The going is getting tough before the Hamburg Superior Administrative Court: for the psycho-sect Scientology on the one side and for its government critics on the other. Can the Organization claim to be some kind of church and thus be protected by Article 4 of the German Constitution? By obtaining a temporary injunction, Scientology prevented the Hamburg Department of the Interior from distributing a cautionary brochure this summer. The reason: In four instances in the leaflet the "task force on Scientology," headed by Ursula Caberta, allegedly violated the duty of the state to remain neutral with respect to religious denominations. Now the evidence gathering procedure has begun in the main case.
In their FOCUS interview, Stacy and Vaughn Young, two high-ranking former managers of the Scientology headquarters in the United States, tell what is behind the self-styled "Church of Scientology." Vaughn Young was part of the inner management circle under sect founder L. Ron Hubbard, before he left the totalitarian cult in 1989. Never before has such a high-ranking Scientology manager revealed the truth about the machinations of the sect.
FOCUS: Until your escape five years ago you belonged to the innermost Scientology circle. Now you are appearing as star witnesses against this sect. Aren't you afraid?
V. Young: Yes indeed, we have to be afraid. After all, we are the first ex-Scientology top managers to come forward and tell the truth. This means that careers are at stake.
S. Young: Since we have testified in court we have been constantly harassed and threatened. They have also attempted to silence us with money.
FOCUS: This is something which is being disputed in German law courts. Is Scientology a church now, or even a religion?
S. Young: It started out as a form of therapy. Hubbard's idea which is based on his book "Dianetics" became a brief commercial success in 1950. He believed he could revolutionize psychotherapy by it. In his megalomania he ranked himself equal to Sigmund Freud. Serious psychologists, however, have rejected Hubbard's theories as unscientific. Hubbard was not able to produce the required proof for his success in therapy. After the scientists rejected him and he got into legal trouble, he decided to make a religion out of Scientology.
V. Young: Hubbard founded the church only because of his problems with U.S. law.
FOCUS: What kinds of problems were these?
V. Young: The federal Food and Drug Administration wanted to prohibit Hubbard's E-meter...
FOCUS: ... some kind of lie detector which is used in so-called auditing therapies...
V. Young: ... from being sold. Thus we made an effort to appear as a church on the outside. At that time such private church foundings were very much en vogue above all in California, where Scientology's headquarters are now based. This is because for religious communities in the U.S. there are far more liberal laws.
FOCUS: And how did this change come about?
S. Young: Hubbard told his people that for legal reasons we were from now on an international religious organization. Yet this would only happen because of legal and tax considerations, otherwise nothing would change.
FOCUS: And you, Vaughn, you were then responsible as Head of PR for selling this to the public and the members.
V. Young: Yes, at that time there was a whole lot to be done. For instance, we had to build a chapel, as we did not have one. After all, we were not a church! We even carried catholic collars and a cross, we celebrated Sunday mass. And most important: we elevated the E-meter to a religious cult object.
FOCUS: And the public authorities did buy this change?
V. Young: Yes, in 1972 the FDA (Food and Drug Administration - editor's note) finally gave us the green light.
FOCUS: Besides recognition you were above all keen on your tax exempt status, weren't you?
V. Young: The PR strategy was as follows: Among other things we founded publications which reported about the oh-so-fantastic Scientology church. We then sent these publications or respective articles to the IRS tax authority. Of course we also worked on totally normal publications.
FOCUS: How did you do this?
V. Young: Quite easy. We staged charitable events, for example toy collection drives for children in hospitals. About the children, pardon me, we did not care a shit. But in using these stories we made it into the press and thus were able to bolster our church claim. These success stories were sent of course to the IRS, together with thank-you letters from the clinics.
FOCUS: That means no religious pretensions whatsoever?
V. Young: It was never one of our priorities to save souls or help people attain higher sanctity. We wanted to bring governments on our side, wanted control over the media, control over banks. We aimed at complete submission to Scientology. We had all the aims of a political movement.
FOCUS: Many people believe that Scientology is after the money in the first place.
V. Young: Correct. One of Hubbard's most frequently cited directives is: Make money, make more money, make other people make money. The purpose is, therefore, to rake in money - but only in order to gain power by doing so. Only: What is there that qualifies as a religion? And if you think of their activities: Is it the task of a church to dispatch private investigators in order to find out about other people's sex life? Is it among the aims of a church to hunt down its critics? Hubbard himself said: Ruin them, destroy them.
FOCUS: Can you give an example of how critics are being treated?
V. Young: Let's take a case from your own business. When Time magazine a couple of years ago ran a cover story about Scientology, it was slapped with a $400 million lawsuit. This lawsuit is still pending. And even if Scientology does not win in court, it has still damaged Time considerably since the publishers incurred high legal fees because of the high amount in dispute in this case. This is typical of Scientology's tactics: They do not want to win at all cost but damage the enemy anyway.
FOCUS: In what way Scientology wants to gain power and control over the economy and governments?
V. Young: With money, for one thing. For instance you can buy influence through expensive lawyers who have the necessary contacts in administrations and political parties.
