The re-dedication of Scientology’s facility on the corner of Main and Virginia streets was held today (Saturday June 30, 2012), two weeks after it was originally scheduled. As usual, Scientology’s community outreach included baring journalists, blocking off streets for blocks around and hiding behind tarps and trees brought in just for the event. Scientology claims to be a pillar of the community and trumpets its positive effects on people’s lives. So why the paranoid security? It turns out that these re-dedications, and similar grand openings, serve two purposes, and neither of those have anything to do with helping the community.
First, Scientology has an ongoing real estate obsession orchestrated by its dictator David Miscavige. Mr. Miscavige uses the promise of new or renovated buildings as a means to relentlessly raise funds from Scientologists. The local Scientologists are promised huge expansions in recruits and services when they have their new building, and they are hounded mercilessly to donate to the cause. Ironically it was just 2003 when Scientology’s Buffalo Org (Scientology speak for organization) was opened with much fanfare as an example of what an ‘Org’ should be. But as membership dwindled, and the building sat mostly empty, they were promised salvation by, you guessed it, investing heavily and renovating the building. Can Scientologists really be so gullible? Apparently yes.
The second reason for these grand openings, or re-openings, is so Miscavige can hoodwink other Scientologists. Even as Scientologists are fleeing Miscavige’s rule like the plague, he continues to insist that the church is growing. It’s these stage-managed events that are the ‘proof’ he trots out to Kool-aid sipping Scientologists at other gatherings. “See, Buffalo had to invest all this money and upgrade their Org to handle all the new Scientologists coming in the door!” Never mind that they had to shut down their book selling operation at the mall because they couldn’t staff it, or that if someone new walked in the front door they would think that the person must be lost. No, the actual need for a renovated building and the way it’s portrayed don’t have to exist in the same reality. And what better way to shake a few more bucks out of a Scientologist’s bank account than to show them someone else’s alleged success?
This internal self-deception would be humorous if it wasn’t actually hurting people. The people hurt the most are those caught in the cult’s web of manipulation. More and more Scientologists are bullied and badgered into incurring massive debt and begging from family members to keep the cash rolling into Scientology’s latest scheme. And if you wise up and try to exit the cult you’re in for classic re-education camp treatment.
Scientology is shrinking, but it still has enough clout to pull off its scams all over the world, even in Buffalo.