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David Miscavige in South Africa: The new ‘Advanced Org’ gets its castle

Scientology finally posted publicity photos from its January 1 celebration in South Africa to open its new ‘Advanced Org’ there, and the reason it took them so long is that church leader David Miscavige was apparently there for an entire week of events.

Well, we can understand why he’s so excited. We have to give him his due on this one — finally, he’s held a grand opening for a new building that represents some actual expansion of the organization.

You see, all of those other building debuts he’s been holding have been for newer, fancier facilities that were simply replacing previous “orgs” (Scientology’s word for churches). Although Miscavige wants his followers to think of it as expansion, the new buildings aren’t going into new territories, and the prevailing evidence is that overall membership (which we estimate to be less than 20,000 at this point, worldwide) has declined, not expanded.

Until this last New Year’s Day, that is, when Miscavige presided over the opening of a new “Advanced Org” where none had existed before.


The Advanced Org Saint Hill for Africa — AOSH AF for short — joins a handful of other “AOs” around the world, in Sydney, Copenhagen, Los Angeles, and East Grinstead, England. It’s the place where Scientologists, after they “Go Clear,” travel to get special upper-level auditing that they can’t get at their local org (or Ideal Org). Advanced Orgs are known for delivering the confidential “Operating Thetan” auditing levels, from OT 1 to OT 5. After that, a Scientologist needs to go to Clearwater, Florida for OT 6 and 7, and they can only get the highest level — OT 8 — at Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds.

The Advanced Org in South Africa, housed in an ersatz Medieval estate known as Castle Kyalami, located about halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, was hurriedly prepared for its opening after years of delays and no evidence that it was really needed. But Shelley Ashurst, a former longtime church member in Johannesburg, has an interesting theory about why the building was rushed into completion and opened at this time.

Shelley: Its been the most hush-hush event I know of since the Ideal Orgs made their debut in this country. For me there is just something weird about the whole thing. Out of eight Orgs that were “expected” to be Ideal before the Advanced Org would be opened, they’ve completed just three of them. So something made Miscavige change his plans or move the goalposts forward. To what end? Desperation? Saving face with the rest of the world? A tax write-off?

There is another possibility and that is the issue of land expropriation without compensation which is now a harsh reality in this country. The type of land they’ll be expropriating first (besides productive farms) is any land which is lying dormant and not occupied — or “capital investment” land. And the land the Castle is on would have fallen into this category if they didn’t do something about occupying it fast. This is purely speculation on my behalf, but could have been a factor.

And if my suburb (Kensington, which is the same suburb as where the Continental org is located in Joburg) is anything to go on, then the orgs are not doing well. This suburb has seen a massive uptick in crime of late. That, plus major problems insofar as city infrastructure service and delivery issues. And not a peep from the local org. They just do not feature in this area. No ‘Way to Happiness’ programs, I never see them selling books at any of the local shopping centres, absolutely zero community visibility whatsoever. I never see or hear about any ads or programs or promo they’re running and local residents I speak to are for the most part utterly unaware of the org (but many of them have watched Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath).

I was recently forwarded an email from Joburg org boasting about having “made 140 Clears” (who knows in what time span but it’s probably a year which is pretty poor for a City with over 4 million residents). They had photos of the last 10 Clears and I did not recognize one person, which means in all likelihood most of these “Clears” come from overseas.

If Joburg org cannot survive on local public, how the hell is any Advanced Org going to? I think their meal ticket will come mainly from overseas PCs and students. And of course we already know the AO is being manned primarily by Sea Org members that have been imported here from other countries.

Oh and another (significant) thing – not one of those ten Clears was a black person. For a country where the black majority outnumbers whites 12 to 1, Scientology in South Africa is still very much a “white” thing. Although Joburg org is heavily manned by an ever-revolving door of poor unsuspecting black folk who mistakenly think they have a job (and are bitterly disappointed and then leave) virtually none of these guys ever go up the Bridge.

Scientology in this country is doing virtually nothing serious about making inroads into or uplifting the black community. There have been the odd success stories here and there of some making it to auditor and/or Clear & OT (I know of maybe two black OTs from South Africa) but these successes are very few and far between.

The Bunker: Thank you for that report, Shelley. Definitely some smart observations about a country that really doesn’t appear to need an Advanced Org. But let’s take a look at some of the images that came out of the January 1 grand opening as well as several more days of events at Castle Kyalami.


Scientology says 4,000 church members were on hand for the event. It’s definitely a substantial crowd, but it’s tough to judge the real number from this photo.



Miscavige pulled the rope on his own? That happened in Dublin too, but usually he has a crowd of others on stage with him.


The castle was built in 1992 by a Greek millionaire. The church bought it in 2008.


As usual, a few local dignitaries were dug up to give speeches at the event, none of whom seemed very important, but they didn’t seem to mind as Miscavige pulled his usual forced-perspective trick and stood closer to the camera to make himself look taller. (He learned his lesson about standing with the others a long time ago.)


Doug E. Fresh provided some of the entertainment.


And Rod Keller tells us this gentleman is the AO’s captain. Anyone recognize him?



Start making your plans!


Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, and Juliette Lewis]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] When Scientology tried to convince the FBI that a college prof ran a cabal of critics
[TWO years ago] LAPD to Leah Remini on her records request about missing Scientology leader’s wife: ‘Go fish’
[THREE years ago] A great peek into how Scientology uses fronts to love-bomb a public official
[FOUR years ago] Monday Funnies: More evidence that Scientology is gearing up for a really tough 2015
[FIVE years ago] Gary Weber: Another former Scientology official talks about women forced to have abortions
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology, Winning! We Hear from the Church’s #1 Student


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,327 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,458 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,960 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,440 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 503 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 391 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,698 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,566 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,340 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,114 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,460 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,026 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,946 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,113 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,694 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,954 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,994 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,706 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,232 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,321 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,461 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,781 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,637 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,756 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,112 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,414 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,520 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,923 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,794 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,377 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,872 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,126 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,235 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 12, 2019 at 07:00

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