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The scene at Saturday's ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Founding Church of Scientology)Enlarge Image

Timing is everything, and sometimes it's awkward: The Church of Scientology unveiled its grand new center a half-mile from the White House on Saturday -- the same day the St. Petersburg Times unveiled a major investigative report alleging the church deployed coercive tactics and espionage against staff members who tried to leave.

Among the dignitaries speaking to the crowd that filled a cordoned-off block of 16th Street NW: Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who presented the church with a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol and praised the organization as a positive force for human rights and religious freedom.

Sherman is not a Scientologist, but his suburban Los Angeles district lies within Scientology's showbiz-heavy West Coast stronghold. Asked about the church's latest controversy, the congressman said through a rep that he has appeared at events for "over 100" religious groups, and "this does not give me the time to evaluate each of their organizational structures or doctrines because I am also showing up at hundreds of events for nonreligious organizations."


Rep. Brad Sherman (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Scientology has had a prominent presence for decades in Dupont Circle, where late founder L. Ron Hubbard made his home. The newly renovated building at 16th and P will serve as its new D.C. church, said spokeswoman Sylvia Stanard, while its previous home in a historic mansion on 20th Street will be made over into a national public affairs office.

"We've never had a national headquarters like that before," she told us. Stanard said the opening ceremonies drew 3,000 church members (including actress Anne Archer, but no, sorry, no Tom Cruise or John Travolta).

How about that Times story on the day of their opening? "Throughout our history there's been negative stories," she said. "We keep expanding. It's just kind of our answer."

By The Reliable Source  |  November 4, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
 
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Comments

"Asked about the church's latest controversy, the congressman said through a rep that he has appeared at events for "over 100" religious groups, and "this does not give me the time to evaluate each of their organizational structures or doctrines..."

Nice excuse there, Barney. I bet if the American Nazi Party asked you to speak, you'd back out. Or the KKK. You'd back out.

So why the heck are you attending an event for a cult that is still on record as perpetrating the largest domestic espionage case in US history? A cult that tramples on free speech and human rights?

Don't you think you owe it to your constituents to quit being a lazy, irresponsible tool, or did the nice Scientologists invite you to a party afterwards with all the free shrimp you could stuff down your gullet?

Posted by: ophidia | November 4, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"Stanard says the opening ceremonies drew 3,000 church members..." Why take her word for it? I've seen various pictures and there are 1000 people there, at most, probably closer to 700. They had a huge cult campaign to bus people in to get that many. The cult also says they have 10 million members worldwide, when a realistic figure is less than 100,000, and shrinking! Hubbard has been making bloated claims about Dianetics curing blindness and arthritis, etc. ever since he started this scam in 1950, and converted into a fake "religion" to avoid medical authorities, and to gain tax exemption. Any group that uses their trademarked mind-control drills on vulnerable people, to make them spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn a comic book story about Xenu and DC8 airplanes 75 million years ago, deserves more investigation. Thank Xenu, that St. Petersburg Times does it.

Posted by: MrGrug | November 4, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

L. Ron blew up Jack Parson's lab while naughty boy Jack was still in it. What does this have to do with anything? Nothing!

Posted by: biffgrifftheoneandonly | November 4, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Several people at the scene of this opening also noted that Scientology now uses a special canned sound system, for supplemental crowd cheering and noise!

A few times, Scientology has digitally multiplied the people in crowd photos for their publications, and got caught at it.

Hopefully Paul Haggis, famous director, now that he has left, will lead Anne Archer, Cruise and Travolta away from this "cult of greed and power" with its espionage department and current leader who beats up executives.

Posted by: MrGrug | November 4, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I cant believe anyone with a brain doesnt see Scientology as anything other than it is...

...An asinine "religion" totally based on nothing, that only serves as a tax-haven and Congressional lobby mouthpiece.

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | November 4, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Didn't know so many wacko freaks lived in DC, and I'm not even talking about Catholics.

Posted by: kenk3 | November 4, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

It is sad to see these abusive comments on this thread.

It seems as though this particular article was taken out of context by the commentators. ophidia response "Nice excuse there, Barney. I bet if the American Nazi Party asked you to speak, you'd back out. Or the KKK. You'd back out." does take into consideration that KKK and Nazi commented mass murders and genocides. To compare a religion to Nazism is crazy. Scientology and the KKK are not even the same.

MrGrug was able to clearly count how many people where in a photo. She or he were not at the event but are able to count how many people where at the event through a online photo.... does that not seem crazy to you? Is their attempt to harm Scientology?

There are many religions in the world, and many of which are different from the next.

It seems that there is a growing Atheism movement that is attacking all religions online.

I know that someone will make a sarcastic response to my comment. They may even call me a Scientologist.... never the less I support the American rights that all have the right to practice their religion.

Posted by: laurenhasmoney | November 4, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

This is not even worthy of reporting. A whacko-cult opens a new brainwashing center. This is a cult populated by dopes, mental midgits, and otherwise defective fools.

Posted by: Trout1 | November 4, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I see no wrong in attacking religion, it only exists because some people are scared of dying... boo hoo!

Posted by: kenk3 | November 4, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

@laurenhasmoney

You wrote: "Nazi 'commented' mass murders and genocides."

Is that Hubbonics? I realize David Miscavige, your fearless little cult leader, did not use STUDY TECH effectively enough to finish high school, but please, get an education, if you want to appear intelligent. By that, I mean an education outside the cult.

By enlarging a few photos of the group, and the ability to enlarge a group of that size, it isn't at all hard to make a reasonable (within a few hundred) head count.

No one disagrees that a person shouldn't have freedom to practice their religion, except when it infringes on the rights of others with deceptive and fraudulent practices. That is what Scientology does. France has determined that Scientology operates as a FRAUD. Unlike our government, who were susceptible to the bribes of Scientology and star power of Cruise and Travolta, France actually had an entire team, to investigate the practices and policies of Scientology and other cults in their country.

There's nothing to celebrate here, the Scientology has opened one of their money sucking mind control fraud centers in Wash DC.

Posted by: MrGrug | November 4, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"Scientology and the KKK are not even the same."

True. The KKK is not a money scam. They're despicable murderers but at least they actually believe what they're preaching. Scientology exists for the sole purpose of scamming suckers.

Posted by: NYC123 | November 4, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

"Thanks for signing in. Your washingtonpost.com User ID, nickthimmeschearthlinknet, will be displayed with your comment and shared with the Scientology data base. Yours, too, MrGrug, NYC123, kenk3, ophidia, biffgrifftheoneandonly,ProveMeWrong, even yours,laurenhasmoney (which we now expect you to donate to us since you defended us). Are we Scientologists forgetting anyone? Oh, yeah, you, too Amy & Roxanne (if those are your real names): now you;re in our data base, too."


Even the Huns (aka "The Germans"), not exactly known for having good sense about facistic organizations, had the decency to shut down these creeps.


Oooppps: now I too, nickthimmeschearthlink.net, will be on their radar screen. Notice one thing: no conservative is ever associated with Scientology: only liberals. And you gays nearby: be fearful of these con artists as they will question if not try to convert or pervert you from your God given proclivity.

Posted by: nickthimmeschearthlinknet | November 4, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Was Rep. Sherman at the Koolaid Fest, too? Jim Jones was from California. You'd think a politician would at least have his staffers inform him on a cult's beliefs, or that he would decline to attend. I wonder what else he lends his name to, or votes on, in total cluelessness.

Posted by: Voter4Integrity | November 4, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

3000 members? Yeah right. I was there, and before the Scientologists put up plants in front of the people protesting, I saw 480 at most. They also went around the conventional way of blocking off the street, claiming "Spiritual Service" instead of going to the regular police, who don't like them that much because they get called by the Scientologists every time there is a protest on false grounds. I also noticed that there was no mention of any protesters of the opening. I'll give you guys an accurate number of people who were there protesting the "Church of Scientology": There were anywhere between 20-40 protesters when I was there. Why else did they have a massive curtained wall on the right side of the picture at the top of the screen? To keep protesters from actively protesting. And if the camera had been angled over to the left, the amount of Scientologists would have dropped off immediately after the original frame had ended. And you would be able to make out a few Scientologists holding large groups of balloons standing in front of a large group of bamboo trees, which they pulled out in front of the protesters.

