One of Scientology’s early run-ins with the law resulted in a remarkable letter by L. Ron Hubbard that has previously never seen the light of day — in it, Hubbard claimed to be a psychologist, and proposed that a vast conspiracy had been aimed at his Phoenix, Arizona operation. It’s a remarkable letter, and we have our friend and researcher R.M. Seibert to thank for bringing it to us after she managed to pry it out of the possession of the Food and Drug Administration with the help of the MuckRock website.
From 1958 to 1971, the FDA investigated Hubbard and Scientology, including a raid of the Washington DC Scientology church in January 1963. For more than a year, we’ve been posting remarkable documents from the FDA files, some of which have never been posted online before.
This time, we have documents that the FDA obtained from the files of officials in Phoenix, where Scientology faced one of its early legal challenges. L. Ron Hubbard had published Dianetics in 1950 while he was living in New Jersey, and that’s where the first Dianetics “foundation” was formed following the book’s surprising popularity. He also promoted Dianetics in Los Angeles, where another foundation was formed. But Dianetics proved to be a passing fad, and by 1951 Hubbard was in financial trouble and his foundations were bankrupt. He regrouped in Wichita with the help of an oilman millionaire there, and then moved to Phoenix in 1952, coming up then with his new idea he called “Scientology” and creating the “Hubbard Association of Scientologists International,” HASI.
Then, in September 1955, there was an interesting arrest in Phoenix of a Scientologist for practicing, well, Scientology. His name was Edd Clark, 56, and he had come to Phoenix to join HASI after he had received training in Scientology at another HASI branch near Seattle. He was arrested after he practiced Scientology techniques on two women, taking payments of $55 after helping them with complaints they had of headaches and other ailments. It turned out, however, that the women were actually working a sting — one was a police detective, the other worked in the office of county prosecutor William P. Mahoney Jr.
Clark was charged with practicing medicine without a license, and the case made the local newspapers.
By then, Hubbard himself had moved on from Phoenix to Washington DC, where he opened the “Founding” Church of Scientology that July. Two days after the news of Edd Clark’s arrest was made public, Hubbard sat down and wrote a really remarkable letter to Mahoney, the prosecutor, explaining that he was a scientist and psychologist, a war veteran, and that what Mahoney should really be investigating is an obviously well-funded and shadowy effort to send people with “records of insanity” to infiltrate Scientology in order to discredit it. Here, see for yourself…
L. Ron Hubbard, D.D. Ph.D.
1826 F. St. NW
Sept. 6, 1955
My dear Sir;
You have expressed a desire to “get to the bottom of Scientology and Hubbard.” May I suggest that you write a letter to me, setting forth the various things you want to know.
May I also direct your attention to your public library where in “Who’s Who in the East” and “Who Knows and What”, the standard American reference of technical experts, you will find my background. You might also write the U.S. Navy in which I served as an officer throughout the war. The books will inform you that I am a writer, a scientist, and a psychologist and the Navy will inform you of an honorable record, an American record.
As for Scientology I invite your attention to the library or to whatever books you may have to hand.
Now in your turn I would like some information. I would like to know who complained to you about the various organizations and myself and exactly what was said to you to cause you to take the course and action which you did. If you do not care to give me this information, please give it to the F.B.I. when they request it. It would assist me considerably if you would be very specific as we are having for the moment a small amount of trouble running down the exact instigators of the lies and defamations which were spread in Phoenix. We are engaged at the moment in collecting enough funds to continue this matter as long as is necessary to discover why the only entirely American development in the field of the mind should be so attacked.
May I request that you dismiss the charges against Mr. Edd Clark and cooperate with us in following up this situation. It may interest you that in five years of Dianetics and Scientology in every quarter of the world there has never been a similar charge or arrest of any of thousands upon thousands of practitioners and that having been suffered and condoned for many years by any and all authorities and even healing interests and having for a very long time existed in Arizona that the practice of Scientology has become by this face acceptable.
May I also have your cooperation in discovering and naming the persons who sent individuals with pre-Scientology records of insanity into the area to harass us and in naming the persons who offered the bribes in return for evidence or complaints against Scientology and its organizations. The huge sums of money must have had an important source.
