Thank you all for your reports from around the world. These reports provide a snapshot of the Church of Scientology in its current state.
This is only a sampling, and I hope that others will continue to send in reports from their areas so this can be added to with more detailed information and it can become a useful source of true information for Scientologists and the media.
One of the reasons for doing this is that every time Pinocchio Pouw “speaks”, or a church lawyer stands up in court, their Miscavige penned statements drone on about the fabulous international expansion of Scientology under the brilliant guidance of David Miscavige. The claims are familiar — 25 or 37 “new churches” opened over the last “few years”. Greater expansion in the last few years than in the combined 5 decades previously. 10 million Scientologists. “More than 10,000 Orgs, Missions and ‘related groups'” and some idiocy about square footage of buildings purchased or under renovation.
So, here are the first summaries. The information sent in about the “library campaign” is a separate posting.
Steven’s Creek “Ideal Org”
Very few cars in the parking lot any time we drive by. 15 or so at most. The last grand re-re opening probably had about 400-500 in attendance and that included most staff from 3 local orgs as well as people from out of town. We were there and told we couldn’t take pictures with regular cameras by Secret Service looking guys. I asked why and they said that some people were posting pictures on entheta Internet sites. Oh no! Apparently they don’t know that most cell phones can take and post pictures immediately! They didn’t stop anyone from using cell phone cameras. What crack security!
Los Gatos “Ideal Org”
Actually in San Jose as most people know. I was on course as recently as 2011, often by myself or with a few staff members. Often Academy and Public course rooms combined with one supervisor. Had a tour last year after second grand opening to see the new video displays and the renovated interior. Have also been to a few events. Very few public around. The BIS graphs in the Academy show the highest ever at 56. That was last summer. [BTW BIS counts for EACH DAY someone is in the org on service]
Mountain View semi “Ideal Org”
(It was declared ideal once but apparently is not good enough)
Current org and “waiting for funding” ideal org. Same story. Very few cars in the current parking lot. Recent huge fund raising efforts have not resulted in equally huge funds as reported in weekly standings.
Photos show Saturday morning at the existing Mt. View Org. There were only 4 cars in the parking lot.
Common business sense would have you getting a new, bigger building when you have outgrown the one you are in, right?
The new building is attractive enough but it is in the back of a business park and has a freeway wall to one side of it.
Both buildings are hard to find and have no pedestrian traffic at all.
I’ve been to ASHO and AOLA as recently as 2011. Much quieter than years past. The parking lot was never full and it used to be packed with cars on all side streets in years past. The big Solo I courseroom is about 1/5 full at any time. Used to be crowded. Practical room was quiet. Used to be noisy and active.
After 12 million in donations for the Ideal Org of San Diego located in La Mesa, the property has been sold for 9.3 million.
See NBCS story here
There are no more Missions. The SD Org (downtown SD) did have a For Sale sign on it awhile back. Not sure if it’s still for sale.
They purchased a building but it has never been renovated. It just stands empty.
Here’s a bit of data for you from the suburbs of southern California: the “Church of Scientology, Mission of Santa Clarita” has gone from an office suite, to someone’s living room, to a PO Box over the last few years. Santa Clarita is a mid-size city of about 200,000 about 30 mins north of downtown Los Angeles.
If one does a simple web search, one would hardly know that anything is amiss. If one googles “Church of Scientology, Mission of Santa Clarita”, all indications suggest that right there in the middle of Santa Clarita, on a busy street, there is an office suite or small building that is a Scientology Mission. There’s even a website and a facebook page.
As it turns out however, when I went looking for it in 2009, the “Mission” had moved about 45 minutes northeast of Santa Clarita into someone’s house in a residential section of the high-desert city of Lancaster. I drove by the street address (which I found on scientology.org at the time) about four years ago and there was no “Church of Scientology” sign at all. It was just a plain single-story house, in a rather bland low-income neighborhood. It was mid-week around 8pm, and there was only one car in the driveway.
Then today, in response to your latest blog post, I went to the scientology.org website and looked up the Mission to see if it was still there. Turns out the address that scientology.org now gives is a post-office box in a “Post n Parcel” store in a strip mall in the same desert city of Lancaster. From the style of the address, I actually thought they found an office suite — but I went to check it out, and it turned out it was just a P.O. Box.
