The Sci-Fi Side of Scientology

Source: National Post
Date: January 7, 1999

If John Travolta is unable to get the big-screen version of L. Ron Hubbard's epic Battlefield Earth made, he may want to pitch the studios a movie based on the tenets of Scientology, which was founded by the science-fiction writer in the 1950s. The church's beliefs are at least as radical as those of other religions, and as the recent DreamWorks release The Prince of Egypt demonstrates, theological sources are catnip for Hollywood producers.

Al Buttnor, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology, says there is no overlap between Battlefield Earth -- which he calls "an action- packed sci-fi thriller which was jammed with all sorts of neat sci- fi ideas" -- and his faith's belief system, the exact precepts of which remain unavailable to the non-believer; adepts must pay to access knowledge and progress to higher spiritual levels.

But according to leaflets being distributed as part of a global protest against Scientology, there is an undeniably otherworldly flavour to Hubbard's beliefs. Adherents are taught that the evil galactic ruler Xenu flew frozen aliens to Earth 75 million years ago, where they exploded. Their souls were then caught electronically, and now inhabit human bodies as poisonous elements known as "body thetans."

Hubbard also apparently thought humans had supernatural abilities, like the power to teleport between worlds. He once visited Venus, where he was nearly run over by a freight locomotive, and believed that some Scientologists lived in the past not as human beings, but as crocodiles who rode monocycles on 40-lane highways.

Buttnor would confirm only that the group's mythology involves aliens from other planets, and likened it to the creation stories of other faiths.