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Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (March 13, 1911–January 24, 1986), better known as L. Ron Hubbard, was a prolific and controversial American writer and the founder of the Church of Scientology. In addition to religious works, he authored fiction in many genres, educational and management texts, essays and poetry.
A controversial chapter in Hubbard's early life revolves around his association with Jack Parsons, a rocket propulsion researcher at Caltech and associate of the British occultist Aleister Crowley. It is alleged that during this period Hubbard and Parsons were engaged in the practice of ritual magick. A notable point of Hubbard and Parsons' collaboration was the Babalon Working, an extended set of sex magic rituals intended to summon a goddess.
In mid-1952, Hubbard expanded Dianetics into a secular philosophy which he called Scientology. The following December, he declared it to be a religion and founded the first Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey. He moved to England at about the same time and during the remainder of the 1950s he masterminded the worldwide development of Scientology from an office in London. In 1959, he bought Saint Hill Manor near the Sussex town of East Grinstead, a Georgian manor house formerly owned by the Maharajah of Jaipur. This became the worldwide headquarters of Scientology.
Hubbard convinced his supporters that he could give them access to their past lives, the traumas of which he said led to failures in the present unless they were audited, a process that proved very lucrative for his church, which paid emoluments directly to himself and his family. He claimed that a clear, like himself, would not suffer disease; his closest personal associates and doctors report that he went to great lengths to have evidence of his recourse to modern medicine suppressed, attributing the symptoms of disease to attacks by malicious forces.
Scientology became controversial across the English-speaking world during the mid-1960s, with Britain, New Zealand, South Africa, the Australian state of Victoria and the Canadian province of Ontario all holding public inquiries (http://whyaretheydead.net/Cowen/audit/ofpapers.html) into Scientology's activities. In 1967, Hubbard left the controversy behind by appointing himself "Commodore" of a small fleet of Scientologist-crewed ships which spent the next eight years cruising the Mediterranean Sea.
Hubbard died in 1986, in an expensive Bluebird motorhome on his ranch. He had not been seen in public since 1981. Several issues surrounding Hubbard's death are subjects of controversy — a swift cremation with no autopsy, the destruction of coroner's photographs, coroner's evidence of the psychiatric drug Vistaril present in Hubbard's blood, the whereabouts of Dr. Eugene Denk (Hubbard's physician) during Hubbard's death, and the changing of wills and trust documents the day before his death. The Church of Scientology announced his death in 1986, stating Hubbard had deliberately "dropped his body" to do "higher level spiritual research," unencumbered by mortal confines.