Church of Scientology Founder Dies BULLETIN
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer who founded the often-embattled Church of Scientology three decades ago, has died of a stroke, the church said Monday night. He was 74.
Hubbard, who had not been seen in public since 1980, died Friday at his ranch near San Luis Obispo, 150 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, said Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International. ................BULLETIN............................................
L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer who founded the controversial Church of Scientology three decades ago, has died, the church announced Monday night. He was 74. ........................................................................
Hubbard’s eldest son, Ronald E. DeWolf, in a lawsuit filed in 1982, had claimed that Hubbard was either dead or mentally incompetent, but a judge ruled Hubbard was alive.
Church officials said Hubbard’s ashes were scattered at sea after his body was examined by the San Luis Obispo county coroner’s office. Associated Press calls to the coroner’s office late Monday were answered by a tape recording.
Hubbard did not control the organization and its corporations for the past few years, said Jentzsch.
Scientology is based on the Tilden, Neb., native’s 1948 book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health,” a book that has sold millions of copies. Hubbard and his third and surviving wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, founded the church in 1954.
Through the use of a so-called E-meter, somewhat like a lie detector, church members undergo exercises and counseling to eliminate negative mental images and achieve a “clear state.”
“It’s mental technology to improve communication, intelligence, and give people the ability to be happy human beings,” Ken Hoden, president of the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles, said last year.
The wealthy church has claimed up to 6 million members worldwide since the height of the movement in the 1970s. Defectors, however, have put the number at closer to 2 million.
At its peak, the church reportedly earned $100 million a year.
The group has often been on the defensive. In 1979, Mary Sue Hubbard and 10 other Scientologists were convicted of burglarizing and bugging government agencies, which group leaders claimed had harassed the church for decades.
The following year, the IRS took the group to federal Tax Court in Los Angeles challenging its tax-exempt status from 1970 through 1972, saying the California branch of the church owed $1.4 million in income taxes for the period.
In 1984, the court decided against the Church of Scientology, ordering payment of back taxes and penalties.
DeWolf in his lawsuit sought to be appointed trustee of his father’s financial affairs, claiming that Scientology officials were mismanaging Hubbard’s estate and had stolen millions of dollars worth of gems and securities.
A judge dismissed the probate case in 1983 after the group presented a letter, purportedly written by Hubbard, saying he was in seclusion by choice.
The organization generated controversy as far back as the early 1960s with its criticism of psychiatric techniques, Hoden said. He said the group criticized “lobotomies, electroshock and excessive druggings” as turning people into mindless robots.”
Current Scientology literature boast that Hubbard was, “at various times, top sergeant in the Marines, radio crooner, newspaper reporters, gold miner in the West Indies and a movie director-explorer, having led a motion picture expedition into the South Seas aboard an ancient windjammer.”
DeWolf, who had changed his name, derided those claims in a 1982 interview, saying “99 percent of what my father wrote about his past life was false.”
From 1968 to 1975, Hubbard reportedly lived chiefly aboard a huge yacht, the Apollo, drifting around the Mediterranean with a crew made up of members of the church’s elite corps, “Sea Org.”
In 1973, a criminal court in France sentenced Hubbard in absentia to four years in prison for fraudulent business practices.
Hubbard also lived in Dunedin, Fla., and in California, on ranches near La Quinta and Hemet and at the resort of Gilman Hot Springs, according to court papers filed by DeWolf.
At La Quinta, defectors have said, Hubbard twice required hospital care and asked to be buried under date palms.
No autopsy was performed, in accordance with Hubbard’s will, said Earle Cooley, the church’s chief counsel. He said the coroner’s office took blood samples and Hubbard’s fingerprints.
Hubbard left most of his estate to Scientology, Cooley said.
“L. Ron Hubbard, after making very generous provision for his surviving wife and certain of his children, has left the entire balance of his estate, which is very substantial, to Scientology,” Cooley said.
“He has, by this act, confirmed his faith in the future of Scientology and its management, and the fruits of the labor of a lifetime have been conferred upon the religion that he founded and loved,” said Cooley.
Hubbard had been a “very healthy man” during his final years, Jentzsch said.
“Mr. Hubbard spent his last years on a spacious ranch in Central California,” Jentzsch said. “While completing his research into the spirit of man, he was also involved in writing, composing music and pursuing his life- long love of photography.”
Jentzsch announced the death by saying, “L. Ron Hubbard, after completing his life’s work to his full satisfaction, departed his body on Friday, Jan. 24, 1986.”
Court documents filed in a civil case against the church revealed that the organization secretly teaches that Earth was called Teegeeach 75 million years ago and was among 90 planets ruled by Xemu, who spread his evil by thermonuclear bombs.
Xemu, attempting to solve overpopulation problems, destroyed selected inhabitants of the planets and implanted seeds of aberrant behavior to affect future generations of mankind.
The documents were submitted to a court in Los Angeles as part of a case brought by a former Scientologist, Larry Wollersheim, who claims the organization defrauded him by promising him higher courses that cost thousands of dollars.
Jentzsch said in November, when the documents were revealed, that news accounts of the documents were distorted.
Henrietta De Wolf, DeWolf’s wife, said in Carson City, Nev., that her husband had just left for work, and had heard of his father’s death about 30 minutes before. She said he could not be reached at work.
“No matter what happened, one way or another, it’s still his father, and he feels a great loss accordingly,” Mrs. DeWolf said.
No plans were announced for a memorial service.
It was not immediately clear if there were any survivors other than DeWolf and Mary Sue Hubbard.