21 Mar 2011

Scientology's new Canadian headquarters in isolated location will make it harder for exploited members to escape

Toronto Star   -  Canada      March 15, 2011

Former Orangeville-area resort to become Scientology headquarters

Dan Robson   |  Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Hidden behind a thick wall of trees atop the Niagara Escarpment just north of Toronto, the Church of Scientology is building a massive retreat where believers will “journey through the advanced realms” of their faith.

The facility, which includes more than 80 hectares and five buildings that total around 160,000 square feet, will serve as Scientology's national headquarters when it opens next year.

The organization will upgrade the former Hockley Highlands Inn and Conference Centre in Mono, just northeast of Orangeville, which it purchased in 2009.

But a former member of the church says the isolated location will make it difficult for believers living there to leave if they want to.

Adam Holland, 22, said he wants “to educate local residents to be ready to help out anyone who does escape.” He has picketed the site and plans to do so again as it nears completion.

Design plans, available on Scientology's website, feature “first-class” lodge accommodations, a luxurious conference centre and a café. It will house as many as 200 permanent staff members.

“All told, it's exactly what is required to assist Canadian Scientologists through the ultimate frontier at the top of the bridge to total freedom,” a narrator says during a five-minute video on the website.

The Church of Scientology lists 8,500 churches, missions and groups in 165 countries, including most major Canadian cities.

The faith, which boasts celebrity followers like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is often accused of exploiting its followers for financial gain and is criticized for its controversial beliefs, including its public rejection of psychiatry.

The New Yorker magazine recently featured an article on Oscar-winning screenwriter and London, Ont., native Paul Haggis, who had a high-profile split from Scientology. In many ways, his reported experience mirrored the claims of Holland, who recently defected from the faith after being raised a Scientologist.

Holland volunteered at the church's Toronto centre for two years before leaving.

“They did everything within the threshold of the law ... to prevent me from going,” Holland said of his time living and working at the Toronto centre where he said he was made to work 18 hours a day. He noted the pressure to remain was never physical, but strongly psychological.

Holland said he was disciplined by the church because his sales of founder L. Ron Hubbard's books were too low, and because he passed a message along to a woman in the church from a sister who had left Scientology.

He received a “suppressive person declare” last year, which essentially exiled him from the church and its members, including his father, Paul. Reached by phone, Paul Holland said his son “needs to grow up,” but declined to discuss details of his faith.

Scientology's Toronto church directed questions about Holland's allegations and the new facility to its national office. Pat Felske, public affairs director for the church in Toronto, said officials were occupied with celebrations of Hubbard's 100th birthday and would be available to comment in person on Tuesday.

The church has, however, publicly denied Holland's allegations and maintains that anyone is free to leave.

Scientology is considered a non-profit organization in Ontario, said Felske. It is not listed as a charitable organization with the Canada Revenue Agency.

The Bruce Trail runs through the wooded property, and there have been online reports that the church will ask to have the scenic route moved, which is completely within a private land owner's rights.

The Bruce Trail Conservancy said it has not received a Scientology request to move the trail.

Fred Nix, a member of Mono's township council, said it has never discussed the Scientology facility.

“Up here we also have a monastery, a tai chi centre, and a Boy Scout camp, so if they obey the law and pay their taxes I'm happy.”

With files from Jim Wilkes

This article was found at:


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  1. The Sun visits Scientology cult's new £50m space-age centre

    From PAUL THOMPSON in Clearwater, Florida
    October 21, 2011

    ITS windows are blacked out, cameras monitor every entrance and security guards are on 24-hour patrol. Inside the imposing, hotel-sized building workmen put the finishing touches to a series of rooms packed with space-age equipment aimed at boosting the "superpower" of its users.

    It may sound like something from Tom Cruise's next film Mission: Impossible 4, but this is the latest venture of the Church of Scientology, which has the Hollywood superstar as its most famous devotee. Cruise is expected to attend the grand opening of what is known as The Super Power Building, which has nearly 900 rooms and has taken more than 13 years to build at a cost of £50million. Fellow film stars John Travolta and Kirstie Alley are also expected to be there.

    The building in Clearwater, Florida, has been shrouded in secrecy since its foundations were first laid. And when The Sun tried to find out about the imposing structure, it turned out to be Mission: Impossible. Within minutes of arriving outside the entrance a security guard stepped out from behind a blacked-out door to monitor us. Moments later another guard on a mountain bike peddled up and asked what we were doing. He wore a white shirt and black trousers, the uniform adopted by many Scientology staff.
    Later, yet another security guard began filming us before ducking behind a tree when we trained our camera on him.