This is the report from the capital of corporate Scientology, Sunland/Tujunga, County of LA, with a total population of 20,372 per the 2010 Census. This area has the highest density of working (not independently wealthy) corporate Scientologists in the world, because the housing prices are somewhat more affordable for the Los Angeles area. On a hot and dry day one can see a Kool-Aid tanker truck coming through Foothill Blvd. every 50 minutes.
To serve the straight vertical expansion there is one corporate Scientology mission in Sunland/Tujunga. It is located along Foothill Blvd right besides and beneath a Panda Panda Restaurant. The building is in somewhat respectable condition and they even got a new “Scientology” sign on the outside a few weeks ago. We wondered whether that will increase the bodies in the shop or make the nearby pedestrian crossing more frequented as people elect to change the side of the street to walk down Foothill Boulevard.
A few steps down (not sure if that was an intended allegory), one approaches the main entrance to the mission.
We decided to take a look at this place at a Sunday afternoon. The mission looks somewhat “ideal” and is situated in the world’s highest concentration of Scientologists per square mile; therefore, we wanted to see the mission at its busiest time. Below is a Sunday afternoon picture of the mission front desk.
You can imagine our disappointment: Instead of buzzing activities we saw an empty desk and empty hallways. One of the correspondents pointed out the sign with the opening hours.
That explained it. Sunday is closed and Mon- Fri. open for 150 minutes, Saturday 390 minutes. Either the efficiency of the mission in the densest corporate Scientologists population to handle the straight up vertical expansion of Bridge® flow is just through the roof or they really have nothing to do at all. The opening hours of the Sunland Mission per week (whopping 1140 minutes) is approached by the neighboring Whopper business (Burger King) with 1020 minutes in a single day. Maybe that is in indicator for the buzzing traffic this Mission actually sees.
10 years ago, the Honolulu Org, while a mere shadow of it’s former late ’70’s, early 80’s self, was none-the-less situated in the middle of the city, on a reasonably high foot traffic thoroughfare, and in a reasonably upstat space with 2,000 or so sq ft., probably 20 or so Day + Fnd staff, with some students on courses, and pc’s in the HGC.
Today, while somewhat close to the largest shopping mall in the state (Ala Moana), the Org is tucked into maybe 800 sq ft. on the 2nd floor of a very tired office (come mixed low-profile retail) building across the street from a few “Hostess Clubs”. Day + Fnd staff may total 5 or 6, 1 course room with few students (mostly old timers coming a couple times a week to grind through their Basics), and 1 auditing room with the door seldom closed.
Straight up and vertical if the top push-pin has fallen off and the graph is now hanging upside down.
I can report for Alabama (my home state): We don’t have ANY Scientology churches to service our approx. 5 million inhabitants.
I “staked out” the Philly org this morning from approximately 9:05 to 10:00 AM. Staff muster must have taken place at 9:00 as the door was already open (course starts at 9:30 on weekends); consequently, I was unable to get a precise staff count. Three public arrived a few minutes before 9:30 – and that was it. The parking lot directly next to the building (which I assume is for org parking) contained a total of three vehicles. I spent about 20 minutes in the org and, based on limited observations and a few quick conversations, estimate that the number of staff on post was approximately 6 to 7.
I subsequently checked out the new idle org building on Chestnut Street and both it, and a smaller building next to it (currently being used as a book store) were closed. It does not appear that renovations to the building have even been started despite the fact it was purchased in 2007. I was on staff until the late 1980s and can tell you that we would average about 10-15 public on the weekends with at least 3 or 4 PCs.
Second Report on Philadelphia
We have a run down org which could actually be fine except we are saddled with a giant derelict of a building which is supposedly the tallest building in Scientology.It cost 8 million and was purchased without knowing the reno costs.Who does that? I heard 8 million for renos but not to worry there is an ideal org event tonight! We have a very small but extremely dedicated staff often people have left for SO or just vanished with no explanation to public ever.Very small field and not visibly growing for years . Making very few auditors or clears if any? Again very great very small staff and very small but generous field .We are both being abused from above the long term condition is emergency or lower. Straight up and vertical is straight up fantasy.
