The head of the Church of Scientology will attend the opening of a new 1,100-seat centre in Dublin tomorrow.
David Miscavige, who has led the cult since the death of founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1986, will fly into the capital for the event which takes place on Saturday morning, according to the group Ex-Scientologists Ireland.
The property, the former Victory Centre in Firhouse, Dublin, was bought last year for around €6m – €12m less than what it was valued at in 2010, the group said.
It includes a 1,100-seat ‘grand auditorium’, despite the fact that there are only 87 registered members of Scientology in the country, according to the 2016 Census.
However, it is believed 250 members from around the world will arrive to staff the new HQ.
A protest is expected to take place at the centre tomorrow.
The new ‘Ideal Organisation’, a term used by Scientology to describe a church that provides full services to ‘parishioners’ along with community programs, is believed be its new base in Europe.
Mike Rinder, former Executive Director of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs, describes the Ideal Org strategy as a “real estate, money making scheme and PR campaign for internal scientologists”.
Scientology has so far failed to gain religious or charitable status in Ireland and was failing to make a profit up until last year.
It opened a new National Affairs Office in Dublin’s Merrion Square a year ago. There is another centre open on Middle Abbey Street.
Famous members include actors Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.
In a rare interview about it last year, Tom Cruise said “it’s something that has helped me incredibly in my life”.
He added: “I’ve been a Scientologist for over 30 years. It’s something, you know, without it, I wouldn’t be where I am. So it’s a beautiful religion. I’m incredibly proud.”
Some of Scientology’s most famous adherents, like actress Leah Remini, and writer/director Paul Haggis, have split with the church.
Scientology has faced numerous controversies over the years, from its claim that mental illness doesn’t exist to rumours they believe in an extraterrestrial being named Xenu.
Former Irish Scientologist John McGhee previously told the Irish Sunday Mirror that he only left when he saw a fellow recruit suffer a mental breakdown.
He said: “For me it was like an onion. There are mild layers on the outside but when you get to the centre it’s more sinister and it will sting you.”
Pete Griffiths, who lost his home and had to start from scratch after he spent years working for the organisation on zero wages, insisted his experience taught him there was no more to Scientology than recruiting followers and persuading them to buy books and enrol on expensive courses.
He added: “I was involved for seven years but the mental damage went on for a lot longer. There’s a lot of love-bombing at the start. It’s very subtle the way it happens but it is a form of mind control.”
Hit documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux released his new exposé on Scientology this week.
My Scientology Movie! features young actors “auditioning” for parts playing high-profile Scientologists in scenes recreating detailed accounts from ex members of the controversial church.
The trailer sees Louis travelling all over the states in a bid to learn more about the mysterious cult.