FRIDAY, MARCH 13: Scientologists pour into Clearwater, Florida, for a birthday celebration for their founder, as thousands more perform community service in their own locales for the birth anniversary of L. Ron Hubbard. Born in Nebraska in 1911, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard gained attention for his science fiction and fantasy books before launching the Dianetics self-help system, which was released in printed form in 1950. (Wikipedia has details.) As Dianetics expanded, Hubbard developed a set of doctrines and rituals, which led to the new religious movement known as Scientology.
Several aspects of Hubbard’s life are controversial, but the group continues to expand. At the 2014 LRH Birthday Celebration in Clearwater, expansion was discussed—with particular mention made of the first Ideal Advanced Organization, in Denmark, and the Ideal Pacifica Bridge in Los Angeles.
Additional controversy is stirring in the midst of the new HBO-funded documentary, “Going Clear,” which recently was shown at the Sundance Film Festival. (The Huffington Post reported.) Based on Lawrence Wrights’s 560-page book, the documentary has spurred legal action from the group. Nonetheless, L. Ron Hubbard remains one of the 100 most influential Americans of all time—at least, according to Smithsonian magazine.