Free Zone (Scientology)
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The Free Zone, also called Independent Scientologists or Scientology Freezone, comprises a variety of non-affiliated independent groups and individuals who practice Scientology beliefs and techniques independently of the Church of Scientology (CoS). Such practitioners range from those who closely adhere to the original teachings of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, to those who have adapted their practices so far that they are almost unrecognizable as Scientology.
The term Free Zone was originally only used by a single organization, but the term is now commonly applied to all non-CoS Scientologists, although many dispute the application of the term to themselves. The International Freezone Association, the group whose name became adopted as a generic term for independent Scientology, was not the first independent Scientologist group; the California Association of Dianetic Auditors, the oldest breakaway group still in existence, claims a founding date of December 1950, predating the Church of Scientology itself.
A November 2004 press release published by the International Freezone Association cited a command written by Hubbard: "... before you go, whisper this to your sons and their sons: 'THE WORK WAS FREE. KEEP IT SO.'"
Skeptic Magazine described the Free Zone as: "a group founded by ex-Scientologists to promote L. Ron Hubbard's ideas independent of the Church of Scientology." A Miami Herald article wrote that ex-Scientologists joined the Free Zone because they felt that Church of Scientology leadership had "strayed from Hubbard's original teachings."
Origin of the term Free Zone
The first group to use the term Free Zone was in the organization founded by the captain of the Apollo Flagship and Second-Deputy Commodore of the Sea Org, Captain Bill Robertson, in mid-1982, which is now known as "Ron's Org" in several countries.
The name came from the "space opera" beliefs of L. Ron Hubbard, which Robertson later expressed in the "Free Zone Decree", which he said was an Official Decree of "Galactic Central - Grand Council" which was "relayed from Mainship Sector 9":
- The planet known as Teegeeack - local dialect "Earth" or Terra - Sun 12, Sector 9, is hereby declared a Free Zone.
- No political interference in its affairs from any other part of the Sector or Galaxy will be tolerated.
- No economic interference in its affairs will be tolerated from any non-planetary agency or power.
- All of its inhabitants are hereby declared Free Zone Citizens and free of external political or economic interference.
Scientology Commissioner Ursula Caberta in Hamburg said that the Free Zone is a type of "methadone program for Scientologists," and, in any case, "the lesser evil". The Free Zone group Ron's Org says that the Verfassungsschutz Baden-Württemberg (State Office for the Protection of the Constitution) has stated that there is no need to keep Ron's Org under observation "as the Ron's Org has no anti-constitutional goals." There is some cooperation between members of the Ron's Org and state authorities who observe the Church of Scientology and investigate their activities.
The Church of Scientology and the Free Zone
The Church labels all practitioners of and believers in Scientology without its sanction "squirrels"—a term Hubbard coined to describe those who alter Scientology technology or practice it in a nonstandard fashion. Among Scientologists, the term is pejorative, and comparable in meaning to "heretic". In practice, the hierarchy of the Church of Scientology uses it to describe all of those who practice Scientology outside the Church.
The Church of Scientology has used copyright and trademark laws against various Free Zone groups. Accordingly, most of the Free Zone avoids the use of officially trademarked Scientology words, including Scientology itself. In 2000, the Religious Technology Center unsuccessfully attempted to gain the Internet domain name scientologie.org from the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization; one of the 16 specialized agencies of the United Nations), in a legal action against the Free Zone.
Many Free Zone advocates say that everyone has the right to freely practice the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, whether sanctioned by the Church or not. In support of this they cite Hubbard himself:
Dianetics is not in any way covered by legislation anywhere, for no law can prevent one man sitting down and telling another man his troubles, and if anyone wants a monopoly on dianetics, be assured that he wants it for reasons which have to do not with dianetics but with profit.—L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (1950)
If I have fought for a quarter of a century, most of it alone, to keep this work from serving to uphold the enslavers of Man, to keep it free from some destructive "pitch" or slant, then you certainly can carry that motif a little further. [...] But before you go, whisper this to your sons, and their sons – "The work was free. Keep it so."—L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: Clear Procedure - Issue One (1957)
Other Free Zoners assert basic human rights protections in order to freely follow their chosen religion.
One Free Zone Scientologist, identified as "Safe", was quoted in Salon as saying: "The Church of Scientology does not want its control over its members to be found out by the public and it doesn't want its members to know that they can get Scientology outside of the Church of Scientology".