In that Mr. Edd Clark did not contravene any law of the State of Arizona, may we have your assistance in locating rather larger game, much more interesting to the Federal government than Mr. Clark.
L. Ron Hubbard
Later that month, Hubbard explained to his followers who was behind the nefarious plot to send crazies to Scientology in order to discredit it. Of course, it was the evil psychs…
Nearly all the backlash in society against Dianetics and Scientology has a common source — the psychiatrist-psychologist-psychoanalyst clique … I could tell you about three actual murders. I could tell you about long strings of psychotics run in on the Foundation and the Association, sent in to us by psychiatrists who then, using LSD and pain-drug-hypnosis, spun them and told everyone Dianetics and Scientology drove people insane … The public utterly LOATHES psychiatry. You waste time if you try to defame psychiatry to the public … Psychiatry stands in the public mind for ineffectiveness, lies and inhuman brutality.
— from Professional Auditor’s Bulletin no. 62, “Psychiatrists”, 30 September 1955
That loathing for the psychiatric profession did not prevent Hubbard from claiming to be a psychologist himself when he wanted to impress the Phoenix county attorney. Interesting, isn’t it?
Clark’s trial was set for January 1956, but we haven’t been able to find a record of its result. The prosecutor, however, did have a noteworthy later chapter. William P. Mahoney Jr. was county attorney in Phoenix from 1953 to 1956 after he had been a Trial Judge Advocate in the Pacific presiding over war crimes trials following WWII. And then, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy appointed Mahoney to be the country’s ambassador to Ghana. Here they are in June of that year, discussing Mahoney’s new job…
Three years later, after Kennedy’s death and under the Johnson administration, unclassified documents show, Mahoney discussed with CIA director John A. McCone that Ghana’s president, Kwame Nkrumah, would likely soon be deposed in a coup. The following year, in 1966, Nkrumah, a pan-African activist who had led Ghana to independence from Britain, was in fact deposed, and the US was probably complicit in it. We don’t know if Mahoney could be personally blamed for that bit of international skullduggery, but on the positive side of his ledger he did go after and obtained convictions of Japanese war criminals who had executed 102 American prisoners of war at Wake Island.
And in 1955, he came up with the audacious idea of sending in undercover agents to expose Scientology practicing medicine without a license. The very idea!
The FDA files on Clark and Mahoney also include an early Scientology pamphlet from the Phoenix foundation that we found interesting for how it talks about its status as a church and relationship to Christianity…
The Church of Scientology and its ministers are closely interested in your good health.
Devotedly, the practitioners of this Church visit hundreds of people who are ill and hungry.
The ministers and practitioners of this Church go further than simple comfort and prayer. Their activities are dedicated to being effective.
Christ set three goals for Man: Wisdom, Good Health, and Immortality.
The Church of Scientology believes deeply that these goals are worthwhile, that they should be accomplished.
By Divine and earthly authority, we of the Church can apply effective skills to the mind and spirit, and can bring them greater freedom, rest, and peace.
The brothers of this Church are not zealots or bigots. They do not demand that you believe. They are highly skilled and degreed experts in the alleviation of suffering. They are long-trained and practiced in the handling and relief of the ills of mind and spirit.
Our way of carrying out the goals of Christ is to bring about Wisdom, Good Health, and Immortality in the individual man…
Scientology, in the hands of a practitioner, can accomplish for Man the goals which have been set. Our practitioners are skilled as well in Freudian Analysis, and in Dianetics…
The Church of Scientology does not, in any way, conflict with, practice, or discourage medical science. Our sole concern is with the hastening of recovery from accident or shock, the eradication of psychosomatic relapses, or the alleviation of conditions of ill health stemming from the mind and spirit.
Now that’s a fascinating document. Our thanks again to the indefatigable R.M. Seibert!
Edd Clark investigation 1955
Ross & Carrie continue their exploration into Scientology
We enjoyed Ross & Carrie’s first episode, but we don’t know if we’ll have time to listen to Part 2 today. Can someone summarize what’s in it?
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
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