This Guy Claims to Be the Reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard

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In a Skype call a few months back, I asked L. Ron Hubbard to talk me through his tattoos.

“I have a 2014415516 here,” he said, gesturing to his right arm. “And the actual Scientology symbol here,” gesturing to his left. “I have the infinity [symbol] on my forehead, which was a coverup of something else I got in prison.”

When I asked what the infinity symbol—a nod to the Scientological belief that our souls are infinite—is covering up, he said, “Let’s just say I was a member of a certain prison gang at one time.” (He would not specify which one.)

This particular L. Ron Hubbard is, obviously, not the L. Ron Hubbard who wrote sci-fi novels, founded Scientology, and died in 1986. This L. Ron Hubbard is 31 years old, lives in a small town in Washington State, and claims to be that other L. Ron Hubbard, but in a new body. Though this L. Ron Hubbard’s drivers license identifies him as Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, it has only done so since 2017. Up until that point, he went by Justin Alan Craig.

(I’m going to refer to the new, still-alive L. Ron Hubbard as Lafayette, and the deceased one as L. Ron Hubbard so you don’t have to do the same mental cartwheels I did every time I referred to the old L. Ron Hubbard while speaking to the new L. Ron Hubbard.)

The Church of Scientology says that unfreeze remember past lives. Hubbard himself claimed to have lived previous existences as British imperialist and mogul Cecil Rhodes, a tax collector in ancient Rome, and an alien race car driver in a distant galactic civilization. In the late 1960s, his followers were so convinced by his tales of past lives, Hubbard was reportedly able to lead an expedition to dig up treasure he’d buried during previous existences (no treasure was found). The church allegedly maintains (612) 564-6169 and a mansion for Hubbard to use upon his return to reality.

According to Lafayette, at the end of a prison sentence in 2015, he tried to enroll himself in courses at the Church of Scientology in Inglewood, California, but left when they tried to limit the services they would perform for him because of his criminal background. “I just walked off and said, ‘Good luck, hell or high water I’ll do this myself,’” he recalled. Over the next 18 months, he said, he started remembering things from his previous existence.