Sunday, November 19, 2006

Interview with a Scientologist

In honor of Tom Cruise's wedding, ABC News has reprinted a 1992 interview with Cruise's best man David Miscavige, who is "Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center (RTC), a corporation that controls the trademarked names and symbols of Dianetics and Scientology, and controls the copyrighted teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard." (Wikipedia, via Metafilter.)

Before the interview, there are some reports on Scientology from Forrest Sawyer, including video of L. Ron Hubbard and testimony from former Scientologists.

Some excerpts:

Regarding L. Ron Hubbard:
ABC's Forrest Sawyer: Scientology's founder was a man with an imagination. L. Ron Hubbard wrote pulp science fiction for a penny a word and, critics claim, manufactured his own life history as well. He called himself an explorer and a war hero, the man who discovered the keys to the universe and used them to heal his own war injuries. Critics say Hubbard's claims were so fanciful that one California Superior Court judge declared Hubbard to be "…virtually a pathological liar."

Sawyer: Scientology's founder was a man with an imagination. L. Ron Hubbard wrote pulp science fiction for a penny a word and, critics claim, manufactured his own life history as well. He called himself an explorer and a war hero, the man who discovered the keys to the universe and used them to heal his own war injuries. Critics say Hubbard's claims were so fanciful that one California Superior Court judge declared Hubbard to be "…virtually a pathological liar."

Jentzsch: These are a bunch of people who never caused anything in their lives to begin with, and who I would say are jealous of a man who brought a technology of religion to this world the like of which has never been seen before, and it works.

Sawyer: In 1950, Hubbard turned away from pulp novels with a new book that would change everything. It was, Hubbard said, the "true science of the mind," and it sold millions. When psychiatrists challenged his claims that Dianetics could heal illnesses and increase intelligence, Scientologists fought back.

Jentzsch: Psychiatry is Russian and Nazi. Remember, it's an import. It's like bringing the bonic, the bubonic plague into America, as far as I'm concerned. They are not American, and we are. And they can go back to where they came from.

Sawyer: Hubbard said psychiatry was part of a vast conspiracy to destroy his newly formed church and control mankind. Recent Scientology films still attack psychiatrists as potential killers.

Regarding Hubbard's wild stories:
Sawyer: Hubbard also announced he had gone beyond psychiatry, by literally traveling in space to Venus and Mars, and to a distant radiation belt.

Hubbard: I was up in the Van Allen Belt. This is factual. And I don't know why they're scared of the Van Allen Belt, because it's simply hot. You'd be surprised how warm space is.

Sawyer: Hubbard said he had discovered secrets of the universe so powerful they could only be heard by Scientologists who had spent hundreds of hours studying his programs. Anyone else would be struck dead by the knowledge. He told stories of how, 75 million years ago, an evil tyrant collected beings on other planets to be stored in volcanoes on earth.

Hubbard: Boxed them up in boxes, threw them into space planes. DC-8 airplane is the exact copy of the space plane of that day. No difference, except the DC-8 had fans, propellers on it, and the space plane didn't.

Sawyer: As this film depicts, the spirits' bodies were destroyed by hydrogen bombs, and today their troubled spirits are attached to human bodies by the thousands. Called "body thetans," they cause endless problems. Only Scientology knows how to shake them loose.

On Psychiatry:
Koppel: During one of Forrest Sawyer's pieces a moment ago, we heard one of your colleagues talking about psychiatry, right?

Miscavige: Right.

Koppel: You guys are deaf on psychiatry. The criticism that was made was that this is foreign to the United States. He referred to its origin in Nazism and Communism. And that your religion, Scientology, is an "American" religion. Fair enough so far?

Miscavige: Well, American-of-the-mind. Yeah. That's right.

Koppel: What does that do for Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and all the other isms that also did not--

Miscavige: Oh, I think--

Koppel: …originate in this country?

Miscavige: Well, no, that isn't really the point. The point there is this -- that those people, the Fascists, the Communists, have used psychiatry to further their ends. That's just a fact. I mean, you want to look at the studies that brought about the Holocaust of the Jews, that the Nazis justified killing the Jews, they were done at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Leipzig, Germany, and that justified the killing of six million people. If you look at the report that even Forrest Sawyer did on mental institutions in Russia -- several months ago he did this -- you saw that that was a tool of the state. That's the point he's making there. But let me tell you what our real problem is. Number one, understand this. Psychiatry, psychology, that comes from the word psyche. Psyche means soul. These people have preempted the field of religion, not just Scientology, every other religion. They right now practice and preach the fact that man is an animal, and I guess that is where philosophically we're at odds with them. But to understand what this war is, this is not something that we started. In fact, 22 days after "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" came out, the attacks from the American Psychiatric Association started. This was the first popular book on the mind ever in existence, it was running up the best-seller list, it was popular with the people. I have the letter sent out by the man who was in the American Psychiatric Association asking for ad hominum reviews on the subject of Dianetics. These people absolutely felt that we were cutting across their vested interests, and the lengths with which they have gone to destroy Scientology and Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard is absolutely mind-boggling. They attempted to do so through the 1950s. First they tried to attack L. Ron Hubbard's credibility, then they recruited the American Medical Association and the Food and Drug Administration, and they then proceeded to infiltrate our organization.

Koppel: May I stop you just for a moment? Because, you know, when you talk about undermining L. Ron Hubbard's credibility -- and again, I have no idea whether that video and the tape that we heard--

Miscavige: Yeah, but why don't touch on that?

