A former member of the Church of Scientology has announced protest plans ahead of next month’s gathering of the International Association of Scientologists in East Grinstead. The annual event, which is returning to Scientology headquarters Saint Hill Manor after a 4 year hiatus, will see the gathering of thousands of Scientologists to hear reclusive leader David Miscavige speak.
Mr. Miscavige, who was recently served with a human trafficking lawsuit in the United States, is expected to fly to the controversial religion’s UK base for the event, due to take place 3rd – 5th November 2023.
Alexander Barnes-Ross, the former Director of Public Booksales at the Church of Scientology London (and Editor of Scientology Business) has formed a group called ‘United Against Scientology’ with the aim of “sending Scientology a clear message: the abuse must stop.”
“When I was a teenager, I was locked in a room at their London Org at 146 Queen Victoria Street and told I couldn’t leave until I’d written down everything unethical I’d ever done – when all I was asking for was help” he says. “After leaving, I have heard countless stories of similar things happening to Scientologists around the world – people being harassed, forced to have abortions, held against their will and, for example, thrown in the lake during winter at Saint Hill as punishment. I have had enough, and I want people to realise what really happens inside Scientology.”
The ex-Scientologist now runs a Youtube Channel called ‘Apostate Alex’, where he interviews other former members and sheds light on Scientology’s UK activities. “People think of Scientology as a crazy American cult. What they don’t realise is they have a huge, multi-million pound operation here in the UK – despite the government warning it is a ‘harmful movement with an evil reputation’ in 1975.”
Scientology claims to have thousands of adherents in the United Kingdom, despite the 2021 census revealing only 1,844 people identified as Scientologists in England and Wales. The group was rejected charity status in 1999, with the Charity Commission recently confirming Scientology “does not exist for the public benefit.” They currently do business through an Australian-registered charity that operates solely in the UK in order to avoid Income Tax, with a reported a turnover of £22 million last year.
Saint Hill Manor, near East Grinstead, is the UK headquarters of the Church of Scientology and the former home of founder L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer who died in 1986. Scientology is now led by David Miscavige, who has rarely been seen in public since allegations of ‘abuse, human trafficking and intimidation’ were made against him in 2019
People wishing to find out more information or take part in the protest, are asked to visit www.iasprotest.com where you can register to attend.