The Time William S. Burroughs Became a Scientologist (And His Subsequent Dismissal of the Religion)

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 11.16.25 AMWilliam Burroughs first became attracted to the Church of Scientology because of its claimed ability to extinguish the wounds of bad memories. For nearly a decade (also what most consider his least artistic years), Burroughs followed the churches teachings in much the same way he sought out other “mind-expanding” techniques such as hallucinogens.

It would be L. Ron Hubbard’s “fascist tendencies” which led Burroughs to finally denounce Scientology via the Los Angeles Free Press.

You can read his collection of criticisms of the church in a free PDF: Ali’s Smile/Naked Scientology.


Scientology is a model control system, a state in fact with its own courts, police, rewards and penalties. It is based on a tight ingroup like the CIA, Islam, the Mormons, etc. Inside are the Rights with the Truth. Outside are the Commies, the Infidels, the Unfaithful, the Suppressives. Rarely has this formula been expressed with such consummate effrontery, like you go into a store to buy a suit the clerk puts you in a Condition of Doubt, you work all night in the stock room and go around with a gray rag around your arm and petition the entire store to let you back in so you can buy something.

How does Hubbard do it? With the E-Meter of course. The E-Meter is among other things a reliable lie detector in expert hands. The CIA also uses lie detectors and runs Security Checks on all personnel. With this simple device any organization can become a God from whom no thought or action can be hidden.

Via Open Culture:

3 Comments on "The Time William S. Burroughs Became a Scientologist (And His Subsequent Dismissal of the Religion)"

  1. I was involved in scientology for a couple of years around 1980. I arrived at similar conclusions. Pretty much anything that becomes an institution… religion, government, education… devolves into a mechanism for control, and whatever there might have been of value to begin with, is lost or twisted beyond recognition.

  2. Tchoutoye | Jul 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm |

    Eh… the io9 article says it was “his most artistically fertile period” (which I agree with) not “his least artistic years”.

    his initial attraction “because of its promise to liberate the mind by clearing it of traumatic memories…

    I wonder if those traumatic memories involved the killing of his wife.

  3. Earlier this year, my book on Burroughs and Scientology was released: Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult’. It explains in detail why he was so attracted to this obvious cult, and why he stuck with it for a decade. Also: it examines the staggering influence that Scientology had on his writing, and explores just how Scientology’s primary concepts stayed with him and fused with his own ideas over the next forty years.

Comments are closed.