by Craig Branch

Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matt. 24:4-5)

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was a man who was able to strongly and powerfully transfix his followers and seduce them into accepting his own fantastic delusions of grandeur. He was thus able to build a multi-million dollar international empire, and one of the most con­troversial, totalitarian, and clandestine religions in his­ tory. Scientologists have idolized and eulogized Mr. Hubbard to the point that he has almost god-like status in their eyes.  It is no coincidence that biographers of Hubbard titled their books, L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman, and The Bare-Faced Messiah. 1

Between 1950 and his death in 1986, Hubbard “had skillfully transformed himself from a writer of pulp fic­tion to a writer of ‘Sacred Scriptures’.”2  Official Scientology spokesperson Lisa Goodman states that “Hubbard’s writings and lectures on the human spirit comprise the Scripture of the Scientology religion.” Hubbard is “the sole source of the Scriptures, ” and “he has no successor.” 3 Elsewhere, Scientologists leaders announced that it is “firm Church policy that LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] ISSUES [directives, statements] ARE TO BE LEFT INTACT AS ISSUED,” and “No one except LRH may cancel his issues.”4

Scientology is ego-centric.   The ego of L. Ron Hubbard is essential and central.  The leaders and followers of Scientology are on a never-ending quest to legitimize, establish, and spread both their “religious technology” and their grandiose image of Hubbard. And it seems this end always justifies the means.

During a satellite broadcast  celebrating Hubbard’s birth­day in 1992, Scientology board chairman, David Miscavage, expressed their surrealistic belief in Hubbard’s  exalted status, “We have arrived at a new plateau of recognition and respect in the world.  More people in more countries, more officials and opinion leaders have come to realize that L. Ron Hubbard’s tech is the answer to today’s problems. “5  Hubbard’s Personal Public Relations Officer, Mike Rinder, also related that Hubbard’s popularity had grown among millions around the world through application of his “tech.”  Rinder also stated, “When you look into any area of Hubbard’s life, you find lessons in how to be successful in the art of living. Any single part of his life is a microcosm of the whole.  He mastered every area of life.”6
But an honest examination of Hubbard’s life uncovers a career of fantasy, fraud, lies, relentless pursuit of money and power, and apparent paranoia that parallels the history, beliefs, and practices of his Scientology organization. Looking at just two areas of his life we find that Hubbard was married at least three times. His third wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, and ten other Scientologists were imprisoned for conspiracy and bur­glary (more on that later).  Hubbard himself was named as an unindicted co-conspirator  in that crime.7

In light of this, how was Hubbard able to weave this image that has captured the hearts, minds, and souls of so many?  Where did he get his power?  This article will separate the facts from fantasy concerning the his­ tory of L. Ron Hubbard, and expose the diabolical source of occult power behind Scientology’s origin and growth.



L. Ron Hubbard was born in Tilden, Nebraska in 1911. The Hubbard’s soon moved to Montana.  Ron Hubbard’s father, Harry, rejoined the U.S. Navy as an officer in 1917. From this point on, the accounts of LRH’s life by Hubbard and Scientology become fanciful. Hubbard and Scientology claim that he achieved wide recognition as an “author, philoso­pher, educator, research pioneer, musician, photogra­pher, cinematographer, horticulturist, navigator, explorer, and humanitarian.” 8  Some of these claimed accomplishments are even attributed to his childhood; virtually all are incredible .

There are parts of his life that can be accurately known .  For example, in 1950 he published an article in Astounding  Science Fiction which he later expanded into the book, Dianetics:  The Modern Science of Mental Health which has sold many millions of copies accord­ing to the Church of Scientology .

There is no doubt that L. Ron Hubbard was an extraor­dinary man with a number of abilities.  He was able to build a multi-million dollar international empire and inspire the devotion of thousands of followers.  One of Hubbard’s abilities was to create an image of himself that was larger than life-in fact, bigger than reality. Partly due to the self-created image of Hubbard, Scientologists have come to idolize him.

