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Religion Library: Scientology

Early Developments

Written by: J. Gordon Melton

Life aboard the ships came to an end in 1975. That year the church acquired various properties in downtown Clearwater, Florida, and the personnel from the ship moved into new facilities, the Flag Land Base. When the local population learned of the move, they responded with intense anger. Tension would remain high for many years.

A government raid on the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., churches on July 8, 1977 overshadowed the initial problems in Clearwater. The raid had been prompted by the discovery that the Guardian's Office had infiltrated the FBI and other government agencies in search of files on the church.As a result of the raids, eleven officials and agents of the Guardian's Office were indicted, including Jane Kember, the international head of the office, and Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue. In the end, the defendants were convicted of relatively minor crimes, but public revelations of the actions of the Guardian's Office opened the church to broad censure from both religious and secular leaders.The incident became a decisive moment in the church's life and led to the emergence of new leadership and a major international reorganization.

The first change addressed the Guardian's Office itself, which was disbanded. New leaders arose, most notably David Miscavige, a relatively young organizer who had emerged in the Sea Org and who presently remains a high-ranking member of the church.Along with numerous personnel shifts, a larger reorganization resulted in the birth of two new corporations under which Scientology was realigned. First, a new mother church structure (not unlike that in Christian Science), the Church of Scientology International, was created to oversee the expansion of Scientology around the world, guide local churches in the application of the teachings (i.e., the technology), and assume many of the duties formerly assigned to the Guardian's Office, such as public relations and legal affairs. The second new corporation, the Religious Technology Center, appeared in 1982.It now has ultimate ecclesiastical authority in the church. Hubbard would eventually turn over all of the trademarks and service marks utilized by Scientologists to the new center, which has since controlled the licensing of these items to other church (and non-church) entities.

The reorganization also led to the further elevation of the Sea Org. Its members would eventually assume control of all the executive and policy-making positions above the local church level throughout Scientology. All the church officials who run or have any position of responsibility within the Religious Technology Center and the Church of Scientology International are also individually members of the Sea Organization.

 

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