EXCLUSIVE: The rise and fall of the 'Pope of Scientology' - in his own words - 2018-06-06
Historian Chris Owen just keeps coming up with gems. He notified us this week that he'd made a killer find digging through some British government files — a 30-page affidavit submitted by the "World's First Real Clear" — John McMaster — for the defense to use in a 1977 libel lawsuit filed by the Church of Scientology. It's basically John McMaster's testament to his career in Scientology, which is pretty amazing. Because it's so long, we've divided it into two halves. Here's Chris's intro for the first half of this amazing document…
For most of its history, Scientology has been synonymous with L. Ron Hubbard. For a few years in the late 1960s, though, a slim, fair-haired South African named John McMaster held an exalted position as the "World's First Real Clear" (designated thus by Hubbard) and the first and only "Pope of Scientology." His charisma and spirituality made him a highly effective spokesman for Scientology and attracted thousands to his talks at Saint Hill Manor in England and other locations around the world. Celebrity Scientologists like William Burroughs flocked to receive auditing from him. Bent Corydon, who attended McMaster's talks, felt that they were "evidence to me that he had attained and experienced something paranormal, existential, or whatever words people use in a vain attempt to convey whatever is considered a true 'religious experience.' John's glow of affection, and his other spiritual qualities, seemed evidence of the achievability of the most cherished dreams of Scientologists. The fact that he was Hubbard's representative and 'the world's first real Clear' gave credence to Hubbard's many written claims. John's talks and 'presence' reminded each listener of their own brushes with this 'reality of our true godlike nature.'"
A decade later, however, McMaster was nearly destitute and living in a shabby apartment in London's Waterloo district. He was drinking heavily and felt deeply embittered towards Hubbard, whom he had once revered but now contemptuously called "Fatty." He had walked out of the Sea Org in 1969 and was expelled from Scientology in 1971 with the claim that he had set himself up for blackmail through his (self-acknowledged) homosexuality. Hubbard himself claimed that McMaster had "let himself in for a hell of a blackmail line-up" having "actually apparently got across the lines of the Mafia." In reality, the perennially paranoid Hubbard, fearing McMaster's popularity, had driven him from Scientology and ruined his life.