FOCUS: Other associations or lobbyists are doing the same thing.
V. Young: Scientology is not only concerned about the usual type of influence. Hubbard developed a special scheme, the so-called "Special Zone Plan" which places his people inside administrations and governments without disclosing their background. They work undercover for Scientology. This is about influence through infiltration. Another variant is then to turn individuals around in top administrative positions and lure them toward Scientology's side.
FOCUS: What should these people then do?
V. Young: They are supposed to extend their sphere of influence and restructure it using Hubbard's methods according to Scientology.
FOCUS: In this respect the literature also talks about "front groups."
V. Young: These are lobbying associations in government capitals which are started purely on letterhead.
S. Young: When we ran into trouble with the IRS and declared it our enemy, I was charged with founding such a front group. It was called, hold on tight, "National Coalition of IRS Whistleblowers." Nobody was supposed to find out that this association had something to do with Scientology. Its only purpose was to attack IRS in public.
V. Young: The very same people at the same time represented such differently sounding associations as "American Citizens for Honesty in Government," the "National Commission for Law Enforcement and Social Justice," or the "Alliance for the Preservation of Religious Liberty." We showered governments and the press with declarations on these letterheads and with these shadow organizations we harassed critics of Scientology. In public the impression was to be created that associations and individuals who had nothing to do with Scientology were nonetheless inflamed about criticism of the organization.
FOCUS: Does Hubbard then have a political platform or an ideology?
V. Young: Not in the strict sense. He was concerned about influence and control in general. Thus at the end of the 1960s he tried to make former Rhodesia the world's first Scientology state.
FOCUS: And the result?
V. Young: They kicked him out. But he was not discouraged and he later tried Greece, Portugal, and even Great Britain. He failed there, too. All current attempts are aimed at the former Eastern Bloc countries.
FOCUS: There, too, they seem to be having problems.
V. Young: But that does not mean they will give up. They will continue elsewhere because they are just fanatics.
FOCUS: How are political setbacks rated internally?
V. Young: They do not want to face their own mistakes in them but prefer talking about an international conspiracy by governments, political parties, the press, psychologists and doctors against Scientology. Even Communism which has foundered is cited as part of this conspiracy. Scientologists are especially mad against Germany where the state and the media have so far proved resistant.
FOCUS: And now Scientology declares its hostility against Germany.
V. Young: Of course. They are now trying to find a weak spot in order to discredit your country. The reproach of fascism is plain enough to see. Hence the large-size ads in major U.S. papers evoking a new Nazi Germany. An important role in the conflict with Germany is played by the OSA...
FOCUS: ... Scientology's secret service "Office of Special Affairs." What is it doing exactly?
V. Young: Espionage, public relations and lawsuits. They organize the front groups and they are responsible for contacts to leading business figures. Besides that, they are making political contacts.
FOCUS: Is there any party preference?
V. Young: In European countries, Germany for instance, above all smaller parties are better suited for infiltration. For instance by way of donations. Yet I would assume from my experience that they are also sending spies into the parties who have to file general situation reports.
FOCUS: Who in the German government is especially targeted by Scientology right now?
V. Young: Their most important enemy at the moment is probably the German Ministry for Labor and Social Affairs because it is barring private placement services from dealing with job-seekers if there is a Scientology background.
FOCUS: Is OSA also responsible for control inside the organization?
S. Young: Yes, because Scientology suspects everyone of doing the same as the organization. As they are infiltrating political parties and governments, they are convinced that they are being infiltrated themselves. In the beginning they took me for an FBI agent and in consequence I was interrogated for days in a closed room. They suspected I was being sent in on Vaughn Young.
FOCUS: What happens if a suspicion is corroborated?
S. Young: I for instance was sent to a camp which they call the Rehabilitation Project Force. I had criticized Hubbard's successor, Scientology leader David Miscavige, in front of my colleagues. One of them immediately reported this and in the morning at 4 a.m., security guards came to take me away and I was detained for several months. There, for instance, I was made to run around in a circle twelve hours a day. The aim of this humiliating exercise is supposed to be to come to one's senses again in terms of Scientology. Yet Vaughn has had even harsher experiences.
FOCUS: And that was?
V. Young: After Hubbard's death in 1986 a power struggle about his succession started. I ended up on the losing side. After Miscavige had positioned himself at the top, they put me into this rehabilitation camp which today I can only speak of as a gulag. The camp was located right in the California desert. We were made to perform hard physical labor for twelve hours a day. For five hours we studied Hubbard's works. The seven remaining hours we had to sleep. We wore black prisoners' outfits and were not allowed to speak to anyone outside the prison camp; we were not allowed to walk but always had to run. Our pay: five dollars per week. I spent a total of 15 months there.
FOCUS: We simply cannot imagine how intelligent persons could take part in this madness for so long.
S. Young: The mind control that a totalitarian cult like Scientology exerts over its victims is done very gradually. The victim doesn't realize until it is too late that every aspect of their life, every attitude and opinion in their mind, is being taken over by the cult.