I can verify Houston’s lack of growth. The Mission is Foundation hours only. It is located in a shopping center behind a nightclub. At night, you can hear the music in the mission. While it has off-street parking, it has zero visibility from the street and zero walk-by traffic. See Google maps photo from the street
In Albany, NY (the capital city of NY state), there is supposed to be a mission, but I can’t find much. As far as I can tell, the mission covers all of upstate NY and has as-needed hours. No one answers the phone number. Not much going on.
West Palm Beach
There is a tiny mission there set back from the road in a strip mall. It is only open Sundays 10:30 am to 6 pm and 3 evenings a week from 7pm to 10pm.
I drove by the New Haven org yesterday afternoon shortly before five PM. Years ago (mid 80s to mid 90s) he church used to occupy two floors of the building on the corner of Whitney Ave. and Blake Street. The size of their rental has been diminishing ever since. When I checked yesterday, the office was closed. There was no sign on the door saying where, if anywhere, they had moved. My guess is that they have an office somewhere nearby. (There were seven or eight cars in their parking lot). It appears they have gone into hiding.
Second Report on New Haven Org
I live about ninety miles from New Haven and only get over there a couple of times a month. The org is currently on Whalley Ave. in a nice section of the city. It has been there since at least 1986. Prior to the org, there were two or three missions in CT. My last involvement was in the late 70s; at that time, there were at least three missions: Berlin, New London, and New Haven (there may have been another mission in Bridgeport or Fairfield as well). Today, there are just the org and a mission in West Hartford, CT.
I believe the building for the Ideal Org was purchase around 2007 amidst great fanfare. A website was put up to tout the news but interest in the project quickly waned and the last newsletter was penned in December, 2008. The building purchased was an old furniture store (Hallocks) about one block from the current location. Since that time, the only use of the property has to provide ample parking spaces for the current org. I have driven by at different times of different days and the org always appears dead. I have never seen more than two people inside at any one time. There is security monitoring on the new building as I was approached within minutes when taking photos one day.
It should be noted that New Haven is one of the most tolerant cities in the United States with respect to religious freedom. They obtained tax exemption for the property in 2007 but failed to file certain papers with the assessor and the exemption was revoked. When the tax bills came, rather than appealing the assessments, they ignored the bills and the property went into foreclosure. The church then blamed the city for failing to tell them that they needed to file for an exemption and counter-sued. According to the first lawyer for the city,the city offered to forgive one year of taxes if they paid the other year. The lawsuit was only recently resolved although I am not aware of the details.
Now that the tax issues have been resolved, the road is well paved for strait up and vertical expansion.
Tucson Mission has not recovered from its attempted takeover by an SP in 2011. It’s still surviving on donations for its monthly rent. Staff still doesn’t get paid. Before the takeover attempt, there were about 10-15 people at Sunday Service. Now there’s fewer than five. Courseroom runs 3 evenings a week and Saturday 9-5. Only about 3 people on course, if that. Some Saturday afternoons it’s just empty. There’s no mission holder, so it isn’t even qualified to be a Mission. ED walks around with a 9mm handgun in a holster. The ED hits relentlessly on anything female, No one knows how to read OCAs. I brought a friend in who was interested in seeing what’s going on and the brutish behavior of the ED, gun and all, frightened her into leaving. The people who used to be at the Mission that actually knew Scientology in 2011 were removed in a “purge”. The one remaining guy on staff who seems decent is stuck in the courseroom, hasn’t moved on the Bridge in 12 years. He can’t move now, though, since he gave all the money he’d saved to go Clear to Phoenix Idle Org fundraising effort. No promo is being sent out. No books are being sold. The local OTs finished their Basics at the Mission long ago or went to AOLA or Flag. The place seemed like a fortified morgue. Not attractive to new customers at all.
Phoenix, AZ “Ideal Org”
Phoenix Idle Org has lost over 50% of the staff it acquired in an effort to become Ideal. Seems they weren’t qualified to be on staff, especially the problematic clause about not having debts that will pull them out of the org. On Saturday and Sunday during the day, I only see 3 cars in the parking lot. The staff seems to park on the other side of the building, about 5 cars worth. They have three courserooms collapsed into one since they don’t have enough supervisors to cover three coursetooms. It doesn’t matter, though, because there’s only a maximum of eight people on a good weekend day. Most of the people in the courseroom seem to be OTs doing Basics or Day staff doing their hats. There’s no KTL, no LOC; they don’t have supervisors trained to do it. I didn’t see anyone doing meter drills, so I’m concluding there’s no Academy auditors in training. The senior C/S spends a lot of time doing WIAC checklists, probably for compliance reports to RTC. The HGC was empty. There were never any new people in the Div 6 media center, so it looks like guessing the foot traffic and general interest has flagged to non-existence. When I called the bookstore to ask the bookstore officer about a “new release” announced at an Int event, the BSO couldn’t be located, and for six calls in three days! So I called CC Int and bought the new release there.