    Attempts to find out what will happen in the Super Power Building were met with silence by officials. The veil of secrecy does not surprise experts who have followed the religion since it was founded by the late science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1952. Someone who has spoken to dozens of former members, said: "Scientology claims not to be a cult but all they do gives that impression. They don't like people snooping around what they are doing."

    A series of alleged artists' impressions of the interior that were leaked on to the net have revealed NASA-like training gizmos that will be used to help devotees of the religion to boost their so-called "theta powers". The building houses an ANTI-GRAVITY SIMULATOR central to boosting devotees' mental abilities. Users are strapped blindfolded into the machine which spins around and is said to aid perception of direction.

    Other rooms contain a VIDEO SCREEN that moves back and forwards while flashing up images. It is said to help users enhance their ability to spot subliminal messages. The centrepiece of the 12-storey building is the sixth-floor INDOOR RUNNING TRACK the length of the structure, which is kept in semi-darkness. An insider said Scientology worshippers will be encouraged to run until they are close to exhaustion and their mind freed of painful memories.

    The highly secret Super Power course was developed by Hubbard and is said to boost a person's perceptions or senses through mental and physical exercises. Scientologists believe that in addition to the five senses of hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell, we all have 57 extra "abilities". These include being able to sense blood circulation, balance and know compass direction, temperature and gravity as well as have an "awareness of importance, unimportance".

    Almost half the building's 889 rooms will be used to carry out "audits" — the Scientology term for counselling sessions. Auditing is a cornerstone of the religion, which all members must undergo. It is said that a museum dedicated to Hubbard will be on the ground floor, plus murals depicting famous moments in Scientology's history. The Super Power Building is connected by a walkway to a luxury hotel, Fort Harrison, used as a retreat exclusively by Scientology members. The hotel is also ringed by CCTV cameras and security guards hover at the entrance. ...

    read the full article at:


  2. Paul Haggis gets no satisfaction from Scientology defections

    The Canadian Press November 7, 2011

    TORONTO — Paul Haggis says he's been told that his high-profile rebuke of Scientology has prompted other followers to leave the controversial church. But the Oscar-winning filmmaker insists he didn't set out to encourage others to leave the faith, which boasts several influential Hollywood devotees including Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

    "It's a personal decision for me and if other people want to make a personal decision that's up to them too. I'm not on some crusade," said the 58-year-old filmmaker, who condemned the church in a lengthy magazine article earlier this year. "I think we all have to live by our own codes and I was trying to live by mine and others can live by theirs."

    The acclaimed director was in Toronto on Monday to lead a master class for film and television students at the Canadian Film Centre, which announced that Haggis had been named the new chairman of its film programs. The role means that Haggis will deliver at least one master class a year at the training centre, which has helped launch the careers of Canuck talent including Clement Virgo, Sarah Polley, Vincenzo Natali and Don McKellar.

    Haggis said it was an honour to accept the job and contribute to the legacy of filmmaker Norman Jewison, who founded the CFC. "And you can never say no to Norman," Haggis adds. "He's an incredible filmmaker and a hero of mine so whatever he asks me to do I just say, 'Yes."'

    Despite his willingness to tackle difficult topics, Haggis said he's not interested in writing a movie about religion or his troubles with Scientology, which he left in 2009.

    "I don't think it's that interesting," he said, nevertheless admitting that the larger issues he wrestled with in his dealings with the church could emerge in future scripts.

    "We always pull from things that you deal with, you just don't know how they're going to come out."

    Haggis detailed his complaints with the church in a New Yorker article posted online in February. The 25,000-word piece outlined how Haggis had ascended "all the way to the top" of the religion, founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1952.

    Haggis said he became disillusioned when his daughter Katy was allegedly ostracized after coming out as a lesbian, when his wife was allegedly ordered to cut contact with her parents after they left the church, and when he came across news reports alleging church executives were physically violent with members.

    Soon after the article came out, Haggis said several people turned their backs on him and he lost at least one friend over his comments.

    On Monday, Haggis said it was difficult to know whether his sharp remarks also had any effect on his career.

    "It's impossible to tell, isn't it?" said Haggis, who lives in New York.

    "Everything is a struggle in this business so getting your film financed, getting the next project going is always a struggle. No one's going to ride up and say, 'Listen I didn't like what you wrote, or I didn't like what you said and therefore I'm not going to do blankity blank.' But I'm not worried. There's a lot of people who have spoken out about different things in this world and they do just fine."