FOCUS: Among those under the spell are some Hollywood stars.
V. Young: Tom Cruise is one of the most famous. He was introduced by his first wife, Mimi Rogers. Scientology offered him some kind of marriage counseling. However: this therapy resulted in his divorce. Mimi was thought of as an uncertain asset in the organization at that time and wasn't viewed as the right partner for Tom. Cruise then married another prominent Scientologist, Nicole Kidman. She has a much better standing in the organization.
FOCUS: What about Michael Jackson?
V. Young: Maybe Jackson does not yet know about it but he is in through his wife's connection. Lisa Marie Presley is a high- ranking, dedicated Scientologist. And if such a person gets married, in Scientology this is not as simple as a common love story.
FOCUS: How do such people make themselves useful for Scientology?
S. Young: Celebrities do not know the dark side of Scientology. They dismiss criticisms as ignorance. And people believe them. Yet, alas, this is not the case. Scientology is only after your mind and your money.
INTERVIEW [by]: PETER GRUBER [and] AXEL KINTZINGER
Box on right side of page:
THE STAR WITNESSES
Robert Vaughn Young, 56, came in contact with Scientology as a student of philosophy at the end of the '60s - and rose rapidly in its ranks. In his position as head of press he campaigned for the sect, for example on TV and radio broadcasts.
Young was responsible at times also for political contacts in Washington, D.C. During prolonged stays in Europe, in Germany, among other countries, he developed campaigns against Interpol and the German Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigations. In 1986 it fell to Young to "handle" the press after the mysterious death of Hubbard, founder of the sect.
Stacy Brooks Young, 42, was a member of the Scientology "Central Committee," the so-called "Sea Organization." She trained Scientologists for auditing therapy and also worked in the "Office of Special Affairs," the secret service of the sect.
Today the couple lives in Seattle.
[Photo]: SCIENTOLOGY HEADQUARTERS: While the mother organization is ensconced in the upscale section of Los Angeles (l.), the German headquarters resides without frills in Hamburg.
[Photo]: IN A FIGHTING SPIRIT in Seattle: Stacy and Vaughn Young share insider information about Scientology.
Box at lower left:
L. RON HUBBARD'S SCIENTOLOGY
"Science of knowledge" is what Scientology is supposed to mean in translation. The organization, which is labeled by experts on sects as an aggressive psycho-cult, has 30,000 members in Germany and 8 million worldwide, according to its own information. The cult is based on "Dianetics," a do-it-yourself psychology by L. Ron Hubbard.
Just a mediocre science fiction author, Hubbard quickly succeeded in building up an organization with lots of members during the 1950s and '60s, on which he imposed a coherent system of thought and rigid system of discipline. Just as Hubbard did, his successor David Miscavige demands unquestioning acceptance from his followers.
For a long time Scientology has been an internationally operating company which lives by the sales of questionable psycho-services as well as by hefty payments made by its followers. "They are only after your mind and your money," state defectors Stacy and Vaughn Young in their FOCUS interview.
Critics in press and politics are persecuted without mercy. Thus, the organization is spreading rumors that its former top manager Vaughn Young would be available to give false testimony as a witness for money and that he would be involved in the porn movie business. Germany was declared an enemy because of its stalwart rejection of Scientology by the state and the media. Some federal states have the domestic intelligence agency keep the sect under surveillance.
Caption by photo of Hubbard: Sect founder L. Ron Hubbard (1912-86) created "Dianetics"
[Photo]: STAR WITNESS COUPLE - Young together with FOCUS editors Kintzinger (l.) and Gruber in Seattle.
[Photo]: POLITICALLY CORRECT? U.S. President Clinton with Scientologists Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
Box about celebrities (with small photos of each person named):
SCIENTOLOGY BASKS IN THE GLAMOR OF HOLLYWOOD STARS
JACKSON'S SPOUSE LISA MARIE
[Photo]: SURPRISINGLY, Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley
Two birds killed with one stone: Michael Jackson, 36, muffled rumors about sex with minors by marrying Elvis' daughter, and top Scientologist Lisa Marie Presley, 26, made an especially big catch.
Since her starring role in Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers," Juliette Lewis, 21, is a top celebrity also in Europe. The actress has herself pampered at the Scientology "Celebrity Center" in Los Angeles.
[Photo]: Dancing for Hubbard: Travolta
A member of the sect since 1975: John Travolta, 40, earlier famous for his dancing parts, for instance in films like "Saturday Night Fever," and now as a character actor in the starring role of the award-winning film "Pulp Fiction."
[Photo]: HIS FIRST WIFE, TOO, was a Scientologist: Tom Cruise with Mimi Rogers.
His first wife, Mimi Rogers, introduced Tom Cruise, 32, ("Interview with a Vampire") to the sect. Later divorced after "marriage counseling," he is now married to UNICEF envoy Nicole Kidman, 27.
[Photo]: OVER 400 MILLION dollars, according to the Young defectors, is Scientology's demand from Time Magazine.
[Photo]: ELEVATED TO A CULT OBJECT: the E-meter, a kind of lie detector for Scientologists