Scientology is undoubtedly an unusual religion. Almost exactly 40 years ago, L. Ron Hubbard gave detailed instructions on how to "bait and switch" clients of the Church of Scientology. In other words, using a fishing metaphor, to hook them and then draw them in. The precise tactics he describes below are not necessarily still in use today, though their modern equivalents are in some cases a development and are rather more sophisticated. The fact that the tactic of "bait and switch" is in use at all says a lot about the moral character of Scientology.
Without any more ado, let's turn to the words of the Great Red-Haired Leader himself:
"PROFESSIONAL AUDITORS BULLETIN
From L. Ron Hubbard
28th February, 1956
THREE METHODS OF DISSEMINATION
The three methods are (1) "I will talk to anyone" (2) Illness researches (3) Casualty contact.
No. 1: "I will talk to anyone" is in very broad and general usage in the United States …. The gist of this plan is to place in newspapers an ad which says "personal counselling - I will talk to anyone for you about anything. Phone Rev. so-and-so between hour and hour". When the people call up, which they do … in many cases their problems evaporate in the phone call itself. If it is the purpose of the minister simply to solve the problem of the preclear thus phoning, he can of course cancel out his clientele with the greatest of ease. This however is not his purpose. His purpose is to get this individual into a weekly group processing unit …. He should not talk to the person in such a way as to ease the problem …. One make something of the problem, not makes nothing of it."
In other words, although the "minister" could solve a caller's problems, he should not, but should instead get the caller to join Scientology (and donate lots of money, naturally). This brings irresistably to mind the image of a cowboy plumber, charging a small fortune to replace the pipes when all that needs to be done is to replace a washer…
"But the main point is to execute the communication of the individual without charge, fee or donation and to get that individual to come to the Sunday morning Church group. There he will of course be given an opportunity to join the church at some small membership fee and will be made a part of the group. Of course it stands to reason that any auditor who has a fairly good sized group which is undergoing free processing will get from the group many candidates for (1) personal auditing and (2) a basic course in Scientology for which charge can be made [sic] …. This whole plan is working a grade scale in getting people into Scientology."
As this makes clear, the strategy is a simple one. Get a person into a weekly group. Give him free weekly processing. In the Org, undergoing processing, he will be far more amenable than he would otherwise be. Offer him membership, auditing and courses (all for a charge) while he is thus in a less resistant state.
"The ad itself has attracted sufficient press to give an adequate background. One does not bring the word Scientology into press interviews. One simply talks about the church, its work, and immediately it converses on actual cases which have been handled [sic]. One does not, I repeat does not, discuss Scientology with the press. He discusses this particular project. If the press want to know what Scientology is, the minister should shrug and say there are lots of textbooks about that, and that he does not propose to teach a course in an advanced science to the pages of the public press, that it is the church and the church's activities which are behind this, not Scientology. He should also say that todays [sic] ministers are indoctrinated in many learnings and skills and Scientology happens to be chiefest [sic] amongst them."
And who wrote the textbooks mentioned above? Yes, that's right — LRH himself. In short, the only person allowed to explain Scientology is Hubbard himself. Nobody else.
Note that Hubbard makes at least two false statements in the paragraph above. First he tells the "minister" to say that Scientology is not behind the ad. This is patently false, as his own words show; the sole purpose of the ad is not to cure people, but to "get people into Scientology". Secondly, he instructs the "minister" to say that Scientology "ministers" are indoctrinated in a wide range of "learnings and skills". In fact, Scientology presents itself as a universal answer to everything from mental illness to arthritis to educational difficulties to organisation to drug addiction. According to Hubbard, there is nothing which Scientology cannot be applied to. Given that, what are the other "learnings and skills"? It can't be conventional first aid — "touch assists" are used instead. It can't be educational methods — "Study Tech" is the answer to all learning problems. It can't even be comparative religion, except for Hubbard to call Buddhism "fatally booby-trapped" and Christianity "utterly beneath contempt".
More on Scientology recruitment methods in the next installment, coming soon…