“We own a tremendous amount of property. We own a tremendous amount of material, and so forth. And it keeps growing. But that’s not important. When buildings get important to us, for God’s sake, some of you born revolutionists, will you please blow up central headquarters. If someone had put some HE (high explosives) under the Vatican long ago, Catholicism might still be going. Don’t get interested in real estate. Don’t get interested in the masses of buildings, because that’s not important.
“What is important is how much service you can give the world and how much you can get done and how much better you can make things. These are important things. These are all that are important. A bank account never measured the worth of a man. His ability to help measured his worth and that’s all. A bank account can assist one to help but where it ceases to do that it becomes useless.”
–L. Ron Hubbard
31 December 1960 lecture, The Genus of Dianetics and Scientology.
Looking through the latest issue of International Scientology News, I was amazed to see a full 26 pages (out of a 72-page issue) devoted to buildings. That’s right, buildings. Big, empty buildings.
Like the one downtown in my city. I sometimes walk by it. It’s a huge, massive office building. Far more space than my local org needs or can immediately use. And it’s been empty for two years. It was bought, not with Church building reserves, but with donations from local public. A few people ponied up millions. Others gave what they could. And the building was purchased. It has stood empty ever since. Now, we are told there are many more millions needed to do the renovations. And guess who pays? The main display in an Org used to be the Grade Chart. Now it’s a thermometer of donations. Apparently at the latest OT Committee meeting that’s all they talked about – how to raise money to renovate our “Ideal Org.”
“Ideal” by whose standards? My ideal isn’t a big empty building, it’s an org packed with people, alive, excited, inspired. That’s the way I remember Orgs when I first got into Scientology in the late 1960s. We didn’t have fancy buildings. The old LA Org was a two-story house. The offices were cramped, the courserooms had bare concrete walls. But the place was electric.
I hear the same sort of things from friends all over the world. One friend went into the new “Ideal” London Org and said it was a ghost town. Other orgs have big, empty “ideal” org buildings, while the small, struggling existing org soldiers on in the same location.
And what about the Superpower Building in Clearwater? That was started 23 years ago. Over 70 million dollars has been raised. And still it sits as a huge, empty shell.
LRH never talked about the necessity for huge, fancy buildings. Quite the opposite. He stressed that Orgs should make do with what they have, and build it up, and purchase larger quarters when they could afford them. He merely insisted that quarters be clean and functional.
And he never, never asked the public to pay for new quarters for the org. Donations were for services, period. Donations were not for buildings or PR campaigns or legal defense. Never.
Nowadays, that’s all people are regged for.
And he talked about Saint Hill Size Orgs, where expansion was judged on delivery of Scientology, not on square footage. When was the last time you heard that term?
Something is very, very wrong. Charitably, we could say it’s knuckleheaded management and downright stupidity. Or if one was cynical, like I tend to be, one might suspect a large real estate con. Impossible? Don’t bet on it. I’ve heard that once a building is purchased, the title is held not by the local Org, but by the International Finance Office.
Ideal Orgs, or Ideal Ponzi Scheme?