Hubbard, L(afayette) Ron(ald) (1911–1986)
Founder of the Church of Scientology. Hubbard was born
in Tilden, Nebraska, on March 13, 1911. He spent much of his
childhood in Montana on his grandfather’s ranch. His father
was a naval officer, and as Hubbard matured, he traveled
through the Pacific and to Asia. In 1930 he enrolled in the Engineering
School of George Washington University, Washington,
D.C., where he studied for the next two years. During the
remainder of the decade he roamed the world as a participant
in various explorations and wrote over 150 articles and short
stories. His first book, Buckskin Brigades, appeared in 1937. In
1940 he was elected a member of the Explorers Club in New
York. During World War II he served in the U.S. Navy with the
rank of lieutenant. He also worked briefly in naval intelligence.
After the war, he returned to writing as a career. As a writer,
Hubbard had a prodigious output and was remembered for the
amazing speed at which he could produce copy. Often several
stories would be published in the same issue of a magazine and
thus many appeared under pseudonyms. No one systematically
recorded his output, and reassembling a bibliography was a tedious
process, carried out through the 1980s. In the 1930s he
turned out Westerns for pulp magazines under the pseudonym
‘‘Winchester Remington Colt.’’ His early science-fiction pulp
stories were under the pseudonyms ‘‘Kurt von Rachen’’ and
‘‘René Lafayette.’’ He wrote for Columbia Pictures in Hollywood
in 1935.
Through the 1940s, partly based upon his experiences in
the war, Hubbard began to develop a new philosophy of human
nature and a new approach to dealing with basic human ills.
The first public notice of his thinking appeared in an article in
Astounding Science Fiction (May 1950), later to prove an unfortunate
debut. As Dianetics, the name he gave his new approach,
developed into the Church of Scientology and proved both
controversial and successful, it would be demeaned as a ‘‘science
fiction’’ religion and Hubbard dismissed as just a hack science
fiction writer.
Dianetics The Modern Science of Mental Health appeared a few
weeks after the Astounding Science Fiction article. The book created
a sensation and launched a vast new industry of do-ityourself
psychotherapy. Hubbard created the Hubbard Dianetics
Research Foundation and local Dianetics centers began to
emerge based upon Hubbard’s technique for ridding individuals
of the causes of aberrant behavior patterns and leading
them to a state of ‘‘clear.’’
As Hubbard continued to expand his thought and work out
the implications of his theories, Dianetics grew into a comprehensive
philosophical-religious system, Scientology. In 1954
the first Church of Scientology was opened in Los Angeles. The
rest of Hubbard’s life would be spent in developing and perfecting
Scientology. In 1966 he resigned from any official position
in the church, but he continued his research and writing
for a number of years. He developed guidelines for the church
and left behind writing that focused on the implications of his
thought for education and business.
During the last years of his life he dropped out of public
sight and remained in contact with only a few church leaders.
In the years prior to his death on January 24, 1986, he returned
Howitt, William Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
750
to his love for storytelling and wrote one major novel, Battlefield
Earth, and a ten-volume science fiction series, Mission Earth.
As his church became a prosperous international movement,
it and Hubbard became the center of controversies involving
people who left the movement to found competing organizations,
former members who turned upon the church for
real or imagined grievances, and the anti-cult movement,
which branded the church a cult. In retrospect, early controversy
with the American Medical Association, which disapproved
of Dianetics, seems to have spilled over into federal government
departments and covert actions against the church were
instigated. Rumors of illicit actions by the church, many of
which led to problems with different governments, began to
emerge around the world. Legal actions, most of which were
eventually resolved, became the justification for action against
the church in additional countries. Some high church officials
authorized the infiltration of several government agencies, and
this became a major source of embarrassment for the church
when the people responsible were arrested and convicted for
theft of government documents.
For the Church of Scientology, the years since 1985 have
been marked by intense polemics and court action between
members of the church and the Cult Awareness Network, which
emerged in the mid-1980s as the chief organizational expression
of the anti-cult movement. These legal battles continue.
However, a several-decades-old controversy with the Internal
Revenue Service came to an end.
Hubbard and the OTO
During the 1940s, Hubbard became involved in one of the
more bizarre happenings in the world of the occult. In the
1930s, a lodge of the Ordo Templi Orientis, the magical
group headed by magician Aleister Crowley, had opened in
Pasadena, California. Among its members was John W. ‘‘Jack’’
Parsons, a research scientist at the California Institute of Technology.
At some point in 1945, Parsons decided to try a magical
experiment to produce a magical child. At this point Hubbard
showed up at Parson’s house and was eventually invited by Parsons
to become the necessary third person in the magical experiment.
The experiment consisted of Parsons and his female partner
engaging in sexual intercourse while a third person, a clairvoyant,
would tell them what was occurring in the invisible astral
realm. The ritual would climax at what the clairvoyant seer suggested
was the proper moment. Hopefully the act would result
in the pregnancy of the woman and the induction of a spirit in
the resulting child.
While Parsons and Hubbard seemed to have developed a
strong friendship, early in 1946 they parted ways and Hubbard
moved to Miami. Parsons claimed that Hubbard had skipped
town with OTO funds and went to Miami to confront him. The
present Church of Scientology claims that Hubbard had no attachment
to either Parsons or the OTO, and that in spite of
Hubbard’s work with Parsons, Hubbard was never initiated into
the organization. Rather, they suggest that he was acting as an
undercover agent to investigate Parsons and other people associated
with Cal Tech who were living in Parsons’s house and
working on sensitive government projects. Several of these
physicists were later dismissed from government service as security
risks. Hubbard did work for a period after the war as an
undercover agent for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Hubbard died January 24, 1986, after years of living as a recluse.
Sources
Hubbard, L. Ron. Dianetics The Modern Science of Mental
Health. New York Hermitage House, 1950.
———. Scientology A New Slant on Life. Los Angeles Publications
Organization, United States, 1965.
———. Scientology The Fundamentals of Thought. Los Angeles
Publications Organization, United States, 1956.
Miller, Russell. Bare-Faced Messiah The True Story of L. Ron
Hubbard. New York Henry Holt, 1987.

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