Offices of the American Psychiatric Association are located in the seventeen hundred block of Eighteenth Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. The Founding Church of Scientology is at 1812 Nineteenth Street, one block farther out. Figuratively speaking, the world’s largest mental-health organization is considerably farther out than that.

Even its members will concede that it is far out. After a hurried interview with Miss Anne Ursprung, top executive of the Founding Church, I managed an extension of time by driving her and fellow staff member Esther Mangold to the airport to pick up a couple of Scientologists, Leon and Mitch, who were arriving from New York. As we returned to the city, I asked if it were true that many hippies are interested in Scientology. Leon explained that hippies, having been turned off by the churches, are drawn to Scientology because it represents a radical departure from tradition. Magazine articles denouncing Scientology have elicited an enthusiastic reaction from the hippie community. “If the establishment is against it, it must be good,” they reason.

“Do hippies forsake drugs when they embrace Scientology?” I asked. “Yes, they do,” replied Anne. “When Scientology turns them on, they no longer need drugs. In fact, you might call Scientology the ‘turned-on religion.’ ”

But the Scientology bandwagon had started to roll long before the press denunciations began. A year ago Life estimated world membership at between two and three million, several hundred thousand of them in the United States. Not bad for an infant organization less than two decades old! There are twenty-five Scientology centers throughout the world: one in England, one in ...

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