Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

The book Scientology effectively banned from the US for 27 years — until now

Ways to Subscribe
Silvertail Books

"The Bare-Faced Messiah," a biography of L Ron Hubbard, was first published in 1987. But it's only now, 27 years later, that the biography is finally available in the U.S.

A book critical of Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard is finally available in the U.S. after being effectively banned for the past 27 years.

"The Bare-Faced Messiah," was first published in 1987. The biography was well-received around the world... except for the U.S., where the Church of Scientology vigorously fought its publication on technical grounds.

"At no time did anyone challenge the veracity of what I had written," says author Russell Miller. "But unfortunately in the United States, if you'll forgive me for saying so, a ferocious litigant with unlimited sums of money can keep the case going for a very long time."

The Church said that Miller's use of unpublished writings by Hubbard — including his childhood diaries — violated copyright law.

The case reached up to the Supreme Court, but then, "My publisher said, 'Look, Russell, we simply cannot go on,'" Miller recounts. "'Our legal costs are in excess of $1 million, and we have to give up.'"

Since the book's first and only printing of 14,000 copies, "Bare-Faced Messiah," hasn't been available in the U.S..

However, small publisher Silvertail Books reprinted the book and also made it available electronically.

"Because of the availability of the Internet, once a book is published, essentially, it's published around the world," says Miller, who has not heard any response from the Church this time around.

"We went through great dramas when the book was originally published," he says, including being under surveillance, followed and harassed. "There didn't seem to be much point in them doing the same thing again, I suppose."

Miller says his book stands the test of time, too — he says it's purely a biography that, while stating that every account of Hubbard's life by the Church is a lie, Hubbard is still remarkable.

"He was an extraordinary character, just not the one he was presenting to the Church."

Copies of the book are available through Silvertail Books, and an e-book version is available online.

Stay Connected