From the Archives

The Scientology Story

The Times' series on Scientology ran in 1990 and gave a rare look at the church's beliefs, practices and history.

  • Defining the Theology

    What is Scientology? Not even the vast majority of Scientologists can fully answer the question. In the Church of Scientology, there is no one book that comprehensively sets forth the religion's beliefs in the fashion of, say, the Bible or the Koran. Rather, Scientology's theology is scattered...

  • The Man in Control

    The Church of Scientology today is run by a high-school dropout who grew up at the knee of the late L. Ron Hubbard and wields power with the iron-fisted approach of his mentor. At 30, David Miscavige is chairman of the board of an organization that sits atop the bureaucratic labyrinth known as...

  • Burglaries and Lies Paved a Path to Prison

    It began with the title of a fairy tale -- Snow White. That was the benign code name Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard gave to an ominous plan that would envelop his church in scandal and send its upper echelon to prison, a plan rooted in his ever-deepening fears and suspicions. Snow White began...

  • Church Scriptures Get High-Tech Protection

    Scientology is determined that the words of L. Ron Hubbard shall live forever. Using state-of-the art technology, the movement has spent more than $15 million to protect Hubbard's original writings, tape-recorded lectures and filmed treatises from natural and man-made calamities, including nuclear...

  • Church Markets Its Gospel With High-Pressure Sales

    Behind the religious trappings, the Church of Scientology is run like a lean, no-nonsense business in which potential members are called "prospects," "raw meat" and "bodies in the shop." Its governing financial policy, written by the late Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, is simple and direct:...

  • Shoring Up Its Religious Profile

    The church has adopted the terminology and trappings of traditional theologies. But the IRS is not convinced.

  • The Courting of Celebrities

    Testimonials of the famous are prominent in the church's push for acceptability. John Travolta and Kirstie Alley are the current headliners.

  • Defectors Recount Lives of Hard Work, Punishment

    Doris Braine says the transformation of her Patty Jo was heartbreaking. "It was," she said, "like my darling daughter had died." Before Patty Jo went to work for the Church of Scientology at the age of 20, she had been "fun and pretty and a joy to be with," recalled her 72-year-old mother. "Suddenly,...

  • Church Seeks Influence in Schools, Business, Science

    Emerging from years of internal strife and public scandal, the Scientology movement has embarked on a sweeping and sophisticated campaign to gain new influence in America. The goal is to refurbish the tarnished image of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and elevate him to the ranks of history's...

  • Courting the Power Brokers

    From politicians to the leaders of business, the courts and the media, the church works to win allies to smooth the way for expansion.

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