    Comedy filmmaker David Frankel, whose films include "Marley & Me" and "The Devil Wears Prada," hosts the CFC's next master class on Tuesday at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

    read the full article at:


  3. Cambridge church new regional outpost for Scientology

    by Chris Herhalt, Waterloo Record staff Feb 14 2013

    CAMBRIDGE — Only a few hundred metres away from Cambridge Centre Mall sits a large white building adorned with a golden, eight-point adaptation of the Christian crucifix.

    Inside, men, women, and a few children — all dressed in black suits — hurry purposefully past flat screen televisions and benches, carefully tidying the ornate hardwood, glass and tile interior.

    At the main entrance, a curious grey device with white dials measuring the body’s natural electric current, called an e-meter, sits on a table. Above, a sign reads “See a thought.”

    The building is the Church of Scientology’s newest facility in Canada. The church aims to dissuade critics and dispel bad press by displaying a new “ideal,” professional image to the community it calls home.

    “We needed to expand somewhere and Cambridge is a beautiful city,” said Angela Ilasi, a church spokesperson.

    The new complex at 1305 Bishop St. N. is part of a worldwide drive to replace its small offices in downtown storefronts with palatial campuses able to “deliver all that Scientology delivers” to adherents, according to Ilasi.
    They will soon close their second floor office on King Street in downtown Kitchener and consolidate its operations in the new Cambridge facility.

    A photographer and reporter from The Record were invited to join a closely guided tour of the church Wednesday.

    The new church contains space for Sunday services, saunas and exercise bikes for detoxification, a bookstore and rooms for one-on-one “spiritual counselling sessions” known as auditing.

    Visitors can watch several displays extolling the virtues of the church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and his mental health and self-improvement program, Dianetics.

    As in all other Scientology facilities, there’s an unoccupied office dedicated to Hubbard on the first floor of the complex. He died in 1986.

    As for the suit-wearing children performing church tasks at noon on a Wednesday, Ilasi said they’re just “volunteering” and still attend school.

    The church bought the building and two-acre property for $3.75 million cash in July 2009, which used to house an insurance firm. Ilasi said they’ve been busy renovating the property since June 2012. It opened to the public February 9.

    She said the church chose to set up in Cambridge because they want to be a part of Waterloo Region’s reputation as an economic rising star and technology hub.

    “We wouldn’t have gone to a place with no technology, no culture, and no economic expansion.”

    The Church itself has faced immense criticism around the world from former followers, journalists and law enforcement officials who say the high cost of completing mandatory self-improvement courses and various allegations of fraud and physical abuse mean the organization should be branded a dangerous cult.

    “Every religion has its critics,” replied Ilasi. “We present what we know about Scientology, we continue to do our good work, and most people are really interested to find out what it is.”

    Scientology is treated as a quasi-religious institution in Canada. The Church itself does not have status as a registered charity, but a Toronto chapter of its addictions treatment program, Narconon, does. But it is exempt from paying property tax in Ontario.

    Although the last census that counted religious affiliation found only 1,525 people in all of Canada who said they were Scientologists in 2001, Ilasi says “several thousand” people in southwestern Ontario have taken or completed programs run by the organization in recent years.

    Marriages and naming ceremonies, which are the equivalent of a christening, performed by Scientologists are legally recognized in Canada.


  4. Protesters part of church opening

    by Bill Jackson, Cambridge Times Staff February 14, 2013

    Paid-duty policing and security were required for the grand opening of a new Church of Scientology “Ideal Org” in Cambridge last Saturday afternoon.

    Members claim that more than 1,000 people attended the event, although a freelancer for the Cambridge Times wasn’t allowed in. She was told the opening was a private event and media wasn’t welcome.

    In an article published last Friday, Church of Scientology Canada spokesperson Angela Ilasi stated via e-mail that the church’s doors are open and everyone is welcome. She encourages people to visit www.scientology.org.

    “Further, we always encourage people to come to our churches and find out for themselves,” she stated.

    However, representatives claimed there was a misunderstanding about the timing of a tour of the new church when the Cambridge Times arrived at noon on Monday. They also expressed that a recent article about the opening, which quoted Project Chanalogy – an Internet-based protest movement against the practices of Scientology – took some members aback.

    David Edgar Love said that he and about nine protestors who showed up outside the opening in Cambridge on Saturday were from a variety of places and weren’t just representing one group.

    Love formed a charitable organization in 1990 and was the director of a rehabilitation centre for substance abuse, and claims he’s dedicated much of his life to public safety. He drew special attention to charges against a drug rehabilitation centre run by Scientologists in Quebec that was recently shut down by health authorities.

