Scientology Leader Gave ABC First-Ever Interview


Sawyer: Church officials deny these charges made by what they call "a handful of disgruntled people," many of whom they say are pursuing lawsuits in order to squeeze the church for money. The defectors' response? There are hundreds of others who are simply afraid to speak out. Why they may be afraid and what the church really believes in our next report, a few minutes from now.

Koppel: In fact, when we come back, we'll be bringing you part two of Forrest Sawyer's report and the first-ever interview with the head of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige.


Koppel: What exactly does the Church of Scientology believe, and what can happen to those who criticize those beliefs? Once again, here's "Nightline" correspondent Forrest Sawyer.

L. Ron Hubbard, author of "Dianetics" (1966): I've slept with bandits in Mongolia and I've hunted with pygmies in the Philippines. As a matter of fact, I have studied 21 different primitive races, including the white race.

Sawyer: Scientology's founder was a man with an imagination. L. Ron Hubbard wrote pulp science fiction for a penny a word and, critics claim, manufactured his own life history as well. He called himself an explorer and a war hero, the man who discovered the keys to the universe and used them to heal his own war injuries. Critics say Hubbard's claims were so fanciful that one California Superior Court judge declared Hubbard to be "…virtually a pathological liar."

Jentzsch: These are a bunch of people who never caused anything in their lives to begin with, and who I would say are jealous of a man who brought a technology of religion to this world the like of which has never been seen before, and it works.

Sawyer: In 1950, Hubbard turned away from pulp novels with a new book that would change everything. It was, Hubbard said, the "true science of the mind," and it sold millions. When psychiatrists challenged his claims that Dianetics could heal illnesses and increase intelligence, Scientologists fought back.

Jentzsch: Psychiatry is Russian and Nazi. Remember, it's an import. It's like bringing the bonic, the bubonic plague into America, as far as I'm concerned. They are not American, and we are. And they can go back to where they came from.

Sawyer: Hubbard said psychiatry was part of a vast conspiracy to destroy his newly formed church and control mankind. Recent Scientology films still attack psychiatrists as potential killers.

Actor, Scientology Film: And with each little swing, a manageable and composed individual, one, two, three.

Sawyer: Hubbard also announced he had gone beyond psychiatry, by literally traveling in space to Venus and Mars, and to a distant radiation belt.

Hubbard: I was up in the Van Allen Belt. This is factual. And I don't know why they're scared of the Van Allen Belt, because it's simply hot. You'd be surprised how warm space is.

Sawyer: Hubbard said he had discovered secrets of the universe so powerful they could only be heard by Scientologists who had spent hundreds of hours studying his programs. Anyone else would be struck dead by the knowledge. He told stories of how, 75 million years ago, an evil tyrant collected beings on other planets to be stored in volcanoes on earth.

Hubbard: Boxed them up in boxes, threw them into space planes. DC-8 airplane is the exact copy of the space plane of that day. No difference, except the DC-8 had fans, propellers on it, and the space plane didn't.

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