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Inside Scientology // The science fiction religion finds itself under attack

Title: Inside Scientology // The science fiction religion finds itself under attack
Date: Monday, 1 January 1979
Publisher: CHIC Magazine
Author: Ron Ridenour
Main source: link (1.5 MiB)

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In the beginning there was Xenn, god of the Galactic Federation, a 76-planet union formed some 95 million years ago. The Federation, whose planets averaged 178 billion inhabitants each, had something of a population problem. Xenn solved it by "implanting" the excess to Teegeeack (earth) and dumping them into volcanos. These beings were somehow fused into humans when hydrogen bombs were dropped on the volcanos. After the radioactive dust cleared, the new humans were confused by being shown religious pictures of devils and angels. Today, Operating Thetans seek to redress this crime by returning to and conquering the land of Xenn.

Sound like Star Wars — or Rocky Jones, Space Ranger? Not far off. According to former high-level Scientologists Robert Kaufman and Brendon Moore, this science fiction story is what you get when you pay over $2,000 for a Scientology top-level OT (Operating Thetan) III course. The Thetan, according to Scientology gospel, is a spirit which may or may not have a body, and which operates in the universe of Matter, Energy, Space and Time (MEST).

Is the OT III course worth the price tag? Well, in 1952, Scientologists "discovered" that Operating Thetans could "exteriorize," that is, take out-of-the-body excursions. This ability, said L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology's founder and chief theologian, "proves that the individual is not a body but an individual. This discovery . . . proved beyond any question the existence of a Thetan, that the individual was a Thetan, not a body, and disproved that man was an animal and that he was a spiritual being, timeless and deathless." As if that weren't enough, Operating Thetans can cash in on life after life after life, often occupying billions of bodies in succession.

Among other benefits awaiting loyal Scientologists is a forthcoming comprehensive health-care system that makes Blue Cross look strictly bush league. "Scientology will inherit the hospitals, the clinics, the asylums, the halls of learning where humanity was abused," Hubbard wrote in Ability Magazine, a Scientology house organ. "[T]hey had their chance and did not do the job; we have our chance and are doing ours. Do not blink when you ask your doctor, your psychiatrist, your savant in the humanities, and he says we are vile. Who has ever admired his own executioner?"

"We have the answers," Hubbard continued. "Authority belongs to those who can do the job. And Scientology will inherit tomorrow as surely as the sun will rise."

One person for whom Scientology's answers weren't enough was Quentin Hubbard, L. Ron's 22-year-old son. On October 28, 1976, he was found slumped over the wheel of his car outside of Las Vegas. He died in a nearby hospital on November 12, never having regained consciousness. The coroner listed the cause of death as cardio-pulmonary arrest due to cerebral hypoxia caused "probably [by] carbon monoxide poisoning."

When young Hubbard was found, his car's engine was still running. A hose connected to the exhaust pipe led to the interior of the car. Police investigators believe that his death was a suicide.

The Church of Scientology is like no other religion in the world. Its adherents say it makes a science of wisdom, a technology of self-knowledge, clearing believers of mental flaws. In less than 30 years Hubbard has built his science fiction religion into a serious and powerful worldwide organization.

Church membership is estimated at between four and five million worldwide, three million of whom live in the U.S. According to Jeff Dubron, a Scientology public relations official, the latter figure includes 600,000 "hard-core" members and others who buy books and pamphlets from Scientology stores. Most American members are middle-class white men and women, often successful in their vocations, who sincerely believe Scientology cures their mental anguish. Some notable Scientologists include John Travolta, Karen Black, bassist Stanley Clarke, ex-pro quarterback John Brodie, Judy Norton-Taylor (Mary Ellen on The Waltons) and Baretta co-star Michael Roberts.

In Los Angeles, Scientology's U.S. headquarters, the church recently bought the old Cedars of Lebanon hospital, a 600,000-square-foot complex that covers more than a city block. Scientology paid $5.5 million in cash for the building. The church also owns several mansions, hotels, a number of missions, and some 300 church buildings world-wide, including Flag Bureau Headquarters in Clearwater, Florida — bought for $2.8 million in cash. The church's cash-and-carry policy is partly an expression of Hubbard's individualist personality. It's also evidence that members, who pay dearly for auditing, communication courses and metaphysical classes, are happy with the church's services.

