Scientology's fight for apartheid
"Non-political in nature, Scientology welcomes individuals of any creed, race or nation."
- L. Ron Hubbard
"Scientology is ... the answer to all racial problems, because in the Church all are treated on a spiritual level."
- quoted in Scientology: Twentieth Century Religion, 1972
On November 11, 1957, an office of the Hubbard Association of
Scientologists International (HASI) opened in Johannesburg. This
marked the formal beginning of the expansion into South Africa by the
Church of Scientology, the highly controversial
religion-cum-cult-cum-pseudo-science founded in 1952 by the late
American science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Forty years later,
there are Scientology churches (or "orgs") and "missions" in
Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East
London, Hillbrow, Soweto and Belleuelle. Some 200,000 South Africans
are claimed to be members of the Church of Scientology. (This figure
is probably 20 or 30 times the actual number). Worldwide, an estimated
100,000 people (claimed figure: 7 million) are members of the Church,
making it one of the largest "New Age" religions in the world.
However, it has a distinctly nasty reputation and a dark past in many
countries. South Africa is no exception in this regard.
With the "velvet revolution" of the transition to democratic rule in
South Africa, many formerly hidden aspects of the apartheid years are
being revealed in a process which in Czechoslovakia was termed
lustracije - lustration, or bringing into the light. In this article
I have sought to "lustrate" the way in which Scientology approached
the problems of South Africa. The evidence is clear and unambiguous: a
variety of books, periodicals and papers from inside and outside
Scientology, produced over the last 40 years, details how the Church
of Scientology actively supported the forces and philosophy of
apartheid for many years. I have made use of these materials to
chronicle what I have termed "Scientology's fight for apartheid". To
say the least, it shows Scientology to have behaved in a way which
totally belies its stated goals...
Clearing the Planet
One of the most sinister aspects of Scientology in the eyes of many of
its critics is the way in which it unashamedly designs to "clear the
planet" - or, in plain English, take over the world and subject the
entire global population to Scientology "processing" in order to rid
everyone of their "aberrations". The planet does not seem to be in any
immediate danger of this happening, as it has been estimated that at
the current rate of expansion it will take the Church another 2.5
million years to achieve this end. This inconvenient fact has not,
however, stopped Scientology from attempting to create what Hubbard,
its founder, called "safe environments for Scientology to expand
into". Put bluntly, the Church has tried to take over entire
countries. Notable targets of the past and present include Greece,
Morocco, Australia ("the first Clear Continent"), Colombia, Russia -
and South Africa.
In many of these cases, a similar pattern has been followed. Back in
the late 1950s, Hubbard formulated a policy of infiltration which has
been followed faithfully by the Church of Scientology for at least 35
years. It was no secret, having originally been circulated in
Hubbard's newsletters (the ponderously-named Hubbard Communications
Office Bulletins) and subsequently reprinted on at least two occasions
in Scientology magazines, including the South African Scientology
magazine Understanding. Its provisions were made explicitly clear. The
original plan, addressed specifically to South African Scientologists,
was to achieve the following goals:
- Get Scientology known.
- Get Scientology established in schools.
- Get Scientology established in the universities.
- Have Scientology established in industries.
- Have Scientology in the mines.
- Get Scientology "into the government and government departments and services."
[from Ability Major magazine, issue 2]
All of the above have been attempted or achieved in South Africa -
there are more Scientologists and a greater Church effort in that one
country than in the whole of the rest of the African continent.
Considering the fact that individual Scientology courses can cost as
much as R25,000 (GBP4,500 / $7,000), excluding hundreds of hours worth
of "psychological counselling" costing R1,000 (GBP200 / $350) an hour,
it is not so surprising that Africa's most prosperous country should
be the focus of so much attention. I have concentrated on
Scientology's political ambitions in this article, but Scientology's
efforts to "win" in South African social affairs are documented in
another piece entitled "Africa, Clear Continent".
In countries which Scientology has tried to "make a safe environment"
politically, approaches have typically been made to local and national
government figures to persuade them of the benefits of Scientology.
Sometimes this has been quite overt and successful: the cities of
Perm, Russia and Clearwater, Florida are both now regarded as "safe",
having effectively been taken over by the Church. Other such attempts
have been less successful. Significantly though, Scientology's high
moral stance in public has not prevented it from attempting to make
alliances with some extremely dubious bedfellows. Visiting Greece in
1968, for instance, L. Ron Hubbard tried to curry favour with the
infamously brutal military junta of the Colonels, praising their new
constitution in the following terms:
"The rights of man have been given great care in it ... the present
constitution represents the most brilliant tradition of Greek
democracy. Out of all the modern constitutions the Greek
Constitution is the most brilliant...
Imprisoned Greek democrats were no doubt rather surprised to hear a
military dictatorship described in such terms. South African
Scientologists would perhaps have recognised Hubbard's tactics in
Greece, for something very similar had occurred - and was occuring -
in South Africa during the 1960s. In its endless pursuit of "wins",
Scientology had been heavily involved in actively promoting the
implementation of apartheid and the interests of the Nationalist Party
in general. This involvement was not simply the result of local
Scientologists exceeding orders. It was initiated and sustained by
Hubbard himself over a period of at least nine years in the 1960s. On
more than one occasion, Hubbard publicly expressed strong sympathy
with the South African government, but to a large extent his political
activities were conducted in secret. The precise breadth and depth of
his secret contacts with the apartheid regime can only be guessed at -
maybe South African official archives will reveal a little more - but
we do at least know some of what went on.
