Author Topic: [Yahoo] Church of Scientology pushes expansion program (Richmond Times-Dispatch)  (Read 966 times)

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Church of Scientology pushes expansion program (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
2 January 2010, 12:07 am

CHICAGO -- Convicted of fraud in France, impugned by former celebrity members and accused of coercing estranged practitioners to stay against their will, the Church of Scientology has encountered a fair share of bad publicity in recent months.

But in Chicago, the religious movement founded by the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard appears to be flourishing. Signaling that success are plans for a new seven-story Illinois church headquarters slated to open this year in Chicago's historic Printer's Row.

The restoration of the $4 million red-brick edifice at 650 S. Clark St. built in 1914 follows the church's plan of acquiring and restoring historic structures that embody a city's aesthetic.

More than 70 buildings have been acquired around the globe as part of a multimillion-dollar expansion program. More than two dozen churches are set to open in the U.S. before the end of this year.

In Chicago, the 50,212 square feet of space will accommodate worship, courses, spiritual counseling known as auditing, community outreach and church administration.

"That's one of the reasons we need such a large space," said the Rev. Jesse Wells, an ordained Scientology minister, "to accommodate all the activities."

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« Last Edit: January 03, 2010, 21:59 by ethercat »
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Opponents, such as a group calling itself Anonymous, claim that the church targets its critics, overcharges for spiritual counseling and literature, and doesn't tell the whole truth about its teachings.

Some scholars of new religious movements blame the church's heightened sensitivity for fueling controversy. The Church of Scientology carefully guards some of its theology and operations -- for example, job applicants are asked whether they have worked for an intelligence agency. It has started working against their own best interests," said Hugh Urban, a religion professor at Ohio State University. "This element of suspicion has become a part of the institution. It's always afraid of attack and afraid of information leaking out."

Now, why would a church need to know if you have worked for an intelligence agency?

Comparing church records to files in a therapist's office, Cusano said safeguards are necessary to protect the privacy of members who have gone through auditing.

Yet, the moment one of their members becomes critical the information is shared widely, even published and delivered to entire cities!
Scholars of new religious movements also argue that church membership has declined despite claims to the contrary.

The church's assertions that it's the fastest-growing religion in the 21st century are "demonstrably not true," said David G. Bromley, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He said construction signifies large coffers, not necessarily a growing membership.


Connie Black has been a member of the Chicago church for 15 years. The daughter of a Methodist minister, she was introduced to Scientology at a chiropractor's conference. The principles answered many of the questions faith had failed to answer, she said.

The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama