Is Scientology Self-Destructing?


Scientology leader David Miscavige has been trumpeting his church’s “milestone year,” but the mysterious religion is alienating scores of its most faithful followers with what they call a real estate scam. With anger mounting and defectors fleeing, this may be more than a fleeting crisis; it may be a symptom of an institution in decline.

It’s cold in Buffalo, and signs of the housing recovery are hard to see. Take the long walk down Main Street and you’ll pass foreclosed homes, a shuttered hospice, and more than a few yellowing FOR SALE signs.

But make it downtown, and you’ll see something different: a pristine, ornate cathedral, glowing against the parking lot grey. As of this June, central Buffalo has been crowned by a newly opened Church of Scientology: a gleaming, 41,000-square-foot temple, rising from the ruins with “glazed white terra cotta,” “limestone trim,” and “elaborately sculpted crown moldings,” as one lyric church press release described the newly-erected “Ideal Organization.” 

The Ideal Orgs certainly look great, make headlines, and serve as flashy totems of Scientology’s (literally) unspeakable wealth. The Church of Scientology International (CSI) headquarters in Los Angeles says that it has built 34 of these cathedrals worldwide since 2003, with 60 more underway. Almost all were paid for by local parishioners, who had been lobbied by roving teams of fundraisers.

But inside the church, the Ideal Orgs are sparking insurrection. Across the country, donors and high-ranking executives say that the aggressive fundraising and construction scheme is used to enrich the central church at the expense of the rank-and- file, helping to grow the Scientology war chest to over a billion dollars. Two former members, Mike Rinder and Mark Elliott, went so far as to call the project a “real-estate scam.” To some of these defectors, the structures are metaphors for the religion itself: garish on the outside, empty on the inside. The irony is that the very expansion that Scientology lauds as its renaissance is actually a symbol of internal dissent and decline.

According to ex-executives, the Ideal Org money play is simple: Find beautiful buildings; get local parishioners to foot the bill; keep them closed; keep fundraising; open them; and finally, have the parishioners pay for renovations, buy supplies, and send money to the central church for the right to practice there.

When Bert Schippers forked over hundreds of thousands of dollars to help build an Ideal Org in downtown Seattle, he thought he was helping save the world. “I thought I was in the best religion on the planet,” he says. But as he gave more and more from 2001 to 2008, the new cathedral’s doors remained locked shut: to people, but not to money. Schippers, who had joined the church in 1986 and spent more than a million dollars on donations and courses, started asking questions about what, exactly, he was paying for; church leaders barred him, his wife, and his friends from setting foot inside.

Written By: Alex Klein
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  1. Fools and their money………………. It takes a particular kind of fool to fall for the pulp paper fiction bullshit of Ron Hubbard.

  2. “the mysterious religion is alienating scores of its most faithful followers”

    It isn’t a religion, and the only mystery is how anyone could mistake it for one.

    It is a Ponzi scheme dedicated to milking its victims and tell them a ridiculous series of incoherent nonsense, while undermining their ability to think objectively.

    Actually, I take that back, IT IS a religion

  3. In reply to #1 by Vorlund:

    Fools and their money………………. It takes a particular kind of fool to fall for the pulp paper fiction bullshit of Ron Hubbard.

    Anyone with ‘religious’ tendencies will do- no great leap from talking animals (snake, donkey, ant…) virgin birth, sacred underwear, the list is endless. Those who are parted from their money deserve the wake-up call.

  4. I can’t wait until Ol’ mother### Hubbard’s cupboard is completely bare.

    And David Miscarriage should be in jail, yet he walks freely around in our air, tax free.

  5. I had a hard time reading Dianetics, same goes for the Subterraneans by Kerouac. I understand books written on amphetamines are best read on amphetamines.

    This is very interesting, straight cannibalism. Scientology was destroyed by the series of hacker protests. Before Anonymous took up the cause I would educate people that it was a dangerous cult. Everybody knows what they are about now. The thing about their hustle was they were good at sucking in rational, intelligent people, but now they are relegated to panning for fools; far less profitable.

    They’re taking water, fast, and now the bigger rats are gobbling up the cheese to stay afloat. I hope were seeing a ribald graft, a bottom-line inspired liquidation, funneling all the money into a central source where they will buy a big laser to release Lord Xenu from his crypt.

  6. In reply to #3 by Nodhimmi:

    In reply to #1 by Vorlund:

    Fools and their money………………. It takes a particular kind of fool to fall for the pulp paper fiction bullshit of Ron Hubbard.

    Anyone with ‘religious’ tendencies will do- no great leap from talking animals (snake, donkey, ant…) virgin birth, sacred underwear, the list is endless. Those who are parted from their money deserve the wake-up call.

    They would brainwash people without using woo. They would even denounce woo and make a compelling argument that their religion was the first based on science (which actually would be Mormonism). That’s the thing about science-fiction, it’s logically possible fantasy. They preyed upon people without religious tendencies and mocked belief in the absurdities you mentioned with one exception, some kind of transcendent self (souls, ghosts, hermetically known as a thetan).

    heh… I just referred to them in the past tense. Here’s hoping!

  7. Believers in the tommy rot of Scientology dreamed up by a 10th rate science fiction author ,should in my view question their sanity.
    The atrophy of the absurd cult of Scientology is very welcome and hopefully it will spread.
    They’ve adopted the Mormon stance of funding to ensure their survival.

  8. There are only around 50,000 (some recent surveys suggest as low as 25,000) of them worldwide anyway (not the 8 to 10 million that they claim) – so hopefully, once this current Hollywood generation (I’m looking at you Mr Cruise and Mr Travolta) have passed into obscurity, there will be little to encourage new members to join them…

    One (soon) down, only another mind-boggling myriad of variations of woo-woo to go… sadly…

    I wonder which of the ‘big six’ (religions with over 10 million adherents) will go first?

    Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Judaism… that little lot (in all their wretched forms) claim the sanity of (apparently) almost 5 billion people on this poor deluded planet…

  9. “While donating to the Ideal Org, my wife and I were given a framed certificate saying that we were Humanitarians,” he said. “Then, for speaking our minds and trying to improve the group form within, we were labeled anti-social personalities.”

    Translation: They were given the equivalent of a cub scout merit badge for obeying, and then made to go sit in the corner and wear dunce caps when they disobeyed. Why these people, or any of the others for that matter, agreed to donate six figures worth of cash for no apparent reason is anyone’s guess. From what I can tell, they weren’t even offered anything but a “title” (operating thetan level whatever) in return.

  10. They have so many buildings, but their course-rooms are virtually empty. Instead of disseminating to new people and concentrating on new members, what they do is BLEED their current veteran Scientologists dry. Fairly recently Miscavage and his minions decided that they implement a new marketing idea that would essentially make all progress by veteran Scientologists NULL and VOID. What they did was say that they discovered some of Hubbard’s writings that were essentially “tucked away” that proved prior training and even counseling was INCORRECT, or had flaws that rendered previous certifications invalid. Great idea, right? What this did was more less made those who had training as counselors (auditors) have to go back and RE-DO all the courses and counseling that got them to the point they are now. By saying (and basically re-writing the technology in certain areas) Miscavage created new bow, with the same package! FN Brilliant! What they don’t know at the top, is that veteran Scientologists are defecting at record breaking rates. I mean how would you feel if you got a PHd, or a Masters degree, and the government decided that these degrees, from YEARS of education were now invalid? That’s what Miscavage has done. THIS is NOT L. Ron Hubbard. And where I’ll agree that some things can be pretty whacky with his writings, Scientology has helped people, including myself. I won’t go into that, but I will say that this is now a religion (As Leah Remini states) that has betrayed its parishioners by letting a complete psycho run the show and dictate the future, no matter how bizarre it may be. In the 90’s it wasn’t like this. People like me actually felt good about going into the church to get better control of life. Not anymore. I used to laugh at things like “Operation Clambake” and think that since these people were attacking Scientology, they must have had crimes to hide. Truth is, they were simply trying to raise awareness.
    For the record, I lost at least 1/2 of who I thought were my friends when I starting pointing out what I felt were literal violations of basic human rights and the fact that the technology itself had been altered. I was alienated and chastised.
    Anyway, steer clear of Miscavage and his minions. The ONLY thing they care about is YOUR wallet, not your eternity. Not even close! Speaking from experience here.

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