[LRH, interview with Ephemeris ton Idisseon newspaper, Corfu 1968]
Fighting for Apartheid
There exist in the public domain a number of documents and letters
from the Church of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard himself, detailing
the way in which they tried to ingratiate themselves with the
government of H.F. Verwoerd. That government has frequently been
regarded as the originator of "grand apartheid", the system which
became notorious in the 1960s for its rigid "pass laws", physically
separating blacks and whites, and for the forcible relocation of the
black population from the cities to the frequently ghastly conditions
of the squatter camps and townships. The documents indicate the firm
and sustained support of Hubbard and the Church for the Verwoerd
government and for apartheid policies.
In HCO Executive Letter of 16 August 1966, Hubbard circulated a report
from John McMaster (a white South African who was supposedly the
"first clear" and "Pope" of Scientology, later expelled for alleged
homosexuality) regarding progress in South Africa. It praises the
activities of one Jan Du Plessis on behalf of Scientology, referring
to alleged interviews by Du Plessis with Dr. H.F. Verwoerd (then Prime
Minister) and also the Admiral of the South African Navy. It
"You asked for strong Orgs in South Africa. You will get them and
there will be a friendly reciprocity of flow with the Government."
A few years earlier, in November 1960, Hubbard wrote a letter to
Verwoerd praising the implementation of forced resettlement:
[HCO Executive Letter, 16 August 1966; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze,
Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, p. 59, Pretoria 1973]
"Having viewed slum clearance projects in most major cities of the
world may I state that you have conceived and created in the
Johannesburg townships what is probably the most impressive and
adequate resettlement activity in existence."
He goes on to lambast those who denounced the policy of forced
[dated 7th November 1960, Jo'burg; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze,
Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, p. 59,
"Any criticism of it could only be engaged upon by scoundrels or
madmen and I know now your enemies to be both."
This was not the first time Hubbard had expressed his active support
for Verwoerd and the policies of "grand apartheid". He was willing to
offer practical assistance as well as letters of support. Three weeks
previously, he had written the following to Verwoerd:
"Those who understand are never swayed by vicious writings in the
In other words, Scientology would endeavour to muzzle the press so
that it could no longer criticise Verwoerd or his policies. This was
not an idle promise, as the Church has a long history of attacking and
infiltrating newspapers which it sees as a threat.
To cope with those who could be swayed we work ceaselessly to secure
communication lines to create an image closer to the fact.
We are doing everything we can to change the complexion of the
English language press and in a very few months we hope to have the
means of completely altering this public image.
Peace with strength can yet save, with your undaunted leadership,
Meanwhile we sincerely hope that vileness such as that in last
week's Sunday Times does nothing to dismay your dedication.
I apologise that we were not yet able to prevent such a travesty,
but can promise a better future in such things."
[dated 17th October 1960, Jo'burg; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze,
Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, pp. 59-60,
Hubbard was not the only Scientologist to write to the South African
Government. When it was announced in 1960 that Liberia and Ethiopia
were to take legal action against South Africa to bring the Government
to book for its implementation of apartheid, a Mr. S.J. Parkhouse (the
HASI's Director of Official Affairs) wrote the following secret letter
to Dr. Verwoerd:
"On bringing to Dr. [sic] Hubbard's attention the fact that Liberia
and Ethiopia intend to insitute an action against the Union [of
South Africa] in the World Court Dr. Hubbard suggested that the
Union itself would be well within its rights in bringing suit
against any and all countries seeking to promote internal trouble in
the Union through the use of boycotts etcetera.
This makes it clear that the Church of Scientology was willing, and
attempting, to take an active role in the South African Government's
struggle against the growing anti-apartheid movement. Of course, the
Church was not the only foreign organisation to oppose boycotts and
sanctions against South Africa - in the 1980s the British government
was prominent in its refusal to sanction South Africa. However, the
basis for that stance was that boycotts and sanctions would hurt the
black population far more than it would help. As the above letter
makes clear, the Church was opposed to boycotts and sanctions because
it supported the policy of the South African government. The letter
shows that the Church sought to actively defend apartheid.
Consequent to our discussion Dr. Hubbard prepared a form of suit
which could be used by the Union in the World Court. I enclose a
copy for your perusal.
Apart from the blow that this would strike for the Union on the
International front it would appear that such an action would
establish the World Court as a place where civil matters between
Nations could be settled without warfare and thus would be of
service to humanity as a whole.
In closing I would assure you of our continued willing assistance at
[dated 7th November 1960, Jo'burg; reprinted in K.T.C. Kotze,
Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology, p. 60,
The support for the South African Government expressed in the previous
extracts was not simply a matter of supporting a government, as
distinct from a political party. Take the following letter from L. Ron
"I wish to extend my appreciation to South African Scientologists
for their splendid activities and alertness. And I wish to thank the
South African Government for its forbearance and ex-Minister of
Health Herzog for his sense of justice and fair play in his 1968
pro-Scientology decision [not to appoint a Commission of Enquiry
into Scientology] ...
This letter clearly reveals Hubbard's determination to enter the South
African political arena. His support was not only for the Government,
it was for the ruling Nationalist party, which he perceived as being
friendly to Scientology and hostile to psychiatry - a pet hate of his.
Note, please, that the press in Southern Africa call Dr. Radford and
Dr. Fischer when it wants adverse comments on Scientology. Those two
are United Party members. The United Party supports psychiatry in
South Africa. Therefore, unwittingly the Government is led to pay
for opposition and subversion."
[LRH, HCO Information Letter, 16th February 1969; reprinted in
K.T.C. Kotze, Inquiry into the Effects and Practices of Scientology,
pp. 60-61, Pretoria 1973]
Despite his efforts, Hubbard found that the South African government
was not as friendly towards Scientology as he had hoped. In the wake
of critical reports on Scientology from Australia, New Zealand, and
Canada, it was decided that an inquiry would be held into the
activities of South African Scientology. On 28th March 1969, a
Commission of Inquiry was established, consisting of nine members
under the chairmanship of Mr. K.T.C. Kotze, a retired Supreme Court
Judge. Under the provisions of the Commission Act of 1947 it had the
power to summon witnesses and hear their evidence on oath. Its report,
more than 240 pages long excluding the many pages of additional
annexes, was eventually published in June 1972. It was highly critical
of the conduct of the Church of Scientology. In particular, the
Commission condemned practices such as "disconnection" (of
Scientologists from "troublesome" friends and family), "noisy
investigation" (i.e. the use of public smears to make opponents
"shudder into silence"), "security checking" and the dissemination of
what the Commission called
"inaccurate, untruthful and harmful information in regard to
and it recommended that such practices should be legislated against.
No such legislation and no other action against Scientology was ever
actually forthcoming, and the Kotze report itself seems to have been
generally (and unfairly) forgotten.
Nonetheless, it does still make fascinating reading and it heard some
extraordinary evidence. One of the most peculiar things to come out of
it was the details of an alleged plot by the Jo'burg org to instigate
an armed black uprising in the late 1960s. The Rand Daily Mail
reported that one witness told the Kotze Board that a Mr. Parkhouse,
then chief executive of the South African Church of Scientology, had
planned to arm and organise 5,000 black Africans to seize control of
the country. The article stated:
"Mr. Parkhouse asked me to process him on the E-meter", he [the
If this is true, it must have happened some time before Hubbard's
final departure from England in 1967. Its veracity is unknown, however
- as one might expect, any supporting evidence is locked away in
Scientology vaults and the Church of Scientology denies the
allegations. Armed rebellion was certainly not Hubbard's style, and
given the demonstrable support which he and his followers gave to
apartheid, his ordering an armed black rebellion seems distinctly
improbable. In the absence of any firm evidence either way, though,
this will have to remain a moot point.
"He had just returned from a trip to Mr. Hubbard's headquarters at
Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, England [then Scientology's
world HQ]. While processing him I discovered he had a terrific
"Eventually he told me he was worried because he had been made
responsible for organizing and arming 5,000 Africans to seize
control of South Africa. I talked him out of it and he eventually
stopped worrying about his instructions."
The witness also told the commission that he did not know what
became of Hubbard's plans or of Mr. Parkhouse."
[Rand Daily Mail, Feb 2, 1969]
Scientology Is Security For South Africa
Hubbard clearly wished to have Scientology adopted as an official tool
against the black civil rights movement, which he saw as threatening
"civilization" throughout Africa. He made clear his belief that
Scientologists would play a key role in the coming struggle:
"The international situation in [South] Africa is such that a strong
body of trained Scientologists working hard on all dynamics will be
needed to help civilization pull through."
[LRH, Understanding magazine issue 29, p. 6]
The 1960s were a troubled time for the whole of Africa. Under the
impact of "the winds of change" of decolonisation, white supremacy
across the continent was crumbling as country after country became
independent. It was not a painless process: ethnic unrest, chaotic
transitions and economic dislocation caused a great deal of hardship.
Thousands of whites left decolonised countries along with much
capital, causing the economies of some countries (for example Zaire)
to collapse as plantations were abandoned. South Africa and Rhodesia
were virtually alone in resisting this change, and this is something
which is reflected in Scientology publications from those two
countries. Issue 23 of the South African Scientology magazine
Understanding has the slogan "Scientology is Security for South
Africa" at the bottom of every page. In October 1968, Hubbard
explained precisely how Scientology could "make South Africa secure":
"In South Africa terrorism and its attendant dangers can be fought
more effectively by E-Meters than by guns, since only Scientologists
with meters could detect subversives."
E-Meters are essentially crude skin galvanometers which operate by
passing a small electric current through the body, the resistance
being measured on a dial. The subject holds an electrical terminal
(originally a soup can) in each hand. (The lie-detector works on a
similar principle, though the electrical component of it is merely one
of five instruments which monitor a range of reactions). According to
Hubbard, E-Meters are infallible and can detect whatever is going on
in a person's mind. They are used in "auditing sessions", the bedrock
of Scientology, in which the person being "audited" is regressed by an
"auditor" through trillions of years of past lives to discover any
traumas or wrongdoing from current or previous existences.
[LRH, "E-Meters Replace Guns", HCO Information Letter of 16 Oct
One specialised type of auditing is the "Security Check", aka
"Integrity Processing", routinely administered to Scientologists and
employees of Scientology organisations with the purpose of discovering
"withholds" and "overts" (antisocial acts which the person is hiding,
consciously or unconsciously). The person is asked a series of precise
questions - often several hundred - and must describe in exact detail
any "overt" discovered during the process. An E-Meter is used
throughout to ensure that there are no evasions; any reaction on the
E-Meter to the question being asked is taken as a sure sign that the
person is indeed hiding some sin. Intense questioning invariably
extracts a range of "overts" which are then carefully recorded by the
auditor. Questions asked in these euphemistically-titled
"confessionals" range from the banal -
"Have you ever coughed or distracted others during a lecture?"
