Lying as Religious Rite

Scriptural Basis

Hubbard's writings and recordings make up the sacred scriptures of Scientology. Thus, lying is official Church doctrine, as illustrated here.

THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM. You can write that down in your book in great big letters. The only way you can control anybody is to lie to them. … He's got to tell you lies in order to continue control, because the second you start telling anybody close to the truth, you start releasing him and he gets tougher and tougher to control. So, you can't control somebody without telling them a bunch of lies.

-L. Ron Hubbard, Technique 88 [offsite], "On Control and Lying"

Scientology not only tolerates lying but actually presents formal training in the subject:

Purpose: To train the student to give a false statement with good TR-1. To train the student to outflow false data effectively. … The student should be coached on a gradient until he/she can lie facilely.

-L. Ron Hubbard, Intelligence Specialist Training Routine–Lying (TR-L)

Handling truth is a touchy business also. You don't have to tell everything you know — that would jam the comm line too. Tell an acceptable truth. … So PR becomes the technique of communicating an acceptable truth — and which will attain the desirable result.

-L. Ron Hubbard, HCOPL 13 August 1970 Issue II PR Series 2, in the Volunteer Minister's Handbook

Parishioners are also instructed on how to handle reporters with evasion and redirection (bullying, too):

Purpose: To train a PRO to give a 'no answer' to questions he has no wish to answer directly. … The trick is to appear to answer the question by giving generalized statements in simple terms so that the reporter doesn't realize his question hasn't been answered.

Purpose: To train a PRO to be able to establish Ethics presence over an SP reporter if the occasion arises, by such things as shouting, banging, pointing, swearing. To do this completely causatively until the poor reporter is 'caved in'.

Purpose: To train the PRO to handle an SP reporter by word alone without the use of force as in (a). He uses the word as a rapier and plunges it at the reporter, so that the reporter introverts and drops the question.

-L. Ron Hubbard, HCOB 10 December 1969, "Reporter Training Routines"

Hubbard thinks the world would be a boring place if lying didn't exist:

Now you say you have to be absolutely truthful. Sincerity is the main thing, and truthfulness is the main thing and don't lie to anybody … and you'll get ahead. Brother you sure will. You'll get ahead right on that cycle of action, right toward zero! It's a trap not being able to prevaricate … This makes life more colorful!

-L. Ron Hubbard, Philadelphia Doctorate Course, lecture "How to Talk to Friends about Scientology"

In Practice

In a 1992 Canadian court case, the lawyer defending the Church of Scientology said that "the prosecution witnesses [Scientologists testifying against the Church!] could not be believed, because they had all taken special training in how to lie."

Examples of Scientology lies:

  • The Church maintains that it (through its front group Education Alive) has taught two million South African children to read. However, the South African embassy (Australia) calls this Big Lie "just another fabrication". It has been modified [offsite] over time but never retracted.

  • In a 1997 issue of its publication Good News, the Church apparently forged a letter from the Norwegian Minister of Defense, falsely claiming [offsite] that he endorsed L. Ron Hubbard's booklet of moral precepts, The Way to Happiness, and wished to distribute copies to all his troops. This lie was retracted, after a fashion.

  • For their 1998 New Year's event, the Church produced a video that included a false endorsement of Scientology's drug-treatment program, Narconon [offsite] , by the Swedish royal family. The Church apologized for this "mistake" and promised to edit the video.

  • The Church frequently states it has eight million members (journalists often quote this number without checking its accuracy). In reality, there are probably no more than about 100,000 Scientologists worldwide. The Church continues to inflate their membership, as its Public Affairs office did recently, claiming 10 million members [offsite] as of March 2006.

False Pretenses

The Church of Scientology's primary goal is to "clear the planet". According to its publication What is Scientology?, this means clearing "the planet of insanity, war and crime, and in its place create a civilization in which sanity and peace exist." Yet, as we've seen, corporate lying is commonplace, and combined with its aggressive recruiting tactics, Scientology proselytization takes on a disturbing twist.