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.
New Statesman | February 2017 | “Telling Tales”| John Sutherland | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).
The New Statesman, is a well-established national magazine published in London. It bills itself as offering intelligent writing about politics, current affairs and culture, taking a liberal, sceptical stance.
The February 2017 issue lives up to this claim. It contains a variety of interesting articles on all of those subjects.
However, at the very end it rather blots it’s copybook with a ‘humorous’ and dismissive account of the writers encounter with Scientology, years ago.
In it, he suggests that maybe Scientology’s opposition to Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and psychiatric drugs might be just a little admirable – thereby revealing that he has no idea of the nature of this opposition. It’s almost as if he has fallen for Scientology’s anti-psychiatric rhetoric – so much for the sceptical stance…
Clear No 208: Mary Sue Hubbard | Download as .pdf (to download, click on the grey ‘Download through Browser’ button which will appear in a new tab).
This strange document was published in 1967. It’s a simple folded piece of card approximately 15 x 23cm – two pages, four sides.
It commemorates the occasion upon which Mary Sue Hubbard (at that time the wife of L Ron Hubbard) celebrated her ascension to the state of Clear -the 208th person to achieve this status.
There are only two pages of text (the other two are devoted to the title and a picture of Mary Sue). This consists of a potted biography of the lady which begins by describing her participation in Scientology’s early development, particularly the history of the Dianetics Institutes.
It also bestows the fulsome praise required to create a cult of personality for Mary Sue herself, so that she may be seen to be worthy of her place at the side of the founder of Scientology. This was not to last. Nine years later, in 1976, she would fall from grace in a most extraordinary way.
For today’s post, I am indebted to an supporter of osteopathy, who has provided some interesting information about the activities of Narconon, which recently opened a small facility in the UK
Narconon is a Scientology front group, which claims to provide paid drug rehabilitation treatment, but actually delivers Scientology indoctrination.
The website Osteobiz, aims to coach osteopaths on the business side of their occupation. In one entry, the author warns about a range of cons and swindles which osteopaths are liable to be exposed to.
One of these is headlined “The Drug Rehab Centre Scam”… and that’s where Narconon comes in. Continue reading
On the 5th of December 2016, I published a video showing members of the Church of Scientology Plymouth (UK) distributing leaflets outside of Charles Cross Police station. This is just around the corner from their modest Org in Ebrington Street.
In the process, I was given a flier, and carefully read it. It seemed to me that the text made two highly questionable claims.
According to the rules of the UK advertising regulator (the Advertising Standards Authority) advertisers who make specific, testable claims must be in possession of objective evidence which supports their case. If the advertiser cannot present such evidence when asked to do so by the ASA the claims made are deemed to be misleading, and must not be repeated.
I duly submitted a complaint online. Yesterday, I was informed that it has been upheld.
This kind of decision could severely limit Scientology’s ability to make similar claims in future – and could ultimately force them to submit whole classes of promotional material to the ASA for pre-approval.
All that is required is for more people to collect Scientology advertising containing potentially misleading claims.
Details of the offending leaflet, my complaint, the ASA response and the likely consequences appear after the break.
Plymouth Scientologists used to regularly deploy a handcart, bearing books for sale and an e-meter for the ‘stress test’ in Plymouth City Centre. It has not been seen for two years, after a local critic pointed out to the City Council that Scientology did not have any of the necessary permits for this kind of street trading.
Recently, the handcart reappeared. This video shows it being set up and goes on to illustrate the attitude of local people (who swerve all over the wide pavement to avoid the Scientologists) quite well.
There is a lot more to this story, click the ‘continue reading’ link for details.
A few days ago, I came across a Facebook page for “Scientology Plymouth“which contained the remarkable image at the right (there is a larger version below, after the break).
At first glance, it looks rather like a building decorated to celebrate a Nazi rally. It is, in fact, a rendering representing the old Royal Fleet Club / Hotel in Plymouth (UK) – a old building with 50 rooms, two ballrooms and a number of kitchens.
If you follow this blog, you will know that this place was bought by The Church of Scientology for £1,000,000 in 2010. Over the intervening years they have claimed, time and again, that it is going to be renovated to a high standard, and become an ‘Ideal Org’ serving the South-West of England.
Presumably, this image represents what they hope to achieve – however, many of the renovations presented in it are simply not possible.
To illustrate this, I went to the building to take a picture of the real thing for comparison purposes – and discovered some interesting developments. It is possible that the Ideal Org project in Plymouth (the only one in the UK which is self-financing) is on the move again.