It’s Not Easy Being Scientology

Mar 30, 2015

Image: HBO

By Sophie Gilbert

Last year, the BBC reported that a building owned by the Church of Scientology in northeast England was drawing the ire of local residents. The property in Gateshead—purchased in 2007 for £1.5 million—is depicted on a U.K. Scientology website as an immaculately tended estate with a wide, sloping lawn. In the center of the image, an Arthurian sword, lodged in a stone, catches the rays of the sun. “Northumbria is the area where an entire revival of the United Kingdom’s spiritual and cultural fabric emanated from in the 7th Century,” reads the accompanying text, “and now, from where it will shine once again.”

The Scientology site fails to mention that the building has never been occupied since it was purchased, or that it was damaged by a 2011 fire and never repaired. But the BBC article—the first Google search result for the words “Scientology” and “Gateshead”—describes it as a derelict building filled with squatters, its empty parking lot littered with “old sofas, rubbish, and used needles.” Nearby business owners and council members describe it as an eyesore.

Scientology, the movement established by L. Ron Hubbard in the ’50s, has long been known for its efforts to manipulate information about it in the public sphere. The group carefully crafts its image through widespread publicity campaigns (including a native advertisement published on this site in 2013) while suing and attacking those who portray it unfavorably. Over the past 25 years, the Church has filed lawsuits against high-profile publications such asTime and The Washington Post, as well as ex-employees who criticize the Church publicly. Hubbard himself encouraged aggressive legal action toward people who revealed secret information about the Church. According to a 1997New York Times article, Hubbard once told his followers, “The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than win … If possible, of course, ruin [the opponent] utterly.”

But the Church is losing control of its public image—in large part because the flow of information in the digital age is irrepressible. “It’s the Internet that has changed everything,” says Tony Ortega, the former editor of The Village Voice and founder of a website, The Underground Bunker, that’s dedicated to criticizing Scientology.

 


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

15 comments on “It’s Not Easy Being Scientology

  • @OP link – For example, in 2013, a Scientology spokesperson told the BBC that 27,000 people had attended its services in northeast England during the past decade.

    Ah! Creative arithmetic!

    The same census also found that in Northumbria, the number of Scientologists was 62.

    If an average of 52 of their 62 members attended weekly services for a decade, that would be 27,040 attendances! – It’s just the way you tell the story!!!

    Anyway! 27,000 in a DECADE is unlikely to impress anyone on Tyneside as a noteworthy event!

    Newcastle’s 130-year-old summer spectacular – http://www.theguardian.com/uk/the-northerner/2012/jun/28/newcastle-thehoppings-fairground-rides-amuseuments

    The Hoppings, the annual travelling fair which attracts up to 500,000 visitors to Newcastle’s Town Moor. (in a week!)

    This year 370 attractions – including 100 large adult rides such as the Euro 2m Air – sit on a 40-acre site, stretching along a quarter-mile stretch of the Town Moor.

    But those curious about the true number of members in the region can easily find the results of a 2011 census, which found only 2,418 self-identified Scientologists in England and Wales. (In contrast, 176,632 respondents identified as Jedi Knights.) The same census also found that in Northumbria, the number of Scientologists was 62.

    Then there’s the Newcastle/Gateshead/ South Shields THE GREAT NORTH RUN, with 54,000 runners + even more spectators – in one weekend!



    Report abuse

  • ” But the Church is losing control of its public image—in large part because the flow of information in the digital age is irrepressible. ”

    Yep, the internet is killing religion and it can’t kill this one fast enough.



    Report abuse

  • I am not sure what the OP picture has to do with the site in Gateshead . They appear to be trying to establish a church in what was originally an old school building, which was then changed into an old peoples home when the school closed. As a grade II listed building, the planning authorities are very unlikely to let then cover it with purple paint!!

    http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/church-scientology-told-must-resubmit-7650613
    Council chiefs are pressing a controversial religion to take action over an abandoned building after permission to create a new church expired.

    The Church of Scientology received planning permission to transform the former Windmill Hills School, in Bensham, Gateshead, into a place of religious worship in 2007 by Gateshead Council.

    The movement originally planned to transform the Grade II listed building, a former school, into a church which was due to open in 2009 but the building remains unchanged.

    Now Gateshead Council has revealed the North East’s second Church of Scientology would have to go back to the authority’s planning committee should they wish to press ahead with the plans.

    Anneliese Hutchinson, head of development and public protections at Gateshead Council, said: “This building, which is Grade II Listed, has been the cause of considerable concern to us for some time.

    “We have repeatedly pressed the owners’ to firstly make repairs and secondly to clarify the long-term future of the site.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-26936135
    The census found there were just 62 Scientologists in the North East, where Satanists outnumbered them

    In the same region there were 1.75 million Christians and about 600,000 people of no religion

    The Church of Scientology, famous for its Hollywood celebrity followers, once hailed its new home in north-east England as a centre for spiritual enlightenment. Several years on, the building lies empty and is a haven for squatters and drug users. So will it ever open?