- to the sinister -
"Have you ever been a newspaper reporter?"
"Have you ever had unkind thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard?"
- to the deeply bizarre -
"Are you a pervert?"
"Have you ever enslaved a population?"
The standard "Sec. Check" used in Scientology since 1961 comes,
coincidentally, from the Johannesburg Org following the crushing of an
attempted takeover of the org by a group of local Scientologists
opposed to Hubbard's increasing authoritarianism. The check is
referred to as simply "the Jo'burg" - "the roughest security check in
Scientology", according to Hubbard. The data gathered is meticulously
recorded on paper and kept on file indefinitely, even after - perhaps
especially after - a person has left Scientology. Although this data
is supposedly confidential, the Church of Scientology has repeatedly
used compromising material contained in auditing files to smear and
pressurise dissidents and excommunicates.
"Have you ever zapped anyone?"
It was these Sec. Checks, suitably modified for use in a
non-Scientological setting, which Hubbard proposed to use forcibly on
the mutinous black population of South Africa. He even went to the
trouble of devising techniques for using E-Meters on unwilling
subjects. He went into this in more detail in an HCO Bulletin entitled
Interrogation (How to read an E-Meter on a silent subject), written in
1960 and addressed to South African orgs. [Punctuation is sic.]
"When the subject placed on a meter will not talk but can be made to
hold the cans (or can be held while the cans are strapped to the
soles or placed under the armpit) ... , it is still possible to
obtain full information from the subject.
In other words, any protest, no matter how justified or well-behaved,
should be met by starving the protesters into submission. Hubbard
himself was an avowed authoritarian; perhaps he felt that the
Nationalists were kindred spirits?
The end product is the discovery of a terrorist, usually paid,
usually a criminal, often trained abroad. Given a dozen people from
a riot or a strike, you can usually find the instigator ...
Thousands [of agentes provocateurs] are trained every year in Moscow
in the ungentle art of making slave states. Don't be surprised if
you end up with a white.
Revolts kill an awful lot of natives. Only when security has been
established can a reform be applied.
Use E-Meter "clean hands" to convince people that the population is
loyal and the reforms are in order.
[...] We have a lot of reforms ourselves but we don't need criminal agents
or dead people killed in riots to put them in effect. Don't use guns
use E-Meters to make a country secure.
By the way, the answer to passive resistance is for the government
to passive strike against any district from which it occurs. No
water, no lights, pay, government or service. Simply use the same
tactic back. Don't use guns, Cordon the area off and shut off power
[LRH, HCO Bulletin of 30 Mar 1960]
It is worth pointing out that a "subversive" was at this time usually
taken to mean a critic of the South African government. Communists and
ANC members or supporters were automatically subversives. Since the
penalty for this could be imprisonment, execution or simple murder,
the danger of what Hubbard proposed is obvious. He was well aware of
this. In a piece called "Why some fight Scientology", distributed to
South African Scientologists in issue 22 of Understanding magazine, he
made it clear that the use of security checking was to prevent "native
uprisings" orchestrated by "a well-known international political
organization" (the ANC?):
"The Political Enemy
His comments make it quite clear that he was aware of what would
happen to those who failed tests on the E-Meter if his proposals were
adopted: it would save the lives of those who passed ("the innocent")
but those who failed ("the guilty") could be and should be executed.
The leaders of such "uprisings" were bound to be "low-toned"
individuals; such people, Hubbard wrote in his 1951 book Science of
Survival (still a standard Scientology textbook), should be deprived
of their civil rights or simply made to disappear.
If [the] Electrometer had been available in Kenya during the Mau-Mau
uprising it could have saved thousands upon thousands of lives. For
the innocent were punished with the guilty and of the guilty there
were but very few ... At this moment the South African Central
Organization of Scientology is educating people in the event of
further risings. This is a deadly blow to a well known international
political organization. But they do not now even dare protest
against this defense."
[LRH, "Why some fight Scientology", Understanding magazine issue 22]
It is also interesting that Hubbard appears in the above extracts to
be proposing to violate the supposed confidentiality of the auditing
session, as the damning information would presumably be extracted
during a so-called "confessional" and then handed over to the
authorities. This runs directly counter to the statement which Hubbard
ordered should be read out before a Sec. Check is conducted:
" 'We are about to begin a Security Check. We are not moralists. We
are able to change people. We are not here to condemn them. While we
cannot guarantee you that matters revealed in this check will be
held forever secret, we can promise you faithfully that no part of
it nor any answer you make here will be given to the police or
state. No Scientologist will ever bear witness against you in Court
by reasons of answers to this security Check.' "
[LRH, "The Only Valid Security Check", 1961]
Of course, this allows the Church of Scientology to use the results of
security checks to intimidate and defame ex-members should they become
active dissidents. It was public concern over this issue that prompted
the Church to enact the so-called "Code of Reform" only a month after
Hubbard had proposed security checking South African blacks. To quote
Freedom magazine, the Code provided for
"Prohibition of any confessional materials being written down or
[Freedom magazine no. 11]
And it was stated on the front page of the previous issue that:
"SCIENTOLOGISTS [SHOULD] NOT BE MADE TO VIOLATE THE PRIVATE
CONFIDENCES OF THEIR PRECLEARS, THIS BEING AS MUCH AS PART OF
SCIENTOLOGY RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE AS THAT OF PRIESTS IN CATHOLICISM"
[Freedom magazine no. 10]
If that was so, why did Hubbard advocate something completely
different only a matter of weeks beforehand?
