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.
Scientology and the Bible | 1967 | View Online | Download as .pdf (click on ‘Download through your browser”)
When L Ron Hubbard created Dianetics, it was presented as a rigorously scientific subject whose results were as reliable as mechanical engineering.
For a time, Scientology was presented in the same way – then Hubbard came under official pressure for the pseudo-medical practices mandated by his creation, and his incredible claims to cure disease.
In 1954 Hubbard decided to sidestep these difficulties (and avoid tax) by incorporating the Church of Scientology in California. Religious practice is protected in the US by the first amendment, which provides considerable protection for religious organisations (the legislature can “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”). Also, religious organisations can apply for tax exemption.
Scientology’s exploitation of this provision has proved controversial. The problem is that there is no legal way of defining what is, or is not, a religion and US politicians and judges tend to steer clear of the question for fear of offending powerful religious lobbies.
While established religions may not approve of Scientology, they are also liable to see any attempt to deny it religious status as ‘the thin end of the wedge’, and support Scientology for fear of losing their own privileges at a future date.
In 1967 (the year in which this booklet was published) the US tax authorities withdrew tax exemption from the Church of Scientology and it took until years for them to recover that status. This text was likely a propaganda exercise designed to present Scientology as a bona fide religion by trying to associate it with the most widespread religious tradition practised in the US – Christianity. It prints extracts from Hubbard’s writings alongside extracts from the Bible, and attempts to argue that they are equivalent.
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
Most repressive organisations have a list of banned books. Scientology takes this one step further. In 1983, the Church of Scientology banned a number of texts which:
- Were written by Scientologists in good standing
- Promoted a very orthodox interpretation of Scientology
- Were published by the Church of Scientology
- Were sold for some time, with official approval, in Scientology Orgs.
In short, they banned their own books.
This had been had been happening informally for decades, but in 1983 it was formalised in an internal document. A substantial number of books about Scientology by Scientologists were banned, simply because they were not written by L Ron Hubbard
Admittedly many of these texts were pamphlets, and their aim was limited. A typical disclaimer declared that the author’s purpose was, “to demonstrates various ways the author and others have successfully applied a few of the basic principles of Scientology”. Writing them required a minimum of original thought. They were all based on longer works by Hubbard who was given all credit at every opportunity.
After the break, I offer a theory as to why these texts were permitted for so long and why there were finally prohibited. There is also a partial list of banned books. If anyone has copies of any of these texts, I would be extremely grateful if you would contact me through this site’s feedback page.
In future posts in this series, I will closely examine the full text of at least four Scientology books banned by… The Church of Scientology. I hope that there will be more to come. Continue reading
1996 | BBC2 Television (UK) | Newsnight
View Online > | Part One | Part Two | Download as mp4 > |Part One | Part Two |
In 1996 the Church of Scientology broadcast its first television advertisements in the UK. The ads themselves were practically content-free and apparently unsuccessful. No more appeared until 2014, and those too, sank without trace.
However, even back in 1996 Scientology’s reputation was poor and there was a lively debate about whether they should be allowed to advertise on television at all. The BBC’s flagship news programme “Newsnight” took an interest.
Their report is presented in two video windows below, in two parts. Part one provides background to the story, part two shows a studio debate which followed. It is of particular interest today because the Scientology representative who appears in both is one Heber Jentzsch.
When he appeared in this programme Jentzsch was a high-flying ‘executive’ of the Church of Scientology (President of the Church of Scientology International, no less). Nominally, he still is. However, he has not been seen in public since 2004 and hardly ever leaves the Scientology compound where he lives. He is now widely believed to be nothing more than a figurehead for the authority of David Miscavige, Scientology’s present leader. Continue reading
From “Freewinds Magazine of the Sea Org”
Issue 2 page 12
In 1967 L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, took to the high seas to avoid the legal consequences of his activities. He bought a number of redundant vessels and recruited an ‘elite’ group of Scientologists to crew them for him – the ‘Sea Org’ (short for ‘Sea Organisation’).
The Sea Org has an official publication – “Highwinds: Magazine of the Sea Organisation”. After the break there are links to 12 issues of “Highwinds” which you can download.
Hubbard took up residence in the flagship, served by Sea Org personnel. This had originally been the “Royal Scotsman”, an Royal Navy infantry landing ship. It had been converted to a passenger ferry after the Second World War and then sold to the Church of Scientology. After another refit, it was renamed the “Apollo.”
After Hubbard abandoned ship, returned to the US and went into hiding, Scientology’s fleet of ships contracted from its peak of four to just one – the “Freewinds”, an ageing cruise ship where the most secret upper levels of Scientology training are still presented.
Despite an apparent lack of appropriate employment, the Sea Org endures. However, they are now an almost exclusively land-based organisation which the Church of Scientology claims is a religious order (although they still wear elaborate faux-Naval dress uniforms). Under US law, the Sea Org’s ‘religious’ status releases the Church from many legal obligations (e.g. employment law) and critics observe that Sea Org members work long hours under pseudo-military discipline for minimal wages – and are discarded without compensation when found to be ‘unfit for duty’.
Members of the Sea Org are encouraged to see themselves differently – as an uncompromising military force engaged in a mission to save mankind over multiple lifetimes. Their motto is “Revenimus” – “We come back” because they believe that they have served the Sea Org in previous lives and will do so again in future incarnations.