There are men dead because they attacked us… There are men bankrupt because they attacked us,” wrote L. Ron Hubbard, the late founder of the Church of Scientology in his Manual of Justice. And concerning those who write critical articles on Scientology, the Hubbard Communications Office instructed: “Hire a private detective of a national-type firm to investigate the writer, not the magazine, and get any criminal or Communist background the man has . . . . Have your lawyers or solicitors write the magazine threatening a Suit.”
Acting on those words, the Church of Scientology has harassed many writers over the years who have written negative stories about the church. Some of the writers, such as Paulette Cooper, a New York journalist who wrote a book titled The Scandal of Scientology in 1971, were apparently deemed “Suppressive Persons” under a church policy rule called “Fair Game.” Mandated by Hubbard on Oct. 18, 1967, the rule stated that a Suppressive Person “may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologists.” To silence Cooper the sect framed her, stealing some of her stationary and making it appear as though she had sent them two bomb threats. As a result she was indicted on three counts and had to spend about $19,000 in legal fees, and about five years defending herself from all types of harassment, including death threats. She finally was cleared of all criminal charges, and the FBI, after seizing church documents, found numerous documents detailing an elaborate plan to “freak-out” Cooper.
During the 1960s and 1970s Scientology sued and threatened many individuals and groups perceived to be threats, especially government agencies. But after Boston attorney Michael Flynn began filing multiple lawsuits against the sect in behalf of former members claiming abuse, Scientology began to settle some of the suits in what leaders in 1986 called a quest for peace with its critics. (Hubbard had previously rescinded part of his “Fair Game” doctrine due to the bad publicity it was causing.)
But has Scientology really been trying to achieve peace with its enemies since 1986? The evidence suggests that it has not. Instead, litigation appears to be on the increase.
In March, at the Eastern Regional Cult Awareness Network (CAN) conference in Washington, D.C., former Clearwater Florida mayor Gabe Cazare was publicly served with a lawsuit just after he gave an anti-Scientology presentation. The suit is the latest in a series of legal actions Cazares has faced since he rallied Clearwater community leaders against Scientology after the sect bought a local hotel in the 1970s under the name “United Churches of Florida” and moved into town. Scientology’s previous suit against Cazares for libel was dismissed in 1977, and two other suits against him were dropped when Cazares filed a countersuit against the sect, forcing the sides to an out-of-court agreement. Cazares said the new suit alleges that he failed to live up to his previous agreement not to speak out against Scientology. But Cazares said his involvement with CAN does not fall under the agreement’s terms.
Attempts to silence writers also continue. Last year, trying to block publication of the book Bare Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard, the church sued former London Times reporter Russell Miller. Concurrent with the suit, police questioned him as a suspect in the murder of a South London private detective. Miller, who was cleared of any wrong doing in the case, said police received an anonymous tip from someone who used an extensive knowledge of his work and private life to try to frame him. While the Church of Scientology has not been linked to the alleged frame-up by police, Miller suspects that’s what happened.
After Miller won the case allowing publication of the book, private investigators showed up in England attempting to link him to the death of Dean Reed, a former American pop singer who defected to the Communist bloc. Miller was again cleared of all wrongdoing in the case. The church has denied sending private investigators to investigate Miller.
In the U.S. an intriguing battle continues in the wake of last year’s publication of L.Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman? by Brent Corydon and Hubbard’s estranged son, L. Ron Hubbard, Jr… According to the St. Petersburg Times, “Scientologists have been so determined to stop publication. . . that they filed four lawsuits against the author” and his publisher. One of the suits sought to remove the name of L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., who now goes by the name of Ronald DeWoIf, as co-author of the book.
Corydon has countered that he began the project as a ghostwriter to DeWoIf before the sect paid the late founder’s son money not to continue the project. DeWoIf sued Corydon, but so far the lawsuit has not been successful.
To this date, Scientology has won only one of the suits. This pertained to the book’s cover on which publisher Lyle Stuart had planned to print a volcano with Hubbard’s head coming out of the top. It was meant as a parody of the volcano on the front of Hubbard’s Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which serves as primary reading for the sect.
Not wanting the sect to block publication of the book, the company rushed it into print without an index. Its front cover contains a most unusual message to the buyer: “This is not the jacket we planned for this book. We have been forced to use this makeshift design in order to safeguard our right to ship MESSIAH OR MADMAN? to the public. We consider it our duty to make this important book available to you as soon as possible — despite the ongoing legal harassment we are suffering. The contents of [this book] justify the enormous legal and personal problems that we have gone through. We are convinced that this book must not be suppressed at any cost.”