Plans for Plymouth (UK) Ideal Org Approved by Local Council – Game On!

The online version of the local newspaper (The Plymouth Herald) is reporting that planning permission for the renovation of the Royal Fleet Hotel has been granted.

Planning permission means that Scientology have an official permission to renovate the building and open it as an ideal org, according to detailed plans they submitted earlier. These can be viewed here.

Informally, the Council were not happy – however, they are local administrators bound by the rules that apply to these applications. Objections were lodged on the grounds of insufficent parking (which the Church walked right into, making ludicrously inflated claims about the numbers of active Scientologists in the whole region) to no avail.

Also, the Church employed Paul Butler Associates, a firm with considerable expertise in obtaining planning permission. Even if the Council had refused, their decision would likely have been overturned on appeal.

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The Plans for Scientology’s Ideal Org in Plymouth (UK)

Recently, Scientology applied for planning permission to renovate the old hotel they bought almost a decade ago and open it as an Ideal org. For the details, please see yesterday’s story.

The UK planning process requires applicants to submit detailed informtion about their proposals. These might be to erect a new building, modify or renovate an old one, or change the permitted use of a building.

This even applies to Scientology who have been careful to retain Paul Butler Associates a firm of  consultants who specialise in managing planning application insure they are granted.

These documents provide a useful insight into Scientology’s furture plans. They are available from the Plymouth City Council Website, and will be mirrored here, soon.

I would encourage readers to comment below, or email me through the feedback page if they find anything interesting in them. This thing is happening in my town, and I will follow it’s progress in great detail over multiple posts. Links are given to multiple documents after the break

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Plymouth (UK) Ideal Org Applies for Planning Permission.

A planning application has been  lodged with Plymouth City Council to convert a building that they bought in 2010 into an ‘ideal org’ (see image to the left).

Traditionally, Scientology ‘orgs’ (short for ‘organisation) have been modest rented premises near foot traffic, so that Scientologists could present the public with various promotional devices.

Typically they offer ‘stress tests’ on their e-meter. Those interested are taken back to the org for a ‘personality test’. This test, which has no scientific validiity,  always concludes that the subject desperately needs help from Scientology and is a hard-sell recruitment method.

However, some years ago, the present ‘leader’ of Scientology, David Miscavige embarked on a project to replace these practical placed with their own much larger and well-appointed buildings

At the same time, recruitment methods shifted  from personal contact to media. Scientology now  has a streaming TV channel, constantly repeating suite of propaganda programmes, and video kiosks have appeared in orgs. Miscavige claims that these changes will lead to a ‘boom’ in membership, but falls short on reasons why.

Critics suggest that this property binge all about presenting the appearance of expansion to members who take Scientology’s word for everything (especially the richer ones,  who can make substantial donations).  They also observe that, once opened, the same small numbers of diehard staff just rattle about inside a larger building, struggling even harder to pay the routine bills.

This appears to have been the case in the two ideal org openings that I have previously reported on, in Birmingham England, and Firhouse in the Republic of Ireland The latter was a massive facility for a nation with only 87 Scientologists)

However, they have applied so, after the break, lets take a look at the news and the documents. Continue reading

Scientology and the Third Law of PR (Push BS and the press will push back)

Recently, there has been a lot of press coverage in UK newspapers surrounding Tom Cruise, using his celebrity to subtly promote Scientology. This is the result of a quite deliberate policy of the Church of Scientology to recruit celebrities and use them to create a positive public image.

For example, there have been stories about his daughter, who lives in London. She has been given a ‘qualification’ in ‘auditing’. This is Scientology’s core practice which involves using the e-meter to track down incidents in the believer’s past which are affecting their minds to this day. These included ‘past lives’ as Roman soldiers, spaceship pilots and other incarnations.

It costs a lot and it’s a questionable achievement of little interest to the general public. However, she is reported to have thanked her father – and that’s the only reason the story made the tabloids.

Also, Tom Cruise’s son, who lives on Church property is getting married to a committed Scientologist.  Almost everyone likes a celebrity wedding, even if the ceremony is distinctly odd. At this point in Scientology’s history, almost any publicity is good publicity as long as they spell your name right.

However, Scientology came unstuck when the story emerged that Cruise ex-wife Nicole Kidman, is to be excluded from her son’s Scienotlogy wedding.

