Contents Forward


To in any way encroach upon the Church or to distract one from moving up the Bridge to Total Freedom is the ultimate crime.

- Religious Technology Center Information Letter 1

The core group of Commodore's Messengers had completed their task. When they were first appointed to management at the end of 1979, with the creation of the Watchdog Committee, there were two power groups, linked only through Hubbard. The CMO had to take over both the Guardian's Office and the Sea Org without being allowed to show any evidence that they were following Hubbard's direction.

The Watchdog Committee had gradually asserted control over the everyday management of Scientology Churches. By May 1981, it was strong enough to successfully challenge Mary Sue Hubbard. The GO was in its control by August. Hubbard's Personal Office was absorbed in 1981, with the creation of the Product Development Office International. A purge of long-term Messengers also took place in 1981, with the removal in June of Diane Voegeding, then Commanding Officer of CMO. Her sister, Gale Irwin, replaced her, only to be ousted at the end of the year. After removing Executive Director International, Bill Franks, that December, John Nelson, the next Commanding Officer of the CMO, lasted six months. By the end of 1981, the Missions had been placed under the control of the new Scientology Missions International. A purge of Mission Holders began early in 1982 culminating in the San Francisco Mission Holders' Conference that October, where leading Mission Holder Dean Stokes was added to the growing list of excommunicants. Mayo and his staff had been removed in August. By the end of 1982, most of the Sea Org veterans who had held high positions had been declared Suppressive.

The whole restructuring had to be engineered without a single appearance by Hubbard. The CMO had to persuade the management organizations of the Church that they were acting with Hubbard's authority, but with no signed orders from him, nor even orders issued over his name. At the same time, a new management structure had been created through an elaborate series of supposedly separate corporations. Author Services Incorporated looked after Hubbard's finances, in reality causing millions to be transferred from the Church into his personal accounts. The Religious Technology Center controlled the use of the trademarks. The International Finance Police, part of the new Church of Scientology International, monitored income.

To add insult to injury, the CMO announced monthly price rises starting in January 1983, and distributed a newsletter with extracts from the San Francisco Mission Holders' Conference. Photographs of the uniformed and beribboned speakers glared out ferociously. Most Scientologists had conceived themselves part of a crusade to bring sanity to the world. The savage rhetoric, the aggressive attitude and the perplexing new corporate titles, especially the International Finance Police and their Dictator, did not fit easily into that concept of sanity.

The problems were not just with the faithful. In March 1983, there was a huge raid on Scientology premises in Toronto. The warrant ran to 158 pages, and described the earlier theft of files from an Ontario hospital, the Committee on Healing Arts, the Toronto Sun and the Ontario government.

A few days before the raid, on March 2, the Religious Technology Center began to publish Information Letters. The first Letter claimed that Hubbard "saw in this group [RTC] the willingness and ability to do whatever is necessary, no matter how unpleasant or unsocial it may seem." After quoting Hubbard liberally, the Information Letter continued, "The importance of the white taped road out for man can in no way be underrated. To in any way encroach upon the Church or to distract one from moving up the Bridge to Total Freedom is the ultimate crime." This first Information Letter ended with the rather confusing statement:

To be very blunt, if not for LRH, the Religious Technology Center and the Church of Scientology, one could never obtain Scientology Technology. There is no one else. Think about it.

They lay the very Bridge we all must travel upwards. There is no "second chance." Don't allow anyone to wreck the chance you do have. Travel up that Bridge with our best wishes. We will be happy to know you are doing so and you can be assured of the Standard Technology by which to do so. As with that, we all win - many times over.

The second RTC Information Letter contained an attack upon "squirrels":

You may have heard of some such fellows (now removed from the Church). They hoped to create considerable damage to the Church and internal discord so they could then "valiantly emerge" upon the scene to "save Scientology technology" (from the damage they themselves created). Intent upon achieving some sort of "notoriety," false status, and some fast bucks these squirrels denigrated Standard Tech and the Church and encouraged others to join them in the establishment of their own "way" against the long existing structure of the Church. Their plans never bore fruit however, and they were easily nixed.

It is longstanding Scientology Policy that any Suppressive Person declare order should detail the offenses of the alleged Suppressive. Although the CMO usually ignored an accused's supposed right to a Committee of Evidence prior to Suppressive declare, they did issue written orders. These made puzzling, and often bizarre, reading, as an order concerning a former senior Sea Org executive clearly shows. This hapless individual was accused of the whole gamut of criminality prior to his involvement in Scientology. According to the Scientology order, he had been a pimp, a drug dealer, a thief, a smuggler, an automobile thief, an arsonist, an embezzler, and a forger. He had also committed armed robbery, been a hired thug, helped to perform illegal abortions, seduced minors, and been involved in illegal gambling. 1

In reality, the Scientologist who was the subject of the order had actually had his first auditing at the age of eight, working at Saint Hill before joining the Sea Org when he was eighteen. He has never been convicted of a crime, and spent no time in juvenile institutions for this remarkable display of criminality, all purportedly undertaken before his eighth birthday.

