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The Death of L. Ron Hubbard

Last Days of the Prophet and Founder of Scientology

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L.Ron Hubbard was a science-fiction author who became the founder and prophet of Scientology. His life was highly controversial due to a variety of events connected to the Church of Scientology. This includes what critics describe as bullying tactics, a variety of legal proceedings against the church, and scandals such as Operation Snow White.

His death at the age of 74 has, over the years, provoked as many questions as his life. Officially (in the legal sense), he died of a stroke, which is certainly a reasonable cause of death for a 74 year old overweight former smoker. But some people connected with Hubbard have, over the years, shared theories and perspectives of the events leading up to his death.

Official Scientology Position

The information released by the Church of Scientology to members after the death of Hubbard was that he had willingly shed his mortal form because it held back his spiritual development. Scientology beliefs include the idea that the thetan (the ultimate core of a person, the soul) is confined by a number of things in this material life, and Scientology practices are meant to expand the thetan's influence beyond the physical body.

In Retreat or Held Prisoner?

Hubbard spent the last several years of his life removed from the rest of the world. First it was on a boat, but he eventually retreated to a home in Creston, California, where his location was secret to all but a few very high-placed members. The Church's position is that he retreated to dedicate more time to his writing. Critics believe he did so to escape negative publicity and potential legal action and because he believed a variety of organizations were out to get him.

Some ex-Scientologists have suggested that:

  • Certain high-placed Scientologists, including of current leader David Miscavige, manipulated Hubbard out of power in his last years.
  • Miscavige and others claimed to speak on behalf of Hubbard when in fact they were not. One source contends that Miscavige claimed in some circumstances to have not seen Hubbard personally in years and yet in others that he had personally witnessed Hubbard signing documents he then provided to the Church. (Offsite source)
  • These manipulators kept most people from visiting Hubbard (including his family), which stopped people being pushed out of their positions within the Church from appealing to Hubbard personally. This is the position of many FreeZone Scientologists, who continue to accept Hubbard as a prophet but reject the current Church of Scientology as corrupt.

The Final Last Will and Testament

Hubbard rewrote his will just one day before he died. In it, he changed the executor of his will from Pat Broeker, who was one of the few people allowed to even see Hubbard and who lived with him in Creston, to Norman Starkey, an associate of Miscavige.

Sea Org and the Future

Five days before Hubbard died, a directive was circulated called the Sea Org and the Future. In it Hubbard says goodbye and names Pat and Anne Broeker as Loyal Officers 1 and 2, making them the new heads of the Church.

After Hubbard's death, Miscavige accuses Pat Broeker of forging the document and dismisses it. No other document has ever been put forward in which Hubbard names a successor.

Psychiatric Disorder?

Hubbard died with a large quantity of Vistaril in his system. Vistaril is a powerful anti-psychotic drug. There have been accusations over the years that Hubbard was, indeed, psychotic. His estranged son attempted to have him deemed incompetent. According to ex-high ranking Scientology Jesse Prince, Miscavige also recognized that Hubbard was of diminished capacity, and that was the reason Miscavige encouraged Hubbard to let others take on more of the leadership of the church. (Offline source)

The question of Hubbard's mental state also brings up questions of the validity of Hubbard's final will. If he was not competent when he signed it, it was not a valid legal document.

Poisoned?

The Church of Scientology, including Hubbard, utterly denounce psychiatry and medicines that treat mental disorders. Why, then, would he willingly take an anti-psychotic? This is the question asked by Robert Vaughn Young, an ex-high ranking Scientologist. (Offsite source)

Conclusion

There is no easy answer to what happened during Hubbard's last days. Scientologists and ex-Scientologists accuse one another of lying, which is the standard situation when the Church is challenged. A vast number of different stories are in circulation about those days and it seems unlikely that any sort of consensus about them will ever be formed.

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