This is according to fixed Church policy. When Kidman left Tom and Scientology (and took the child they had together with her) she became an apostate. L Ron Hubbard decreed that no Scientologist is allowed to have any contact whatsoever with such people. If they do, they are shunned also. This policy is known as ‘disconnection’, and breaks up families.

It’s probably no coincidence that The Daily Telegraph, a UK broadsheet paper, published a brief, critical piece about Scientology in Today’s Sunday edition. This is a doorstop, which people read with close attention, consisting of a number of ‘supplements’ that cover subjects like travel and sport. Readable images after the break Continue reading

“The Church of Scientology in the United States” – An Army Chaplin Assesses Scientology in 1973

The Church of Scientology in the United States | Albert C Skinner USAR | 1972 | Download as .pdf

This document was made available when the archive of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center & School Library was scanned. Its title page describes it as a term paper written by Albert C Skinner for Chaplin Gremmels.

At the end, Skinner signs himself “Albert C Skinner Chaplin (CPR) USAR”, so his paper was likely part of ongoing training as a Chaplin in the US Army Reserve.

Here we have a evidently intelligent person whose vocation requires him to understand and respect a wide range of faiths and interact with believers, sometimes in extreme circumstances. However, in 1971 information about the Church of Scientology was hard to come by and there was no Internet.

Today, there is controversy about religious scholars who uncritically accept the Church of Scientology’s account of itself as a bona fide world religion and overlooking credible accusations of   bad faith and abusive behaviour

How realistic was Skinner’s assessment of Scientology, given his background and his relatively limited sources of reliable information? Continue reading

An Ideal Org Opens in Birmingham – and Holds Non-Scientologists at Arms Length

The New Birmingham ‘Church’ of Scientology

Every  October, Scientologists come to Saint Hill Manor in England (just outside London) from all over the world to attend a formal event celebrating the International Association of Scientologists (IAS).

This organisation started life as a legal defence fund for Scientologists, and gradually morphed into a general-purpose fund for the leadership to spend at a whim.

David Miscavige, the current leader of the Church of Scientology is always  the centre of attention at IAS events, and makes marathon speeches.

IAS funds were likely used to finance an expensive effort to complete new Scientology facilities in Dublin, Ireland and Birmingham, England  so that Miscavige could open them while he was relatively nearby.

When I went to Ireland,  to observe the opening there, I wondered if the trip would be worthwhile. After all, people like me, and the locals, would be utterly  excluded. When I got there, I realised that showing the remarkable ‘security’ operation mounted by Scientology in order to do this was  actually and excellent illustration of its paranoid and controlling nature.

An organisation which presents itself as a religion behaved as if their new Church was a military base. Measures taken included closing sidewalks, surrounding it with private security guards and using  outward-facing loudspeakers to mask the sound of the speech.

I’ve given an eye-witness report from Dublin in a previous post. This one is from Birmingham, concerning the opening of Pitmaston house as a Church of Scientology on the 22nd of October.

Scientology remained true to form, and repeated the incredible behaviour they had exhibited in Ireland.

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Why are there Only 87 Scientologists in Ireland? Because the Irish Push Back

If you followed my marathon post yesterday about the opening of a new Scientology facility at Firhouse, in the republic of Ireland, you will have read some acerbic comments from the local press.

One of things they wondered is why Scientology was spending millions of Euros on a huge building in a country which only has 87 Scientologists (according to the 2016 census).

Part of the reason for these low numbers was the tenacity of one Mary Johnston. She was a Scientologist from for about two years (between 1992 and 1994).  After leaving, disillusioned, she claimed damages in the Irish courts for conspiracy, misrepresentation, breach of constitutional rights and deliberate infliction of  emotional harm.

She won an unspecified (but likely huge)  out-of-court settlement, after presenting her case. Scientology had such little confidence in itself that it abandoned the litigation and offered an substantial sum of money just before they were due to present their evidence in rebuttal.

This victory must have had a chilling effect on Scientology’s activities in Ireland and, unable to be as ruthless in Ireland as they are elsewhere, suppressed their ability to recruit and retain members for years.

Now, they are spending millions in the country with the aim of… who knows what?

After the break there is an episode on Ireland’s “Late late show”, hosted by the legendary Gay Byrne. this was about Scientology, and featured Mary Johnston, the Irish woman who pushed back. Continue reading