    “People have died because of incompetent and unqualified staff practices and Scientology policies – like refusing to administer medicines that help some survive and cope in society,” Love claims.

    continued in next comment...

  5. Former Scientologist Adam Holland was also out front of the Bishop Street location. Holland was featured in a Maclean’s magazine article last fall and claims the church robbed him of his father, home and identity.

    A quick Internet search reveals criminal charges and convictions involving the church and its members that go back decades, across the globe.

    Celebrity involvement has also shined a spotlight on Scientology and its practices, and several books by critics and former members have been published, documenting life in the church.

    Current members, however, say that much of the criticism is unfounded and shouldn’t take away from the wonderful work being done by Scientologists in communities such as Cambridge.

    “I know the church is going to be a major player as a community partner in the development of this whole region,” stated Derek Lee, a retired Liberal MP, who according to a press release spoke at last weekend’s ribbon cutting that was attended by “national and provincial dignitaries”.

    The presence of ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion David Miscavige was also said to mark the significance of the occasion.

    “The Church of Scientology is doing a good turn for Ontario,” according to Canadian Multicultural Council co-founder Mr. Sid Ikeda, who spoke to the church’s long record of community service.

    According to the press release, the new church provides the tri-cities with an introduction to Dianetics and Scientology, beginning with a public information centre that is said to offer a detailed overview of the many church-sponsored humanitarian programs including “a worldwide human rights education initiative, an equally far-reaching drug education, prevention and rehabilitation program, a global network of literacy and learning centres, and the Scientology volunteer minister program, now comprising the world’s largest independent relief force.”

    Displays are said to contain more than 500 films, present the beliefs and practices of the Scientology religion and the life and legacy of its founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    “The church’s chapel provides for Scientology congregational gatherings, including Sunday services, weddings and naming ceremonies – as well as a host of community-wide events open to members of all faiths.

    The new church further includes multiple seminar rooms and classrooms, in addition to dozens of rooms for Scientology auditing (spiritual counselling).”


  6. Anti-cult conference planned in Scientologys backyard

    by Peter Stanners, The Copenhagen Post May 29, 2013

    Family support groups are meeting in Copenhagen on Thursday to discuss how to tackle cults and support the friends and families of individuals affected by controlling groups

    The Church of Scientology has its European headquarters in Copenhagen (Photo: tobias vl / flickr)
    The organiser of an anti-cult conference being held on Thursday has called on the government to do more to protect citizens from the threat of manipulative organisations.

    The conference is organised by FECRIS, an umbrella organisation for European family support groups whose members help the families and friends of cult members.

    FECRIS president Tom Sackville told The Copenhagen Post that few European governments had enacted legislation to protect citizens from controlling groups that call themselves religions.

    "These organisations wreck lives to an extent that normally would lead governments to take some action,” Sackville said. “But by posing as religions, they succeed in convincing civil servants and politicians to back off and fail to take a principled stand."

    Sackville was particularly critical of the Danish government for allowing the Church of Scientology, which was started by the science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952, to establish its European headquarters in Copenhagen.

    The organisation is known for its controversial practices that include urging its members to “disconnect” from friends and family who are not members.

    "Scientology is a massive scam that benefits people at the top while those at the bottom suffer. We have seen time and time again that families are blighted when members are sucked into these organisations," Sackville said. "They take people in, brainwash them, take what they want and then spit them out."

    Scientology is treated differently across Europe. France, the UK and Germany do not classify it as a religion while Spain, Sweden and Portugal do.

    Despite having its headquarters in Copenhagen, Scientology is not classified as a religion in Denmark. The city is also the location for the organisation's Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) where members that have deviated from Scientology's teachings are sent.

    Last September, however, the RPF was accused of functioning as a labour camp and "private prison" by Scientology critic and researcher Ursula Caberta, who recently retired from the Scientology Task Force of the Hamburg Interior Authority.

    In an interview with tabloid BT, she questioned why the Danish government hadn’t intervened. But Scientology spokesperson Anette Refstrup replied that the ten people who were participating in the programme at the time were there voluntarily.

    Sackville argues, however, that specific legislation is needed to help people exit groups like Scientology.

    "Because the government doesn’t take a stand, it’s hard for the many ex-members who are mentally damaged by their experiences to seek help from the health service,” Sackville said. "We are holding a conference on Scientology's doorstep to make the point that if the Danish government will not do it someone has to stand up to the vile organisations.”

    Around 100 attendees from 20 countries are expected to attend tomorrow's conference, which will be held at the Kosmopol Conference Centre.

    Neither the Ministry for Integration and Social Affairs, nor the Church of Scientology returned a request to comment for this article.


