Almost a year ago, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder posted an explanation of what it meant when Scientology talked about one of its churches going “Saint Hill Size.”
That phrase refers to Saint Hill Manor, in East Grinstead, England, the estate where L. Ron Hubbard lived from 1959 to 1966, and where Scientology was for a time a real going concern. Saint Hill is still the UK headquarters of Scientology, but when Scientologists refer to something being Saint Hill size, they’re referring to those halcyon days while Hubbard actually lived there.
As Rinder explains, in 1982 Hubbard (who was in seclusion at the time) announced a new goal — for Scientology orgs to achieve Saint Hill Size by booming their stats by 5.4 times in a single year…
Management pored through old files and determined “the size of old Saint Hill.” It was initially issued as 200 full time students in the Academy, 1000 WDAHs [well done auditing hours] per week and Gross Income of $100,000 (and other stats considered to be commensurate with achieving those quotas). There were other versions of the quotas at different times, but this is generally the range considered to be “SH Size.”
Very few orgs ever came even close. Some managed to stat push their way to achieving these quotas for a week or two and were quickly declared SH Size to “prove” to all the other orgs it “could be done.” They quickly collapsed again after the camera crews left and the applause died down at the event where they were announced.
This went on for 20 years with little progress.
Publicly, Scientology always boasted that it was the fastest growing religion in the world. But the truth was, those 1960s glory years always seemed to be out of reach. Why couldn’t they get an org roaring the way Saint Hill had if Scientology really were growing at a fast rate?
In 2003, David Miscavige started a new project to address the problem. He began pushing for Scientology churches to replace themselves with expensive new facilities he called “Ideal Orgs.” After years of intense fundraising, there are now about 50 “Ideal” churches around the world. Each of them is supposed to be so magnetic that they should be booming with new people walking in the door.
That hasn’t happened. But then we noticed a couple of years ago that Miscavige seemed to acknowledge that making an org Ideal was not enough — it needed to be staffed up to capacity before it would turn into the promised membership magnet. And now, one of our tipsters pointed to a new push going on at the Tampa Ideal Org, which is just a few miles away from one of Scientology’s most important worldwide sites, the Flag Land Base in Clearwater…
Rinder had helped us understand what Scientologists meant by “Saint Hill Size,” so we turned to him to help us understand what “Ideal Saint Hill Size” might mean.
Rinder: Fucked if I know. I have made fun of them over this as they were promoting forever “Double Saint Hill Size,” and then dropped that and now came up with this new thing. It’s meaningless at this point. I suspect because this “Saint Hill Size” thing is likely becoming a nightmare for Miscavige. (Remember that the requirement for the release of OT 9 and 10 is actually all orgs being Saint Hill Size — and “Ideal” was supposed to be the way they would get to Saint Hill Size.) He is going to do some sort of gimmick at the March 13 LRH Birthday Event.
The Bunker: Held this year on March 11 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.
Rinder: He will make a special award for Tampa as “Ideal Saint Hill Size” with some cockamamie plan on how all the “Ideal Orgs” are now going to be able to make it to “Ideal Saint Hill Size” because it has been “piloted at Tampa” or some insanity like this. I have no inside intel on this, and it may be off the mark. But this would be my guess.
The Bunker: And this all seems to be related strictly to staff size, not what they’re actually managing to get done with that staff — new starts, course completions, Clears made, etc. Right? So Tampa, which is in an area already populated with Scientologists because of its proximity to Clearwater, has managed to get more people to sign staff contracts. What an accomplishment.
Rinder: Yes, that is right, Tony. Though in theory, if you have more staff you are going to be providing more service as there will be more and more people allocated to “call-in” and “new public contact” to keep the auditors and supervisors and regges busy…
The Bunker: It’s kind of amazing that while we see signs that they’re struggling because of so many people leaving — like the places you’ve pointed out that are consolidating — Miscavige never just sort of tries to pretend that things are going along OK. He has to always pretend that things are going better than ever. With new Ideal Orgs and some of them going “Saint Hill Size.” How long can he keep up that facade?
Rinder: I don’t know. It seems like it is well past its “sell by” date by now. Even with diversions into “Ideal” AO’s, “Ideal” missions, “Ideal” Narconons, “Ideal” studios and whatever, you would think people would realize these places are empty. But it is the “divide and conquer” strategy. If a Scientologist looks in their own org and it’s empty they feel ashamed and embarrassed that theirs is the “only one” that is not succeeding. And they will never admit this to another Scientologist. They will only get their news about the state of Scientology from Miscavige at his events. They will not look anywhere else as they know everything else is lies perpetrated by SP’s. But sooner or later, everyone eventually sees through the BS. It’s why Scientology is shrinking.
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder
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The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield