L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology, which was meant as a means to facilitate the sharing of ideas and and techniques of the ideas he originally put down in his book Dianetics and which eventually turned into the system of thought now known as Scientology.
FreeZone Scientologists are those people who practice Scientology outside of the Church's organization and oversight. FreeZoners agree with many of the complaints about the Church that have been voiced in mass media, but insist such problems come from the current organization of the Church, not in the ideas of Scientology.
Origin of the TermAccording to Bill Robertson, who founded an early Scientology organization outside of the Church in 1982, a Galactic Council declared earth to be a Free Zone: that is, not external forces were to influence its development. It's a sort of prime directive for those familiar with the concept in Star Trek. The concept of earth being just one of many homes of intelligent life is a belief taught to upper level Scientologists.
FreeZone Scientologists are those Scientologists who wish to work outside of the control and influence of the Church, which they consider corrupted.
Not all Scientologists working outside of the Church describe themselves as FreeZoners, and many do not use the term "Scientologist" because of threats of lawsuits from the Church of Scientology. Still, "FreeZoners" and "FreeZone Scientologists" are commonly used to refer to all people practicing these techniques outside of the of the Church.
SquirrelsThe Church of Scientology considers anyone practicing unorthodox methods of Scientology or creating organizations outside of Church hierarchy as a "squirrel." that is, they gather up bits and pieces of Scientology and then run back to their den, misapplying knowledge to himself or others and causing injury. Essentially squirrels are Scientology heretics. All FreeZoners are therefore squirrels in the eyes of the Church, and they are considered suppressive persons.
However, since FreeZoners believe the Church has perverted the original teachings, FreeZoners might also consider the Church to be an organization of squirrels, and it's possible for one FreeZoner to consider another a squirrel.
Basic BeliefsFreeZoners generally believe that the Church of Scientology is corrupt and has been transformed into a manipulative, money-making machine. They provide services such as auditing at a much lower cost than the Church and believe information should be more available.
Many continue to view L. Ron Hubbard as the prophet of Scientology but feel the Church has seriously diverted from Hubbard's vision. Thus, they are attempting to preserve Hubbard's legacy.
Scientologists commonly describe their practices as a technology. FreeZoners wish to preserve uncorrupted knowledge of that technology. Among other things, they want it to still be around when they reincarnate. FreeZoners generally do not refer to their practices as a religion, unlike the Church of Scientology.
FreeZoners do not believe the Church can hold a monopoly on ideas. Anyone should be able to embrace an idea or a belief without having to subject himself to a singe organization's hierarchy.
Some FreeZoners look for alternative approaches to the general Scientology principles, such as various counseling methods for auditing rather than use of an E-meter.
The Scientologist FreeZone homepage lists their basic beliefs as:
- Scientology is the result of research and discovery by Lafayette Ron Hubbard.
- is a philosophy of discovery about the composition of life and the universe.
- Discoveries about life and the universe fall outside the criteria of a monopoly and are not owned by anyone.
- Any individual has the right to call himself or herself a scientologist if he or she is one.
- Any individual has the right to practice his or her chosen philosophy.
- A scientologist has the right to know and understand the composition and history of life and the universe.
Disputed Last Years of Hubbard's LifeHubbard was a recluse for the last few years of his life until dying in 1986. According to the Church, Hubbard was devoting his time to a variety of interests including further writing and research of Scientology practices.
In 1982, David Miscavige (the current head of the Church) started to reorganize the Church, separating Hubbard from the church in many ways. First, Hubbard was shielded from being financially liable for actions associated with the church. Second, day-to-day operations were taken over by others so Hubbard to write. Third, he created the Religious Technology Center, which is in charge of licensing their intellectual property and processing the profits from those properties.
According to some FreeZoners, Miscavige essentially forced Hubbard out, controlled Hubbard's communication with the Church, alienated many of Hubbard's colleagues within the Church, and eventually managed to force Hubbard to change his will so that most of his estate would go to the Church rather than his family.