A 2006 Channel 4 documentary presented by Sikh comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli, The Beginner's Guide to L. Ron Hubbard, explored Scientology with the "Ron's Org" Free Zone group after the Church of Scientology declined to take part.
The "Ron's Org Committee" (ROC) and the "True Source Scientology Foundation" (STSS, "Stichting True Source Scientology") have documented the argument that Scientology materials written by L. Ron Hubbard are in the public domain if certain assumptions are made. In addition the ROC has documented a legal battle over the trademark "Ron's Org".
Alternative auditing practices
Several alternatives to Dianetics were developed in the early years of the Free Zone.
Synergetics is a self-help system developed by Art Coulter in 1954. American businessman, Don A.Purcell (Junior), founded an early Dianetics organization which had a tentative claim on the Dianetics trademark, joined Synergetics and allegedly returned the Dianetics and HASI trademarks ownership to Hubbard when Hubbard was forced by Purcell's Lawyers to close the failed Wichita Dianetics Foundation in a civil legal dispute over unpaid organisational bills and lawyers fees was settled 'out of court' amicably in 1954 in the US.
In 1976, Coulter published Synergetics: An Adventure in Human Development; he later founded the Synergetic Society, which published a journal through 1996.
Idenics is a personal counseling method not affiliated with any religion, that was developed by John Galusha beginning in 1987. Mr. Galusha researched for L. Ron Hubbard during the 1950s, and was one of the founders of the first Church of Scientology in 1953. Galusha claimed that all personal issues can be addressed by thoroughly looking over the problem at hand, without judgment. The counselor asks a series of questions until the solution is considered found, by the client. Mike Goldstein, the owner of Idenics methodology and author of the book, "Idenics, an alternative to therapy", claims that the method is as effective over the telephone as in person.
The word "Scientology"
Disagreement over the origins of the word Scientology has been used by Free Zone groups to contest Scientology's trademarks. A German book entitled Scientologie, Wissenschaft von der Beschaffenheit und der Tauglichkeit des Wissens was published in 1934 by Anastasius Nordenholz. The groups have argued that because Scientologie was not written by Hubbard, the Church is unfairly monopolizing control over its practice. The trademark rights to the use of DIANETICS and the E-Meter (invented and created by Volney Mathieson) was allowed to lapse into the public domain in 1976 by Hubbard. This is discreetly ignored by the RTC/ CSI Body Corporate.
- Advanced Ability Center
- Free Zone Association
- Process Church of the Final Judgment
- The Secrets of Scientology
- Grossman, Wendy M. (December 1995). "alt.scientology.war". Wired News. Retrieved 2007-04-14.
"One of the first steps toward open warfare was the emergence, in about 1990, of a group that wanted to separate the church and its scriptures. Calling itself the Free Zone, this group consists of people who have left the church but still want to practice its teachings - use the tech, as Free Zoners say. Ex Scientologist Homer Smith is one of these (ex meaning "former church adherent," not "former" Scientologist, says Smith). Wanting to encourage serious discussion of the tech away from the noisy brawl next door in alt.religion.scientology, Smith set up a second newsgroup, alt.clearing.technology, for this purpose."
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- Staff (2005-07-02). "SCIENTOLOGY: What's Behind the Hollywood Hype?". Miami Herald.
- The Free Zone Decree Archived 2007-04-16 at the Wayback Machine.
- Sappell, Joel; Welkos, Robert W. (1990-06-24). "Defining the Theology". Los Angeles Times. p. A36:1. Retrieved 2007-04-16. Additional convenience link at .
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- "Maybe it makes you feel more confident, for example, if you learn that the office for safeguarding the constitution (Verfassungsschutz) of the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg has stated years ago that the RON’s Org is not a part of the Church of Scientology and that there is no need to observe them as the RON’s Org has no anti-constitutional goals. Indeed, there is some cooperation between members of the RON’s Org and state authorities who observe the Church of Scientology and investigate their activities. English FAQ on German Ron's Org site Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine.
- Meyer-Hauser, Bernard F. (2000-06-23). "Religious Technology Center v. Freie Zone E. V". Case No. D2000-0410.
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- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-08-19. Retrieved 2005-11-30.