In the world of Scientology, Hubbard is a true Renaissance man. But in the real world, investigations have produced the facts that have exposed the myths that Hubbard and Scientology have perpetuated . For example, Scientology claims that Hubbard produced “over 800 written works selling 94 million copies in 31 different languages. “9 Of Hubbard’s Dianetics book alone, the church claims that over 20 million copies have been sold. In the late 1980s it appeared regularly in Publisher Weekly s bestseller list. However, when The Los Angeles Times produced their award winning in­ depth investigative report of Scientology, they discov­ered how Scientology accomplished their best-seller feat: “The sales have been fueled by a radio and TV advertising blitz virtually unprecedented in book circles.”  And it was discovered that Scientology employees and members were showing up at the major book­ stores paying cash for “armloads” of Hubbard’s books, sometimes “50 to 100 to 200 copies at a crack.”10

The truth about Hubbard’s  exaggera­tions, fantasy, and deceptions about his life began to surface through a dedicated upper echelon headquarters member, Gerald Armstrong.  In 1980, Armstrong, a fellow member of the elite Sea Org, asked Hubbard’s permission to col­lect materials in order to write his biography. Hubbard approved his request and by the end of 1981, Armstrong had accumulated a million pages of Hubbard’s archived documents-including letters, diaries, medical records and official documents relating to Hubbard’s earlier years-and he was designated by Hubbard, as “Hubbard’s Personal Public Relations Office Researcher.”11 He soon discovered that reality had little resemblance to Hubbard’s own autobiogra­phy. This discovery led him to leave the church and, feeling threatened, he copied and/ or kept many of the documents for his own protection.

The Church of Scientology sued Armstrong,  charging him with stealing their private papers.  Scientology lost the case and the documentary evidence presented  in the case led Judge Paul Breckenridge of the Los Angeles Superior Court to make this revealing state­ment: “The organization  [Scientology] clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder, LRH. The evi­dence portrays a man who has been virtually a patho­logical liar when it comes to his history, background, and achievements.”12

Armstrong demonstrated, through the documents, that contrary to Hubbard’s claims, he was not educated in higher mathematics or physics, did not obtain a bache­lor of science degree, was not a civil engineer, nor a nuclear physicist, was not in China at age 14 and lied about the time he did spend traveling in Asia, did not study with Lama priests, was never in India, was not crippled and blinded during the war, was not twice pronounced dead, did not cure himself with his discoveries, was not awarded 21 medals and palms, did not see combat, and that Hubbard had lied about many other things to embellish his image.13

Fact vs. Fiction

The following is a comparison of some of Scientology’s and Hubbard’s claims compared with the facts.14

Scientology: In 1923, Hubbard’s family transferred to Seattle, Washington, where he joined the Boy Scouts of America. In 1924, he was honored as the youngest Eagle Scout ever, at 13.

Fact: The Boy Scouts have a record of a Ronald Hubbard becoming an Eagle Scout on March 28, 1924 in Washington, D.C.  However, there is no way to know whether he was the youngest Eagle Scout ever because the Boy Scouts do not officially record the ages of Eagle Scouts.

Scientology: In 1927, at sixteen, Ron decided to take several voyages studying with wise men at Buddhist lamaseries in the western hills of China, and exploring the Far Eastern culture, including Beijing, Tartar tribes and nomadic bandits from Mongolia.  He once wrote, “I was made a Lama priest after a year as a neophyte.”15 L. Ron Hubbard returned to the U.S. in 1929.  By age nineteen, he had traveled to Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and other locations in the Orient. During these travels he concluded that, despite the wisdom of the East, there were still unanswered questions about life and how to solve the pains and sufferings in it.

Fact: L. Ron Hubbard, accompanied by his mother, took a round-trip to Guam in 1927 to visit his father who was stationed there.  The ship spent a brief time in two Chinese ports, visited Hawaii, Yokohama, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.  His diary entries show that he was unimpressed with the culture and the people, in fact, his comments were full of contempt.  He spent six weeks on Guam.  He was back in Helena, attending high school from September 6, 1927 to May 11, 1928.  He failed to graduate due to lack of credits.

In July 1928, Hubbard decided to return to his parents in Guam and it was during this period that he visited China with both parents. The ship docked at Tsingtao, the Hubbards traveled to Peking, Cheffoo, Shanghai, and finally Hong Kong.  In Peking, young Ron did visit a Buddhist temple.  The trip, in its entirety, lasted two months.  His diary said nothing about studying with wise men of the East, or any other spiritual insights.  However, it did describe the Lama temples as “very odd and heathenish.”  The diary reveals Hubbard’s intolerance for other cultures and/or races in noting that China’s problem was that there were too many “Chinks.”

Scientology: L. Ron Hubbard entered George Washington University, studying mathematics and engineering.  After taking one of the first nuclear physics classes taught in the U.S., Ron began to formulate the idea of explaining human thought processes, and even life itself, in a wholly scientific manner.  He approached the psychology department at George Washington University with his theories, but they were not interested in his findings.  Ron left the University in search of what he called “a common denominator of existence.

Fact: L. Ron Hubbard was a student in the School of Engineering at George Washington University from 1931 to 1932, but was placed on probation after the first year and was placed on academic probation the second.  He received an “F” grade in a course on Molecular and Atomic Physics.  He did not return to the University.16

Scientology: World War II broke out and Hubbard was commissioned as a junior grade lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and served as a corvette commander.  He had seen combat in the South Pacific and Atlantic.17 Hubbard claimed, in a tape-recorded lecture, that his eyes were injured due to a bomb exploding in his face.  He was “flown home in the late spring of 1942 in the secretary of the Navy’s private plane as the first U.S.-returned casualty from the Far East.”18 By 1945, he had received 29 medals and palms, including a Purple Heart, and suffered injuries to his optic nerves, hip, and back. Hubbard was admitted to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, California for treatment.  It was there that he was pronounced partially blind and lame.19

Fact: Through the Freedom of Information Act, The Los Angeles Times received Hubbard’s actual military, V.A., and medical records.  The highest rank Hubbard ever received was Lieutenant senior grade, not Commander.  Hubbard’s service record shows that he never saw action against the enemy, and received only four awards, none for combat or wounds.  He was never awarded the Purple Heart.  Naval records described Hubbard as follows:

By assuming unauthorized authority and attempting to perform duties for which he has no qualification he became the source of much trouble. This officer is not satisfactory for independent duty assignment.  He is garrulous and tries to give impressions of his importance.  He also seems to think that he has unusual ability in most lines.  These characteristics indicate that he will require close supervision for satisfactory performance of any intelligence duty.20

And more than a year later, the record states, “Consider this officer lacking in the essential qualities of judgment, leadership and cooperation.  He acts without forethought as to probable results.  Not considered qualified for command or promotion at this time.  Recommend duty on a large vessel where he can be properly supervised.”21

After claiming to have destroyed two enemy submarines, an investigation concluded it didn’t happen.  Later, L. Ron Hubbard, according to an investigation, disregarded orders and conducted gunnery practice in Mexican territorial waters.  He was relieved of command and a letter of admonition was placed in his files.  “In Hubbard’s defense, Scientology officials accused others of distorting and misrepresenting his military glories.  They say the Navy ‘covered up’ Hubbard’s sinking of the submarines.”

Furthermore, the medical files show that when he was admitted to Oak Knoll he had 20/20 vision with glasses, and there is no mention of injured optic nerves.  At the time he left the hospital, his eyesight was 12/20 in the right eye and 14/20 in the left with glasses.  This coincided with Hubbard’s application for a disability pension.  Interestingly, his military records show Hubbard stating that he “contracted conjunctivitis from exposure to excessive tropical sunlight.”

Scientology: It was at Oak Knoll where Ron began to theorize that the mind could affect the body’s functions.  He decided to test the therapeutic techniques he had developed along this vein. He tested with great success his technique of removing “mental blocks” in patients who were previously unresponsive to medical treatment.  He helped over 400 individuals by 1950.  He fully recovered his own health by 1949, and the Naval Retiring Board that reviewed his case was in shock to find that the very same man who had suffered so many battle injuries passed his full physical examination.  They were forced to designate him fit for active duty.

Even Hubbard’s death is mythologized.  The Church now claims that rather than Hubbard dying, “The fact that he willingly discarded the body after it was no longer useful to him signifies his ultimate success: the conquest of life that he embarked upon half a century ago.”  Now he “was off to the next phase of his spiritual exploration.”22

Fact: In October 1947 Hubbard wrote to the Veteran’s Administration asking for psychiatric treatment due to suffering from wartime service.  By 1948, Hubbard was able to get a disability award of 40% for his “duodenal ulcer, infection of the eyes, bursitis of the right shoulder and arthritis of multiple joints.”  In an August 1951 medical examination, Hubbard complained of the same conditions listed in his disability award, and according to a letter from the Veteran’s Administration, he was still receiving the 40% disability compensation in 1973.  In fact, he continued to receive his disability check through at least 1980. “Hubbard’s Sea Org ‘Medical Officer,’ Kim Douglas, testified in court that while she attended him from 1975 to 1980, he suffered from arthritis, bursitis and coronary trouble, which Dianetics was supposed to alleviate.”  He wore glasses, in private, the rest of his life.

And despite grandiose claims about his passing on to “next phase of his spiritual exploration,” the truth is that this false messiah, described as a madman by his own son, who supposedly had achieved the ability to exert power over matter, energy, space, and time, died of a stroke, a physically and mentally sick man.  Hubbard today is not “charting the course” for anyone to follow.  Unfortunately, the only course he ever charted for anyone in this life was a road to eternal ruin and hell.


Hubbard’s Magic

It is not surprising then, that an examination of L. Ron Hubbard’s life reveals that he was significantly influenced by, and was a practitioner of, the black arts—the occult. Jon Atack, a former Scientologist and highly respected biographer of Hubbard and Scientology, has collected one of the most extensive research archives on Scientology. Atack writes, “It is impossible to arrive at an understanding of Scientology without taking into account its creator’s extensive involvement with magic”23  He contends that when one examines the private letters and papers which were revealed in the Church of Scientology vs. Armstrong trial, and compares the teachings of Scientology with those of the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, the connection is inescapable.

Hubbard was clearly involved in the occult.  Sometime in his teens Hubbard accompanied his mother to the Library of Congress where he became acquainted with Aleister Crowley’s, The Book of the Law. Crowley alleged that this book was dictated to him by Aiwas, a spirit possessing fantastic knowledge and powers.  This was Crowley’s Bible and perhaps the most important book in the life of L. Ron Hubbard.24

In 1945, L. Ron Hubbard met Jack Parsons, who was a renowned scientist, protégé of occultist Aleister Crowley, and a member of the notorious Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.), an international organization founded by Crowley to practice sexual black magic.  Parsons had Hubbard move onto his Pasadena, California, homestead.  It was there that Hubbard began to practice the occult and sexual magic.  About Parsons’ and Hubbard’s relationship, biographer Russell Miller wrote,

Parsons considered that Ron had great magical potential and took the risk of breaking his solemn oath of secrecy to acquaint Ron with some of the O.T.O. rituals. . . Parsons wrote to his ‘Most Beloved Father’ (his term for Aleister Crowley) to acquaint him with events: ‘About three months ago I met Captain L. Ron Hubbard. . . Although he has no formal training in Magick, he has an extraordinary amount of experience and understanding in the field.  From some of his experiences I deduced that he is in direct touch with some higher intelligence, possibly his Guardian Angel.  He describes his Angel as a beautiful winged woman with red hair whom he calls the Empress and who has guided him through his life and saved him many times.  He is the most Thelemic [self-willed, independent] person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our own principles.”25

Miller goes on to state that “Parsons wanted to attempt an experiment in black magic that would push back the frontiers of the occult world.  With the assistance of his new friend, he intended to try and create a ‘moonchild’—the magical child ‘mightier than all the kings of the earth,’ whose birth had been prophesied in The Book of the Law more than forty years earlier.”26

Former high ranking Scientologists Brent Corydon and Hubbard’s son, L. Ron Hubbard Jr., add,

In order to obtain a woman prepared to bear this magical child, Parsons and Hubbard engaged themselves for eleven days of rituals.  On January 18th, Parsons found the girl who was prepared to become the mother of Babylon, and to go through the required incantation rituals.  During these rituals, which took place on the first three days of March 1946, Parsons was High Priest and had sexual intercourse with the girl, while Hubbard who was present acted as skryer, seer, or clairvoyant and described what was supposed to be happening on the astral plane.27

Crowley himself states, “The whole and sole object of all true magickal training is to become free from every kind of limitation.”28 Interestingly, Corydon and Hubbard, Jr. tell us, “Hubbard says, in a 1952 taped Scientology lecture: ‘Our whole activity tends to make an individual completely independent of any limitation…’”29  Both Crowley and Hubbard believed in reincarnation and deemed it important to explore recollections of past lives.30 Moreover, Crowley described Jesus Christ as “concocted.”31 This claim is similar to Hubbard’s claim that Christ is an “implant,” that is, a false concept, meant to suppress man from advancing.32

Hubbard’s connection to magic is aptly summed up in this comment: “According to Ron Jr. his father considered himself to be the one ‘who came after’; that he was Crowley’s successor; that he had taken on the mantle of the ‘Great Beast.’  He told him that Scientology actually began on December 1st, 1947. This was the day Aleister Crowley died.”33

As with other areas of Hubbard’s life, Scientologists have attempted to reinterpret these events.  While they admit that Parsons was a leader of a black magic group, that a girl was used in a sex ritual, and that Hubbard moved in with Parsons, Scientologists claim that Hubbard was working underground for Naval Intelligence.  They claim that Hubbard rescued the girl and he was able to “break up black magic in America.”34 Yet, the FBI files on Parsons showed that he was investigated regularly because of his government job and retained his high security clearance until his death.  There is no mention of Hubbard in any investigation.35  Furthermore, in 1957, Hubbard wrote a Scientology bulletin describing Parsons as “quite a man.”  And in 1952, Hubbard favorably referred to the late Aleister Crowley, indicating that “he was my very good friend.”36