CC Int send the release I ordered to a friend of mine, which was a CCHR video about DSM. I sent it to him because his father is incarcerated in a psych hospital. The church followed up by NOT putting him on the org magazine mailing list. They’ve also sent him three letters obviously written by a poor Sea Org recruit that doesn’t have the CF folder to hand. She keeps asking why he’s interested in Scientology, which he obviously isn’t! I asked him not to ask off the mailing list in the hopes that CC Int will keep sending him out-R letters and keep alienating him. He doesn’t live in the same state as CC Int anyway, so no way is he going to just “go in”.
3 cars in the parking lot, nobody else visible.
My friend and I went to visit the Vancouver, Canada org out of interest a few months back, out of curiosity. We used our real first names, false last names, phone numbers, and addresses, and I gave a new email address that I could check and/or dump that was unrelated to my usual one. Our first impression is that the Vancouver org was completely dead. There were two young girls (14?) at the front desk who were both uninterested and confused when we said we wanted to know more about Scientology. There were many books and media on display, ostensibly for purchase. The entry seemed pretty dated and cramped. There were a couple empty meeting rooms off the front room, but they all seemed empty and unused. Finally they found someone to help us (an Extension Course Director?), and we were set up to watch a dvd and then do the Oxford Capacity Analysis test. Rev. Lorraine, the woman ‘helping’ us, asked if we wanted to try auditing, and we said that we did. But she was unable to find a working e-meter! She tried one, but it was broken. Then another Scientology person took us each individually to discuss the assessment of our Oxford tests. She explained it to some degree, but as expected, she had lots of negative things to say about me. (!!!)
While we were there (Sunday late morning) we saw a few people come and go. Maybe 4 or 5? Everyone seemed to know each other. There was no congregation of people, but everyone entering the org went to some back rooms that we didn’t have access to.
Ultimately we didn’t buy anything, but we were each given a dvd to watch at home. We didn’t get much pressure to buy anything, but we were told about an upcoming seminar. Lorraine was, frankly, a terrible salesperson.
A few days later I received an email from Lorraine, asking if I wanted to be involved in the seminar. I replied: “Hi Lorraine, Thank you for your email, but I have some reservations and concerns about Scientology. I’m afraid too many non-LRH sources that make me concerned about its goals and motivations. Also, your colleague told me that I was “cold blooded and heartless”, and that wasn’t a very welcoming way to be introduced to the faith. Thank you for your time.”
I received a reply saying “Hi Xxxx – Lorraine is on holidays at the moment, so will not be able to answer your email for a week or so. Best Regards, Kathie Smith” I never heard from either Lorraine or Kathie again.
Ultimately, I expected a smoother sales pitch, more aggressive salespeople, a better presented visitor centre, and greeters who had a bit more experience and training. I was surprised that two interested walk-ins were treated with such lack of interest.
I also took out a couple Scientology books from my local library in Coquitlam, a suburb of Vancouver. Out of interest, I asked the librarian how many times they’d been taken out. Both were dated from 1996. One (Dianetics) had been taken out twice (including me), the other had never been taken out before me. Seems that people in Coquitlam are not beating down the doors of Scientology.
Coincidentally, I live close to the Toronto org on Yonge Street. A couple of weeks ago there was a large fiberoptic tube going inside their front door. A local said he worked on the site behind them, but that he knew this was a fiberoptic installation and the whole building was being rebuilt, and yep, they were in there redoing it But I have seen nothing else on my trips back and forth (it’s my neighbourhood), and it looks gutted, but completely empty. Thankfully, they have removed the dozens of tiny little rickety-looking air conditioners that used to hang ominously out of dozens of windows, but the building is dead. Is this another situation where it may be finished in 10 years or more? Because it really is a giant eyesore sitting where it is now.
