The prophet and profits of Scientology
By Richard Behar – Oct. 27, 1986
ONLY A FEW CAN BOAST the financial success of L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction storyteller and entrepreneur who reportedly died and was cremated last January at the age of 74.
For roughly three decades Hubbard ran the notorious Church of Scientology®, a “religion” he formed to “clear” mankind of misery. It came complete with finance dictators, “gang-bang security checks,” lie detectors, “committees of evidence” and detention camps. In 1977 the FBI sent 134 agents, armed with warrants and sledgehammers, storming into Scientology centers in Los Angeles and Washington. Eleven top church officials, including Hubbard’s third wife, went to jail for infiltrating, burglarizing and wiretapping over 100 government agencies, including the IRS, FBI and CIA. Hubbard could hold his own with any of his science fiction novels.
Amid all the melodrama, at least $200 million in cash produced by his strange creation was gathered in Hubbard’s name, and there is believed to be much more in organization assets: The Church of Scientology® has proved to be one of the most lucrative businesses around. If FORBES had known as much as it knows now, after interviewing dozens of eyewitnesses and examining sworn testimony and court records in both criminal and civil cases, Hubbard would have been included high on the Forbes Four Hundred.
There is something that FORBES still doesn’t know, however. It is something no one may know outside a small, secretive band of Hubbard’s followers: What is happening to all that money?