By Dave Schwab
Former Dianetics space Downtown transforms into a new Scientology church
Referencing it as “California Dreaming,” the Church of Scientology held a grand opening for its 55th “Ideal Org” which opened Nov. 19 at 1330 Fourth Ave. Downtown.
“The San Diego grand opening punctuates an explosive era of expansion for the church and marks the 55th Ideal Church Organization (Ideal Org) to open its doors,” said David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of Scientology, in a press release.
According to Nick Banks, media relations for the controversial church, nearly 3,500 people attended the grand opening.
“Ideal Orgs now stand in cities all over the world — from Los Angeles to London, Melbourne to Milan, and Tel Aviv to Tokyo,” Miscavige also stated in the release.
The church’s leader also noted that “Ideal” is the standard set by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard so that every church could be a perfect expression of the religion’s principles and practices.
The 49,000-square-foot structure on Fourth Avenue — always owned by the Church of Scientology but apparently used for other purposes — has been there for decades. Just a few blocks from City Hall, the building previously had the word “Dianetics” inscribed on the outside facing Fourth Avenue.
Having missed the opportunity to attend the media open house that was set for Nov 20, Downtown News followed up with spokespeople from the Church of Scientology and asked that they respond to the following questions about the religion, its founder, role and functions:
(San Diego Downtown News | SDDN) What is Scientology? A religion? A philosophy? A lifestyle?(Church of Scientology | COS) Scientology is a truly unique contemporary religion — the only major religion to emerge in the 20th century. Scientology is fully developed, by definition of religion, in its theology, religious practice and organization. The breadth and scope of the religion includes more than 11,000 churches of Scientology, missions and related organizations in countries all over the world.
(SDDN) It seems there is a group mentality in Scientology, does it cater to the individual, or is the individual supposed to be subservient to the group?
(COS) This idea is most definitely a misconception. There is certainly a strong sense of group in Scientology and many Scientologists are involved in groups in their communities and support the social betterment and humanitarian activities the church sponsors. Still others choose to work at Scientology churches or missions as their careers. But Scientologists are tremendously diverse in their backgrounds, interests and activities. I recommend you look through some of the videos we have online in the “Meet a Scientologist” section of our website (under videos) and you will see this variety if you visit tinyurl.com/jko2ruh.
(SDDN) When you join, is there a membership fee, an orientation? Do you need to know someone in the organization to join? How does that work?
(COS) Anyone may come to a Scientology church and simply attend the Sunday Service, enroll in a Scientology course or seminar or receive introductory Scientology or Dianetics auditing (spiritual counseling). We even offer free courses online on the Scientology website. Scientologists are simply those who use Scientology-applied religious technology to improve conditions in their lives and the lives of others.
We do have a membership organization — the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) and most Scientologists join the IAS and are very proud to be part of it because of the tremendous work the IAS has accomplished through its support of the church’s humanitarian and social betterment activities. You can read more about the IAS here: tinyurl.com/jne835v
(SDDN) What are the expectations of members?
(COS) The expectations of Scientologists are expressed in several codes and creeds. You can find them under background and beliefs on our website, here: tinyurl.com/hqx5zlg.
(SDDN) Tell us about your outlet in San Diego, its history, etc., its purpose.
(COS) The Church of Scientology San Diego is what we call an Ideal Scientology Organization.
The ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, Mr. David Miscavige, launched the Ideal Org (short for organization) strategy to transform all Scientology churches into Ideal churches and accomplish the goal L. Ron Hubbard set for Scientologists — to one day create churches that were the physical embodiment of Scientology technology to help all beings attain spiritual freedom.
An Ideal Org is a church configured to provide the full services of the Scientology religion to its parishioners and to the community. “Ideal” encompasses both the physical facilities and the types of services ministered to parishioners and the community. These churches house extensive public information multimedia displays describing all aspects of Dianetics and Scientology, founder L. Ron Hubbard, and the church’s social betterment and community outreach programs.
Religious services are provided in distraction-free and aesthetic course rooms and spiritual counseling rooms. There are also libraries, bookstores, film and seminar rooms and expansive chapels for Sunday services, weddings, naming ceremonies and other congregational gatherings.
Since 2003, more than 50 Ideal churches have arisen across the planet, including those cultural capitals — the National Church of Scientology of Spain; the Church of Scientology of New York; the Church of Scientology of San Francisco; the Church of Scientology of London; the Church of Scientology of Berlin, the Church of Scientology of Moscow, the Church of Scientology of Sydney; the Church of Scientology of Bogotá; the Church of Scientology of Tokyo.
(SDDN) What makes this facility different than what’s been there previously?
(COS) The facility has been greatly expanded, with a Public Information Center where anyone may visit, take a self-guided tour and learn about the fundamentals of Scientology, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the services we provide and the programs we support.
The church now also has conference rooms, seminar rooms, a large chapel that doubles as an auditorium and conference facility. These facilities are available to like-minded community groups for use in their own nonprofit activities and for town halls or other community gatherings.
It is a very welcoming environment and is there to serve the community. San Diego has many urgent issues, not the least of which are crime, drug abuse and human trafficking. The church is a facility where those concerned with these and other important social problems may work together to tackle these issues.
(SDDN) Can anyone go into your public information center, or do you need an appointment?
(COS) Anyone may come and tour the center without an appointment. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.–10 p.m. and 9 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, including holidays.
(SDDN) Tell us about your planned expansion and all that it entails?
(COS) Our San Diego staff is extremely excited to be able to deliver all Scientology services in a perfect environment. A dedicated partner in the San Diego community for decades, their new facilities provide the church greatly increased capability to serve San Diego — one of the finest communities in America.
(SDDN) How can Downtown residents or businesses work with the new Church of Scientology?
(COS) They should simply call the church or stop in and ask to see the public executive secretary who will be very happy to help them accomplish their purposes, introduce them to our programs and forge partnerships or associations to the benefit of the community.
(SDDN) What do Scientology institutions do to foster involvement in the communities in which they’re in?
(COS) As they progress in their Scientology studies and auditing, people tend to become more aware of and concerned about the state of their communities and naturally wish to do more to improve them. There is an entire department in every Scientology church to help Scientology form or become active in the community and to guide them in their work.
To read more about the church’s grand opening in San Diego and see the speeches of the guests, visit tinyurl.com/zsmmjn3.
—Dave Schwab can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.