Scientology's detractors say that it's just lay psychotherapy at best, a rip-off at worst. They point to the $50-$60 hourly fees for confessions (auditing) and the $10,000 worth of courses required to become a "Clear." According to church orthodoxy, Clear status is the first stage of sanity. It's also a prerequisite for reaching Operating Thetan grades, in which (after payment of another 10 grand) all the secrets of the universe — as interpreted by L. Ron Hubbard — are revealed.

At the heart of Scientology is the auditing process. Scientologists believe that traumatic experiences can cause "engrams" in your mind. These engrams can cause dysfunctional responses to situations encountered later in life. To root them out, auditors ask probing questions about their subjects' pasts. And to judge the truth of the answers, auditors use the E-meter.

The E-meter measures the galvanic skin response (that is, resistance to a small electrical current) of a subject's skin. The subject holds two tin-can electrodes in his hands. A needle registers the responses that accompany his answers to the auditor's questions.

Hubbard says the E-meter is "infallible. It sees all, knows all. It is never wrong." In fact, at one time the church claimed that the E-meter could cure incurable diseases. The Food and Drug Administration raided the church in Washington, D.C. in 1963 and confiscated its E-meters. After nine years of litigation, the FDA returned the machines on the condition that a medical disclaimer be included on all machines and in all literature. Judge Gerhard Gesell (of Watergate fame) dubbed Scientology's E-meter claims a "fraud." But he ruled that the church was a religion and therefore that, under the First Amendment, E-meters could be legally used as "religious artifacts."

Lie detectors measure respiratory changes and cardiovascular changes (blood pressure, pulse and amplitude) in addition to galvanic skin response. These responses do indicate some emotional changes. But a Los Angeles polygraph expert says that "by itself, GSR is completely, totally worthless as an indicator of truth or deception." Nevertheless, Scientologists still claim that the E-meter is a precise mechanism.

L. Ron Hubbard, born in Tilden, Nebraska in 1911, was the son of a naval officer. He traveled throughout the Orient, where he became interested in Buddhism and Taoism. In college he studied Freud, engineering and computer technology, though he received poor grades. He grew fascinated by human behavior and the operation of the mind, a fascination he carried with him into the Navy during World War II.

Church members claim that Hubbard's experiments with the human mind became known to the military, and that the Navy stole some of his early writings. According to Scientology flacks, after Hubbard's discharge, the Navy wanted him back to use his independent research. What we know for sure about Hubbard's post-war career is that he became an only moderately successful sci-fi writer, using his own name as well as "Rene Lafayette" and "Kurt Van Strachen."

In 1950, Hubbard wrote Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health. The book was Hubbard's big killing; it rapidly became a best-seller, and is now in its 45th printing.

Dianetics, the precursor of Scientology, first introduced the notion of engrams and auditing. According to Hubbard, the mind has two parts: the analytic mind, that is, the conscious, the rational, the healthy part; and the reactive mind, which is not under conscious control. The reactive mind "reacts or acts in response to outside influence. . . . [It] records the bad things that happen to us (pain, fear, emotional upsets, etc.)." It stores up these bad moments as engrams, and throws them up in irrational ways when we encounter similar circumstances.

If the above sounds more than faintly reminiscent of the Freudian conscious/subconscious distinction, consider this explanation of the effects of auditing, as taken from Hubbard's The Basic Dianetics Picture Book: "Dianetic auditing frees a person from his reactive mind. When a picture or chain has been eliminated by dianetic auditing, the person being audited will look bright and feel bright and happy. He usually has a sudden realization, or a new understanding about himself or his life at this point." Sort of like what psychoanalysts call a "breakthrough."

Hubbard wrote that "arthritis, dermatitis, allergies, asthma, some coronary difficulties, eye trouble, bursitis, ulcers, sinusitis, etc. . . . can be cured by dianetic therapy. (And the word cured is used in its fullest sense.)" He who has successfully completed his auditing will even be freed from the most persistent ailment known to medical science. Or, as Hubbard puts it, "Clears do not get colds."

Hubbard and a few writers, editors and doctors founded the Hubbard Research Dianetics Foundation in 1950. The next year, he enlisted fellow science fiction writer A.E. Van Vogt to form the California Association of Dianetics, which still exists. Van Vogt, the author of Slan, The World of Null-A and The Voyage of the Space Beagle, says of Hubbard: "He's a genius who believes in people being totally loyal to him. He has many systems by which he operates.

