For more than a year now we’ve been bringing you previously unseen and often startling documents that our friend and researcher R.M. Seibert managed, with the help of the MuckRock website, to pry out of the hands of the Food and Drug Administration in a Freedom of Information Act request.
The FDA investigated L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology from about 1958 to 1971, and raided the Washington DC church in 1963. The documents we’ve recovered have ranged from Hubbard’s high school grades to interviews with family members, former church members, and even some major science fiction figures.
Last January, we told you about a really odd little nugget that turned up in the pile. FDA inspectors became interested in a man named Joseph Ettelmann who had a business dispute with Hubbard. According to the FDA files, Ettelmann and Hubbard had become “close friends” and had gone into business together, becoming partners in a jewelry plant that manufactured Zodiac pendants for use in Hubbard’s church. Then they had a falling out, leading to a lawsuit and a wild scene when Ettelmann tried to serve the suit on Hubbard.
At the time, we noted how crazy that sounded. Hubbard and astrology? That’s not a connection we’d ever heard before. Well, now we have even stranger stuff to fill out that tale a bit. It turns out that in February 1963, the FDA tracked down Ettelmann and interviewed him, and we thought you’d want to see what the man said. Some of it is just plain weird.
On February 12, 1963, FDA inspector George D. Tilroe visited with Ettelmann at the office of his attorney. Ettelmann at the time lived in Kensington, Maryland.
Arrangements were made with Mr. Malcolm Houston, 1010 Vermont Ave. Washington, D.C., to interview his client, Mr. Joseph C. Ettelmann. Mr. Houston is currently involved in a civil action against Mr. L. Ron Hubbard on a charge of false arrest of Mr. Joseph Ettelmann, which was brought about following the acquittal of Mr. Ettelmann in a Civil Action No. 14-60, entered in the District of Columbia, June 14, 1962. Information concerning this particular court action was previously submitted in a memorandum to the Division of Regulatory Management.
Mr. Ettelmann, during 1957 and 1958, was involved in the sale of property to Mr. L. Ron Hubbard. In order to consummate this sale, Mr. Hubbard required Mr. Ettelmann to take courses in the Founding Church of Scientology. Mr. Ettelmann took courses in processing, and actually completed only four sessions. The civil action interrupted additional sessions which Mr. Ettelmann was planning on taking at the Founding Church of Scientology. Mr. Ettelmann supplied the following information. Most of the information which he supplied cannot be documented and is his personal opinion.
Hubbard had created Dianetics (1950) and then Scientology (1952) claiming that both of them were based in science, not religion. But after an initial boom had gone bust, in 1953 he admitted to close follower Helen O’Brien in a letter that things really couldn’t get any worse. They were being investigated and harassed by the government, the press was brutal, and they were having a hard time attracting new people. So, he told her, they might as well try “the religion angle.” On December 18, 1953, Hubbard and his son, L. Ron Hubbard Jr., and their wives signed incorporation papers in Camden, New Jersey forming the first “Church of Scientology,” as well as two other entities, the Church of American Science and the Church of Spiritual Engineering. A couple of months later, in February 1954, one of his followers started a Church of Scientology in Los Angeles that would eventually become the “mother church.” Hubbard didn’t start the “Founding” Church of Scientology in Washington DC until July 1955, but then it became his chief location until he left the United States a few years later and moved to England.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that during 1957 and 1958, Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. and Mr. Glenn Elliot were ministers of the church who presided over the religious sessions. Miss Marilyn Routsong was, at that time, treasurer of the various organizations. He stated that until October 1958 Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, Sr. was present full time at the Washington facilities. In 1958 Hubbard left to reside in England. Mr. Ettelmann indicated that several meetings were held by Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, Sr. during which he attempted to alleviate the fear of the members of the church about the use of the atomic bomb. To do this he indicated that clearing of the various individuals would protect them from atomic fall-out. Mr. Ettelmann described Dianetics as the bible of the organization and Scientology as the practice.
