Scientology’s R2-45

On the one hand, it is bizarre that Scientology is taken seriously by a significant number of human beings. On the other hand, that’s true of every other religion. According to Wikipedia,

R2-45 is the name given by L. Ron Hubbard to what he described as “an enormously effective process for exteriorization but its use is frowned upon by this society at this time”. In Scientology doctrine, exteriorization refers to the separation of the thetan (soul) from the body, a phenomenon which Hubbard asserts can be achieved through Scientology auditing. R2-45 is said to be a process by which exteriorization could be produced by shooting a person in the head with a .45 pistol. This literal meaning is acknowledged by the Church of Scientology, although they deny that it is meant seriously.

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Some critics of Scientology and ex-Scientologists have alleged that R2-45 was invoked by Hubbard to authorize the killing of individuals regarded as antagonistic to the Church of Scientology. There is no evidence that it has ever been put into practice and Hubbard did not explicitly define the meaning of R2-45 in writing. Representatives of the Church of Scientology have said that Hubbard’s description of R2-45 “was coined as a joke — [it] is not authorized, and I am afraid [it] occasionally ‘misfires’ as a joke when taken literally”.

On two separate occasions orders to use R2-45 on specific individuals were published in a prominent Scientology magazine. On March 6, 1968, Hubbard issued an internal memo titled “Racket Exposed”, in which he denounced twelve people as “Enemies of mankind, the planet and all life”, and ordered that “Any Sea Org member contacting any of them is to use Auditing Process R2-45.” The memo was subsequently reproduced, with another name added, in the Church of Scientology’s internal journal, The Auditor. Another four people were named in a second R2-45 order published in The Auditor later in 1968. Stephen A. Kent of the University of Alberta characterises such orders as demonstrations of “the manifestation of Hubbard’s malignant narcissism and, more specifically, his narcissistic rage.” The Santa Rosa News-Herald reported in 1982 that “attorneys have uncovered evidence to suggest that between 1975 and 1977, during the FBI’s investigation of the cult, meetings of Scientology executives were held in which there were discussions relative to ‘auditing’ high-level FBI members with auditing process R2-45.”