"I first met Hubbard in 1945, when he spoke to a science fiction club," Van Vogt recalls. "I was most impressed with his physical strength. He can think on his feet, and often stays awake all night working." Van Vogt describes Hubbard as being more sensitive to "small signals" than any man he's ever met. He compared him to "Stalin and Hitler" in that, "he'd hear one word or tone that he feels is wrong and he'd become volatile, to put it mildly."

Between 1952 and 1954, Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology. Scientology incorporated Dianetics' auditing methods while adding past-lives theology, a specialized jargon of 3,000 words — and a hierarchical organization built around a strong, centralized authority. Each local church was required to follow Hubbard's policy orders and to donate 10 percent of its take to Scientology headquarters, which has moved around more often than a World Hockey Association franchise: from New Jersey to Arizona to Washington, D.C. to Saint Hill, England to a series of six ships in international waters, and finally back to England.

Hubbard justified his tight, centralized organization on the grounds that the "hostile environment" required it. His detractors replied that he was money- and power-hungry and simply wanted more followers. Such prominent Dianetics leaders as Dr. Joseph Winter, famed sci-fi editor John Campbell and Don Purcell rejected Scientology's emphasis on authority and past lives. A.E. Van Vogt, explaining his own break with Scientology, says, "Indoctrination is so great, how can we be free? The identity of the individual is lost in us somewhere."

Scientology's inner secrets are not revealed to "pre-Clears." Ex-Scientologist Robert Kaufman says that it's believed that if a church member isn't ready (i.e., hasn't completed the strict "gradients" leading up to advanced training), the powerful data he receives will cause him "to go crazy and die." The path from basic church membership ($15 per year, $75 for life) to the top Operating Thetan level costs about $20,000. But don't worry; if you don't have the cash, you can work off your debt by signing a billion-year contract and joining the Sea Org, a large cadre devoted totally to L. Ron Hubbard.

Initially a special group of Operating Thetans, the Sea Org was founded in 1967 to assist Hubbard in his research. (Hubbard formally resigned as Scientology's head in 1966. Nevertheless, observers doubt that any major policy decisions are made without his approval.) For the first year or so, the group traveled largely by ship. Sea Org members dress in quasi-naval uniforms, complete with full-dress sashes and swords. They have carte blanche to take over the operation of any church or mission with low "stats," that is, too few converts and coins in the coffer.

Hubbard describes the Sea Org as "the custodian and guarantor of pure technology" — Hubbard's own technology, what Scientologists call "the tech." The organization has a military-style hierarchy. Its commanding officers, acting under Scientology's board of directors and Hubbard's wife Mary Sue, oversee seven divisions: dissemination, technical (training), executive, qualifications (testing), distribution, finance and the Hubbard communications office (which routes office work and contains the ethics department). The ethics department comes in for the heaviest criticism from outsiders and apostate Scientologists. Scientology dogma maintains that ethics (applied Scientology-style, of course) are necessary to the correct application of the scientific religion. Church PR man Jeff Dubron says that, although it seems "scary to many, we deal with the optimum survival for self and group."

It's the way in which the ethics department enforces Scientology ethics that concerns many. One ethics officer, for example, said that no one's sex life is monitored, but admitted that if sex gets in the way of advancement within the church, it is probed and "dealt with." Security-check questions and the auditing process sometimes reach into the most intimate aspects of church members' lives: all sexual experiences, crimes, psychiatric history, any sort of embarrassing behavior. The purported intent is to rid Scientologists of guilt, of engrams — a necessary step on the way to Clear. Church leaders compare the process to the Roman Catholic sacrament of confession; "only," says Dubron, "we never kick anyone out forever and say they will go to hell. We have steps all can take to be reinstated."

Scientology keeps files on all its members. Although no one has proved that these file are anything but confidential to the outside world, several church leaders may review them, including Hubbard, who is authorized to use all data for "research." A church defender points out that, unlike the files the U.S. government keeps, a Scientologist's complete file is available to him on request..

Scientologists support the ethics department as a vital force in the passage and enforcement of laws for the new civilization Scientology is creating. This new, sane world order's promised benefits are health, beauty, superiority, individual and collective power, inner space, wealth and everlasting life. It's a hard line to resist. Sold to the public through its high-pressure, modern marketing program, Scientology is the fastest-growing of the new religions in the world.

"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous," L. Ron Hubbard is reported to have told fellow writers in a 1949 speech. "If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."

