In 2010, Scientology bought a building in Plymouth for conversion into an ‘Ideal Org’. It was basically left to rot until April 2019 when the Church of Scientology International applied to Plymouth City council for permission to renovate it. Plans were submitted and permission (termed “Planning Permission”) was subsequently granted.
The plans noted the presence of asbstos-containing materials in the fabric of the building, which had to be removed before any other work could be done. This work started in August 2019, and was completed in October 2019.
Why has Scientology set to just now, after having let the building rot for almost a decade?
My theory is that they are planning to open this new facility around September 2020, because the Mayflower departed from Plymouth for the new world on September the 6th, 400 years ago. This anniversary is being marked in Plymouth and throughout the UK. It represents is a perfect opportunity for Scientology’s belagured leader, David Miscavige, to make a ‘religious freedom’ speech, and distract attention from the legal actions that have been brought against him.
I gave my reasons for this prediction in my last post. Since then some additional evidence has appeared. It’s not conclusive, of course. This being Scientology, they may just be trying to spin out the fund-raising a little longer. However, I think there’s now an excellent chance they they going for September / October 2020. This Scientology website entitled, “Plymouth Ideal 2020” appeared recently. Predictably, it’s after money and free labour. One of its three pages leads to a paypal link for donations. The third contains three very short videos that appear to have been made by local Scientologists.
The pitch is direct:
Want to help? We all want Plymouth Org to go Ideal in 2020 to coincide with the Mayflower celebrations. If you would like to help in any way please get in touch or send a flow today!
“Send a flow” is a Scientology way of saying “give us money”. As mentioned above, there is a page labelled “Send a Flow” for PayPal donations. The fact that it uses Scientology jargon for such an important link suggests that this site is aimed exclusively at Scientologists. They don’t seem to bother to try to reach the general public any more, because there is no money in such an effort.
These sites are always approved by head office, so they can be viewed as statements of official policy. It’s satisfying to have it confirmed that Scientologists are also being pushed to get the place open for the “Mayflower Celebrations”. These are taking place throughout 2020, but the big day will be September the 6th, when the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth .
On the Scientology site, there is also a page featuring YouTube videos of a Scientologist against a background of the beautiful Plymouth Hoe and Barbican areas (not the actual location of the Org building, show below) Beforewe examine that, I should point out that the ideal org is in a deprived area miles away
It’s right next to the Royal Dockyard (the largest military dockyard in Europe). The wall, topped with razor wire, that you can see at the right of the picture below runs completely around this massive installation.
The Three Videos
The first part plays on the notion of the “Pilgrim Fathers” supposedly setting sail from Plymouth to escape “relgious persecution”.
Actually, they sailed from Europe, where they had been give refuge by a series of Protestant princes. They had left England because the people had tired of these fanatical puritans persecuting them and had rejected their humourless rule. They left Europe because they were never satisfied with the doctrinal ‘purity’ of their hosts.
They only put into Plymouth because one of their ships, the “Speedwell” came down with a terminal case of shipworm. They abandoned it here, made repairs to the Mayflower, and set out again.
According to Scientology, “They were setting sail in their ship the Mayflower to preserve religious freedom”. This is Scientology’s pitch. According to the script, “The Pilgrims stood for Relgious Freedom. In 2020 Plymouth Ideal Org will stand for spiritual freedom”.
There actually is a parallel here – the confusion between religious freedom and the freedom of a self-appointed elect to oppress others. The Puritans (a kind of English Taliban) and Scienotlogy do have a lot in common. They would both control their society if they could. That’s not the moral that Scientology would like to draw, but there it is is, in the words of its founder. He envisaged Orgs taking over their local areas.
“Somebody some day will say ‘this is illegal.’ By then be sure the orgs [Scientology organizations] say what is legal or not.”
– L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 4 January 1966, “LRH Relationship to Orgs”.
The membership of Scientology in Plymouth consists of less than 30 people. It is unlikely that they will ever be able to tell the people of Plymouth what is legal of not – but that is their aspriation, and as put in writing by their guru.
to the right is a a sceenshot taken from the video, showing a misleading computer rendering of the proposed org, decked out as if for a Nazi rally. The razor wire around the dockyard wall, and a lamppost have conveniently disappeared.
Part two, again consists of the ‘talking head’ lady again using the Hoe and Barbican as a background, not the area where the org is actually situated, which is miles away. They don’t seem to want to show the actual site, nor the area that it is situated in. A lot.
It gives next to no information about the org, or the area. However, the ‘religious freedom’ taking point is once again prominent.
Reference is made in part three to “pasties and Poldark”. This is puzzling, because the action of the novel, “Poldark” took place in Cornwall, and Plymouth is in Devon. Also the Cornish Pasty is… well… Cornish (there’s a clue right there in the name). I suppose they couldn’t resist the alliteration.
Apart from that, it’s more of the same.
There are scenes of graduates from Plmouth University (which holds it’s graduation ceremonies in a Big Top on the Hoe Promenade). That’s odd, because the founder of Scientology maintained that one year of Scientology taught you a lot more than a degree from such an institution. Scientologists are actively discouraged from obtaining a conventional education.
Later, we are told that Ideal Orgs will bring about the “expansion” of Scientology in whatever area they appear. In actual fact the last Ideal Org to open in Birmingham in the UK is vitrually empty, years later, and has made no inpact whatsover on the community. The point of these places is to present an illusion of expansion in order to maintain the flow of donations.
If anyone wants to listen to these short videos (<4 minutes) more carefully that I have had time for, and spots anything interesting, please email me or make a comment below.
What Does this Site Tell Us?
