“I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is.” L Ron Hubbard
The Church of Scientology began in the year 1953 and is one of the world's newest religions. In this essay I will address three questions: Who was L Ron Hubbard? What is the doctrine of Scientology? How does Scientology qualify as a religion?
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born on March 13, 1911 in the town of Tilden, Nebraska and died on January 24, 1986. His nickname growing up was “Flash,” but later in life he was referred to by his initials “LRH.” Since his father was an US naval officer he moved frequently and traveled extensively in Asia and the South Pacific.
Hubbard was admitted to George Washington University in September 1930 to study Civil Engineering. He later claimed to have followed a course of study in nuclear physics graduating with a degree in engineering. He was a very poor student and received grades of mostly “Ds” and “Fs” except for English and physical education. His official George Washington University record indicates that he flunked out in September 1931 and never earned a degree.
Growing up LRH was an avid adventurist. He joined The Explorer's Club in 1940 and was involved in a number of adventures including an expedition to the Aleutian Islands attempting to update the Coast Guard Pilot guide to the coast lines of Alaska. He even claimed to have once roped a Kodiak bear. He was known for telling “tall tales” and was described as someone with an “incorrigible ability to float above the evidence,” a talent that would serve him well as a prolific writer of science fiction and fantasy stories.
The Church of Scientology has a completely different story about just about every aspect of Hubbard's life story. They argue that all the records that are in conflict with their version of his life are forgeries or in their words, they have been “sheep-dipped.” His military record is just another example of conflicting life histories. According to the Church Hubbard was a war hero and suffered combat injuries including blindness and near total paralysis.
He was commissioned as a Lieutenant (junior grade) in the US Navy on July 19, 1941. He briefly commanded an antisubmarine ship in the coastal waters off Oregon and California where he claimed he disabled or sunk two Japanese submarines in May 1943. A Navy investigation could not find any evidence that any submarine had been destroyed. Hubbard was relieved of his command when he conducted unauthorized gunnery practice off the coast of Coronado Island. According to the Navy he was “lacking the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation.” The Church claims that he received military medals that were not even in existence during the time he served in the military.
While serving in the navy, LRH met Commander Joseph C. “Snake” Thompson a polymath and medical officer who exercised a tremendous influence over him. It was from him that he picked up the ideas...