Yeah, that sure sounds like Hubbard. It’s sometimes hard to remember that for much of the early history of Scientology, Hubbard used the fear of atomic annihilation as a strong motivating force. Even into the 1990s, we’ve been told by former members, young people would be told that they needed to give up their regular lives to become Sea Org members because a nuclear holocaust was on the horizon. Imagine how much stronger that fear was in the 1950s.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that during his business dealings with Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, Mr. Hubbard indicated to him that the church had been set up as a means of eliminating tax payments, as the church is a tax free organization. He indicated that Hubbard told him, that through his church affiliation much of the businesses handled by L. Ron Hubbard could be handled through this tax free organization. During 1957 and 1958, Mr. Ettelmann received many checks from Mr. Hubbard, all of which were signed by L. Ron Hubbard. Most of the checks received were also countersigned by Marilyn Routsong and/or Mary Sue Hubbard. Mr. Ettelmann indicated that most of these checks were drawn on the Lincoln National Bank of Washington, D.C.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that “processing” was definitely indicated as a means of eliminating various physical afflictions. He stated that they indicated that after one was processed and had become clear, that these physical ailments would be eliminated. He further indicated that one can be audited without the use of an E Meter, but that an individual cannot be cleared without the use of an E Meter. He then went on to say, however, that the practice of Scientology was indicated as a cure for various ailments even though the E meter was not used.
The Food and Drug Administration was the federal agency investigating Scientology because, at least back then, the federal government was more vigilant about its role as a watchdog concerning bogus health claims. In Dianetics, Hubbard had claimed that nearly all of mankind’s physical ailments are actually psychosomatic and could be eliminated with his counseling techniques. In practice, this led to claims that he could cure just about anything with Scientology, and that had aroused the interest of the FDA.
An individual interested in being processed or becoming an auditor would go through a series of several sessions learning this practice. At the time of the first session, the E Meter would not be used. However, during the second and/or third sessions of processing, the E Meter would be an essential component. He indicated that the beds located in the various rooms of the building are used in the processing procedure when the E Meter is used. The patient being placed in a reclining position at the time of the processing.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that he could definitely testify to the fact that Dianetics was promised as a cure for physical ailments. He stated that he knew this by overhearing a conversation between an auditor (name unknown) and a female patient who had lesions on her legs. He also recalled another incident where an individual with lung trouble was promised help by the use of the Scientology practices. He stated that his only knowledge of the use of the E Meter and the attempted cure of a patient was with regard to a female who suffered from “female trouble.” He stated that he could not remember the patient’s name or the exact details, except that the auditor had inserted the cord of the E Meter into the vaginal opening to obtain his E Meter readings and that complications (believed to be an infection) had resulted.
We hadn’t heard this one before. Perhaps one of our oldtimers could expound on the notion of one of the E-meter cans being used in such a way. And yeah, those things are filthy.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that the organization freely practiced “free love.” He indicated that Mr. L. Ron Hubbard continually philosophized that “what the body is capable of the body shall do.” He further indicated that most of the rooms in the various buildings had tape recorders hidden beneath the beds and/or under various pieces of furniture. He felt certain that this information, obtained on the recorders, was used in a mild form of blackmail. Mr. Ettelmann stated that he, himself had been blackmailed by Hubbard when he was hesitating about the signing over of a piece of property to Mr. Hubbard. He stated that Hubbard had indicated to him that it would be wise for him to sign over the property if he did not want information concerning a previous divorce of Mr. Ettelmann to come out into the public. Mr. Hubbard indicated that the divorce action was not legal. Mr. Ettelmann stated that he had checked into this and as far as he could tell it was a legal divorce, however, he would not take the chance that it was legal, knowing of Hubbard’s ways and means of obtaining information. He also stated that Hubbard let him know that he knew of an arrest that had been made in Georgia on charges that Mr. Ettelmann had committed armed robbery and rape. Mr. Ettelmann had been acquitted of these charges. The information concerning this robbery and rape charge was obtained by Mr. Hubbard from the security check list which Mr. Ettelmann had filled out.
Wow, there’s a lot to unpack here. First, we have to admire the Crowleyesque nature of Hubbard’s edict, “What the body is capable of the body shall do.” We can totally see him saying that. Anyone know if he said something similar in a recorded lecture? As for Ettelmann’s claims that Hubbard had investigated him and was threatening to blackmail him — while we can’t check out Ettelmann’s claims, this follows precisely the practices that Hubbard described in the Manual of Justice (1955) and later policies of how to investigate and threaten someone Hubbard considered an enemy. While David Miscavige and his private investigators get all the ink today, there’s little doubt that Hubbard was ruthless with the dirt-digging even in the 1950s. And one of the chief tools used by both Hubbard and Miscavige is the “security check,” when Scientologists are compelled to spill their guts about their most private affairs while hooked to an E-meter. For 60 years, Scientologists have been handing over to the church the material that can then later be used against them.