"The native [is in a] retrograded state"
Hubbard's actions in South Africa were influenced by a wide variety of
factors. Apart from the pathological hatred of psychiatry alluded to
above, he was virulently opposed to communism and took an almost
Victorian view of Anglo-Saxon superiority and "the white man's
burden"; at one time Scientology was promoted as "the only Anglo-Saxon
science of the mind", contrasting with practices of psychiatry
("Russian"), psychology ("German") and psychoanalysis ("Austrian").
This led to him taking a rather peculiar stance towards the South
African governments of the 1960s despite their obvious racism and
violence. It was a position, one has to say, which he shared with a
great many racially-minded rightwingers inside and outside of South
Africa. In 1960, he visited the country for the first time and formed
an opinion which he apparently held for many years thereafter:
"Two weeks ago tomorrow I arrived in South Africa to review and
assist the situation. [...]
Bear in mind that this was in the same year as the notorious
Sharpeville Massacre, when 67 unarmed black demonstrators were shot
dead by the South African police.
The problem of South Africa is different than the world thinks.
There is no native problem. The native worker gets more than white
workers do in England!
Russia wants South African diamonds and gold, oil and uranium.
Russia starts trouble here whenever she can. The South African
governmment is not a police state. It's easier on people than the
United States government!
The South African government is under raid by Russia. Radio
broadcasts slam in here nightly trying to incite riots. The South
African government is dismayed because it can't believe anybody -
like Russia - could tell so many lies."
[LRH, HCO Bulletin of 10 Oct 1960]
The reader will have noticed that in the above extract, Hubbard refers
to black South Africans by the rather less than politically correct
term "natives". This may have had something to do with the fact that
he was the product of an age which was less sensitive about racial
matters. Then again, it may have had something to do with the fact
that he was openly contemptuous of black Africans and black South
Africans in particular, though curiously enough he does not appear to
have expressed similar opinions about black Americans or black
Britons. (Perhaps this was because the latter groups were potential
customers.) Hubbard's prose is never easy or pleasant to read but his
comments on "the South African native" are, I think, particularly
"In North Africa they had the Arab with the gun and whip, but he
could force people to do things a gun and a whip [sic] and he
accomplished a tremendous amount of extermination, but he certainly
didn't advance that civilization very much. In South Africa they had
a bit of the whip but everybody just gave up. The South African
native is probably the one impossible person to train in the entire
world - he is probably impossible by any human standard. I'll give
you an example. A South African native is being shown how to sow
crops and he has a basket, and he's got some seed, and he's walking
along back of the harrow disc--and he is supposed to throw seed out
this way, seed out this way, seed out that way, seed out this way. A
white man is riding a little tractor that's pulling the disc and
scraping the soil for the seed. And this scene was enacted and was
witnessed and was told to me with considerable hilarity as some kind
of learning rate. The white man was sitting on the little tractor
pulling the harrow, the native along behind him, sowing the ssed
straight down in handfuls on the ground. The white man got off the
tractor, came back to the native, took the basket away from him, put
his hand in the basket, threw it to the right, put his hand in the
basket, threw it to the left, and gave it back to the native. And
the native waited, the white man got on the tractor, drove along,
and the native took a handful out of the basket and threw it
straight on the ground. So the white man got off the tractor, came
back, took the basket away from the native, showed the native, throw
it to the right, throw it to the left, gave it back to the native,
took him [sic] seat again on the tractor, the native followed along
behind, took handsful and threw it straight on the ground! And this
went on for a very long time. The native never did throw any
handsful of seed to the right and left. Never did. That is farming
in South Africa.
Hubbard goes on to explain how children and psychotics are
identical because they share identical "delusions", although
children grow out of them while psychotics remain locked in them.
Hubbard appears to be attempting to make the point that psychotics,
"natives", and children should all be treated in a similar manner.
He concludes thus:
Now did anything ever come along and change that? Yes. Man had to
cease to be Homo Sapiens and had to become Homo Scientologicus in
order to accomplish any action that was anywhere near efficient in
South Africa. And we have had some auditors in South Africa who have
actually succeeded in training natives easily and well and have
successfully managed large organizations there. That's certainly
something. Now with these people it was still possible to get
something done. But what had this native done? Was this native what
we think of as primitive stock? No, we make a great many mistakes.
We say a child is in a "native state". A native is in a "native
state". People are in a barbaric condition and then they grow up and
become civilized. How do we know that this barbaric condition isn't
a retrogression from a highly civilized condition back to an Only
One category? How do we know that isn't true? How do we know that
that native didn't at one time achieve a great civilization of
culture which then collapsed on him and he went back into a state of
being a barbarian?
But the point is, is this true that a native is in a clearer state,
and is it true that it requires Livingness to advance somebody in
that crude state up to a condition of ability? No, that is not true.
The child, the primitive, the native, are in retrograded states.
They are worse off than somebody who is at a civilized or thinking
or analytical level."
