Scientology Church Opens in Atlanta
May 23, 2016
On April 2nd, 2016 The Church of Scientology unmasked a new ‘Ideal Organization’ in Atlanta, Georgia; a colossal building that looks more like the governor’s mansion than a church.
Sadly, I wasn’t allowed into the opening ceremony. In fact, I watched from the opposite end of the highway, with 6 lanes of speeding traffic standing between me and 1,500 eager Scientologists.
Earlier attempts to enter the ceremony had proved unsuccessful.
“Are you affiliated with an Org?” said the Scientologist usher. “If not, I’m afraid you can’t enter.”
“I’m afraid you are going to have to leave the property sir,” said a Scientologist security officer. “You can’t continue to stand on the sidewalk.”
“What are you doing with that camera?” said a young Scientologist gatekeeper. “You’ve pretty much seen all the interesting people already.”
Defeated, I sulked to the other side of the highway. Here I awaited the start of the ceremony from the guard rail.
The ceremony kicked off with a band performing ‘Georgia on my Mind’ on a makeshift stage. The outside venue had strobe lights, giant screens displaying the stage, oversized ribbons decorated across the mansion, and a live concert to top it off. For having such an exclusive reputation, the Scientologists made no efforts to conceal their grandiose occasion from the outside world.
After a series of guest speakers that ranged from Georgia ex-senators to higher ups in the Scientology church, David Miscavige himself took the stage.
Miscavige has been the ecclesiastical leader of Scientology since 1986, when Scientologist founder L. R. Hubbard died. He has pushed the expansion of the church through ‘Ideal Orgs.’ All Ideal Orgs express the concepts of Scientology, and the church has opened over 50 in the past decade. The newest one is in Atlanta.
“This is Scientology for a new American South,” said Miscavige. “Today we will cut a ribbon on an ideal org that will forever say, rise up, Atlanta”
While thanking a contributor to the new org, Miscavige played off some classic Atlanta stereotypes.
“He’s all about Coca-Cola, Chick-Fil-A, and exclusively flying Delta,” said Miscavige, followed by cheers and laughter from the audience.
Miscavige cut the oversized ribbon a few minutes later, and the crowd erupted into cheers as balloons and confetti poured everywhere with live music pulsing in the background.
And with that, the first Atlanta Ideal Church of Scientology was officially opened.
One week later, I returned to the Atlanta Org. But this time I brought Ayla McGinnis, a Decatur Sophomore with family ties to the Church of Scientology.
“I was raised around the Church because my grandmother’s a Scientologist, so I’ve always been impacted by them,” said McGinnis.
McGinnis’s mother and grandparents attended the opening ceremony, and encouraged me to come back a week later while the new Church was offering tours.
It was a sunny Saturday at about 3:00 when I pulled up to the Church for the second time. I was ascending the steps when I was greeted by a classy young man with a thick British accent.
“Hi! I’m David, what’s your name?”
After an awkward introduction, Ayla joined us. She had known David for a few months now.
David was the de-facto tour guide for the new Atlanta Org, and had come from London to aid the Church of Scientology in their American campaign. David was constantly enthusiastic, and seemed eager to present the Church’s ‘Public Information Center.’ A room devoted to the showing of some 500 films depicting every aspect of Scientology as a religion and humanitarian program.
One of Scientology’s most prominent humanitarian programs is their anti-drug campaign, which is the largest nongovernmental anti-drug campaign on earth. Ideal Orgs like that in Atlanta even offer ‘Purification Centers,’ which act as a rehab clinic for Scientology members and outsiders alike.
Aside from the Public Information Center and Purification Center, the new Atlanta Org also includes multiple rooms for auditing, a form of spiritual counseling.
Auditing is done using an E-Meter, an electronic device that measures the electricity traveling through your body. Supposedly, depressing memories will slow down the electricity, which causes the needle gauge to veer right.
“There are 2 aluminum cylindrical things that you have to hold onto” said David. “When I tell you to think of something, the meter on the scale will either go left or right depending on what you’re thinking of.”
David then proceeded to ask me questions. When he asked about depressing situations, the needle swung right as I reacted with sad memories.
The immediate goal through auditing is to reach the state of ‘clear.’ Going clear takes many years in the Church, and requires dozens if not hundreds of auditing sessions with professional auditors. This is achieved by repeatedly recalling negative memories into an E-meter. Eventually, the needle will swing less and less towards the right until that memory causes no inner turmoil. If one is to do this with every source of turmoil they have ever experienced, than they have gone clear.
After the state of Clear comes a convoluted series of OT levels ranging from 1 to 15. OT stands for Outer Thetan, and each level unlocks new abilities that will eventually bring you to an emotional level of a supreme being.
To put things in perspective, David has only gone clear. McGinnis’s grandmother has made it to OT 7 after over 30 years in the Church, and no one has ever made it past OT 8 and publically spoke about their experience.
But where do the Aliens come into play? Aren’t the Scientologists supposed to believe in aliens? According to David, that’s all baloney.
“Don’t believe all that bullsh*t they say about Scientologists believing in aliens,” said David. “I have been in Scientology all my life and never heard of any of that stuff. If you want to look things up about Scientology, try to stick to http://www.scientology.org/. Most of the other websites are just trying to make us look bad.”
If you want to stop by and take a tour with David or whoever happens to be around, the new Atlanta Church of Scientology is on the corner of Roswell road and Glenridge drive, Sandy Springs. You can have some drinks at their cafe, ascend their luxury marble staircase, take an insanely detailed personality test, or even try their E-meter like I did.
And if you really wanted to, you can choose from over 500 Scientology videos to watch all day long.