Mr. Ettelmann was questioned as to his knowledge of various individuals who have been connected with the organization. He stated that Mr. Richard Steves did auditing during 1958, as well as Mildred Dean Galusha. Mr. John Galusha was said to have been in charge of all auditors, with particular emphasis on those auditors who traveled throughout the country. Mr. Ettelmann also indicated that Mr. Bonnie B. Turner had made several advances toward Mr. Ettelmann and on one occasion had been “slugged.” He also stated that Mr. George T. Elliott performed marriages at the church.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that he recalled hearing of a 13 or 14 year old girl, who had resided at the Academy of Scientology for over one year. He indicated that this girl had been classed as mentally retarded (this individual may be the Helene Mason referred to in my previous memo). Mr. Ettelmann stated that Mr. Brinkman (the attorney presently handling the FDA seizure action) was, at one time, a member of the Founding Church of Scientology and a close associate of L. Ron Hubbard. Mr. Brinkman is said to be in constant personal contact with Mr. L. Ron Hubbard and was believed to have been connected with Dianetics during its reign in Kansas.
Mr. Ettelmann was questioned as to his knowledge of the reasons for the change of name from “The Church of Man’s Religion” to the Founding Church of Scientology. He indicated that L. Ron Hubbard had informed him that this change was made due to tax implications. Hubbard had indicated that the New York Founding Church of Scientology was a tax free organization, whereas the Washington Church was not. The change of name was brought about to facilitate the purchase of equipment, supplies, etc. through the New York City church on a tax free basis. The equipment then was turned over to the Washington church by means which lower the tax rates.
We hadn’t heard this one before. “The Church of Man’s Religion”? Does that ring a bell for anyone? Also, we can’t find any reference online to a “New York Founding Church of Scientology.” Ettelmann may be mistaken, or it’s possible he’s passing on things Hubbard told him that were not true. But we love the idea that Hubbard had at one time called his outfit The Church of Man’s Religion, and we wonder if that can be corroborated.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that members of the church and auditors may buy E Meters. He further indicated, however, that auditors don’t have to be members of the church. Concerning the church, he indicated that he believed the membership fee was $25.00 a year and that in addition to this fee, donations were collected during the church services. He also recalled that a building fund drive was instituted sometime around 1958.
Mr. Ettelmann was questioned as to his personal knowledge of any immoral acts performed on the premises of the Founding Church of Scientology. He indicated that he had no direct knowledge, however, the female associates of the church congregated at a small restaurant on the downtown side of the Conn. Ave. and R St. interchange (across the street from Empire Drugs), between the hours of 9:30 and 11:00 PM. He stated that these women spoke freely and loudly of their relationships with Mr. L. Ron Hubbard and other individuals connected with the Founding Church of Scientology. He stated that this restaurant is still used as a hangout for the members of these organizations.
This is kind of the best thing ever. The Scientology gals hanging out at the corner drugstore each night, swapping stories about their exploits with Lafayette Ron in the sack. Observer, this scene sounds ripe for shooping.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that he had been requested to design and build a “memorial for the living.” This memorial was to be hung in the Founding Church of Scientology. He described the memorial as a large brass plaque with a light behind it, and a means of cutting script names into the plaque. Each name would be for an individual who was willing to pay $400.00 to have his name placed on this “memorial for the living.” Due to the court action, this plaque was not finished. He also indicates that he had manufactured bracelets with a small emblem on the top. This emblem consisted of a triangle with two S’s embossed on top. On the back of the emblem were the following letters:
Mr. Ettelmann stated that the “AD 8” indicated 8 years after the founding of Dianetics (After Dianetics 8). These bracelets were presented in January of 1959 to some 350 individuals who attended a Scientology Congress at the Shoreham Hotel. Mr. Ettelmann stated that most of these individuals were from foreign countries.
Mr. Ettelmann stated that he would be more than willing to be a witness at any trial, or to help us in any way that he could.
George D. Tilroe
We don’t know if Ettelmann was ever called to testify in the litigation that followed the 1963 FDA raid and that dragged on into 1971. Eventually, the two sides settled, and Scientology was required to put a disclaimer on all of its E-meters that it was not a device for medical diagnosis. But thanks to R.M. Seibert, we’re finding that the FDA’s investigation resulted in so many great documents. Isn’t this fun?
Here’s the document itself…
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield