March 13 - L. Ron Hubbard Day

Posted on March 13, 2017

I like science fiction. I admire an author who can write a whole bunch of science fiction stories - and especially if he can then sell them!

BUT I heartily dislike a con man who starts a religion 
just to make money!

I've always heard that L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer who was born on this date in 1911, specifically said that the way to make money is to start a religion...And, after saying that, he started the "religion" of Scientology and made a ton of money.

Today I got to wondering if Hubbard had really said that, or if the story was apocryphal. 

Apparently, he really said it. 

The background: although Hubbard sold a lot of science fiction stories and serialized novels, he and other sci-fi writers who wrote for the "pulps" (inexpensive magazines) only got paid a penny per word. Hubbard combined those earnings with a small pension from his stint in the U.S. Navy - but he was always short on money. His son later said that, in those pre-Scientology days, Hubbard was dependent on his own father and the in-laws of his first wife.

In 1948, while answering a question from the audience during a meeting of the Eastern Science Fiction Association, Hubbard is reported to have said, "You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion."

Another person said that Hubbard told him, "I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is!" 

At another sci-fi meeting in the 1940s, this time in Los Angeles, Hubbard said, "Y'know, we're all wasting our time writing this hack science fiction! You wanta make real money, you gotta start a religion!"

According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1978, Hubbard said, "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."

A sci-fi editor said that Hubbard was very "anxious to hit big money - he used to say he thought the best way to do it would be to start a cult."

And a former roommate of Hubbard's also reported that Hubbard would "often say that he thought the easiest way to make money would be to start a religion."

So, Hubbard said to many different people, at many different times, and to some people over and over again, that he thought that starting a religion or cult would make him a lot of money. 

In the late 1940s, Hubbard began to talk about a "book of psychology" he was writing, and he published his book on what he called "Dianetics" in 1950. By 1952, he had founded the "Science of Certainty," Scientology.

Did it work? Did Scientology make him rich?

Hubbard worked it out so that he was paid a percentage of the Church of Scientology's gross income, and so he was pulling down a yearly salary of $250,000 - an amount that would equal multiple millions of dollars today. By 1982, according to Forbes magazine, at least 200 MILLION dollars had poured into Hubbard's bank account from Scientology!

So. Yeah, it worked.

Here are some bad things that Hubbard did, along the way:

Hubbard committed bigamy by marrying his second wife while he was still married to his first wife.

He had an affair with a younger woman while still married to his second wife. Then he lied about his wife and said she was a communist; the FBI agent who heard the complaint about Mrs. Hubbard said that it was Mr. Hubbard who appeared "mental." Then Hubbard forcibly snatched his wife and daughter, and he tried to get his wife declared insane. He wasn't successful, so he let his wife go and whisked his daughter off to Cuba. His wife filed for divorce and complained that Hubbard had beat and strangled her as well as kidnapped her. She said that Hubbard was insane. She was finally able to get her daughter back by taking back those accusations in a written statement that said, in part, "I have not at any time believed otherwise than that L. Ron Hubbard is a fine and brilliant man."


Hubbard was so awful to the people working with him on Dianetics, that people quit on him right and left, and Hubbard even lashed out at a very rich man who had paid Hubbard's huge debts and saved him from bankruptcy.

Hubbard married a third wife, again even younger than the other two. 

Members of Scientology infiltrated and burglarized 

some government organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the I.R.S. Somehow, Hubbard was not prosecuted, but his third wife and a bunch of the highest-level Scientologists were indicted and convicted of conspiracy. They were sent to federal prison.

Hubbard often pulled up stakes, wherever he happened to be, in order to escape from a bad reputation, or bankruptcy, or a lawsuit. He was wanted for fraud and for customs violations in multiple countries. He ended up living in hiding, and he cut ties with almost everyone, including this third wife. 

Scientology is considered a cult by some because
it tries to woo people in with welcoming words but
later becomes an expensive organization that is really
hard to get out of!

At the end of his life, Hubbard was living in "deep hiding" in a luxury mobile home while spending millions of dollars on renovations of his ranch house - where nobody lived! The mobile home and ranch house were on a sprawling 160-acre ranch in California, where Hubbard had built a quarter-mile horse-racing track with an observation tower - and that, too, was never used!

Hubbard had seven children with his three wives, but four of those children are "estranged from family" and some, at least, have some very uncomplimentary things to say about their father. Words like "liar" and "charlatan" and "cheat"...

It's such a shame that this dishonest man, who probably suffered from undiagnosed mental illnesses, was able to con so many people for so long. Thanks in part to Scientology's successful wooing of several big Hollywood stars, Scientology has tens of thousands of followers in the U.S. and of course even more worldwide. 

(Apparently there isn't great information about worldwide numbers, but it's a ton less than the 10 million that Scientology itself claims - with no evidence to back up the claim!)

You know that the religion you created is in trouble
if Time Magazine calls it "the cult of greed"!

South Park ran an amazing take-down of Scientology.
Part of the amazingness of it is that it just presented
actual Scientology beliefs, like the idea that Galactic
Confederacy dictator Xenu (pictured below) brought
billions of his alien fellow-creatures to Earth in
spaceships, about 75 million years ago. He stacked
them around volcanoes and then killed them with
hydrogen bombs. The problem is, the immortal spirits of
these aliens somehow got into humans (who didn't
exist 75 million years ago, but whatever) and continue to
cause us big-time problems.

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