Nonbelievers point to Scientology's complex and exacting fee structures ("donations" for the OT courses increase by five percent each month) and hint darkly that the church is just a scam for taking advantage of religion's tax-free status. Scientologists reply that Hubbard was already rich from the sale of Dianetics, and that he put some $13 million into Scientology during its early days without taking any out.

Who's telling the truth?

U.S. tax laws don't specify what you have to do to qualify as a religion, and for some time it wasn't clear whether Scientology was one or not. The IRS, for obvious reasons, wanted tax-exempt status denied to Scientology, even though Australia and England recognize the church. In the United States, the two valid reasons for denying tax-exemption to a religion are that the religion participates in political campaigns, or that money it collects goes to individuals, as opposed to the organization itself.

In 1969, the U.S. Court of Claims ruled that the "earnings of the church inured to benefit the founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and his family." Thus, the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C. pays taxes. But, to complicate matters, most of the independently-operated state churches are given tax-exempt status.

Scientologists take no vows of poverty. The church prints its own literature, even makes its own E-meters, and charges high prices to the local churches and missions. Auditing can be done outside the church itself as long as the auditor pays the church a percentage and many Scientologists become auditors in order to make money. In fact, many members say that advancing in Scientology has helped them become better money-makers and generally more successful people.

In the course of a comprehensive investigation into Scientology operations undertaken for the British government in 1971, Sir John G. Foster found "intense competition between salesmen, whose status in the organization, as well as their earnings from it, is measured by the value of their sales."

Church employees usually don't make much, though, and what they do make is largely on a commission basis, thus accounting for Scientology's sales-like atmosphere. Church workers get their courses free or at a discount.

Scientologists also peddle dianetic "expansion consultants" to businesses. Sir John reported on an executive directive dated April 15, 1968 and signed by Irene Dunleavy for Hubbard:

A plan for setting up Scientology in business and taking responsibility for this area.

1. Take a business that is already doing well on the basis that you reward the up-stat [finances].

2. Approach the highest executive and disseminate Scientology to him. Offer to make his business more money for him at no cost to him. Your two demands:

a. Total control of the business during the time you're operating within the organization.

b. Fifty percent of the additional profit your actions will produce.

3. Next action is put in Ethics. Locate the SP's [Suppressive Persons, all who object to, criticize or in some way block Scientology] in the org and fire them.

4. Audit the Execs . . . show them what it's all about. This will then start the cycle of getting in tech in the organization. Execs will push their juniors and other staff to have auditing. . . .

Scientology defends its emphasis on money, reasoning that, after all, changing civilization is expensive. It costs a lot to run an effective organization. Critics claim that that's not what a religion should be about. Scientologists respond that they're not nearly as wealthy as the Roman Catholic Church.

Unlike most religions, Scientology has long been an active agent for social reform. The Association of Scientologists for Reform has sponsored programs for prisoner and mental patient rights, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, senior citizen rights, mental retardation and learning disabilities services. Front groups have organized against police spying and repression in alliance with left-wing and community coalitions. Scientologists say that they are merely "putting the planet's affairs in order."

But there are those who impute more sinister motives. They cite a directive by Canadian Scientology leader Ron McCann calling for front groups to be (in McCann's words) "the first Scientology attempt to build a world government. They are a foothold in the community by which to eventually govern. . . . Bear in mind that Scientologists are the only people . . . uniquely equipped to take over government."

McCann advised branch churches to "get a good letterhead," to use an "inconspicuous name," to contact a "public figure and have his name appear on your stationery."

Scientology reformers get mixed reviews from their non-church allies. The ACLU's Marvin Schachter says, "We cooperate with them in the pursuit of civil liberty objectives in the areas of police abuse, criminal code legislation, grand jury reform, and the rights to hold religious beliefs without harassment from government or deprogrammers."

But health-care activist Mark Kleinman recalls, "They behave as though they turned The Masters of Deceit into their policy manual. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights [a Scientology mental health reform group] may have wanted the same things we did [an end to the abuse of mental patients], but their methods were hopeless intrigues."

Although many activists believe "its followers pay a lot to have someone else think for them," they work with Scientology because it's effective and it has resources.

