This past weekend, I got up early with my kids, and made the quick flight from Portland down to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the grand opening of the latest Church of Scientology to open – the new and quite Ideal Church of Scientology of Salt Lake City.
The above was the ribbon cutting of the new Church of Scientology of Salt Lake City, with the ecclesiastical leader of the Church, Mr. David Miscavige, leading other honored civic leaders and prominent area Scientologists in the dedication of the new facility. My daughter, as you can see next to me, was entirely unprepared for the glitter-confetti cannons that went off after the ribbon was cut. 🙂
There are a few things I wanted to say about this. One is that, given the fact that the Church of Scientology has a long history in Salt Lake City, what makes this new building significant? Also, why take the kids?
The two questions have related answers, and have everything to do with what being a Scientologist is all about. Scientology is an applied religion. It’s something you DO, not just something to study and “consider.” In that vein, a Scientology church has a vast array of various functions and duties that are far beyond just study and counseling. It is all about not only practical application of Scientology to oneself and one’s family, but an intense amount of outreach activities and partnership with like-minded organizations and civic, state and national groups to make the world a better place.
When many Churches of Scientology were first founded across the world, they were set in spaces that later became dramatically undersized for the work that was there to be done. I know that a building doesn’t itself do much of anything, but lets say I told my daughter, “Hey – I know you want to be a champion gymnast, and need some space. So I got you this closet” – that just wouldn’t result in much of anything. In this case, a building absolutely can hold back even the most dedicated individuals from doing the scale of work they need to do.
So, when one combines a space that has been meticulously designed for all of the various functions a Church of Scientology is meant to do, from seminars to training area parishioners to Scientology auditing to interfaith meetings and community discussions, the new Salt Lake City building is brilliantly set up for everything that area Scientologists will want to do to reach out into their area. Combine this with a wealth of new staff members for the church (around 150 at last count), and the church is set up to really blossom.
This segues into why it was that I brought my kids to this particular event, which happens to be one of several such events that I’ve brought them to over the years. A major concept in Scientology is that there is a lot more to surviving well than just surviving as an individual, for yourself. If you’re doing terribly in life, you’re not going to be able to see much past your own immediate needs. But the better shape you’re in, the more you can extend your responsibility and sphere of assistance out to your family, your immediate groups, your city & state, and mankind as a whole.
This is the lesson I want my kids to understand. At the grand opening of this church, as well as at many other Churches of Scientology, community luminaries are invited to speak who have partnered with the church in the past, and are like-minded with us in our quest to make for a safer, better community. In past grand openings I’ve attended, these have ranged from state and national congressmen, to police and fire fighters, anti-drug campaigners, interfaith coordinators, and a host of other well-intentioned, hard-working members of our cities who have fought with us side-by-side.
The Salt Lake City grand opening was no different, with amazing speeches by police who have been helped by our detox efforts, a coordinator of disaster response who’s for years worked side-by-side with us to dispatch effective response to the most unthinkable natural tragedies to strike our country, and a brave soul who has been working with our Human Rights program to fight human trafficking and rescue and rehabilitate those who have been captured by the heinous but rampant modern-day slavery that has rocked our communities.
I want my kids to understand that there are people of a vast array of religious beliefs and backgrounds in our midst that, while they may have different customs, share with us a common passion for helping other people. Yes, the news likes to trumpet the latest tragedies, but it’s SO IMPORTANT to reinforce that there are role models ALL AROUND US who we can work alongside, and can learn from them as they can learn from us.
There is a lot of good in this world, and a lot of good people working relatively thanklessly to do something about the things in this society that need change. In the times that I’ve been in Salt Lake City over the years, the area has always struck me as having an overwhelming number of really good folks who don’t really share the Hollywood glorification of debauchery and irresponsibility. There are a lot of good organizations right on the same street as our new church, who we would love to work with, and who we can work alongside to handle the drug epidemics, the violations of human rights, and rampant immorality that is all about us.
I was just happy to let my family share in the start of this wonderful new era for my brethren in Salt Lake City, who are setting such a fantastic example for my kids to live up to.