THE CLEARWATER SUN
BY GEORGE-WAYNE SHELOR
LOS ANGELES - It's 1984, and Big Brother - under the guise of
L. Ron Hubbard - is being slowly exposed.
Now 34 years after Hubbard created the Church of Scientology, the
documents he wrote, the laws he created, the orders he issued, and the
people who lied and cheated to protect him are surfacing in a court of
They all offer evidence of a chilling tale.
Since the sect orchestrated its surreptitious "takeover" of
in 1975, newspapers and the federal government have revealed much of
what transpired. But a Scientologist instrumental in the operation has
fled the sect and reveals what was actually happening behind the
how the people of Clearwater were viewed by Scientologists and what
going on inside the mind of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard.
This is a glimpse of the dark side of the moon.
Gerald Armstrong was a Scientologist for 11 years. During that time he
rose and fell from positions of "ultimate" importance within the
organization - depending on the whims of Hubbard.
"He's a 73-year-old spoiled brat ... a crier and a moaner,"
mustachioed Armstrong, sipping a martini at a downtown Los Angeles
after the weekend recess of his Superior Court trial.
Armstrong is accused of taking 10,000 Scientology related documents
he fled the sect in late 1981; documents he believes expose Hubbard as
fraud but which are sealed from public scrutiny by the court.
Armstrong's attorney, Michael Flynn, says he plans to introduce many
those documents as evidence. If and when that occurs, the documents
enter the public domain, open for scrutiny.
From 1969 to 1972, Armstrong served aboard Hubbards's flagship, the
Apollo, and in time was brought into the inner circle of the prolific
By the time Hubbard and the Church of Scientology began their move
Clearwater in November 1975, Armstrong was working in the Intelligence
Bureau of the sect's Guardian Office. Indeed, it was he who was sent
the King Arthur's Court condominiums in Dunedin to prepare Hubbard's
Documents already made public reveal and Armstrong corroborates, that
the Church of Scientology came to Clearwater acting as the United
Churches of Florida with a plan to establish its international
headquarters in the old Fort Harrison Hotel and to take control of the
Ironically, Armstrong says, Clearwater was not the only city targeted
become the sect's home base.
"It could have been Charleston, S.C.," or any other of a number
suitable cities in the southeastern United States, Armstrong said. But
several circumstances ultimately led to Clearwater.
"We were looking for a city close to a major airport with buildings
size to accommodate several hundred people ... and in a warm area that
would be pleasant for those brought in to take (Scientology) courses,"
Dates, names, places and events spill non-stop from the 37-year-old
man's memory. Armstrong was described in court this week as a man with
Once the decision was made to move to Clearwater, certain people and
organizations including the Clearwater Sun and St. Petersburg Times
newspapers, then-Mayor Gabriel Cazares and others were viewed by the
sect as enemies.
"Everyone in Clearwater was treated with suspicion, and certain
were targeted (for handling)", Armstrong said. "(The sect) viewed
people as the ones who were stirring the whole thing up: (Times
reporter) Betty Orsini, the mayor and (Mark) Sableman," a Sun reporter
who wrote about Scientology. "See, the Scientologists were so
that they treated any story as entheta (unfavourable publicity) and
their way to handle that was to attack."
"My opinion of the way it went was Scientology and Hubbard waltzed
town as UCF (United Churches of Florida)," Armstrong recalled. "But
the local people learned the truth (on Jan. 28, 1976) and asked, 'Why
the deception. ... Why did you do that?' instead of getting an
explanation, they got attacked."
Within the church such attacks are dictated under the "Fair Game
In retrospect, Armstrong said, he sees there was no way the sect could
have maintained its cover as UCF for any length of time.
"Hubbard thought all Wogs (a derogatory term for non-Scientologists)
would believe his stories and lies. But Wogs are not stupid,"
He said that when reporters yanked from the sect its shroud of
"Hubbard issued an order saying: `The local people had better get used
to us. We're here to stay.' " The sect's Guardian Office also issued
order admonishing Scientologists not to buy or read local newspapers.
"We operated virtually without problems for about two months,"
continued. "But there were some troubles. ... In fact, Hubbard brought
the Guardian Office to Dunedin for a briefing. He was very upset with
the GO because he felt he had single-handedly handled the move (to
"But that was Hubbard - he had a slightly over-blown ego."
Armstrong said Scientologists viewed Clearwater residents "as
"We had a right to lie to them, to cheat them. The reason for that
that we were working for LRH and saving the planet."
Armstrong said Scientologists believed that, "If the Wogs were as
as we were, they would be in Scientology:"
Covert operations were authorized - frame the mayor, discredit
reporters, gather damning evidence on anyone who speaks out against
church, Hubbard ordered.
Many sect projects backfired. The public was appalled when
Scientologists dressed as Nazis marched on the Sun.
Although Armstrong left Dunedin in May 1976 for a "post" in
he later returned to the Fort Harrison Hotel, where he was banished to
the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) and spent the next 17 months
living in a storage room and working more than 100 hours a week. In
time, hundreds of other Scientologists joined him in RPF, a form of
punishment the sect embraces to this day.
The former Scientology archivist - who in addition to living with
Hubbard collected hundreds of thousands of papers, documents and
pictures about the man's life - says Hubbard's public image is
fraudulent. Armstrong says the documents under court seal prove
lied when he claimed he cured blindness and that he was a war hero and
The Scientology Creed, written by Hubbard, states, "We of the Church
believe: That all men of whatever race, color or creed were created
Still, when one of Hubbard's wives complained of having to get on her
knees to clean the floor, Armstrong says Hubbard replied, "Get
a nigger - that's what they're made for."
Does that mean Hubbard is prejudiced?
"Very much so," Armstrong said, adding he believes there are
in the six million member organization because "they simply won't put
with being enslaved one more time."
"What I term the ultimate paradoxical documents from the archives
LRH, a document called 'Admissions,' he writes in his own hand, 'All
are my slaves.'
"I believe when all Scientologists confront the fact that they are
slaves, they will be free."
Gerald Armstrong is now free.
"Previously I felt, though I knew the organization engaged in lies
fraud, they were excused in my mind because they were done to counter
the attack of the enemy," Armstrong testified softly in court.
"It was very clear in my mind in the first eight to nine years,
was an enemy out to destroy mankind, out to destroy civilization, out
get Mr. Hubbard and destroy his reputation.
"After 1981, I began to see the destruction of anyone didn't resolve
any problems. In fact, there was no enemy. In fact, all the lies Mr.
Hubbard and the organization had been engaged in were simply to give
wealth and power, and I wanted no part of that."
* * *
Although Armstrong is the man who brought the documents to court in an
attempt to make them public, he is by no means alone in making claims
against Hubbard and the Church of Scientology.
Hundreds of followers have left the sect in recent years, forming
own splinter groups and still adhering to Dianetics, a so-called
of the mind created by Hubbard.
From throughout the West Coast, former Scientologists have made a
pilgrimage to Las Angeles to view the proceedings, lend their support
and tell their stories about Scientology to those who will listen.
Nearly as many active Scientologists attend the trial daily.
Armstrong is expected to continue his testimony Monday before Superior
Court Judge Paul G. Breckenridge. Attorney Flynn said a number of other
former ranking Scientologists, including the man who was Head of the Church
World Wide, also will testify.