Top LA Legends #22: Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard was a Satanist

A top 25 list of Los Angeles urban legends would be remiss without at least one mention of Scientology, and, really, I don’t really care whether or not John Travolta and/or Tom Cruise joined so they could be cured of being gay.

What does interest me is the rumor I’ve heard for some time that L. Ron Hubbard was a Satanist, and that he based Scientology’s teaching on Satanism.

The story goes something like this: Back in the day, when L. Ron was a sci-fi writer, he used to hang out quite a bit with Jack Parsons, the co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and an infamous dabbler in the Black Arts. And occasionally Jack and L. Ron would rub elbows with The Beast himself, Aleister Crowley. Supposedly L. Ron was so entranced by Crowley and Crowley’s status as the leader of a “magical order” known as Ordo Templi Orientis (or O.T.O., as the kids call it), that he was inspired to create a religion based on what he learned.

To start, the major flaw here is that while the O.T.O. may be heavily involved in “black magick”, it isn’t Satanism, although the Satanism that was popularized by Anton LaVey in the late 60s was based heavily on the O.T.O.

However, L. Ron’s son, L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., said in a 1983 Penthouse interview:

“I believed in Satanism. There was no other religion in our house! What a lot of people don’t realize is that Scientology is black magic spread out over a long time period. It’s stretched out over a lifetime and you don’t see it. Black magic is the inner core of Scientology and it is probably the only part that really works. Also, you’ve got to understand that my father did not worship Satan. He thought he was Satan.” (source: Conspiracy Archive)

Unfortunately, cursory internet searches trying to find mainstream examinations into this rumor proved futile. But Paul Young’s well researched book on urban legends, L.A. Exposed, devotes an entire chapter to Parsons and Hubbard, concluding with this assessment:

In 1969, after the London Sunday Times printed an account of Hubbard’s involvement with the occult, the church responded with a dismissal claiming that Hubbard was sent to Pasadena by Naval Intelligence to spy on Parson’s black magic operation, and proudly boasted that they brought about his downfall. They also tried to suppress the fact that Hubbard based his own religion, Scientology, on some of Aleister Crowley’s writing including specific symbols, his grading system, his use of hypnotic implants, and the concept of the OTO. Yet there are too many corroborated accounts to dismiss Parson’s version of the story..


…photo via MatrixSynth

7 Replies to “Top LA Legends #22: Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard was a Satanist”

  1. Yeah, I heard about the bet too, but in the version I heard, it was a bar bet with Robert Heinlein.

  2. no bet with Sun Myung Moon (of the famous Moonies, whom old WB’s Survival of the Richest referred to as a “religious empire”) to see who could make the most money off of creating a religion? regardless, scientologists are much creepy than i originally thought, after having so much first-hand experience with them…

  3. So you’re saying the proof Hubbard wasn’t a Satanist is that ALEISTER CROWLEY wasn’t a Satanist? This is completely incoherent; maybe you (and Mickey Kaus who linked to it) ought to read the bio of Jack Parsons, including the whole bit where Parsons, Hubbard and Marjorie Cameron tried to give birth to the anti-Christ, following Crowley’s writings (which bothered him no end), and then tell me what exactly the definition of a Satanist is– if NOT them.

  4. If Hubbard was a satanist his pre-scientology writings do not give the least hint of it or any other leanings towards mysticism. Indeed, he seems to have been a material rationalist. If Hubbard showed interest in Crowley, I am confident it was Crowley’s ability to maintain a cult that interested him, not his supposed cosmology.

    Issac Asimov devotes a few pages to origins of Scientology in his book and in its initial form, Scientology was just a health gadget scam. Hubbard only claimed religious status after the IRS busted him. The most sacred text of Scientology are plagiarized from a series of science-fiction stories published in the mid to late 40’s in the pulps. Hubbard most likely cobbled the “religious” aspects of Scientology together in a hurry in order to create a tax dodge.

    A bigger influence on Hubbard was the Communist of America whom Hubbard got to observe rather closely during the ’30’s and ’40’s in LA. The Scientologist practice of targeting celebrities, for example, is lifted from the communist playbook.

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