L. Ron Hubbard
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (1911-1986) was a former U.S. navy Captain, bigamist, occultist, and likely mentally unstable pulp-fiction & Sci Fi writer. He is alleged to have said “You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion”. One of his books, a self-help tome outlining a pseudoscientific psychology he called 'Dianetics', became rather successful in the late 1940's. His editor submitted papers on Dianetics to respected psychiatric journals but they were rejected.
Despite being rejected by almost all scientific and medical professionals, Dianetics continued to gain popularity and soon the money from "auditing" and other invented techniques flowed in. in 1951, Hubbard kidnapped his estranged wife and young child and in the resulting court case was accused of physical violence towards them. The ensuing scandal almost killed off any credibility he had. In order to protect his legacy and retain control, he established a Hubbard Association of Scientologists International - or what became known as Scientology. The reason for it becoming a religion are many but it is likely that he realised he could not be prosecuted for practicing medicine without a licence if what he did came under a religion.
By the late 60's Hubbard had his own fleet of ships and toured the world to avoid increasing scrutiny by authorities in many countries that Scientology was operating. Eventually his fleet was barred from more and more countries so he returned to the US. By the 1980's he was a millionaire recluse living in a remote ranch in California where he died in 1986.