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.
The story is also featured on the ITV News Website. They have published a neutral and uncritical description of Scientology as part of their article. The Herald is considerably more sceptical about Scentology and it’s motives and more in touch with local opinion.
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 earlie. 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.
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.
This was the public’s view of Scientology’s new facility (in the Republic of Ireland at Firhouse, which is just outside Dublin). The picture to the left was taken on the day of its opening – the 15th of October 2017.
The white area all around the perimeter isn’t a wall. It is exterior quality board, painted white and firmly fastened onto the outside of railings. It’s only purpose is to stop local people seeing what is going on inside and must have cost a few thousand Euro in materials alone.
Just in case someone might have brought a stepladder and looked over the wall, the pavement and cycle track that run around the building were surrounded by crowd-control barriers (incidentally closing the bus stop, too). Private security guards, retained by the Church of Scientology excluded local people from the area for the entire day – but admitted Scientologists.
The council may have given permission for the closure because they were told it was necessary for building works. They may not have authorised this if they has known that the real purpose was to stop outsiders looking over the wall and seeing the leader of Scientology, David Miscavige, performing the opening ceremony.
Approximately 14 private security guards were retained. Most gathered at the main gate (at the opposite end to the guard in this picture) . However one man always ‘patrolled’ the fenced-off area, admitting Scientologists to the pavement and trying to turn away locals, forcing them to cross a fast road instead of using a public path.
This high-handed attitude has provoked a strong response from the people and the press of Ireland.
Read on for an eye-witness account, with pictures and video.
Every year, Scientology throws a huge party for members of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS). This takes place at the UK headquarters of Scientology, Saint Hill Manor, and up to five thousand members from all over the world turn up.
L Ron Hubbard bought this estate in 1959. He seems to have enjoyed playing English country squire because he ran Scientology’s affairs from the site until he was refused re-entry into the country in 1967.
The event is held every year, and its main purpose is to encourage donations to the IAS. As is the case with all Scientology fund-raising, this can involve a very hard sell indeed, and attendees are unlikely to leave without having given as much as they can afford.
The IAS started life as a legal defence fund for the Church of Scientology, but critics characterise it as a huge slush fund under the exclusive control of the present leader, David Miscavige. Little is known about how this money is spent, of even whether is spent at all.
This year, the event took place on the 6th, 7th and 8th of October, and I was there on the Friday with a small group of protesters.
After the Anonymous campaign against Scientology changed the game by seriously damaging Scientology’s ability to suppress opposition, protests have tailed off. It’s now rare to see more than small groups of activists, and the public might think that they don’t achieve much even as they support the effort (passing drivers frequently honked, waved and shouted approval).
In the case of protesters at the IAS event, however, this isn’t true. They cost Scientology at least tens of thousands of pounds just by being there. If that sounds incredible – it is. However, read on to understand why, and assess the figures for yourself.
International Scientology News| Issue 29| Extract | Download as .pdf (Click the grey ‘download through your browser’ button in new tab)
I’ve been busy lately, and have got behind with my latest series of posts. To fill in, I thought I’d publish this, without much comment.
It’s an article from issue 19 of “International Scientology News”. It describes the presentation of Tom Cruise with “The”Freedom Medal of Valour” – the highest award given to Scientologists by Scientology, and especially created for Cruise alone.
The person who scanned the magazine did not seem to have the means to quite image the pages in one go, so theymade two, overlapping, images of each. I’ve combined them again, using the excellent (and free) “Gnu Image Manipulation Program.” See if you can spot the join.
The rampant sycophancy of this ‘event’ and its coverage was designed to draw Cruise back into Scientology, and seems to have succeeded. It was at a price, however.
The announcement by David Miscavige, the present leader of the Church of Scientology that rich, pampered, Tom Cruise was ” the most dedicated Scientology I know” did not play with many members of the audience – members of the Sea Org who work all hours for subsistence wages, giving up a career and a family to dedicate their lives to serving Scientology. Continue reading
Scientology’s ‘Super Power’ Briefing Pack| Download as .pdf
L Ron Hubbard’s behaviour towards his followers alternated between ‘stick’ and ‘carrot’. Repressive periods were occasionally relived by ‘amnesties’ and the announcement of ‘new breakthroughs’.
The “Super Power Rundowns” were one of the ‘breakthroughs,’ supposedly invented by L Ron Hubbard to reinvigorate his exhausted staff. Scientologists present this as an act of charity, overlooking the fact that it was Hubbard who had overworked them in the first place.
This material was not made available to rank and file Scientologists and was almost forgotten until many years after Hubbard died in 1986. Then, the Church of Scientology’s new leader, David Miscavige, repackaged and ‘enhanced’ it as a residential course that would require purpose built premises and special equipment to complete.
The renovation of a building bought for this purpose began in 1988, in Clearwater, Florida (the international HQ of the Church). Although donations were continuously solicited the facilities were not completed until November 2013. Critics suggest that not all the money raised for the “Super Power Building” (now know as the “Flag Building”) went to the purpose intended.
This document is a ‘briefing pack’ for the people who were tasked with raising money for the realisation of ‘Super Power.’ It’s a revealing insight into the bizarre beliefs and practices that circulate among the most ‘advanced’ Scientologists – and the induced paranoia that motivates their actions. Continue reading