L. Ron Hubbard’s world was one of fantasy. There is a consistent huge gap between Scientology propaganda and the facts. It appears that he was delusional, or at least deluded.  This is understandable due to his direct involvement with the occult and the “father of lies.”  He claimed to discover the “road to total freedom” but this “freedom” is freedom from truth and God.  The result is deception and death.

Craig Branch is the director of the Apologetics Resource Center, Birmingham, Alabama.

(This article was first published in the Areopagus Journal Vol. 7 No. 5 September – October 2007)


[1] Bent Corydon and L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman (Lyle Stewart Inc, Secaucus, NJ, 1987); and Russell Miller, The Bare-Faced Messiah (Key Porter Books, Toronto, Canada, 1988). These biographies and a third one, Jon Atack,  A Piece of Blue Sky (Carol Publishing Group, NY, NY, 1990), were all targets of an aggressive Scientology legal campaign to prevent their being published and distributed. The courts denied Scientology’s attempts to stop distribution of L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman (co-authored by Hubbard’s son Ron Hubbard Jr.),  and Atack’s A Piece of Blue Sky.  Scientology’s suits were over copyright issues, not the authors’ accuracy.

[2] “The Mind Behind the Religion,” The Los Angeles Times (24 June 1990): A36.

[3]  “L. Ron Hubbard Founder of Dianetics and Scientology,” (emphasis added).

[4] SCN Policy Directive (19, July 7, 1982).

5] Video Tape of a Scientology meeting.  Tape on file at the Apologetics Resource Center.

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Burglaries and Lies Paved a Path to Prison,” The Los Angeles Times (June 24, 1990): A39.

[8]  Church of Scientology International, L. Ron Hubbard: The Man and His Work (Church of Scientology International, 1987), 3.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “Costly Strategy Continues to Turn Out Bestsellers,” The Los Angeles Times (June 28, 1990): A1, 22.

[11] See Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky, 328-333.

[12] Church of Scientology v. Armstrong (No. C420153 California Supreme Court, 1984).

[13] Facts documented in Corydon and Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard, 220-22.


[14] Unless otherwise noted, the following claims made by Scientology are found in their publication, What is Scientology?.  The contrary facts, unless otherwise noted are documented in “Burglaries and Lies Paved a Path to Prison,” and in Atack’s A Piece of Blue Sky.

[15] “Hubbard’s Image Was Crafted by Truth, Distorted by Myth,” The Los Angeles Times (June 24, 1990): A39.

[16] Letter and transcript from Geo. Washington University on file at ARC.

[17] The Church of Scientology – 40th Anniversary, 50.

[18] “Burglaries and Lies Paved a Path to Prison,” A38.

[19] See (The Church of Scientology – 40th Anniversary, 50; and “Burglaries and Lies Paved a Path to Prison,” A38.

[20] Memo from U.S. Naval attached L.D. Causey to the Commandant, Twelfth Naval District, February 14, 1942.

[21] File # 113392, “Report on the Fitness of Officers,” Period from May 29, 1943 to July 7, 1943.

[22] “The Man Behind the Religion,” A1.

[23] Jon Atack, “Hubbard and the Occult,” FactNet Report, 2.

[24] See Corydon and Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard, 47.

[25] Russell Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah, 117-18, emphasis added.

[26] Ibid., 119.

[27] Corydon and Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard, 256-57.

[28] As quoted in ibid., 48.

[29] Ibid.

[30] See Crowley, Magic in Theory & Practice, 50, 228; and L. Ron Hubbard, Have You Lived Before This Life? (Great Britain: Department of Scientology Publications Worldwide, 1968), 3.

[31] Crowley, Magick Without Tears, Karl Germer Publishing, Ordo Temple Orientis, NY, NY, (1954), 11.

[32] See HCO Bulletin, “Confidential – Resistive Cases – Former Therapies,” (September 23, 1968).

[33] Corydon and Hubbard, Jr., L. Ron Hubbard, 50.

[34] Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky, 89-90.

[35] See ibid.

[36] L. Ron Hubbard., Philadelphia Doctorate Course Lectures (Copenhagen, New Era, 1982), 18, 35, 40.