Free Zone (Scientology)
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The Free Zone, “Freezone”, or more recently identified as Independent Scientology, 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
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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.
As of 2016, many of the major courses and publications in the Church have been altered or deleted altogether. This is a main protest and action point for Independent/Freezone Scientologists. Major courses, such as the Class VI and Class VIII auditor training courses, which had very high enrollment in the 1970s, have been shut down. Additionally, Scientology critics in the Freezone movement have claimed that alterations have been made to Hubbard’s original writings in church policies and even more so in technical bulletins, with parishioners never made aware of the changes to these writings. In addition, in 2009, the church created a new course called “The Basics Course," which is believed to be redundant with existing courses and motivated for profit.
Also as of 2016, the church removed the bulk of the Scientology technical bulletins, known as the "Tech Volumes," a republished and expanded edition of the 1975 issue of Technical Bulletins in 1991, from all course rooms worldwide. A violation of the aforementioned HCO PL "Technical Degrades", and HCO PL "Safeguarding Technology.", as well as Hubbard's HCO PL "Hidden Data Line." "Hidden data Line" expresses that all data is out in the open for all to see, which is now not the case with the majority of technical references deleted from academies. Independent Scientologists note that the Technical Volume’s 1991 copyrights have lapsed, thus forcing the church to newly publish them with alterations so as to keep the copyrights valid. They argue that this continual redux of books and bulletins by the COS, under US copyright law, only affects what was changed, not the original works by Hubbard. Forcing them to publish new similar, but entirely altered and different in the same breath, books titled on the cover stating “based on the works of...” and singularly Hubbard’s name but no “By” next to his name, just his name.
With the omission of the Scientology Technical Volumes, the final act of subrogation has begun by the church's Non-Scientologist board members into a real estate acquisition firm completely, based on parishioners donations in their entirety of payment for new buildings and their contents, not the church's own funds. Ergo, the church no longer practices Hubbards intent of delivering Scientology, but is a firm collecting donations for its own profit, not to aid parishioners in Hubbard's original intent of Scientology providing spiritual freedom in the form of new technology of the mind for all, at a non-exorbant cost. The parishioners have become the product, for acquiring real estate on a wholesale basis. (It's gone as far as the main statistics, after nearly fifty years. those statistics being well done auditing hours, as a senior statistic, to JUST books and lectures sold, in 2016. This was never the intent of Hubbard to invert books for auditing. Auditing has always been senior with book sales needed, but not paramount to auditing and training, by any standard per Hubbard references on the subject. The alterations to the auditing technology have been so wide sweeping as to make them unworkable/untrainable, as Hubbard always predicted, if changes were made to the auditing and administration technology for the Organizations. Thus, the focus has been changed to a far more profitable, more doable, books sold statistic instead as of this writing in 2018.)
These organizations, once paid for by parishioner donations to the "Ideal Org program" (a perversion of a Hubbard policy of the same name in the Data Series policy letters as well as LRH Executive Directive 339R "The LRH Birthday Game"), the orgs themselves are then charged rent by the mother organization, the COS, and further the CST (The senior organization in charge of the COS.) Not free to those organizations, as is fraudulently, and tacitly implied in donor publications. These organizations that can barely support themselves or their staff are now burdened with rent for a building they cannot possibly support with students or auditing public, given the alterations to Hubbards technology and administrative policies. On top of that many, if not most of these buildings are sublet to non-Scientologist lessors to earn a profit for CST, not the local organization. This is another datum the parishioner donors are not informed of when donating for the multi million dollar off policy “Ideal Orgs” by the COS/CST.
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.
A 2017 episode of the docuseries Believer hosted by religious scholar Reza Aslan focused on Scientology, however, Aslan was unable to get in contact with any Church officials so instead the episode focused on and featured an array of Independent Scientologists. Aslan has compared the Freezone to other schisms in religious history, including the Protestant Reformation. Aslan included professor of Theology, and scholar of New Religious Movements, Donald Westbrook in the episode, who has also argued the position that Scientology fits the criteria for recognition as a religion. Despite not returning his phone calls offering to be part of the episode, The Church of Scientology responded with harsh criticism of the episode and stated “not a single Scientologist appeared in the program.”
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
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- 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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