Koppel: …that we heard was representative of L. Ron Hubbard. But when I hear about a man talking about having been taken out to the Van Allen space radiation belt of space ships that were essentially the same thing as the DC-8, I've got to tell you, I mean, if we're talking about this man's credibility, that certainly raises some questions in my mind about his credibility.

Miscavige: Okay. Well, let me ask you, have you read any books on Dianetics or Scientology?

Koppel: I've been reading little else over the last two days.

Miscavige: You see, here--

Koppel: I must confess, I'm not a student of--

Miscavige: But you haven't read "Dianetics" or any books on Scientology?

Koppel: You're absolutely right.

Miscavige: Okay, fine. Then that's why you would make a comment like that? I mean, let's not joke around here. That bit that Forrest did there pulled out of context items. And let's not forget something else, by the way. I told Forrest Sawyer -- and I was open about this the whole time, I have been in communication with "Nightline" numerous times -- I said, "Forrest, if something comes up, you want to bring me up an allegation, you confront me it before this so I can do away with this garbage and not have to do it on the program." "Dave, I promise you I'll do it." Numerous calls have been put in to him. I have never heard it from him. I never heard about these. To do that is take anything out of context. Ted, when I talk about--

Koppel: Can you--

Miscavige: No, but let me just give you an analogy.

Koppel: You know that there are going to be a lot of folks out there -- and I'm sure there are a lot of Scientologists, and I don't want to offend anyone who truly believes this -- but there are a lot of people out there who will look at that. You say it was taken out of context. Take a minute, if you would, and see if you can put it into context for us so that it does not sound ridiculous. Because, quite frankly, the way it sounded there, it sounded ridiculous.

Miscavige: Okay. Well, let me tell you-- Let me ask you to do this, then: I want you to take the Catholic Church and take right now and explain to me, to make sense that the Virgin Mary was a virgin, scientifically impossible, unless we're talking about something-- Okay, I'll be like you. I'll be the cynic. If we're talking about artificial insemination, how could that be? If you're talking about going out to heaven, xcept we have a space shuttle going out there, we have the Apollo going out there, you do that. I'm not here--

Koppel: I will--

Miscavige: Wait--

Koppel: I will--

Miscavige: I'm not here to talk--

Koppel: Let me do it, and you're-- You were a Catholic as a child, right?

Miscavige: Yeah.

Koppel: So you know full well that those issues are questions of faith. Are you telling me that what we have heard L. Ron Hubbard say on this broadcast this evening, that they, to Scientologists, are issues of faith? If that's what you tell me, then that's fine.

Miscavige: No, no. As a matter of fact--

Koppel: Then it doesn't have to be explained logically.


Miscavige: Talk about the Van Allen Belt or whatever is that, that forms no part of current Scientology, none whatsoever.

Koppel: But what did he mean when he was talking about it?

Miscavige: Well, you know, quite frankly, this tape here, he's talking about the origins of the universe, and I think you're going to find that in any, any, any religion, and I think you can make the same mockery of it. I think it's offensive that you're doing it here, because I don't think you'd do it somewhere else.

Koppel: I'm not mocking it. I'm asking you a question, and you know, you turn it around and ask me about Catholicism. I say we're talking about areas of faith.

Miscavige: Well, it's not even a matter of faith, because Scientology is about you, yourself and what you do. You're bringing up something that isn't part of current Scientology, that isn't something that Scientologists study, that is part of some tape taken from, I have no idea, and asking me about it and asking me to put it in context. That I can't do.


skcorefil said...


Are you trying to get us to say that the Scientology is silly so you can compare it to all religions making them sound silly?

Anonymous said...

what a bunch of losers maybe soon we will all worship the jedi--scientolgy ha ha--hollywoood!!

Orthoprax said...


Not all religions are equally silly, but it is very telling when you see that one can - and does - use the same types of arguments to defend something like Scientology as you see being used to defend more mainstream religions.

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C.L. Hanson said...

One of the people in my blogroll wrote about how reading about Scientology was the catalyst that made him question his own faith: here.

Probably some reading this will say "Well, duh, that's because the Mormons are at least as nutty as the Scientologists if not worse." But if you meet them you'll see ordinary, normal people who sincerely believe these unusual doctrines. I don't think there's a clear cut dividing line for faith-based supernatural beliefs where one can say "Okay this one doctrine is perfectly reasonable but this other doctrine is obviously silly."

Nice Jewish Guy said...

All religions seem to incorporate some kind of mythology as part of the underpinnings of the faith. In Judasim, it is the Revelation at Sinai. In Xtianity, it is the Immaculate conception and ressurection. In Mormonism, it is the Golden Plates and in Scientology, apparently, it is the Van Allen Belt and Thetans.

I think the difference there is that religious mythologies as in Judaism and Xtianity are old enough and have been studied enough that as a believer, one can take three approaches: one, that the events happened exactly as described; two, that the events did happen somewhat as described, but that the nature of things has changed; or three, that things probably did not really happen exactly as desribed, but the mythology teaches us moral lessons that inform the theme of how we are to live our lives today, to get as close as possible to God.

(A very interesting post on religious mythology can be found at

The problem with latter-day mythologies like Mormonism and Scientology is that they are too young, and our own known historicity can too easily refute theirs. Especially when there is science involved, such as the claim of trveling to Mars or Venus.

The bottom line is, people are very heavily invested in their belief systems.