Deception, façades and fake fanfare: Scientology’s new $36 million Paris HQ opens

After months of hype and broken promises, the Church of Scientology finally opened their new Paris ‘Ideal Org’ on Saturday at an event filled to the brim with deception, lies and disinformation. The 75,800 square foot premises was acquired in 2017 by ‘Building Investments Group LLC’ (a firm registered in Fairfax, Virginia in the US) but stood empty until 2021 after it was embroiled in legal battles following a petition signed by 30,000 residents. Since then, promises of the Org’s opening made by elusive Scientology leader David Miscavige never came to fruition, with the original date set for January 2024.

Nonetheless, Scientology’s perseverance paid off and on Saturday 6th April the new ‘Église de Scientology & Celebrity Centre du Grand Paris’ opened its doors and Scientology Business were there with boots on the ground to report on the day’s festivities.

Former Scientologist and local resident Ludovic Durand was granted a demonstration permit by City officials and tells us “Saturday saw the inauguration of the coffin of Scientology in France, with few real French Scientologists from the Paris region.” According to Durand, plans have been activated to “fight a battle so that justice hammers in the final nails before burial.”

A small group of peaceful protestors initially gathered on the public street near the entrance to the building, which is located at 270 Av. du President Wilson in the Paris sub-district of Saint Denis. However, after Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs made numerous calls to the city Police and falsely reported the demonstration was getting out of hand and protestors were harassing the event attendees, they were moved to a designated area at the rear of the building. “The Parisian police, true to their reputation, showed themselves to be aggressive and ignorant of citizens’ rights” Durand explained.

When it came to the event itself, Callum Clark, a trainee journalist from London who travelled to Paris to cover the protest told us Scientology “started covering up street signs and billboards… there was a lot of production and showmanship”.

“People were being directed as to where to stand so that the shot looked good. As I moved onto the street they came and said ‘you’re in our shot’.” He continues, “they did a practice run of waving their French flags before they actually cut the ribbon” and were told to try again “with more vigour”.

If there’s one thing Scientology are good at, it’s showmanship. On the ground, we struggled to attain confirmation as to whether or not mysterious leader David Miscavige was expected at the event. Various parishioners, staffers and film crew present on the day all gave us the same answer: ‘he might be here, maybe he isn’t.. you’ll have to wait and see’.

According to former executives close who were close to Miscavige, he usually arrives on-site a few days prior to an Ideal Org opening, with a dress rehearsal taking place the day before and a quick exit the day after the festivities are over. However, as former Scientology spokesperson Mike Rinder explained in a post on his blog, “he fears the French government and that they might seize the opportunity to arrest him.”

Miscavige is known to travel frequently on Tom Cruise’s private jet in order to fly under the radar and last week, we reported some suspicious movements that we believe indicates Miscavige spent a few hours in Paris on Saturday, 30th March. However, there was no dress rehearsal and at the opening event itself Callum tells us “There was no Miscavige.”

Tom Cruise’s private jet was in Paris for 6 hours on March 30th.

A press statement released by Scientology today draws reference to Miscavige addressing the crowd but is filled with inconsistencies. “The audience applauded over and over again, first for the live music that kicked off the festivities, then for the speeches from civic leaders who gratefully and graciously welcomed the opening of the Church.” It goes on, “But the loudest ovations […] were for Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board Religious Technology Center, as he dedicated this spectacular new center.

“No, I would not have missed being here with you for anything,” he told the raucous and welcoming crowd. “While we’ve opened Ideal Orgs in other cultural epicenters, megacities of significance to our entire global movement, well, this one crowns them all.”

The statement starts off indicating local officials spoke before Miscavige addressed the crowd, but then contradicts itself, stating “Several local dignitaries and Church partners” spoke after Miscavige’s address. Photographs released by the Church show he did indeed address a crowd in the new building’s auditorium, but the meta data has been stripped from the images, preventing us from analysing when the photos were actually taken.

Taking a closer look at the movements of Tom Cruise’s private jet reveal it arrived in Paris at around 10.50am on Saturday 30th March and departed back to the UK 6 hours later at 16.45. Landing at Le Bourget airport, which is just a 15 minute drive from the new Org, our theory is that Miscavige inspected the building, delivered a speech to a small gathering of parishioners and jetted off on the same day. A recording of the speech was then played to event attendees on 6th April.

Photographs of the ribbon-cutting itself are notably absent from the Scientology website and none of the audience at Miscavige’s address are wearing the tri-colour IAS pins that were handed out to all attendees the opening event. In one picture, one person is seen wearing an IAS Patron badge but this is a different colour and much larger than the pins handed out on 6th April.

None of the audience at Miscavige’s speech (left) were wearing the tri-colour IAS pins handed out at the opening event (right)

The wording in Scientology’s press statement has also been carefully crafted, describing Miscavige’s speech as a “keynote address in recognition of an event that will forever stand as a milestone for religious freedom in France”. The statement falls short of saying the address actually took place at the event itself and note the use of the future tense: “will”.

Their website also describes the applause Miscavige received as “the first of many passionate and extended ovations from an audience of prominent French Humanitarians and luminaries from the International Association of Scientologists (IAS)” – which, if his speech took place at the opening event itself, contradicts the earlier suggestion the first applause was for “the live music that kicked off the festivities”.. Unless, as our theory goes, Miscavige held a private event on 30th March, in which case the applause he received was indeed first as it pre-dated the musicians who kicked off the show on 6th April.

Statements released by the Church also describe the new building as “95,000 square foot” despite an earlier statement published in November referring to it being “90,000 square foot” and in January, “93,000 square foot”. Floor plans tell us it’s actual size is 75,8000 square foot.

Regardless, one thing is clear: Miscavige did visit the new Paris Org and delivered a speech.. but there were no sightings of him at the opening event itself he did not cut the ribbon, as is tradition at Ideal Org openings. The American OSA security staff we’ve spotted at other events attended by Miscavige were also notably absent on the day.

As for how the new Org was received by Parisians, this comment on Twitter from resident Renaud François sums it up: “What are these bunch of degenerates doing in France???”

Arnaud Palisson, a cult analyst and lecturer at the University of Montreal, explains Scientology “was labelled a cult by 2 reports of the National Assembly. But its highest-level org in France (Celebrity Centre) was convicted in 2009 as an association for organised fraud”

The opening event was live streamed on Youtube, and is available to watch on replay below.

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Alexander Barnes-Ross

Scientology Business provides analysis and commentary on the Church of Scientology's corporate structure, business operations and functions in the United Kingdom and Europe. The website looks at Scientology's shell companies, financial records and maps the web of international corporate entities responsible for their UK and European activities.

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