25 years after the Breckenridge Decision

Twenty-five years ago, following a thirty day trial in Los Angeles Superior Court in the case of Scientology v. Armstrong, Judge Paul G. Breckenridge, Jr. issued a monumental order against Scientology, identifying the church as paranoid and schizophrenic and its founder L. Ron Hubbard as a pathological liar.

This document, which is known by people around the world as the “Breckenridge Decision,” became the judgment in the case, and has been used in many Scientology related legal cases ever since. The organization appealed from the judgment, and then delayed the appeal, but in 1991 the California Court of Appeal affirmed it.

Books and other publications have used material from the judgment and from the trial testimony and documents that were admitted into evidence, and which Judge Breckenridge relied on to form his decision.

The facts of the case are available to practically any depth for anyone interested.

I was inside Scientology’s pseudo-military core, the Sea Org, and spent my last two years assembling an archive of Hubbard’s personal papers and doing the research for his biography. Scientology contracted with writer Omar Garrison to do the biography, and I supplied him with research materials from Hubbard’s personal archive and other sources. Possessing and studying his documents, dutifully documenting his life, and attempting to do the ethical thing, I concluded that Hubbard was a gargantuan liar, that Scientology doesn’t work and is a fraud, that they were not going to become honest, that I couldn’t stay, that the organization is dangerous, and that I was in great physical danger. My wife and I escaped in December 1981, and Scientology and Scientologists, under both Hubbard and current head David Miscavige, have considered me a major enemy and threat ever since.

After the SO, my wife and I got jobs in a Southern California law firm, Scientology ran intel in on us and our connections, declared me a “Suppressive Person,” and pursuant to Hubbard’s directives, had us haunted, or Fair Gamed*. When in April 1982, the Scientologists stole a bunch of photos I had, and then bullied and threatened me when I sought their return, I contacted Boston attorney Mike Flynn, who was a driving force at that time in the opposition to Scientology in US. To help me defend against the organization’s Fair Game campaign, Garrison, with whom I’d stayed friends after leaving Scientology, gave me some documents from the research materials I’d earlier provided him for Hubbard’s biography. I forwarded these documents to Flynn and his associate attorneys, and began to help them, and their clients and other Scientology victims, with written and oral testimony about my experiences in Scientology and the Sea Org, and my knowledge of Hubbard’s and the organization’s policies, practices and activities.

Scientology sued me in August 1982, claiming that Hubbard’s documents were the organization’s and that I didn’t even have permission to provide them to Garrison, let alone Flynn, whom the Scientologists then considered their number one enemy. Scientology hired a pile of PIs who spied on my wife and me, and physically terrorized us into September 1982 until an LA Superior Court Judge made them stop. Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue joined the suit as an intervenor, and I filed a counter-claim for the years of fraud and abuse inside Scientology and the Fair Game after leaving. Pretrial motions started April 19, 1984, and the trial started April 30, and ended June 8. The judge signed his decision June 20 and it was filed in the case June 22.

Judge Breckenridge ruled that the plaintiffs, Scientology and Hubbard’s wife, had unclean hands, that I was entitled to use Hubbard’s documents for my counter-claims, and that I could speak freely about the documents, my experiences and knowledge. The judge found that because of Fair Game my actions in sending the documents to my attorney were manifestly justified. He found the witnesses for my defense credible and extremely persuasive. He wrote about the “former dedicated Scientologists:

In all critical and important matters, their testimony was precise, accurate, and rang true…. Each of these persons literally gave years of his or her respective life in support of a man, LRH, and his ideas. Each has manifested a waste and loss or frustration which is incapable of description. Each has broken with the movement for a variety of reasons, but at the same time, each is, still bound by the knowledge that the Church has in its possession his or her most inner thoughts and confessions, all recorded in “pre-clear (P.C.) folders” or other security files of the organization, and that the Church or its minions is fully capable of intimidation or other physical or psychological abuse if it suits their ends. The record is replete with evidence of such abuse.

Judge Breckenridge cited to a 1970 French police investigation that concluded that Scientology is a “vast enterprise to extract the maximum amount of money from its adepts,” pushes them to extremes, estranges them from their families, and exercises a kind of blackmail against persons who seek to leave. The judge continued:

From the evidence presented to this court in 1984, at the very least, similar conclusions can be drawn. In addition to violating and abusing its own members civil rights, the organization over the years with its “Fair Game” doctrine has harassed and abused those persons not in the Church whom it perceives as enemies. The organization clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be a reflection of its founder LRH. The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background, and achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile.

Scientologists, under Hubbard or Miscavige, have never taken this judgment to heart, but instead have spent another twenty-five years trying to invalidate it by Fair Gaming me into silence, and continuing to Fair Game countless other people. Scientology’s paranoid practice is to never deal with the issues but to “attack the attacker.” A quarter century later, the organization still culls pc folders, still fleeces its parishioners, still intimidates people, and still physically and psychologically abuses them if it suits the leader’s ends.

Scientology is still schizophrenic and paranoid, and the evidence gathered since the judgment now reflects not only Hubbard’s but Miscavige’s egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness and aggressiveness against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile. What Scientology and Scientologists have done since Breckenridge, just to me and to people who might act in concert with me, constitutes an ongoing criminal conspiracy against rights. What Scientology and Scientologists have done to invalidate the judgment has fully validated it.

Despite all these years of Fair Game, I’m still speaking about my experiences and my knowledge of Scientology, in fact I’m speaking as a professional.

Gerry Armstrong

*Fair Game: The philosophy, policy and practice that persons or groups “legitimately” open to attack and pursuit. Scientology calls the individuals or groups its leader wants attacked, pursued and obliterated “Suppressive Persons.”