The Mind Benders
written by Cyril Vosper
and published in 1971
(hardback, Neville Spearman, ISBN 0-85435-061-6) and reprinted in 1973
(softcover, Mayflower, ISBN 0-583-12249-3) was the first book on Scientology to be written by an ex-member and the first critical book on Scientology to be published (narrowly beating Inside Scientology
by Robert Kaufman
). It describes the lower levels of Scientology and its philosophy in detail (it does not go into the Operating Thetan
levels) and also includes the story of Vosper's expulsion from the Church.
The book was released as an electronic edition on the internet with the approval of Vosper by the old Cult Awareness Network, in April 1996 and then again in August 1997.
Hubbard v. Vosper
The hardback edition was rushed to print owing to legal action from the Church; Vosper regarded the paperback — which was properly proofread and had an extra chapter on the litigation — as the authoritative edition. (To this day, the case Hubbard v. Vosper
is a staple in many classes studying copyright law).
Vosper referenced the legal troubles that the 1971 edition of the book encountered, by titling the 1973 edition: The Mind Benders: The Book They Tried to Ban.
Attempt by Scientology to ban book
The Church of Scientology of Canada attempted to ban the book
in libraries in Canada
. In June 1974
, libraries were advised that if they do not remove the books: Scientology: The Now Religion
, Inside Scientology
, The Scandal of Scientology
and The Mind Benders
from their shelves, they would be named in a lawsuit. Two different library boards in Ontario, Canada
had been served with writs.
After obtaining out-of-court settlements of USD$7,500 and USD$500 and apologies from the publishers of two of the works (Dell Publishing and Tower Publications), Scientology further threatened to sue any library or bookstore that carried them. After certain libraries in Canada refused to remove the books from their shelves, they were sued by Scientology. One Canadian library reported the theft of a book critical of Scientology from its shelves.
These incidents were later reported in a chronological timeline of censorship in British Columbia.