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The new year began for the world’s youngest major religion with the opening of three new “Ideal Orgs”—facilities designed in keeping with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s vision of churches that would equally serve the needs of its parishioners and those of the community—within the space of a few days. The Church’s new organizations, located in Austin, Mexico City and Chicago, marked the occasion with festivities attended by thousands and featuring live musical performances, speeches by local dignitaries, and ribbon cuttings officiated by the Church’s ecclesiastical leader David Miscavige.

In line with the plan for scores of new Ideal Orgs that have opened worldwide in recent years, the three latest each reflect in design and ambiance something of the character and local color of the city each calls home. The Austin Church of Scientology—serving the Austin and Central Texas community since 1967—opened its new expanded facilities on the city’s leading social corridor, The Drag, on February 24. David Miscavige reminded the assembled that Texas, as legendary frontiersman and Alamo hero Davy Crockett once said, “was the best land he had ever seen, and there was a world of country to settle. Well, so it is again today. Except your ‘line of country’ is the human spirit, and you settle it by restoring to people the happiness, love, sincerity and kindness with which they were created.”

Joining Mr. Miscavige on the rostrum was drug education advocate Sam Price, who served nearly 25 years with the Austin Health Department. Recognizing the impact of the Church-sponsored drug awareness program, Drug-Free World, he thanked the Church for its support, saying, “The world would be a better place if more people had the care and commitment that your Church members do.” 

Vice-President of the University Area Partners Association, Mike McHone told the congregation, “Each and every one of you should take pride in knowing you have helped make our home what it is today. Your members form the backbone of an ongoing community effort. Which is another way of saying, you have shown an inherent understanding of what our residents need with a passion and care to create a thriving, active community.

Simone Talma Flowers, Executive Director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas, spoke on the international diversity of Austin’s religious community. “Bridging division between different faiths is not simply a ‘nice to do,’ it’s essential,” she said. “You have been pillars of devotion and dependency. And upon those pillars, we have now built the largest interfaith movement in all of Central Texas.” 

Mr. Sam Price, who served nearly 25 years with the Austin Health Department, acknowledged the work of local Scientology. ““The world would be a better place if more people had the care and commitment that your Church members do. No doubt about it. And thanks to Drug-Free World [the drug education initiative supported by the church], you’ve given this kid from the south of Austin the opportunity of a lifetime. So, I have one final request: keep doing your good work. You’ll never know how many lives you’ve saved.” 

The final guest speaker, President of the Austin NAACP, Nelson Linder, recalled that, as a child in Georgia in the late 1950s, he walked to school because there were no buses that served his segregated school. “Like many others, my fight for civil rights is now decades long.” Citing L. Ron Hubbard’s outspoken support of civil rights at a time when many remained silent, he added, “Mr. Hubbard’s ideas of forwarding the concept of true justice were both visionary and grand. And let’s face it, they inspired you all to create a movement not only in Texas, but around the world. . .So on behalf of the Austin NAACP, thank you, Mr. Hubbard, for being a strong voice in the land.”

Church of Scientology of Del Valle, Mexico City
Church of Scientology of Del Valle, Mexico City

Less than a week after the new Austin Ideal Church opened its doors, Mexico City unveiled its new Ideal Org on March 1. A nighttime celebration marked by fireworks, searchlights and mariachi music greeted the ribbon-cutting of the new 12-story 55,000 square-foot home of the Scientology Church, which has served the people of the Del Valle colonia (neighborhood) since 1978. Mr. Miscavige, officiating, said, “Remember, the very essence and life force of an Ideal Org is, as our Founder envisioned, ‘An activity where people came to achieve freedom and where they had confidence they would attain it.’ That is what we celebrate today.”

Mirroring the opening of Austin’s Church days earlier, Mr. Miscavige was joined by local dignitaries. 

Mr. Cristian Badillo, Director of the National Consciousness for Religious Freedom Foundation spoke of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s 21 precepts for better living in The Way to Happiness. “To realize the Mexico we want, the truth inside The Way to Happiness must be passed on, person to person, until it stretches from Baja to the Yucatán,” he said. “And we owe it to humanity to tell people of every background, every faith, everywhere, ‘You can discover your own way to happiness!’”

Fabián Aranda García, National Human Rights Commission legal advisor, as well as professor of Ethics and Health Legislation at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, spoke of his years working with the Church of Scientology and the Church-sponsored mental health watchdog, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). “The pursuit of justice is what drove my most important challenge—and thus my partnership with the Church of Scientology and CCHR,” he said.

And Congressman Luis Zamora Romero of Nayarit State’s Justice and Human Rights Commission said, “I searched sky and earth for ways to show people their human rights—until I discovered you. We share the belief that human rights are not only a right but a duty from one person to another.” 

Father Manuel Corral, Executive Secretary of Institutional Relations of the Catholic Church in Mexico, spoke of the need for faiths to work together. “It’s time to no longer make any distinctions between any creeds,” he said. “We may all have different ideologies, but we must all fight as one. And by your every action, you have demonstrated an authentic religious unity, and you have actually brought religions together.”

Church of Scientology of Chicago, Illinois
Church of Scientology of Chicago, Illinois

Two days later, Mr. Miscavige cut the ribbon on Chicago’s historic Printer’s Row. Serving its parishioners and community since 1974, Chicago’s Church of Scientology opened its new home, a restored seven-story structure several blocks from the city center.

Opening the festivities, he said, “Today, this Second City is truly Second to None. While before that Windy City ribbon comes cascading down, this is also the moment to recognize what you already know: how just as Chicago was once reborn, so today there is room for a new beginning. And thus, room for restoring to individuals the ability to live a better life—in their own estimation and with their fellows and the playing of a better game.”

And, as in the previous two Ideal Org opening festivities, local dignitaries spoke in solidarity. Kweli Kwaza, Executive Director of the Club 21 Initiative, a coalition of neighborhood block clubs promoting unity, said, “With this new Church and the transformative programs you will infuse into our community, we have a blueprint to build, block by block, a city we are proud of.”

Attorney and advisor to the city Mr. Rob Fioretti praised the quality of church’s historic renovation. “As a city councilor, I fought with you to secure this heritage site. And through our co-endeavor, I watched as the Church restored this landmark to her 1915 splendor. More than 25,000 hours were invested—twenty-five thousand hours. And let me tell you: every second, minute and hour is proof that you are a prized and trusted custodian of this city!”

Dr. Gwen Appleberry, a Citizen Advisor to the Chicago Police Department and the Board of Education, said “You’re precisely what Downtown needs. You are going to light up the South Loop!”

Norman White of Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations spoke of the Church’s quick and effective response to the pandemic. “You have demonstrated an inherent willingness to help—indiscriminately. You see, there is a whole lot of need out there. And to have you answering the call is precisely what this city needs,” he said.

The new Ideal Orgs are open to everyone day and night, each featuring an Information Center with an overview of Church-sponsored humanitarian programs, some of which were cited by the speakers at the ribbon cuttings. The Church also has a 24/7 television network—Scientology.tv—with news and information about the Church, its activities and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

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