DAILY BEAST: When he was 23, Hubbard married Margaret Louise Grubb, or Polly. To support his family, he began writing pulp fiction with tremendous speed and imagination. On New Year’s Day, 1938, he had a dental operation under gas anesthetic, and he believed the secrets of the universe were revealed to him, and he began to concentrate on writing science fiction. He also longed for fame as a screenwriter in Hollywood, but had no success despite a few attempts. “It is one thing to make that universe believable, and another to believe it. That is the difference between art and religion,” Wright writes.
After the war, Hubbard abandoned Polly, and wedded 21-year-old Sara Northrup while still married to his first wife. He beat her often. Once while she was sleeping he hit her across the face with his pistol because she was smiling in her sleep—and therefore must have been thinking about someone else. He frequently threatened suicide. Then, in 1949, Hubbard finished his book Dianetics. One of the original self-help books, it shot up the bestsellers’ list, and made him rich and famous. Hubbard’s view of women in the book “betrays a kind of horror,” as he seemed to reserve the worst circle of hell for “attempted abortions done by some sex-blocked mother to whom children are a curse, not a blessing of God.” (His eldest son often charged his father of attempting two abortions on his mother, one being his premature birth. Sara says Hubbard, while he was writing Dianetics, kicked her stomach several times to attempt to cause a miscarriage. Hubbard also once told a lover that he himself was born from an attempted abortion.)
When Sara wanted to leave him, Hubbard and a man who might have carried a gun abducted their baby daughter, Alexis. Then they kidnapped Sara. He told her that if she tried to leave him, he’d kill Alexis, then later claimed he had killed the baby already—“cut her into little pieces and dropped the pieces in a river,” Sara said. In 1951, she filed for divorce, claiming Hubbard to be “hopelessly insane.” Polly wrote a letter of support, saying, “Ron is not normal.” Hubbard took the baby to Cuba and kept her in a crib with wire over the top of it. Later, Sara was able to trick Hubbard to get her child back, and she walked out of his life on “the happiest day of my life.” […]
[John] Travolta’s personal liaison and best friend at the church was a woman named Spanky Taylor, who would soon run afoul of the leadership of the church even as Travolta became a superstar with Saturday Night Fever. The church took away Taylor’s 10-month-old daughter and crammed her, along with 30 infants, in the Child Care Org, a small apartment with wall-to-wall cribs. “It was dark and dank and the children were rarely, if ever, taken outside,” Wright notes. Taylor was put into the pitch-black basement of Scientology’s new Advanced Org building in L.A., where about 120 to 200 people were huddled. They were serving time in the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF). In July 1977, the FBI raided the building. But despite federal laws against human trafficking and unlawful imprisonment, the agents just moved on. Much of the human-rights-abuse charges against Scientology would be related to the RPF. Just a few months earlier, one of the few black members of Sea Org, Jesse Prince, had said he’d had enough of the church, but before he could leave six people grabbed him and put him in the RPF—for 18 months. Few tried to escape, but Taylor managed to slip away to see her daughter across the street. “To her horror … the baby’s eyes were welded shut with mucus, and her diaper was wet—in fact, her whole crib was soaking. She was covered with fruit flies,” Wright writes. MORE