  7. Scientology opens state-of-the-art communications HQ in middle of Hollywood

    by Matthew Dunn, news.com.au MAY 30, 2016

    SOARING 45 metres above Sunset Boulevard in the centre of Hollywood stands a communications tower adorned with two triangles and a stylised “S”.

    The logo belongs to the controversial Church of Scientology and is being used as branding for the religion’s new hi-tech media complex known as Scientology Media Productions (SMP), which has been created to act as an “uncorrupted communication line to the billions”.

    Speaking to more than 10,000 Scientologists at the unveiling of the complex, church leader David Miscavige said the global media centre would be used to combat biased media reports and allow for the delivery of “unadulterated and pure” teachings of the religion.

    “As the saying goes, if you don’t write your own story, someone else will,” he said.

    “We’re now going to be writing our story like no other religion in history. And it’s all going to happen right here from Scientology Media Productions.”

    Originally built in 1912 and situated on a five-acre complex near the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood boulevards, the motion picture and television studio has been restored for Scientology to create and deliver content across print, broadcast and online media.

    Fitted with state-of-the-art sound stages, visual effects production areas, editing suites and audio recording and mixing studios with foreign language translation and dubbing capabilities, the production house has been described as the most modern and sophisticated digital media facility of its kind on the planet.

    Mr Miscavige said Scientology Media Productions would bean invaluable asset in helping spread the message of the new-age religion.

    “It’s a history L Ron Hubbard himself laid into Scientology — to share what wisdom we possess, to help others to help themselves. And, what goes with the territory: to ignore the catcalls from those who claim that man cannot be understood, cannot be helped,” he said.

    “But, we know different. We know man can be helped. And even more than that, we know how to do it.”

    The leader added it had long been the church’s quest to create its own media centre.

    “This facility represents the final component of an interlocking system for our global Scientology communications,” he said.

    Using unattributed statistics in his speech, Mr Miscavige detailed how developing online content for Scientology would help attract new members.

    “The average young adult spends 10 hours of every day on the internet, and someone searches for ‘the meaning of life’ every five seconds, while someone else searches for answers about ‘spirituality’ six times per second,” he said.

    “SMP will harness the power of every social media outlet imaginable to provide those answers.”

    This belief was furthered by claims that creating exclusive broadcast material would have a similar effect.

    “Ninety-five per cent of the world’s population listens to the radio every day and the average viewer spends some 40 hours glued to a TV every week,” he said.

    “[This means] the obvious answer was: our own radio station, our own TV channel, and our own broadcasting facilities.”

    continued below

  8. Scientology was founded by American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1953 and is a religious system based on seeking self-knowledge and spiritual fulfilment through graded courses.

    Converts are taught that humans are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature, with members believing they are reincarnated aliens who used to live on other planets.

    At the centre of these teaching is the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” known as Xenu.

    Since its emergence, Scientology has been described as a cult that traps members through brainwashing and exploitation techniques.

    These claims were the focus of 2015 documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which revealed abuses and strange practices within the controversial organisation.

    Scientology is notorious for getting on the front foot when it comes to dealing with its critics and the media — and the new production centre will allow it to counter critical messages more effectively.

    The new studio will also act as the editorial headquarters of Freedom magazine — a Scientology propaganda publication.

    The grand opening of Scientology Media Productions is the latest wave of expansion for the church, which started more than a decade ago.

    Scientology’s first efforts to expand came with the 1993 establishment of Bridge Publication — the world’s largest all-digital and print-on-demand facilities created for the sole purpose of making the work of religion founder, L Ron Hubbard, available across the globe.

    This was followed with the creation of Scientology’s cutting edge, 17,000sq m printing and distribution operation in Los Angeles, known as the International Dissemination and Distribution Centre.

    Next came the church’s first-class film studio where all Scientology training films were produced and filmed.

    However, the creation of the Scientology Media Productions is the biggest investment to date.

    Mr Miscavige said he believed the production house was a major gift for the community.

    “We also open our doors to humanitarian organisations, charities and religions of every denomination in Los Angeles,” he said.

    “Our facilities will be open for all manner of community events, telethons, religious programming of all faiths, you name it.”

    Los Angeles City Film and TV Office director Kevin James echoed the sentiments of the church while speaking at the event.

    “From a city and public safety perspective, I admire your dedication to be such a great partner at the ground level. I have also grown to admire the professionalism and willingness with which you approach your relationship with us, the City of Los Angeles,” he said.

    “You are prepared to be a city partner. And that means a lot. But, with this new studio that we’re celebrating today, I’d say we’re taking our partnership to a whole new level.”