You have undoubtedly heard the Church of Scientology bragging about their various “new buildings” around the world. There haven’t actually been very many, but the few that there have been get pointed to by the church as “evidence” of Scientology’s tremendous expansion.
That’s the spin they put on it.
One look inside the new buildings is enough to disprove the “expansion” story. The buildings are empty, or nearly so. The old quarters were empty before all the hoopla, so the new ones were obviously not the result of a demand for more space. So why is the church working so hard, buying all these new, larger buildings?
The obvious explanation is that the church is doing it so they can give the apparency of expansion. Of course this is one reason and is certainly a benefit from the scheme. But, like all things related to the church, the story behind it is much more twisted, much darker. It is actually brilliant, in a dark, twisted way.
It’s all about money.
First, of course, is the PR benefit of being able to point to these buildings and say, “See, expansion!”
Second, it is yet another, clever way to suck even more money from their parishioners. These buildings are purchased using only parishioner’s donations, no church funds are used. Yet another urgent “project” needing their every last nickel and dime.
Third, as pure donations, no one can ask for their money back. You see, when Scientology services are paid for in advance, the church is supposed to return the money, if asked. With these donations, however, there is no return possible.
Aside: In actual fact, the Church of Scientology spent all the “advance payments”! Yes, indeed, if a majority of Scientologists asked for only their advance payments back, which the church is legally required to return, it wouldn’t be able to! It is violating the law, right now, and is in deep trouble. This is the reason they concentrate on “pure donations” for their money now. That’s all money in, with none of those pesky legal requirements not to spend it all!
So far so good, as far as the church is concerned, but the “best” is yet to come.
The local parishioners think they are buying the building for their local branch of the church. But they’re not. No one tells them this. They think the local church will own the new building and never have to pay rent again.
And they are very, very wrong. They have been intentionally misled.
The building, purchased with parishioner’s funds, becomes owned by the International Management, or, essentially, David Miscavige. International Management, in turn, leases the buildings back to the local church at (we assume) inflated rates. And the local church continues to pay rent forever.
You see the beauty of this scam? International Management gets the valuable property for nothing, purchased and fully renovated using parishioner’s funds, parishioner’s volunteer hours and the church’s RPF slave labor and, on top of that, they collect nice fat monthly rent checks on the same property from, essentially, the same people. Double bonus!
[EDIT] I have been informed that this practice of buying the building, transferring ownership to the Int. Landlord who turns around and charges rent has ceased after the big stink at the San Francisco Church of Scientology. Mind you, it was done, it just isn’t done now.
Now, the buildings must be paid in full, no mortgage, no lease, no rental, and then fully renovated before the local church is allowed to move in. This may explain why so many “Ideal Orgs” are stalled so badly. It’s a massive cost that sucks every penny from the local church’s field, but at least they won’t have to pay rent after they’ve bought the building.
Now really, in what universe does sucking all available money from your customers for a building result in the local church having more business? To put it very simply, how does less available money equal more business?
[EDIT-2] It appears that this practice has started back up. With the LRH Birthday Event of 2009, David Miscavige has announced he will be partially funding many of the “new buildings”. This is very significant. Never before has Miscavige offered to pay for anything — once money went into his church’s accounts, it never came back. Now this has suddenly changed! Of course, over the coming years, he will get all that back and much more because of the expensive leases, but still, what’s up?
This change of fundamental operating procedure means one very significant thing: The “Ideal Org” campaign has been an abysmal failure. We’ve all seen it, the struggling churches, the huge empty buildings, it has been, as we predicted, a total failure. A very visible total failure. Miscavige hopes, with this infusion of money, to make his plan succeed. Indeed, more buildings will undoubtedly be purchased. Indeed, some of those will open. Then what? Miscavige has the preposterous idea that all he has to do is create this pretty façade, and people will forget what the Church of Scientology really is, forget what the church is really doing.
Too late. A very pretty scam is still a scam. People know that the Church of Scientology is a scam. They won’t be fooled by Miscavige’s movie-set fakery.
The local parishioners have been conned out of millions of dollars under the misapprehension they were helping their local church. Instead, they’ve greatly increased Miscavige’s wealth, while burdening their local church with more expenses–the new buildings cost substantially more to maintain! The end result of all the parishioner’s hard work is that the local church’s struggle for survival becomes much harder.
But that’s not all! Understand the magnitude of this betrayal: International Management can sell the building right out from under the local church, take the money and run, and the local church, and the parishioners who paid for that building could do nothing to stop them.
And the Church of Scientology has the unmitigated gall to point to this twisted bit of double-dealing as a “sign of expansion”! Yeah, expansion of Miscavige’s bank account!
I point to these new buildings as a perfect example of what kind of evil, twisted machinations this “church” goes through to chivvy every last penny from their trusting
marks parishioners. Instead of “expansion”, these new buildings are just one more nail in the coffin of the Church of Scientology.