In January 1983, the Scientology Church published a list of 611 individuals who had been declared Suppressive. 2 The CMO had overplayed their "ruthless" efficiency. Too many people had been expelled in too short a period of time. It was inevitable that groups of these Suppressives would form an independent Scientology movement. The new snarling face of management, the price rises and Hubbard's conspicuous absence from public view created a climate in which members questioned the authority of the new Church management, and moved towards splinter groups. The sheer quantity of Suppressive Declares could only assist such a movement. Perhaps a few individuals had been attacking the Church from within, but hundreds of long-term and popular Church members, many of whom had worked with Hubbard for years? It was too much to believe. Many of the new Suppressives had good reputations among Scientologists, not readily destroyed by the vague Declare Orders.

In 1983, a loose independent Scientology network came into being. Letters describing the bizarre events within the Church were written anonymously, or under pen names. Sympathizers would redistribute them. Some Church members receiving such letters would either destroy them, or send them to the Ethics Officer at their local Org, often unread. It was a strange response, bearing in mind the oft-repeated Hubbard maxim "more communication, not less, is the answer." It seemed that many Scientologists had been so conditioned to accept the authority of Church publications that they chose to ignore even the most obvious abuses.

There were also tapes. In the summer of 1983, John and Jeanny Hansen visited Gilman Hot Springs, and were startled by its military atmosphere. The Hansens interviewed various key figures of the CMO takeover who had since been excommunicated. A Los Angeles Field Auditor, Jon Zegel, produced a series of tapes at six-month intervals, explaining the events behind the purge. He released his first tape in August 1983. His excellent sources, grasp of the situation, and persuasive delivery made the tapes important in convincing many Scientologists of the trouble within their Church. The tapes were distributed, copied and recopied almost to the point of inaudibility.

By design, there was very little to connect Hubbard with the new regime, as written communications were signed by the Watchdog Committee or the Religious Technology Center. The speeches had been made by Messengers largely unknown outside top management circles. The familiar faces were gone. Paradoxically, Scientologists' loyalty to Hubbard was a main force in the mass exodus from the Church. Many Scientologists resigned believing that Hubbard was either dead or a captive of the CMO. They were sure the Church had been infiltrated by hostile forces, and that the Tech was being used to intimidate, harass and possibly even brainwash members. Hundreds resigned, and, with great fervor, set about creating a new Scientology movement beyond the confines of the Church. It was to be a Scientology without "gang sec-checks," without enforced "disconnection" and without mass Suppressive Person declares. It would also be far more affordable.

The CMO was quick to respond to the threat. One of the first splinter groups, the Church of Scio-Logos in Omaha, Nebraska, was soon struggling against a suit brought by the RTC. The group in Kansas City had disappeared without trace. Bent Corydon had managed to keep his Center afloat, despite the defection of most of his staff back to the Church after his decision to splinter in November 1982. For a short while, Corydon was an apostle of the new movement, travelling from his Center in Riverside to Denmark and to England. Many members simply retreated from the Church and quietly set up counselling practices, without advertising. If there was to be a movement, it would have to find a focal point. By issuing a torrent of abuse against David Mayo, the Church created such a focal point.

David Mayo had been involved in Scientology since 1957. He had devoted his life to L. Ron Hubbard's Tech, working in the Auckland Org in New Zealand, and joining the Sea Org in January 1968, shortly after its inception. For over ten years, Mayo had held increasingly senior positions in the Church. When he left the Happy Valley Running Program, in February 1983, he was penniless, homeless, without a job, and ostracized by most of the people he had known and worked with. He wanted to forget Scientology for a while and recover his health. He joined forces with John Nelson, who had been the first to leave Happy Valley, and they started a tiling business. One of their customers was another of Hubbard's former Personal Staff, Harvey Haber. They inevitably discussed Scientology. Julie Gillespie, Mayo's former assistant, also participated in these long and painful discussions which led to the decision to form a splinter group. In July 1983, the Advanced Ability Center (AAC) of Santa Barbara came into being.

They worked out of Haber's house at first. In the Church, personal auditing from David Mayo would have cost at least $1,000 an hour. After all, he had been Hubbard's own Auditor. The AAC's first client cut the grass in exchange for counselling. To promote their endeavor the group mailed a letter in which Mayo explained his background in Scientology. They had all been in the Sea Org, and claimed that between them they could only muster the names and addresses of twenty-five Scientologists who might be interested in counselling. To their amazement, the letter was picked up and redistributed throughout the world. They began to receive requests for counselling from as far away as South Africa, Britain and Japan. Soon they had their own center, thronged with Independent Scientologists either taking services or demanding an explanation for the perplexing events in Scientology.

The Scientology Church responded swiftly: Ray Mithoff, Mayo's replacement as Senior Case Supervisor International, wrote his seventeen-page attack "The Story of a Squirrel: David Mayo," which quoted extensively from Hubbard dispatches, and was distributed to the Church' s full mailing list. It was this issue, the transcript of the San Francisco Mission Holders' Conference, and a harangue from the Saint Hill Ethics Officer which drove me out of the Church.

By now the reader is familiar with the term "squirrel." Inside the Church, the term has almost demonic connotations. David Mayo had become Scientology's Lucifer. To quote from "Story of a Squirrel":

Betrayals like this are not new. Groups and organizations have had to contend with covert attacks such as this since ancient times. And over the past thirty-three years our group has weathered its share of those who sought to infiltrate and sabotage our activities, gaining positions within the Church through deception in order to halt the expansion of Scientology or disrupt its organizational structure.

Quoting from Hubbard, the Directive continued: "Mayo was the boy they were relying on. He is a very clever fellow in that he could lie to me consistently, convincingly report, this, that or the other thing . . . He directly lied, and was found to be squirreling the simplest process there ever was." Hubbard went on to call Mayo "that Mr. SP [Suppressive Person] Mayo, the darling of the psych[iatrist]s," a "criminal" and "a dramatizing megalomaniac."

Without explanation, Mithoff accused Mayo of "sexually perverted conduct." Mayo had worked with Hubbard for several years on the as yet unreleased Operating Thetan levels above 0T7. In a clumsy attempt to discredit any use by Mayo of these materials, Mithoff said: "He knows that there are many OT levels above Solo NOTs [OT7] which have been fully researched, and knows that he does NOT have any of the data on these, nor has he ever seen them."

There was also a simple message for Scientologists thinking of receiving counselling from Mayo: "The actions of Mayo and the little group he has joined amount to not only an attempt to lure some people off the Bridge, but an attempt to deny that Bridge to them for eternity (because once they become involved with this squirrel practice they will thereafter be denied access to the upper levels) [sic]... those few who might fall for his PR should be forewarned."

Foreseeing that Scientologists would question Hubbard's failure during their long association to notice that Mayo was Suppressive (after all, Hubbard had "discovered" the characteristics of the Suppressive, and if he couldn't spot one, who could?), Mithoff continued: "It is a testimony to LRH's refinement of the tech and streamlining of the Bridge, with Scientologists becoming more aware and more perceptive in less time, that we're discovering bird dogs such as this faster now than ever before."

"Story of a Squirrel" did nothing to contain the move towards independence. Soon after the independent Santa Barbara Center opened, former Mission Holder Eddie Mace set up the first independent Australian Center, and others followed in Denmark and England. The English group's first public meeting was held in October 1983, with "Captain" Bill Robertson as the main speaker. Robertson was a former Sea Org Captain, who had been a Hubbard aide at various times since the 1960s. Captain Bill, as he was commonly known, had been declared Suppressive in 1982. Since that time he had been preaching his own elaboration of Hubbard's conspiracy theory.

Along with Hubbard, Robertson was sure that U.S. government agencies had infiltrated Scientology. Robertson further believed that Hubbard was dead, and that the government agencies, using Miscavige as their dupe, had succeeded in their takeover of the Church. Robertson also believed that Hubbard was the embodiment of one "Elron Elray," and had returned to the Mothership of the Galactic Patrol, from whence he was sending telepathic directives to Robertson about the Markabian invasion of the Earth. At the meeting Robertson made no mention of these peculiar notions, and was successful in galvanizing British Independents into action.

Soon there were independent centers in Switzerland, New Zealand, Germany and Italy. In fact, they sprang up wherever there were Scientology Orgs. Along with this came an increasing availability of information about Hubbard and his organizations, as former Hubbard aides spoke out.

The first direct contact between Mayo's group and European Independents came at a meeting in Spain, in November 1983. Harvey Haber arrived late, having been detained and thoroughly searched by Spanish Customs. Someone had told them he was a narcotics dealer. After the meeting, Harvey flew on to England.

Haber had been a senior Hubbard aide, and had many startling experiences to relate. He and Donna, his wife, joined staff at the Flag Land Base, in Clearwater. Donna carelessly left a packet of tampons leaning against a small light in their bathroom. The packet was smouldering when someone discovered it. An executive decided that Donna was a "security risk." She was immediately assigned to the Rehabilitation Project Force. Harvey was told he would never be given a bed as long as he was in the Sea Org (for a billion years, presumably). That evening, as he prepared to sleep in the garage, he heard his wife's laughter drifting toward him. On investigation, he found that she was trampling down the contents of a huge garbage bin, looking for pieces of wood, having been ordered quite literally to make her own bed. At that moment Harvey grasped the surreal essence of the Sea Organization, and started laughing too.


1. Flag Conditions Order 6577-1, "Writ of Expulsion Confirmed," 24 February 1983

2. Sea Org Executive Directive, 2192 Int "Re: List of Declared Suppressive Persons," 27 January 1983

Back to top