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More proof that Scientology used the ‘R2-45’ method to intimidate enemies

Charles_Berner2We’re back with more documents that have been released recently by the FDA that illuminate Scientology’s early years. Thanks to a researcher who is a friend to the Underground Bunker and her work with the Muckrock website, we have yet more investigative records that have never before been online.

In this case, we’re looking at an early Dianeticist and Scientologist who was among the first to be targeted by the “ethics” procedures that L. Ron Hubbard put into place in 1965 as he became more concerned about splinter groups. After 1965, Hubbard and Scientology became much more openly about control and interrogation, declaring enemies “suppressive” and subjecting former members and critics to “Fair Game.”

Before he became subjected to all that, however, Charles Berner (pictured) had been one of L. Ron Hubbard’s most enthusiastic early followers. From 1954 to 1957, he was even president of the Church of Scientology of California, the “mother church” of the organization. According to some oldtimers, Berner and his wife, Ava, were responsible for coming up with the concepts of “Study Tech” which Hubbard later co-opted as his own. By 1965, Hubbard “declared” Berner, and made him the church’s first “enemy number one.”

At least, that’s what Berner told FDA inspectors when he was interviewed in 1970. The FDA had raided Scientology’s DC org in 1963, and it was still investigating Hubbard until a settlement was reached in 1971.

In 1970, Berner and his wife were living in Lucerne Valley, California, where they had a 40-acre spread in the high desert northeast of Los Angeles and were teaching something called “Abilitism,” which was a Scientology offshoot. The FDA asked Berner why he thought Hubbard had kicked him out in 1965. Berner said that Hubbard told him to stop using certain Scientology techniques, and he refused.

Mr. Berner added that he also refused to do things demanded by L. Ron Hubbard, Sr. that he (Berner) considered unethical. These included appearing on juries within the organization for the purpose of unfairly condemning people in Scientology. Mr. Berner also felt there were numerable monetary injustices imposed upon members in the form of required training. Mr. Berner stated he spent a total of $124,000 on Scientology training.


Following his excommunication Mr. Berner received about 250 “Letters of Disconnection” from Scientology members. These letters informed him of his ostracism and also contained pornographic material.

In the fall of 1965, Mr. Berner received a “Fair Game Order” from the organization, informing him he was now fair game for any and all acts. Mr. Berner stated he received other life threatening letters from the organization and went to the FBI…

(That $124,000 in 1970 dollars is the equivalent of about $750,000 today.) In 1965, Hubbard had issued a “Fair Game Law,” a sprawling policy that talks about “suppressive” persons no longer having the “protection” of the church. But he was more explicit a couple of years later when this is how he described how someone in the condition of “enemy” should be handled: “Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”

Berner says he received several notices from Scientology about what might happen to him now that he was considered suppressive:

This letter put Mr. Berner on notice that he was liable for any and all actions perpetrated against him by anyone in the Scientology organization.

Mr. Berner stated he also received letters indicating he should apply technique R2-45 to himself. This particular technique is a route whereby an individual places a 45 caliber pistol to his head and disassociates himself from his body.

In other words, Berner was encouraged to blow his brains out.

This is twice now that the new FDA documents we’ve received have contained references to Scientologists at this time being intimidated by the church with references to “R2-45,” which puts a new spin on the notorious policy. Later in 1970, FDA inspectors talked to another early champion of Hubbard who had been expelled, Jack Horner, who also said he was sent an R2-45 letter along with his notice of being subject to Fair Game.

These two references in FDA investigative reports should change the way R2-45 has been discussed by Scientology historians.

Until now, debates about R2-45 — Hubbard’s idea that a person could be “exteriorized” from his body with a bullet to the head — had argued on the one hand whether Scientology actually ordered murders of enemies, or whether it was all just a joke by Hubbard.

These documents suggest that there was a third possibility: Hubbard’s references to separating the mind from the body with the use of a .45-caliber weapon was another form of intimidation he used against former members.

Hubbard first referred to the policy in his 1954 book, The Creation of Human Ability: “R2-45 – an enormously effective process for exteriorization, but its use is frowned upon by this society at this time.”

He also referred to it in a 1959 lecture he gave in Melbourne, titled “Rationale of a Create.” We have about three minutes of it for you in a recording, which ends up with these words: “Even the cops or gangsters could make a Clear out of anybody over these circumstances by taking a Webley .38 or a Smith and Wesson or Colt or something like that, and doing R2-45. That exteriorizes most anybody!”


In 1968, Hubbard denounced a dozen Scientologists with an announcement in The Auditor magazine with the title “Racket Exposed!” naming them enemies and declaring them subject to Fair Game: “Any Sea Org member contacting any of them is to use Auditing Process R2-45.”

It’s clear from what Jack Horner and Charles Berner each told the FDA that they didn’t consider the threat of “R2-45” a joke. Even if Hubbard wasn’t sending out actual assassination squads, these notices to his “declared” former followers were intended to let them know where they stood — Hubbard would just as soon they put bullets in their skulls.

Berner told the FDA that his property had been shot up, and he suspected that Scientology operatives were behind it. He had also been subject to other forms of fairly rough and elaborate harassment.

The Berner file also includes several rather creepy letters that Berner was sent by Captain Bill Robertson from the Advanced Org in Los Angeles in 1968, telling Berner that Scientology was dropping a lawsuit against him and asking him to come down to have a meeting, with “safe conduct” guaranteed. Robertson’s repeated offer of this suggests that Berner wasn’t interested in finding out whether the offer was true.

Our longtime members will remember Captain Bill Robertson, who had his own strange journey out of Scientology.

As for Berner, it was pretty clear where he stood with Hubbard: “Mr. Berner stated he considers Scientology a threat to the general health and welfare of the public.”

Berner’s “Institute of Ability” thrived after his time in Scientology. In 1968, he began leading people through an experience he called the “Enlightenment Intensive,” which remained popular for many years. In the 1970s, he became known for yogic practices he picked up after a spiritual journey to India. He died in 2007, and there are still websites dedicated to his teachings.

Charles Berner and the FDA


John Duignan at Infinite Complacency

Our man in Paris, British journalist Jonny Jacobsen, tells us he’s going to have a new item by John Duignan appearing today at his website Infinite Complacency. Jonny says the piece is titled, “How Tom Cruise saved me from Scientology,” and it’s part of a new book project from John. Give it a look!


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 17, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB 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 LA 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

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
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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