NARCONON is an organization using Hubbard technology for the rehabilitation of criminals and drug abusers. It was developed by William Benitez, a former addict-convict. There are 37 NARCONONs worldwide. None use drugs, cold turkey or abusive confrontation tactics. Instead, NARCONON uses L. Ron's communication exercises, live-in counseling and camaraderie, and megavitamins and minerals. NARCONON programs sometimes receive government grants. The California Human Development Resources Office in Santa Monica hires NARCONON counselors to teach police and school officials how to approach drug abusers, especially PCP (angel dust) users, without hurting them or being hurt themselves. A Santa Monica police officer characterized NARCONON's instructions in this area as "helpful."

The Citizens Commission on Human Rights was instrumental in exposing violent and filthy conditions in California state mental institutions.

"Enemies of Scientology," according to Sir John Foster, fall into four categories: psychiatrists, communists, defectors and doubters as to its truth.

Scientology perceives certain groups and interests as being implacably hostile to its expansion. In an article titled "What Your Fee$ Buy," Hubbard wrote that, "since 1950, so-called 'mental health' groups have fought to discredit and decrease the power of Dianetics and Scientology.

"For 19 years, using their press control, government stooges and puppets, these psychiatric front groups have conducted a continuous suppressive covert operation against us. . . .

"So a portion of your fee is spent on patching up the damage done, keeping going in spite of attacks and nullifying the actions against the West of a very choice lot of bad hats. If we didn't have the documentary evidence I wouldn't dare mention it.

"It costs money to bring cases up to U.S. Supreme Court level as we have. The legal defense expenses we have in a dozen countries is [sic] not small."

And Hubbard wasn't exaggerating about those legal expenses, either. Scientology, since its split with the hard-line Dianeticists in the early Fifties, has been an avowedly litigious organization. The church's lawsuits pending against governments, individuals and the media total over a billion dollars.

None of the above is news to Paulette Cooper. In 1971, Cooper wrote The Scandal of Scientology. She charges that she then was subjected to a church operaton called "PC Freak Out." Her publisher, Tower, withdrew her book when Scientology brought $15 million worth of defamation suits in five countries. Cooper claims that Scientologists harassed her for years afterward by following her, making anonymous phone calls, stealing her diary, threatening her with a gun, stealing files from her lawyer and her psychiatrist, and writing "Dear Fellow Tenant" letters condemning her as a sexual deviant with VD. The capper, says Cooper, was when Scientologists stole her stationery, wrote themselves a bomb threat, and then charged her with having done it. She was arrested and later charged with perjury for denying the charges. After she took a seven-hour sodium pentothal test, all charges were dropped — at a cost to Cooper of $28,000 in legal expenses and $4,000 for psychotherapy.

After five years of hassles, Cooper signed a 52-point "clarification," in which she wrote, "It has since become apparent to me that either due to the exclusion of information or lack of evidence in support or through information which I have since learned, a number of passages in my book are erroneous or at the very least misleading."

During much of its earlier history, Scientology treated Suppressive Persons as "fair game," which Hubbard defined as someone who "may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued, or lied to, or destroyed." Milder punishments for church members who had failed in their tasks included going for long hours (sometimes days) without food and sleep and being harassed by accusations made to employers or loved ones.

After 14 years as a Scientologist, Cyril Vospers wrote in The Mind Benders that he was pronounced a "liability" and forced to work for 264 hours with only two hours sleep. "I . . . felt like death," Vospers recorded, with "no meals and no bath. . . .They want you to completely degrade yourself, to admit you are one of the enemies of mankind."

A church member could also be guilty of being a PT (Potential Trouble Source), someone who persisted in a connection with a Suppressive Person or Suppressive Group. PT's were given three weeks either to "handle" their problem or to "disconnect" from their troublesome associations by writing a letter of formal renunciation, sent via a Scientology ethics officer, to the person or group from which they were disconnecting. The alternative was for the PT himself to be declared Suppressive.

Fair game and disconnection policies were ended in 1968, largely because they created bad PR for Scientology. But charges that the church uses coercive tactics against "enemies" both within and without have continued to surface.

The government of Australia banned Scientology until 1973, in part because an official enquiry found Hubbard to be suffering from "symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia of long standing with delusions of grandeur." The ban was rescinded, but it remains a fact that no religion in recent years has been subjected to as much official harassment as has Scientology. And that harassment has been most intense here in the United States.

