denounce it, you should try a few sessions.”

    I’ll try a few sessions when I am able to scrape up the money they will cost. I’m glad it’s helped you, but I still believe Hubbard was a sophisticated conman, who developed a good get rich scheme. In the process he also created a cult in the worst sense of the word. The difference between Scientology and EST is that Scientology wrapped itself in a religious cloak, which has helped to keep the con going. While EST promoted itself as science and so became discredited when the “science” failed to work. The fact that many “clears” run our daily lives may be the reason that our daily lives are so screwed up.

  32. Eugene,
    Thanks for the further good info. By the way the correct answer to the greeting “Excelsior” is “Seltzer Bottle.”

  33. Nothing real is threatened
    nothing unreal exists
    therein lies the peace of…
    the noodly spaghetti monster (sent by G*d….;)

  34. Diane Titian-

    You said: “Dianetics is a superior system and the people who have become “clears” are at very top positions within our government and some of our industries. Many “clears” run our daily life and you have L.Ron Hubbard and his wonderful system to thank.”

    And I always thought that was called “the Military-Industrial Complex”. If I have L.Ron Hubbard to thank for that, all I can do is quote our next President, Sarah Palin:

    “Thankssss, but no thankssss.” (Is that “clear”?)

  35. The young Isaac Asimov was appalled when John W. Campbell, Jr., his revered mentor since the late 1930s, began promoting dianetics in 1949 and 1950.

    In his autobiography, In Memory Yet Green (1979), page 625, Asimov relates that Campbell told him in 1951 that he had broken with Hubbard and was out of the dianetics movement:

    “This didn’t surprise me, really, I knew Campbell and I knew Hubbard, and no movement can have two Messiahs.”

  36. Vince,

    Love the Asimov/Campbell/Hubbard story. Campbell was a great writer in his own right and an even better editor, but from what I’ve heard about the man? That his and Hubbard’s egos were on a collision course is not surprising.

  37. Scientology is no more unbelievable than any other “religion” , they all ask you to take what they sell on “faith” because if you really think rationally they are all science fiction. Why are there no bible stories about dinosaurs ? If Adam & Eve are the first two people does that mean everyone else is the product of incest ? Rediculous questions to be sure but men wrote the bible to keep the masses in check and themselves in power, nothing devine there just plain old greed and thirst for absolute power, it always corrupts and makes one insane.

  38. This actually destroys the base of their belief. Hubbard claimed he was crippled and blinded in the war and healed himself, and DISCOVERED DIANETICS in the process, on which all of $cientology is based. Even $cientology’s spokesperson Tommy Davis said that that would be the conclusion. Slip of the tongue?

  39. I heard the original Long John Nebel program when Hubbard made a bet that is was easy to establish a religion. The result of that bet was the book, “Dianetics” which became the bible of scientology. It is a complete fraud.

  40. Nancy,

    Thank you. I too heard that Long John show, but it’s been so many years that my memory is dim, so you have brought it back.

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