Author : Wright Lawrence
Title : Going clear Scientology, Hollywood, and the prison of belief
Year : 2013
Link download : Wright_Lawrence_-_Going_clear.zip
Introduction. Scientology plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions that have arisen in the twentieth century and survived into the twenty-first. The church won’t release official membership figures, but informally it claims 8 million members worldwide, a figure that is based on the number of people who have donated to the church. A recent ad claims that the church welcomes 4.4 million new people every year. And yet, according to a former spokesperson for the church, the International Association of Scientologists, an organization that church members are forcefully encouraged to join, has only about 30,000 members. The largest concentration, about 5,000, is in Los Angeles. A survey of American religious affiliations compiled in the Statistical Abstract of the United States estimates that only 25,000 Americans actually call themselves Scientologists. That’s less than half the number identifying themselves as Rastafarians. Despite decades of declining membership and intermittent scandals that might have sunk other faiths, Scientology remains afloat, more than a quarter century after the death of its chimerical leader, L. Ron Hubbard. In part, its survival is due to colossal financial resources— about $1 billion in liquid assets, according to knowledgeable former members. Strictly in terms of cash reserves, that figure eclipses the holdings of most major world religions. Scientology’s wealth testifies to the avidity of its membership, relentless fund-raising, and the legacy of Hubbard’s copyrights to the thousand books and articles he published. The church also claims about 12 million square feet of property around the world. Hollywood is the center of Scientology’s real-estate empire, with twenty-six properties valued at $400 million. The most recent addition to the church’s Hollywood portfolio is a television studio on Sunset Boulevard formerly owned by KCET, acquired in order to open a Scientology broadcasting center. In Clearwater, Florida, where Scientology maintains its spiritual headquarters, the church owns sixty-eight largely tax-exempt parcels of land, valued at $168 million. They include apartment buildings, hotels and motels, warehouses, schools, office buildings, a bank, and tracts of vacant land. The church often acquires landmark buildings near key locations, such as Music Row in Nashville, Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, and Times Square in New York City. A similar strategy governs the placement of Scientology’s holdings in other countries. Typically, these buildings are magnificently restored architectural treasures, lavishly appointed, even if the membership is negligible. The church owns a fivehundred- acre compound in Southern California and a cruise ship, the Freewinds, which is based in the Caribbean. The Church of Spiritual Technology, the branch of Scientology that owns the trademarks and copyrights to all church materials, including Hubbard’s immense body of popular fiction, maintains secret bases in several remote locations in at least three American states, where the founder’s works are stored in titanium canisters in nuclear-blastresistant caverns. ...