There is an interesting story about this month that shows the success of the Church of Scientology in pursuing its signature litigation abuse by hitting critics with lawsuits and injunction motions. One of the chief targets of Scientology lawyers has been “Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard,” a British book that has been hounded by the Church in an alleged attempt to keep it out of the United States. If that was the motivation, it worked for 27 years. However, that book has now been published in print this month in the United States and joins “Going Clear” by Lawrence Wright as a “new” account of the life and controversies surrounding Hubbard’s life and creation of his own religion.
The book details what it says were a series of bizarre lies by Hubbard that raises questions of his sanity and pathological tendencies. It explores how Hubbard claimed that he was one of America’s earliest nuclear physicists. He also claimed that he was a medical doctor. In reality, he went to my school, George Washington University, but dropped out. The book also discusses his claim that he spent his childhood breaking horses in Montana and traveling Asia in a quest to find truth among the mystics. None of this the book says was true.
We previously discussed other books detailing allegations that the Church itself falsified Hubbard’s military service. New Yorker article by Lawrence Wright on the Church of Scientology looked at the alleged heroic war record and severe battle scars claimed by 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. When confronted, 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 is interesting about such books is that, despite its litigious reputation, the Church officials do not appear to have sued. While I have been a lifetime critic of the rule, you cannot defame the dead. Thus, Hubbard’s family cannot sue on his behalf for these books which accuse him of being the worst form of liar. However, this last allegation suggests that officials have played a role in rewriting history and then misrepresenting facts of Hubbard’s life. They would presumably have a claim if they are identified directly or by implication.
The book by Russell Miller was quickly targeted by the Church which sued to block its printing in the United States. It worked. After two years, Miller’s lawyers gave up and figured that the book could be obtained from foreign publishers. However, Independent US publisher Silvertail Books has decided that it would run the risk of litigation from the Church and print the Bare-Faced Messiah in America. Miller is pulling no punches. He recently is quoted as saying “It’s always been an utter mystery to me that anybody could read Bare-Faced Messiah and then still take Scientology seriously.”
The book joins a growing list of publications recently by high-level defectors who alleged a variety of abuses and potential crimes by Scientology officials. These publications are likely to fuel the existing pressure in Europe where the church is considered by many to be a criminal enterprise or cult rather than a religion.
Of course, one of the tenets created by Hubbard was for followers to avoid reading any criticism of the Church and to shun anyone who questions the religion. That however does not appear the audience for these authors.
Source: NY Post