Also, whoever is the original author, please make sure your sources are reliable. The Scientologists use mainly information found on wiki forums (AKA, stuff that the Scientologists themselves edited prior to the printing of the "Factual information." I've talked to protesters, and all of the information they use comes from reliable sources, such as printed newspapers, and reliable news channels actually brave enough to go out there and not be all uncritical of the "Church of Scientology".

Posted by: SimplyTheBestUserEver | November 4, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

OK, sure they only had 500 people there, mostly brought in from all over the US, and enhanced applause from the PA system, but you don't understand how important this is. Scientology works and helps people. Once the important politicians walk in and learn about Scientology first hand from the computerized enlightenment center, they will cognite and Scientology will take off in DC like a rocket.

Posted by: beckert482000 | November 4, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Seems like there must be a club or "cult" that spends all their "worshiping" hours all over the net busting up churches and religion. Ya'll are TOO much! Criticize, criticize. Vomit, puke, excrement. Don't we have ENOUGH of that YET?

Haven't you got anything better to do that will actually HELP someone? - Like help coach a kid's soccer team, read books to the old folks at the "rest" home, pick up the trash on your streets, teach teens where they can find thomas.loc.gov and learn about upcoming legislation, volunteer at the ASPCA to help do something about the increased number of little pooches and tabbies left behind by their foreclosed owners. Do anything to make life a little BETTER! SMILE at someone! Even a Scientologist, for Pete's sake; he just might smile back at you! Go make life a little more pleasurable somehow, some way, instead of aggrandizing dialectical materialism and serving the purposes of the NME's of the United States Constitution. Oh, excuse me. You don't know what dialectical materialism is and how it's used against us? Mmmm, my point exactly. GO LEARN!

Question for ya'll - What religion invented the ATOM BOMB?

Peace out, chilluns!

Posted by: wiseoldude | November 5, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

"OK, sure they only had 500 people there, mostly brought in from all over the US, and enhanced applause from the PA system, but you don't understand how important this is. Scientology works and helps people. Once the important politicians walk in and learn about Scientology first hand from the computerized enlightenment center, they will cognite and Scientology will take off in DC like a rocket."

Please, good sir or madam, give me an example (with a link to a website proving this (and an actual web site, not a wiki forum)), and I'll post something in response giving an example of how it hurts people. Hell, I'll even start right now. It costs someone $300,000 to learn everything to know there is about Scientology.... Or you could look up Xenu on the internet. Also, the Washington D.C. area public is currently supporting the "Anonymous" protesters more than the Scientologists. Like H*ll it will catch on in the DC area.

Posted by: SimplyTheBestUserEver | November 5, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, I've been out on the street around their new building demonstrating, and the residents in the vicinity are genuinely embarrassed to have the Church of Scientology as their new neighbor.

Posted by: SchuminWeb | November 5, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Add: SchuminWeb,wiseoldude,beckert482000,Voter4Integrity and the entire staff of The Washington Compost to the Scientology data base.

Posted by: nickthimmeschearthlinknet | November 5, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Church of Scientology spokesperson Sylvia Stanard has her facts wrong. Outside observers placed the crowd at between 500 to 700. Many were identified as having come from other major US cities.

In the speech delivered by their leader, David Miscavige, it refers to the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is sad as the Church of Scientology violates Articles 3,4,5,9,12,16,19,23,24, and 25 in it's separation of families and enforcement of labor practises upon it's staff. Recent books by Marc Headley and Nancy Many confirm this, as well as, published reports by the St. Petersburg Times.

Anne Archer is the mother of the Church of Scientology's spokesperson and consequently has a vested interest in being there. Her son, Tommy Davis, was conspicuously missing from the ceremony. Of significant importance is that neither Tom Cruise nor John Travolta were in attendance.

Posted by: AllanYurkowski | November 6, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

I'm familiar first-person with this church's free inner-city literacy projects and (second-hand) with its criminal reform work in prisons. Not one of them ever tried to recruit the kids for their religion.

I've hired its members, been impressed with their strong work ethic, and have attended classes.

Knowing all that I know by my own personal observation, I'm glad they're opening new facilities. Keep it up.

If they don't alrady have these inner-city and criminal reform activities going on in WDC, I hope they do so soon, because their kind of volunteer help is very sorely needed.

Posted by: ReadMoreWatchLess | November 6, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

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