Presented via Operation Clambake, an archive of FBI documents on L Ron Hubbard from 1940 to 1980, covering everything from his initial fad for outing anyone and everyone (including his own wife) as a Communist infiltrator to the numerous documents on the cult submitted to the agency over the years.

Looking through the documents, perhaps the two most obvious themes are Hubbard’s paranoia and his (unwarranted) sense of self-importance. This excerpt, from a 1951 letter to the FBI, is instructive:

At the last session of the board of Trustees, Mar. 2, 1951, a motion was made and passed that everyone employed by the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundations everywhere should be requested to sign a strong oath of loyalty to the U.S. government, a denial of Communism and that their fingerprints be taken and forwarded to the F.B.I. The operation of preparing and signing the oaths and fingerprinting all employees is now being undertaken and the results will be forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington as soon as these are completed. It may take some weeks to complete this task but the documents, as completed, will be sent in.

The Foundation has assumed a highly punitive stand on Communism. I shall shortly be in Washington to go over this matter with the government.

Both of these factors are still at work in the cult today. The Church of Scientology, whose members number in the tens of thousands worldwide at most, courts celebrities, runs drug programmes, and can be seen on mainstream TV and as part of popular culture. It is able to create an image of itself vastly outside of its actual size or power, and in doing so helps to actualise the self-importance and significance its leaders feel it is owed.

Simultaneously, however, the cult is numerically tiny, legally embattled, and publicly opposed. Surely an organisation of the obvious power and significance of the Church of Scientology could not be harmed by such petty concerns as law enforcement, tax, everyday citizens criticising them? For an organisation so obviously right and powerful as the Church, only a conspiracy of truly epic proportions would be able to explain the material situation in which it finds itself.

And so a conspiracy was created. The cult’s mini-site explaining those who oppose Scientology has a page, entitled “Behind the Worldwide Campaign”, which explains the forces behind the opposition to Scientology:

Although the forty-year assault against Scientology assumed large proportions, the source must be remembered-that small but influential circle of psychiatrists and their government stooges. Nor did the means change over the years: false allegations selectively planted in the media, then seeded into even more federal files as background “fact.”

It is a method, with small adjustments, that also served to cause trouble overseas. The international pipeline left the US, primarily through IRS and FBI links, and discharged among the voluminous dossiers of Interpol.

[…]

In fact, IRS and FBI files contained virtually every rumor ever disseminated about Scientology, further substantiating Congressional findings that these agencies were often used to launch politically motivated attacks against targets that had committed no crimes at all.

[…]

So it goes. Key psychiatric figures, their US government allies and psychiatric colleagues overseas-together they have spent untold millions of dollars around the world to stop Scientology.

Judge Breckenridge of the Los Angeles Superior Court once said of the Church of Scientology that “the organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder, L.Ron Hubbard.” Within a cult, the organisation as a whole bends to and becomes reflective of the will and personality of its founder. In the case of Hubbard, each setback – his opposition by the psychiatric establishment, his run-ins with the FBI – became part of a grand conspiracy against Scientology as a whole and him in particular. This “conspiracy” was then passed on to the rest of the organisation, and has continued today – a totalitarian cult ritualistically enacting the paranoid delusions of a drug-addled fascist.

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