"But all I am telling you is that children, South African natives,
and now the entirety of this world in which we are living, presents
to us an auditing problem. We are rich in being able to understand
what is happening in our environment and we are rich also in knowing
exactly how to handle such a circumstance or condition. Nobody knew
before. That is factually true here on Earth."
[LRH, Professional Auditor's Bulletin No. 119, 1st September 1957]
This is still disseminated by the Church of Scientology in The
Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology, a comprehensive
collection of Hubbard's pronouncements since the 1950s. It is
compulsory reading for Scientologists and remains part of the
Nor did Hubbard confine such opinions to "the South African native",
though it was the unfortunate "Bantu" who appears to have attracted
the brunt of his condemnation. He wrote elsewhere:
"Just as individuals can be seen by observing nations, so we see the
African tribesman, with his complete contempt for truth and his
emphasis on brutality and savagery for others but not himself, is a
[LRH, Fundamentals of Thought]
Again, this is compulsory reading for Scientologists; the book from
which the above quote was taken was reprinted as recently as 1995.
Critics of Scientology might suggest that the qualities attributed to
African tribesmen (particularly the "complete contempt for truth")
might be very descriptive of Hubbard himself, but I would not dream of
making such an insinuation...
The question of whether Hubbard believed in apartheid and racial
discrimination per se is less easy to answer than one might think. His
writings certainly include a wide variety of racist comments and
epithets, such as "chinks" for Chinese and "wogs" for
non-Scientologists. (Strangely, the Dianetics and Scientology
Technical Dictionary (1975) defines "wog" in its racist meaning of
"worthy oriental gentleman" rather than its less offensive Hubbardian
meaning of "non-Scientologist"; a curious value judgement.) Hubbard
does conform with some of the dictionary definitions of a "racist" -
one with the belief in the superiority of a particular race and with
prejudice based on this, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Even so, there is little evidence of racism in the "tech" of
Scientology. This is consistent with the Scientological belief that we
are all immortal spirits who pop in and out of bodies over trillions
of years. According to Hubbard, we have inhabited male bodies, female
bodies, robot bodies, doll bodies, vegetable bodies, gaseous bodies,
amorphous bodies and even alien bodies with "unspeakably horrible
hands". Given that eclectic variety, the question of the colour of the
body's skin seems a little irrelevant. Racial discrimination should
therefore in theory be completely unnecessary in Scientology, as we
really are all the same under the skin. A Scientologist quoted in the
1972 book Scientology: Twentieth Century Religion put it this way:
"The colour of a person's skin makes no difference to him
spiritually. Souls are not black or white you know! A person is a
soul - it is only his body that is different..."
[Lensworth Small, quoted in Scientology: Twentieth Century Religion
(1972), p. 45]
Unfortunately, Mr. Small seems to have been guilty of "out-tech"
(misrepresentation of Hubbard's "technology"). Hubbard made it clear
that (perhaps not surprisingly) the South African "native" was
different spiritually and should be treated as such. Although he was
keen to use E-Meter security checking on the "native" population, he
added this caveat:
"In South Africa, a Bantu's withholds read not on the needle alone
but on the Tone Arm as well. The Tone Arm goes up as much as two
divisions (3 to 5) just before you get off a bad withhold on one."
[LRH, E-Meter Essentials, page 23]
"Bantu" was the generic term used, occasionally as an epithet, by the
forces of apartheid in referring to black South Africans. It is
significant that this is, as far as I know, the only reference in
Scientology literature to different procedures having to be used on a
particular racial group. No such differences are mentioned regarding
black Americans or black Zimbabweans, for instance.
Once the Scientological jargon in the above extract is translated, two
clear implications emerge. The first, relating to the workings of the
E-Meter, is that the bodies of "Bantus" have a higher level of
electrical resistance than those of any other race in the world; they
are physically different.
(Coincidentally, this was a fundamental assumption of apartheid.)
The other implication relates to Hubbard's theories on the meaning of
"heavy reads" on the E-Meter. He stated that the amount of resistance
measured was in direct proportion to the dreadfulness of the "overt"
(antisocial act) supposedly being uncovered by the E-Meter and the
unwillingness of the subject to "confront" his "overts". The logic of
this means that, to a Scientologist, the uniquely high resistance of
"Bantus" obviously shows that they are much more deceitful and
"degraded" than any other race. Hubbard confirms this conclusion
elsewhere with the statement that it is "part of their culture to
steal and lie".
(Coincidentally, this was a fundamental assumption of apartheid.)
The Church of Scientology has never repudiated the statements which
Hubbard made about South Africa, the "natives" and the "Bantus", and
E-Meter Essentials (complete with "Bantus" passage) was reprinted for
at least the fourth time as recently as 1988. It is still sold in
Scientology Organisations across the world and is compulsory reading
for trainee Scientologists. I am not aware of any instructions which
negate Hubbard's comments on how to audit "Bantus"; as far as I know,
it is still part of the "tech".
Apartheid in the Org
Evidence on the views of South African Scientologists themselves is,
perhaps inevitably, rather slim and largely anecdotal. This is how
Robert Kaufman describes the political complexion of Scientologists at
their then world headquarters in England:
"Most of the Scientologists were culturally green, interested only
in Hubbard's pronouncements. Many were reactionary, almost
Fascistic, in their political views. The attitude of this breed was
that the poor and oppressed of the world, the dwellers in mud
villages and ghettos, were suffering solely from their own
inadequacies; they were dominated by their reactive minds and were
getting exactly what they deserved. Scientologists from South Africa
were almost unanimously in favor of apartheid."