Here’s some information about the purchase of a building for Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Ideal Org.
The purchase happened in 2008 and as far as I know, I’ve driven by the building, it is still empty and not being renovated. The present Org is in a rented space a few blocks away. See news article here
Montreal, Quebec Canada
The future Montreal Ideal Org was bought for 4.2 million in 2007 with parishioners donations. It is still not renovated and I don’t know if enough money has been regged for renovations. The original Org is at 4489 Papineau Avenue Montreal. It is open but whenever I drive by it looks empty.
Gothenburg Org in Sweden
They only somtimes answer the phone. I called about 10 times, different days and times during the day, before they answered. The attitude is much less friendly than it used to be, they seem to be very much on the defense, like they feel they´re surrounded by hostility and they always suspect a new person’s a journalist or some other enemy.
I get the feeling the org must have declined more than 50% during the past years. Answered an e-mail though and said that they had staff on GAT2 training, but not enough here to even answer the reception or a substitute for it, and not any messages about this on their web-site. Unthinkable during the past 45 years, so it’s a sharp decline it seems.
I don’t know how much you know about Adelaide , as you gave it a mention in your recent blog, it has a building marked out as a future purchase for idle org.( Probably about the 8th building named over the past 15 years or so.) This morning Gold were in town to do a photo/video shoot in front of the building with as many field public they could muster. Desperate messages sent to my phone from the org to please be there. I guess everyone else got the desperate plea. I decided to check it out from a distance. I don’t think there was much more than 15 people there, Some could’ve been Gold and a few kids were there too. Most of the guys were old die hards and some good well intentioned souls who are friends of mine. Poor sods. I went off for a coffee and came back later when all had gone to get a closer look. The location is about 1/2 an hour drive from the central business district. The address is 1 Second Ave Mawson Lakes. A place called Technology Park. If you google map it you can see it is nice and secluded hidden away from any vehicle and foot traffic placed at the end of a cul-de-sac. It’s not until you drive in front of it that you get to see the whole building, as from the distance it’s obscured by other buildings and trees. You can barely see it from the main Rd and what you can see of it is the back of the building anyway and I think the speed limit on that road is 80 km/hr. To get there you have to take the correct turn off and without a Scientology sign you could easily miss it.
This would be the most ridiculous chose by the the powers that be.
South Bridge, Edinburgh
Talking about idle morgues the one in South Bridge Edinburgh, which used to be a bustling hive of activity, was found to be as you would expect in the current circumstances, a very empty space with no students and no public. It has a very narrow entrance leading to 2 flights of stairs up to the org but amazingly, it has just while walls….no information on what is going on upstairs, until you get inside and find the fancy bookracks! If you blink when you walk past it you miss it. That’s why you always needed information at the front door, and a very active body router. Nothing like that in PT. In fact there is a HOMELESS persons’ office right next door to the org entrance! There are NO books in local bookshops, and very few to be found in libraries. And there is NO promotional campaigns running in Scotland or the UK…no Dianetics ads in papers, no billboards….just tumbleweed! So much for straight up vertical expansion.
In the Netherlands there is only the Amsterdam org; they haven’t managed to open as much as a mission in one of the other cities. In 1984, as a result of Jonestown and the behest of parliament, a large inquiry into cults took place. Scientology was among those organisations scrutinized and they had 725 members at the time, of whom 320 were active according to Scientology (the latter number may be Bodies in the Shop, but I am not sure). In contrast, only 258 people have donated for the Ideal Org in Amsterdam between 2006 and 2012. So they have actually grown smaller in the past 30 years in the Netherlands.
Second Report on Amsterdam.
The org is quite empty. A few people in the Academy, 10 max. No Clears made in the last five years. A new building has just been purchased. Staff is about 30. The org is busy with co-audit teams who are redoing their Objectives. No auditors made in the last five years, except for two staff. ( one at Flag)
The main public library has: No “Basics”. Just DMSMH; Dianetics ’55; Fundamentals of Thouhgt; New Slant of Live. And a lot of critical newspapers articles against the church.
The Church of Scientology in Frankfurt, Germany is celebrating its 40 years anniversary. They won’t survive another 40. Here’s a fresh image from a dark dirty alley behind the central station. The door sign is printed on a paper attached with gaffa tape. And the entrance looks like a corpse cooler. Anette Iren Johansen