On July 8, 1977, FBI agents raided Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles and Washington. After 23 hours, they hauled out lock picks, knockout drops, pistols, ammunition, a blackjack, bugging and wiretapping equipment and papers apparently taken from the private files of U.S. attorneys. Agents impounded 23,000 documents, some of which appear to have been removed from the Departments of Labor, the Army and the Navy; the FTC and the AEC; the CIA, the National Security and the Defense Intelligence Agencies; the U.S. Customs Service; and a number of municipal police departments.

The evidence points to the most massive government infiltration campaign in U.S. history. In August, 1978, a federal grand jury handed down indictments charging Scientologists with conspiring to steal government property, intercept oral communications (bugging) and commit burglary, and with conspiring to cover up the burglaries and infiltrations. Eleven top-level church officials were indicted, including Mary Sue Hubbard and U.S. Guardian Henning Heldt.

The church has responded with multi-million-dollar civil lawsuits charging the federal government with harassment and invasion of privacy. In speeches and in interviews, Scientologists have all but admitted that they have indeed infiltrated the government. By way of justification, they plead self-defense.

A new Scientology front organization, American Citizens for Honesty in Government, proudly sponsors Operation Snow White, the church's government-watch program. At a Scientology building-opening ceremony, Commander Fred Hare described his main job as "keeping government off your necks." He asserted that the new group would enlist government employees to help expose corruption. "Yes," Hare said, "we've been spying on the government to route out corruption. . . ."

During the past two years, Scientology has won appeals in lawsuits filed under the Freedom of Information Act. As a result, the church now has over 200,000 pages of its own government files. Some of them are surprising. The files reveal that 16 separate federal agencies have had them under scrutiny.

In 1951, for example, the Air Force initiated investigations and spread false reports about Scientology even before it became a church. Official correspondence reveals that the Air Force was concerned over Scientology's potential for political and sexual subversion.

Secret Service agents threatened church editorial workers for printing news about then Vice-President Richard Nixon, and demanded that all issues of the suspect Scientology house organ be recalled.

Shirley Foley, Jr., a Department of Labor manpower development specialist, "investigated" Scientology by making a phone call to the IRS. IRS sources told him Scientology made "ritual use of LSD and electric shock" and "shot" people. Neither charge was true, but based on Foley's "findings," Scientology was denied certain privileges extended to other religions. When the matter was brought before the Labor Department's Manpower Division, Craig Berrington wrote a letter of apology stating that the report on Scientology "contained unverified and questionable data," and issued orders that the church be dealt with in an unprejudicial manner.

Leon Levine of the IRS repudiated the notion that the Service has lied about the church. "Some technicians speaking about something is not the same thing as a spokesman for the IRS," Levine said. "We have 85,000 people working for the IRS. Sometimes people say things they shouldn't." But Levine admitted that the IRS had Scientology on its own "enemies list" during the Nixon administration. "We're not sure why the church was on it," he said, and denied that Scientology was currently under scrutiny. The IRS recognizes 13 state churches of Scientology as tax-exempt.

The Coast Guard once reported that L. Ron Hubbard's ship Apollo, a converted cattle ferry, was being used to smuggle dope. (Scientology condemns drug use.) The report was discredited, but not before it circulated among other government branches.

The Treasury Department's Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division charged that a prominent Scientologist, Steven Heard, was a radical bomb expert suspected in a bombing that caused several deaths. When Heard discovered the existence of the report on him, he protested. Paul Mosny, assistant to the director of ATF, wrote back, "There is no record which would substantiate the information. . . . We agree that this information is false and we have expunged this early unsubstantiated record."

What is behind this barrage of federal investigations and "erroneous" reports? To Scientologists, the implications are both alarming and clear. "The government is out to destroy the church," says Jeff Dubron. "When they raided our churches last year they stole our legal strategy for our lawsuits against them. We're into a real nitty-gritty war with them."

It's a war in which neither side seems exactly blameless. Though many are suspicious of Scientology's authoritarianism and it's us-against-them attitude, all Scientologists are volunteers. And why should the church attract so much more official attention than, say, the Lutherans, the rattlesnake revivalists or the transcendental meditators?

Scientologists have no doubt that their science fiction religion and its view of a "sane civilization" will triumph over government investigations, ideological opposition, and those who find the church's tenets simply laughable. As L. Ron Hubbard himself has written: "We will be here teaching and listening when our opponents' names are merely misspelled references in a history book of tyranny." Compared to Scientology's other routine promises, the claim isn't particularly excessive.