L. Ron Hubbard would have turned 97 earlier this week. Hubbard, born on March 13, 1911 and the founder of the Church of Scientology, died more than 20 years ago, but his religion, writings, and work live on.
Hubbard established the Church of Scientology in 1954. Today, the church reports more than 8 million members in 100 countries and thousands of international churches, missions, organizations and activities.
In addition to his work to create and maintain the church, Hubbard researched the human mind and body for years in order to create dianetics. Scientologists describe dianetics as a spiritual healing innovation that can help ease such ailments as unwanted sensations and emotions, irrational fears and illnesses caused or worsened by stress.
Hubbard was also a prolific author of more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures about dianetics and Scientology. Hubbard wrote science-fiction and adventure books. He wrote 11 consecutive New York Times best-sellers in the 1980s, and international sales of his books are nearing 40 million.
As an educator, he developed a teaching method known as Study Technology; its aim is to help anyone learn anything, no matter one’s race, class, or culture. In addition, his drug rehabilitation methods are employed in some 70 nations.
In a 1983 interview with Penthouse magazine, his son, Ron DeWolf, said Hubbard founded Scientology as a way to make money, saying his father told him “and a lot of other people that the way to make a million was to start a religion.”
Hubbard labeled himself a nuclear physicist, though he did poorly in a number of classes and never graduated from a university.
After his death, an autopsy reportedly revealed high levels of a psychiatric drug called Vistaril in Hubbard’s system, though the church frowns upon mind-altering medications.
In 1983, several Church of Scientology leaders, including Hubbard’s wife, were convicted and sentenced to prison for conspiring to destroy government documents about the church. Hubbard was labeled as a co-conspirator, but was never indicted.
A formal inquiry in Australia claimed Scientology is “evil” as well as “a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially.” The Church of Scientology is also under close scrutiny in Europe.
Sources: Lronhubbard.org, slate.com, theology.scientology.org, lronhubbard.org/profile/index.htm, scientologytoday.org