[Kaufman, Inside Scientology, 1972]
One can see why Hubbard's oft-expressed contempt for the needy and
unfortunate ("humanoids who just aren't trying", as he put it) might
appeal to those of a reactionary mentality. If Kaufman's claim that
South African Scientologists were in favour of apartheid is true, one
might expect to find some evidence of it in Scientology magazines from
South Africa. And indeed, one does, in the pages of Understanding.
This magazine was originally entirely produced and edited in South
Africa but by the mid-1960s it had, like most other Scientology
magazines, become little more than a mouthpiece for endless short
essays by Hubbard. It is in the issues from the first few years of the
magazine's life (1958 to about 1962) that one finds some real insights
into South African Scientology.
A highly significant sign is the number and position of black South
Africans in the Jo'burg Org, or HASI S.A. as it was called then. In
issues 12 and 13, the photographs and job descriptions of the staff of
the Jo'burg org were printed. Spread over four pages, the first two
pages are entirely filled with whites in the usual range of
Scientology jobs. The last two pages are entirely filled with blacks,
who are mostly listed as being "janitors", "cleaners" and the like.
None of them was what one might refer to as "mainstream staff".
Even more significantly, photographs were printed in issue 19
illustrating apartheid - "separateness" - at work in the Jo'burg Org
itself. A two-page photospread entitled "HASI S.A. Celebrates Its 2nd
* "STAFF AND STUDENTS AT THE PARTY"
Of course, to be fair, this was over 35 years ago and I would not want
to suggest that blacks are still kept apart from whites in South
African Scientology. But it does undeniably show that the
(white-dominated) Church of Scientology was, as an organisation, in
favour of going along with apartheid even within its own ranks. It is
curious that an organisation which now claims to have been against
apartheid all along should not even mention it once in the magazines
which it published in South Africa at the time. Even when in later
years the Church of Scientology made public efforts to ameliorate the
problems caused by apartheid, it still does not appear to have made
any adverse comments on the policies of discrimination and enforced
poverty which were causing those problems in the first place. This is
especially odd given the long-running campaigns of the Church of
Scientology against abuses allegedly perpetrated by psychiatrists. It
is almost as if someone had said "psychiatry's fair game, but let's
leave apartheid alone". Again, a curious value judgement.
- a room decorated with party streamers and the like, with 34
whites holding champagne glasses and eating cake;
* "THE AFRICAN STAFF HAD THEIR PARTY AT LUNCH TIME"
- a table in a back alley with 9 blacks drinking from what look
like beer bottles and eating (one presumes) left-over cake.
Evidently they had to have the party during their lunch hour,
rather than have time off for it like the whites.
The Rhodesian Gambit
At this point it may be worthwhile mentioning Hubbard's attempt to
"win" Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for Scientology. Following the severe
setbacks which had been suffered in Australia in the mid-60s, when the
ungrateful Australians decided that they did not after all want to be
the world's first "clear continent", Hubbard decided that southern
Africa should have the privilege of being a "safe environment" for
Scientology. In 1966 he went to Rhodesia in the guise of "a
millionaire financier" (no initial mention of Scientology) with the
intention of achieving this goal. He spent $80,000 on a house and a
hotel "to show his confidence in the country and its government". They
very soon became the centre of Rhodesian Scientology and proved a
worthwhile investment. In the few months that he was in Harare,
Hubbard made $25,000 selling Scientology courses to a white population
of only some 45,000. He regarded his visit to Rhodesia as a homecoming
for, so he told his personal assistant Reg Sharpe, he had been Cecil
Rhodes in a previous life and hoped to return with the hidden fortune
in gold and diamonds which he remembered having buried as Rhodes.
Hubbard even went around wearing Rhodes' favourite kind of hat,
presumably in the hope of "restimulating" people's memories of the
late founder of their country.
It was probably just as well that the rabidly homophobic Hubbard did
not know that his "previous incarnation" had been a promiscuous
Rhodesia in 1966 was, like South Africa, a country where a white
minority government exercised a distinctly repressive rule over a
black majority. Prime Minister Ian Smith had that year sought to
emulate South Africa's example by signing an (illegal) Unilateral
Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the British Empire, with the
aim of resisting the decolonisation of British Prime Minister Harold
Wilson's "winds of change". This caused a major crisis and guerrilla
war which dragged on until 1980, the white government being covertly
aided by South Africa.
Hubbard entered the fray in the spring of 1966, convinced that he
alone could resolve the situation. In May 1966, he produced,
uninvited, a "tentative constitution" for the country which he touted
as satisfying the demands of the disenfranchised blacks whilst still
maintaining white supremacy. He proposed a weak lower chamber elected
on the principle of one man, one vote, and an upper chamber vested
with much greater powers which would be elected by those citizens who
had a good command of English, knowledge of the constitution and
financial standing verified by a bank. This provision would of course
mean that most blacks would be excluded from voting for the much more
powerful upper house. Copies of Hubbard's constitution were sent to
Ian Smith and to Harold Wilson. Ian Smith's principal private
secretary replied politely to Hubbard on 5th May 1966 saying that his
suggestions had been passed to a Cabinet sub-committee examining
proposals for amending the constitution.