    The Windmill Hills former school and care home in Gateshead looks like the ideal setting for a ghost story.

    Damp and derelict, the spooky Victorian day school sits at the mercy of vandals, squatters and the elements.



    Report abuse

  • 5
    agnostic mystic says:

    Lancaster Dodd: It’s not you. You are asleep. Your spirit was free. Moving from body, to the next body. Free. Free for a moment. Then it was captured by an invader force, bent on turning you to the darkest way, you’ve been implanted with a push-pull mechanism that keeps you fearful of authority and destructive. We are in the middle of a battle that’s a trillion years in the making and it’s bigger than the both of us!
    Freddie Quell: You’re making this shit up! You make this shit up! You don’t know what you’re talking about!

    “The Master”



    Report abuse

  • I strongly recommend the HBO documentary “Going Clear” about Scientology which aired Sunday, March 29. (running time 2 hours.) The principal commentators are ex-members who held important positions in the hierarchy. The footage and pacing are superb including coverage of L. Ron Hubbard, John Travolta and Tom Cruz. It is both comprehensive and detailed – riveting without contrived sensationalism. You can probably stream it from diverse sources.

    By the way, the documentary noted that membership has dropped sharply to about 50,000 worldwide today.



    Report abuse

  • Just finished watching the documentary. I think I’ve watched just about everything ever filmed about them including the BBC documentaries from some years ago which are referenced in this one. It’s still hard to come to terms with the sheer depth of the insanity and depravity this cult proliferates. However it’s pleasing to know the membership is much fewer than their claims indicate. It is undoubtedly one of the most divisive and dangerous cults ever formed and I despair of humans for believing in stuff so nonsensical. With so much money at their disposal though they’ll not be easily got rid of.



    Report abuse

  • In the Newcastle/Gateshead area, pseudo-scientists tend to get their behinds kicked! – But delude wish-thinkers can dream on!

    While the Scientology building is standing empty, science buildings within 3 miles of it, just over the bridges across the river, are very active.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_for_Life
    The International Centre for Life is a science village based in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne where scientists, clinicians, educationalists and business people work to promote the advancement of the life sciences. The ICFL Trust is a registered charity, governed by a board of trustees, which receives no public funding.

    The Life Science Centre is a visitor attraction at the International Centre for Life which houses a number of temporary and permanent exhibitions, a Science Theatre, a planetarium and a 4D Motion Ride, as well as presenting a programme of science-themed special events for children and adults. The Life Science Centre also has an educational programme providing science workshops to schools and other groups.

    Life’s patron is Dr James Watson, Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. The £90 million site was designed by Sir Terry Farrell.

    Newcastle Fertility Centre was established in 1991 at the RVI, later moving to the Centre for Life and officially opened by Professor Lord Robert Winston on 22 February 2000. As well as treating infertile couples, it carries out research and development into new fertility treatments.[4]

    Scientists based at The Centre for Life are the first people in Europe – and only the second in the world – to get a license for stem cell research on human embryos. The license will allow work on new treatments for conditions including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease

    Almost 600 people from 35 countries work at Life. Partners in the Centre for Life include Newcastle University; the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI); the NHS Newcastle Fertility Centre and the NHS Northern Genetics Service.

    While across town:

    http://www.thejournal.co.uk/north-east-analysis/analysis-news/newcastle-science-city-set-significant-7405706
    Professor Peter Higgs at the unveiling of a plaque in The Core, a building under construction in the new science park

    There is also “Discovery Museum” of modern and historical science and technology nearby. http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/discovery/collections.html (Real science – Nothing to do with Ham except in the cafe)



    Report abuse

  • So put briefly, there are more than TEN TIMES the number of science staff promoting science to the public (not including those in the many departments in schools, colleges and universities) than the entire population of Scientologists in the area!



    Report abuse

  • @OP – “Northumbria is the area where an entire revival of the United Kingdom’s spiritual and cultural fabric emanated from in the 7th Century,” reads the accompanying text, “and now, from where it will shine once again.”

    Which is probably convincing to wish-thinking cherry pickers, whose mentality is still in the 7th century.

    However, if anyone had done any REAL scientific survey for potential congregations in this area of Gateshead, they might have found very few likely converts to Scientology!

    As far as “spiritual and cultural fabric” go, the religious denominations seem fairly well settled.

    The neighbourhood has a diverse population, with large Jewish and Muslim communities. In fact, Bensham and Saltwell is the largest centre for Jewish education in Europe and attracts Talmudic students from across the world. http://www.gateshead.gov.uk/Building%20and%20Development/Regeneration/GatesheadWide/Neighbourhoodplanning/BenshamandSaltwell.aspx



    Report abuse

  • ‘Going Clear’

    Haven’t watched the documentary; I know actress Leah Remini has been outspoken since exiting the “church”.

    Imo, the coup de grâce (against Scientology) was actress Katie Holmes’ stealth departure. A clean get-away from “church” / husband Cruise (both wealthy), was nothing short of a Navy Seals covert operation. Child now safe.



    Report abuse

  • Watching “Going Clear,” I found myself laughing at the extraordinary, obviously written science fiction that is the mythology behind Scientology, and then comparing/contrasting it with the equally ridiculous mythology of today’s enduring belief systems. The advantage of the world’s widely-practiced religions, of course, is that their mythologies have the benefit of having happened thousands of years ago. I think this is why Mormonism comes off as less believable as well. The further back in history you go, the more open people are to the idea of supernatural events having occurred.

    As stated above, though, the paradigm shifts as a wider range of people are given better access to more information. The Internet is the ultimate enemy to archaic systems of understanding and interpreting the observable world and universe.



    Report abuse

  • Is scientology truth or lie, God or Devil?
    So often both answers (yes it is and no it is not) are true answers pending on perspective. A pending perspective does not mean an opinion. A view point is not an opinion of how someone sees a topic, because their opinion can be a lie. A point of view means the perspective direction or angle that one sees things from in truth. Perspective angles are truth if an illusion, but not if they are a lie. Best example is whether the sun rises out of the ground and out of the sea. It is an illusion, a true illusion. But if you were to say the sun came out of the planet Jupiter, and claim it is your viewpoint, then it is a lie, not an illusion, not an angle-perspective from a viewpoint of God’s truth.
    And THUS:
    Copyrighting the word scientology is like putting a copy right on the word food or medicine or water etc. Scientology is supposed to be the study of science. I am not irritated whether the study of science is by a person of God or not of God, but by the fact that there is science of God and none of it is in this Church. I am a firm strong immovable established faith in all that God is shows up in science because he created all physical things. In fact science wins out on their own irritation that religion actually trashes science and fabricates for God. This puts all religions doing this in the category of defiant rebellious wicked Satanic harm to God and His person Himself.
    An example of true science, God makes solid ice float on liquid water. This is an actual firmly fixed law of God reverse from all other things where solids are more compact and heavier than their liquids. NO ONE has the right to put a copyright on this fact or claim only they can call this preformance of water as scientology, a study of true science of God. For this reason the cult compound nature of this Church will fall by the God of Proof (his own action against it will bring it down and will kill all members of it). Take warning from Him.
    The news is not God’s enemy when it speaks truth of God.



    Report abuse

  • from #13

    An example of true science, God makes solid ice float on liquid water. This is an actual firmly fixed law of God

    This is great! You can stop believing in God now, because there is a simple explanation based on the fact that water molecules are dipolar. They are little arrow heads with separated electrical charges…. You can see this fact when you turn the tap (faucet) to its very lowest flow rate that gives a steady stream and taking a plastic pen rub it on your nice woolen cardigan, then hold it near the flow. The water bends vigorously towards the pen attracted to the static electrical charge on it. Its cool. Show your kids….

    Now-

    A single water particle (a molecule) is made up of two hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom. The oxygen will attract the negative charges in the hydrogen towards it. This will cause the oxygen atom to be negatively charged and the hydrogen atoms to become positively charged. When a liquid freezes, liquid particles move closer together and form strong bonds with one another. There are now more particles in the same area, the solid is denser than the liquid. When water freezes the negative charges on the oxygen push the particles part. This means that the water becomes less dense with freezing.

    Most liquids are not polar in this way. Try baby oil. It fails the static electricity attraction test and freezes (at about -10 Celsius in your freezer) as expected from the bottom up.

    All such questions are answered by physics. You merely have to be bothered to look. So God not needed. Time for education instead…

    The news is not God’s enemy when it speaks truth of God.

    But when it simply speaks the truth it most certainly is God’s mortal enemy.



    Report abuse

  • Richard Schiller #13
    Apr 30, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Scientology is supposed to be the study of science.

    But if us science fiction not science!

    I am not irritated whether the study of science is by a person of God or not of God, but by the fact that there is science of God and none of it is in this Church.

    It is highly doubtful if science is compatible with any church. Knowledge based on evidence-based scientific methodology of repeat testing, is a totally opposite process to believing mythology on pure faith.

    I am a firm strong immovable established faith in all that God is shows up in science because he created all physical things.

    The thinking processes of faith may copy scientific information, but they cannot establish it in the first place. That requires scientific methodology.

    In fact science wins out on their own irritation that religion actually trashes science and fabricates for God.

    Religions certainly do this in the minds of their followers, where science conflicts with beliefs and refutes religious claims.

    This puts all religions doing this in the category of defiant rebellious wicked Satanic harm to God and His person Himself.

    This is of course in the view of rival religions which believe in gods or Satan. Atheists recognise both beliefs as indoctrinated delusions in the minds of those religious who believe in these supernatural characters.

    An example of true science, God makes solid ice float on liquid water. This is an actual firmly fixed law of God reverse from all other things where solids are more compact and heavier than their liquids.

    Some religions do claim their gods are responsible for the laws of physics, but have never been able to produce a credible explanation of

    a) that these gods exist,

    b) How the gods were supposed to achieve this.

    c) How the natural laws can be compatible with supernatural claims, or why humans or the Earth should be considered a significant part of the universe when they are so tiny in comparison!



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.