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Scientology's tactics for dissenters / Hubbard: "Law can be used to harass. If possible of course, to utterly ruin"

Title: Scientology's tactics for dissenters / Hubbard: "Law can be used to harass. If possible of course, to utterly ruin"
Date: Wednesday, 22 June 1977
Publisher: Albertan (Canada)
Author: Bob McKee
Main source: link (223 KiB)

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The Church of Scientology has an effective way of dealing with those who "seek to destroy" it. In this, the third of a series Bob McKee examines some of its methods.

There have been dissensions in every church that ever existed but few, if any, have resorted to as drastic a method in dealing with its heretics, as has the Church of Scientology.

Not since the Inquisition has a church pursued so severe and uncompromising a stand in rooting out all those who should seek to oppose it or its beliefs. There are in the words of one Calgary lawyer, "a plethora of law suits" facing hose who have aired what would seem genuine grievances.

In the Supreme Court of Ontario the Church as filed at least 34 civil actions over the past few years against ex-members, and the media. In the U.S.A. it is believed approximately 150 actions are still going through the courts.

Calgary Church representative says the only time it sues is when "people are actively involved in trying to destroy the Church" but the their reasons for suing and past policy on what to do if "attacked" suggests otherwise.

In one of the many articles on the subject Hubbard advised his followers that the only way to defend anything is to attack. "The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional demise. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly," he wrote.

Hubbard also tells his flock to have a personal civil suit for $100,000 damages served upon the attacker."

To the outsider such thinking may appear out of line with the traditional compassionate attitudes of established churches but as far as Scientology is concerned you've just got to beat the hell out of those who oppose or criticize you.

The church has found Hubbard's advice to be an effective and sound policy. Using the law as its club it can, with its unlimited financial resources, quell opponents: Few individuals who invoke the wrath of the church, can afford to bear the cost of heavy legal fees in defending their actions. With a $100,000 civil action threatening them most will retract their statements.

Those already threatened with civil actions include ex-members, book stores, libraries, and publishers who distributed or exhibited articles or books [text missing]

The fact that this type of action amounts censorship and the elimination of free speech, doesn't appear to bother the church.

Grieved ex-Scientology members have also claimed the church uses other forms of "intimidation" to keep disgruntled members quiet. One Calgary source alleges he spent $7,000 on Scientology courses before realizing "I was being conned into giving more and more money into the organization" claimed he was "harassed" when he left and wrote letters to the Press about Scientology programs.

"I realized my money was down the drain and I didn't want to see others doing the same. I wrote to the press giving my views and not long after I started getting crude letters and phone calls and all were in the form of indirect subtle threats," he said.

Other former Scientology members have confirmed they were subjected to similar actions but the Church dismisses this as nonsense adding that it has never been convicted of a criminal offense.

It does not admit to having once operated a policy known as 'fair game' in which SPs (Suppressive Persons) may be "deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist by the church. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed". The policy goes on to state, "The homes, property, places and abodes of persons who have been active in attempting to suppress Scientology or Scientologists are beyond any protection of Scientology Ethics unless absolved by later Ethics or amnesty.

Scientologists claim the policy was cancelled because it was misinterpreted.

A later internal document offers the following explanation under the heading "Cancellation Of Fair Game": "The practise of declaring people 'Fair Game' will cease. 'Fair Game' may not appear on any Ethics Order. It causes bad public relations". Later however the document adds that the policy letter "does not cancel any policy on the treatment of handling of an SP".

Former members claim that although the Church says "Fair Game" is no longer operational, they were told the cancellation was merely a public relations exercise.

The policy was cancelled in 1968 yet a year later the church's former Los Angeles bookkeeper, Gene Allard, alleged he was a victim of "Fair Game" when Scientologists had him arrested for allegedly stealing over $27,000 in Swiss notes from
[text missing]

The charge was dismissed for lack of evidence — and Allard claimed the church had tried to "discredit" him as "fair game" policy because he had given financial records to the Internal Revenue Service. He was awarded $300,000 three years ago for malicious prosecution.

In a policy letter dated May 30, 1974, Hubbard gives a further insight into ways of dealing with his opponents. A tactic referred to as "The Dead Agent Caper" states, "A hidden source injects lies and derogation into public view. If there will be a long term, threat you are to immediately evaluate it and originate a black public relation campaign to destroy the person's repute and to discredit them so thoroughly that they will be ostracized. In other words handle the hell out of it."

The Church, say aggrieved ex-members, has not been lax in following Hubbard's policy letters.

There has, and still exists, a fierce war of words between Scientology and many of its former members. Although openly hostile to the media (and any opponents), in his internal communication, Hubbard has always been careful to avoid coverage of church clashes.

Instead he urges members to turn the spotlight away from dissenters and onto more universal issues such as mental health, in which the church is most active.

"Scientology's image is that of the people who are cleaning up the field of mental healing, and effectively handling mental health on the planet. Make all issues hot, exciting, brutal or sensational go strictly circus in this type of message. You can and must ally with real humanitarians and Civil Rights groups," he told members in 1969.

Some months later Scientologists put "Operation Paste Up" into action. This involved the staging of a protest outside a Utah Hospital condemning mental health movements. Posters were put up overnight adding support to the campaign. An internal and confidential document stated the protest was NOT to be linked to Scientology.

The plan was to create appearances of many individual groups across the USA protesting against the mental health organizations. It listed various nom-de-plumes individual groups should use and offered a "lines of attack" condemning the associations and reasons for their 'concern'.

On December 14 1969 the Salt Lake Tribune carried a story detailing a protest meeting held outside the Utah Hospital the previous day. The group called itself "The Association For [text missing] Operation Paste Up) and spokesman gave one of the plan's three "lines of attack".

No mention was made of the fact that the protesters were Scientology members.

On a more recent occasion the church's Canada public relations representative urged the then Calgary minister to get members to send in letters to the Press, again on the issue of mental health, "Some as Scientologists".

It is debatable whether such actions are a breach of the law but they are, say ex-members unethical if nothing else.

"As a Scientologist I truly believed in what we were doing. If we had to bend the law slightly to deal with suppressives or to achieve our aims then that was okay by me and to my knowledge the rest of the group. With Scientology indoctrination one never questions. What L. Ron says goes. He leads you to believe he holds the key to all knowledge if you are not a Scientologist you are ignorant. L. Ron may not be a [text missing]