The minimal text and the content of the videos strongly support my theory that the renovation of Plymouth Ideal is going ahead because of the “religious freedom” connection, and the international attention that will be paid to the anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.
I’m sure that an opening is pencilled in for September / October 2020.
The Church evidently hopes that this will play well in America. The news will be taken there in the form of a speech by Scientology’s ‘leader” David Miscavige, on the occasion of the opening. Opening cerenmonies are always filmed, and presented to Scientologists to motivate the donation of even more money. Such presentations also function to counter Scientology’s currently terrible PR.
The developing ‘religious freedom’ theme might also be used to obtain money from American Scientologists.
More New Online Activity
This private Facebook group was created on the 20th of August 2009 – the same time that the asbestos removal job was completed. It is a private group. Most Churches would welcome a chance to engage with the public online, but Scientologists keep to themselves.
Also, the Church of Scientology of Plymouth has two other Facebook pages. Why should they need another? I suspect that want to limit news of future building work and the date of opening to Scienologists. Previous Ideal Org openings took place without any public announcement and the ceremonies were over and done with in 45 minutes.
Scientology is not known for community outreach or inclusion.
There are less than 30 Scientologists in Plymouth (the 2011 census recorded only 28 in the entire Southwest of England). Where did the 187 members come from, and why aren’t they more active ? Only 5 posts have been made in the last 30 days.
The full description for the site reads as follows:
This is a group that is dedicated to helping Plymouth become an Ideal Org. In joining the group you become a Plymouth Pirate and are bound by the Plymouth Pirate code: I promise to help as much as I can and to pull all the stops out in order to make Plymouth the only Sea/Riverside Ideal org in the UK!
In their planning application, Scientology stated that it anticipated occasional gatherings of more than 300 people in the org. The emphasis in the videos above on the beautiful areas of Plymouth Hoe and Barbican makes me wonder if they are not going to try to concentrate large groups of Scientologists there, at some future date, for ‘briefings’ (aka high-pressure sales meetings). The orignal building was blessed with two ballrooms, and, according to the plans, the open spaces are being retained, so this is quite feasible.
Could being, “[…] the only Sea/Riverside Ideal org in the UK!” be a factor in this?
A Google Maps listing for Plymouth Ideal has also recently appeared. The place is literally a building site, which will soon see more extensive work (the plans require the interior to be gutted) but it’s listed as “Open 24 hours”.This is despite the fact that work to remove asbestos containing material was only completed in the last few months, and it might even still be illegal to enter the building unless you are testing the atmosphere for safety purposes.
Why create this listing now? Surely, if you are trying to promote the place you would wait until it really was open until you gave the impression that the public could go there?
Before the asbestos removal commenced, there was a gathering of Scienologists at Plymouth’s modest existing org. This was almost certainly a fundraiser on the back of the fact that work on the Ideal Org had visibly commenced – there would have been a big ‘announcement’ of this ‘progress’.
I’m informed that there will be another big meeting in the existing org at 17:30 on Saturday the 11th of January 2020. I will be watching both sites to see if this one is a prelude to the beginning of renovation work.
Scientology Does Not Want The Public to Know What They Are Planning
There’s a strange theme here:
- The website is obviously designed to raise money from Scientologists. The general public (who typically don’t even know what an Ideal Org is) are told nothing of interest
- The Facebook group is closed. Non-Scientologists are actively excluded
- The Google Maps listing doesn’t care if it misleads people about the place being open, because they know nobody will go there as a result of it’s appearence – who is going to search Google for “Plymouth Ideal Org who isn’t a Scientologist (or a critic of Scientology).
It’s quite likely that the Church of Scientology doesn’t want the public to know their plans.
Ideal Orgs are opened by David Miscavige, the ‘leader’ of Scientology worldwide. The press and public are actively excluded from the brief ceremony (typically around 45 minutes) by private secuity guards, and the ceremony is sight-screened.
My previous experience outside ideal Org openings in Firhouse in the Republic of Ireland and Birmingham in England strongly suggests that they prefer these things to be a fait accompi – even people who lived nearby were unaware that there was to be a ‘grand opening’ until unneccesary crowd barriers were put up (and policed) by private secuity.
The reviews on Google Maps are not particularly favourable so far. The one-star rating will improve as soon as Scientologists notice, and work up the courage to post positive reviews (which may get them into trouble if they say the wrong things).
When Will We Know for Sure That Plymouth Org is Going to Open?
The clincher will come only when serious building work begins.
I’ve consulted with several people with project planning experience. They have told me that this renovation is a big job. However, in the UK Scientology pays large building contractors to do these things, and often impose a tight deadline. Such enterprises will be able to put the published plans into effect in 6 months (4 months, in a pinch).
Consequently. work will have to start work in March 2020 – May at the very latest. Scienology only has permission to close the road behind the org until September 2020. They will feel the need to close this for the opening ceremony, to exclude protesters so that’s another indicaton that they may go for the 6th of September anniversary date.
It’s January the second today – the clock is ticking.
After Asbestos removal, there is a period where the building must, by law, be left totally undistrubed. Then, the atmosphere is tested. Only if no asbestos particles are detected can further work go ahead.
Since the asbestos removal was done by a reputable local firm, this job will likely pass first time. All that is holding up the continuation of work is this ‘settling period’ – which Scientology is predictably using to raise more money, despite having serveral billion dollars in cash reserves.
The asbestos work was completed in October 2019. If the building takes 3 months to be declared safe, work can commence today. If it takes 6 months, they can still begin in April and still have 5 months to do the job. This timetable is perfectly feasible.
I will be keeping a close eye on the premesis. Anyone who might like to observe the opening (or even protest during the proceedings) is advised to keep weekends around September / October free, and watch this space. 🙂