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Religion Library: Scientology


Written by: J. Gordon Melton

In 1966, Hubbard resigned from his official position in the church and spent the next years of his life at sea, researching the more advanced levels of Scientology. He and a select group of followers formed the Sea Organization (Sea Org), a church-sponsored association, and lived aboard three ships for several years as Hubbard continued his studies. Just before he resigned, he released the initial materials for church members who had finished the process of achieving Clear.Post-Clear church members were offered training in the advanced or Operating Thetan (OT) levels (I-II) of Scientology.He followed up in 1967 and 1968 with the materials for OT levels III-VI. The materials selected for these higher levels contain the essential spiritual teachings of Scientology, but are intended only for the members who have previously reached the state of Clear.The release of each level (presently OT I-VIII, with a projected fifteen levels) has depended upon an initial group having reached that level and the subsequent training of auditors who could assist future students who wished to attain them.Hubbard trained the first instructors and auditors and wrote the manual for the training of additional persons in the future.

Hubbard continued to research and write (and offer his opinion on a variety of questions that arose at every level of the international organization) even after the era aboard the ships ended in 1975 and the Sea Org offices controlling the upper levels were established at the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida.For the rest of his life, Hubbard assumed a low profile and made few personal appearances. He remained, however, actively involved in the development of the church, especially during the crises it faced.In 1977, a group of church leaders were arrested for infiltrating several government offices, including those of the FBI, in order to locate and copy any government files on the church. They had previously sought these files through Freedom of Information requests, but had been denied. Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, was among those convicted in a trial that centered on the Church's Guardian's Office efforts to deal with criticism of the church around the world.

In the years immediately before his death in San Luis Obispo, California, on January 24, 1986, Hubbard made a final excursion into the science fiction world, authoring one massive novel, Battlefield Earth, later made into a movie, and a ten-volume series under the collective title Mission Earth.Posthumously, his writing career would be memorialized in a series of volumes -- L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future -- twenty-four volumes of which had appeared by the end of 2008.

Study Questions:
     1.    Who was Lafayette Ronald Hubbard? What events throughout his life influenced his success?
     2.    How did Hubbard spread the message of Scientology?
     3.    Why were legal sanctions brought against Scientology in the 1970s?


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