In the meantime, Hubbard got on with trying to ingratiate himself with
Rhodesia's white establishment. He appeared on television and in
newspapers, representing himself as a "millionaire financier" who had
been "trained in economy and government at Princeton" (during the war
he had been to a US Navy training course on 'Military Government' on
the campus, but had no connection with the famous university). He
loudly professed support for Ian Smith's government, although he said
in private that he thought Smith "a nasty piece of work" who was
incapable of leadership. Similarly, he publicly espoused sympathy for
the plight of the black majorities in both Rhodesia and South Africa,
but in conversations with his white southern African supporters he
expressed contempt for blacks. While he was in Rhodesia he told white
South African and "World's First Clear" John McMaster that "blacks
were so stupid they did not give a reading on an E-Meter". (This may
explain his instructions regarding the auditing of "Bantus" mentioned
above.) The London Daily Mail similarly reported that Rhodesians to
whom he had spoken had quoted him saying that Africans wouldn't
qualify for Scientology membership because their I.Q. was too low.
Hubbard is not, however, on record as having said similar things in
other countries; his message appears to have changed according to his
Hubbard's Rhodesian idyll did not end happily for him. US agents in
Rhodesia had asked CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia for
information on "L. Ron Hubbard, US citizen recently arrived". A reply
was sent which appears to have been passed on to the Rhodesian
authorities. Although it stated that Headquarters files contained no
derogatory information about the subject, it concluded:
"Individuals who have been connected with the organizations headed
by Hubbard or who have had contact with him and the organizations,
have indicated that Hubbard is a 'crackpot' and of 'doubtful mental
[CIA file dated 5 April 1966, obtained via Freedom of Information
Hubbard did not help his cause by making hectoring speeches to
Rhodesian business leaders which, it seemed to them, were vaguely
anti-Rhodesian. In July 1966, the Rhodesian government decided that he
was an undesirable alien and expelled him. It was a tremendous shock
for Hubbard, who believed himself to be a genuinely popular
personality in Rhodesia. He wasted no time in telling his supporters
that the expulsion was a Communist-inspired plot to get him out of the
country because he was the man most likely to resolve the UDI crisis
and save the country from an inevitable Communist takeover. On July
18th, 1966 - only a few days after his expulsion from Rhodesia - he
addressed a conference of the Guardian's Office, Scientology's secret
police, to explain what had gone wrong and what the basic problem of
It's very, very interesting that any trouble they have with the
Africans in Rhodesia has been that they're disciplining them but
they have relatively few internal pressures to overcome so the
external pressure is against somebody who is perfectly willing.
[Such as Hubbard.] And that's what's causing the trouble.
For instance, my boy Jamble - he smokes dacca, he gambles and he
drinks, mostly native beer and so forth. Now although I've seen him
a little bit reeling or his eyes describing slight circles when he
fixed them, I have never seen at any moment - oh, yes, and I've
suddenly seen him get eloquent - under a bit of native beer after
he'd been out in the afternoon - not one single one of those acts
got in the road of him doing his job. So I used to tell him "yes, I
know Jamble - you're a good boy even though you do drink and smoke
dacca and gamble - that has nothing to do with me, you're still a
good boy" and you know he came way up tone. I noticed he drank less
and I think he stopped smoking dacca entirely but he didn't stop
gambling because Master used to give him a pound to go out to the
race track with and lose. Now these boys were all willing but
[LRH, speech to Guardian's Office members, July 18th 1966]
So why, one might ask, was Hubbard apparently selectively racist,
going along with, maybe even encouraging, racial discrimination in
South Africa and Rhodesia but apparently not in other countries? The
answer would seem to be that it was essentially a matter of politics.
The South Africans who took up Dianetics and then Scientology in the
1950s appear to have been almost entirely middle-class whites, a
roughly equal mix of English and Afrikaners: precisely that
constituency which formed the bedrock of support for the Nationalist
apartheid governments. Similarly in Rhodesia, Hubbard directed his
recruitment efforts towards the well-to-do whites who were likely to
gain most from UDI and black disenfranchisement. Hubbard appears to
have decided that it was worth compromising his own principles, and
even making exceptions to the otherwise universal Scientology
"technology", to accomodate the racial prejudices of his South African
followers. Rather than confront apartheid, he took the easier route of
going along with it. Had he done otherwise he would have risked losing
their support and getting into trouble with a particularly nasty
regime. Even so, it didn't work all the time; at one point the
Scientology magazine Freedom was temporarily banned in South Africa
during one of the government's more draconian phases. Similarly,
Scientology materials were banned from being imported into Rhodesia.
This, however, was more a result of the Church of Scientology's
endless war against psychiatry than as the result of any more
conventional political action.
In short, it would seem that Hubbard was something of an intellectual
chameleon with the moral integrity of an alley cat. He put
self-interest before principles or intellectual coherence; "wins" for
Scientology were all that mattered to him.
South African figures from the apartheid years, such as the former
defence minister Magnus Malan, are now being arrested for their role
in the apartheid governments. The Church of Scientology is presently
trying to expand in South Africa and to dissociate itself from the
excesses of the apartheid era. Its attempts should be met with demands
that it account for its behaviour in the apartheid years, and it
should explain precisely why L. Ron Hubbard deliberately drove a cart
and horses through his own supposedly "non-political" aims.
Chris Owen <email@example.com>
Version 4.1, 9/3/96