28 Photos Of L. Ron Hubbard And The Birth Of Scientology

Published May 30, 2017
Hubbard Speaking
Hubbard Demonstrates Dianetics
Woman Taking Notes
Sarah Northup With Text
28 Photos Of L. Ron Hubbard And The Birth Of Scientology
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In the pulp-printed pages of a May 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, L. Ron Hubbard published, for the first time, a work that would one day grow into an entire religion: Dianetics. There, creased between space adventures and tales of alien invasion, were the pages that gave birth to Scientology.

Up until then, Hubbard had made his living as a pulp fiction writer and, in all his years of work, had earned only about $10,000. After a journey of personal exploration, he came upon the idea of Dianetics – a way he would “clear” people from all distress.

It wasn’t his first foray into religion. A few years before, L. Ron Hubbard had dabbled in the occult with his friend Jack Parsons. Together, the two had developed the “Babalon Working” ritual, a magical ceremony intended to bring forth an incarnation of the occult sex goddess Babalon.

Their experiments ended after Hubbard convinced Parsons to put up the funds for a fleet of yachts – and then bailed out of the country with the boats, the money, and Parsons’ girlfriend, Sara Northrup.

Northrup and Hubbard would soon get married, but their relationship would start to dissolve with the rise of Dianetics. As his wealth and fame started to grow, Hubbard started to have affairs and, in response, Northrup had affairs of her own.

As revenge, Hubbard had tried to report his wife as a communist and to get a doctor to declare her mentally insane. In the end, Hubbard granted her a divorce and full custody of the kids – under the condition that she would sign a paper saying that he was a “fine and brilliant man.”

With the divorce out of the way, Hubbard was free to transform Dianetics into a full religion. He wrote to his secretary, Helen O’Brien, that, if they registered a church, they could charge customers $500 for 24-hour auditing sessions. “That is real money,” Hubbard wrote. “Charge enough and we’d be swamped.”

O’Brien opted out, but Hubbard’s new wife, Mary Sue, was willing to help him start his religion. Hubbard became a millionaire. He bought his own mansion and a fleet of yachts, and started one of the most controversial religions of all time.

Scientology was born.

“[Robert Heinlein] thinks Ron went to pieces morally as a result of the war,” one of Hubbard’s friends, L. Sprague de Camp, wrote to Isaac Asimov, trying to understand how the man who was once their friend could have gotten wrapped up in all of this.

“I think that’s fertilizer,” de Camp decided. “He was always that way.”

Next, read about the strangest things that Scientologists believe. Then, read the recent report of the Scientologist's facilities that were closed after police found people held prisoner inside.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer and teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Oliver, Mark. "28 Photos Of L. Ron Hubbard And The Birth Of Scientology." AllThatsInteresting.com, May 30, 2017, https://allthatsinteresting.com/l-ron-hubbard-scientology. Accessed April 18, 2024.