by Mike Rinder
To hear Miscavige tell it, Scientology is expanding like never before. “10X expansion in the last decade than in the 50 previous years” etc etc.
Of course, there are no new orgs in decades, but that gets fudged over with the A=A=A of new building=new orgs. And never mind the fact they are empty.
Then he stands tall 0n his applebox and announces the wonders of massive expansion at the “bottom of the Bridge” in the Mission Network. You even see it in ads on TV – “10,000 churches, missions and associated groups”. Of course, if you go to Scientology.org and try to locate these entities, its impossible. There is NO listing of anything. Even the “Org and Mission” locator will not allow you to get a listing for the United States or any country for that matter. So, no numbers can be gotten. You just have to take his word for it….
But, every now and then specific examples pop up that disprove the lies.
Which brings us to this. And its a doozy.
Now, with all this enormous expansion happening, one would expect the Mission Network to be an unstoppable juggernaut of unbridled expansion (shermanspeak ®) and especially one would expect this of a Mission in a relatively large city in the United States that has no org in it or even within 200 miles.
And especially one would expect this if the Mission was one of the original “ideal missions”, in a large, prominent building in the city. Not hidden away in a strip mall out on the outskirts of town….
And extra especially if the Mission was sponsored by two famous celebrities – hometown heros in fact.
And even more so if the Mission was staffed by the best “mission staff” money could buy.
And then, to put the cherry on the cake, the Grand Opening ribbon was cut by two very prominent celebrities and the biggest celebrity of all – Mr. David Miscavige himself. Accompanied by massive free publicity.
In the words of the immortal Dan Sherman, a veritable perfect storm of perfectness where the forces of nature combined in harmonious wonder in deference to the amazingness of Dear Leader hisself: Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, the Church of Scientology of Memphis Tennessee.
Opened to enormous fanfare on Central Ave in 1997 by Lisa Marie Presley and Isaac Hayes, this should be THE model of Mission prosperity. But somehow, the Mission seems to be out of step with the rest of the world’s runaway expansion, in spite of all the advantages it had.
But there is more to the corrupt world of Miscavige than merely falsifying stats to make himself look good in the face of his shriveling empire. This is the world of financial irregularities and “buying favor.”
Enter Miscavige cronies and erstwhile spies, Benetta and David Slaughter.
For any who don’t know them, they were the employers of Lisa McPherson. Big contributors to the IAS and other projects, Benetta was at least at one time, a Miscavige “pet.”
Benetta left Clearwater to become Miscavige’s hand-picked ED of the Applied Scholastics Spanish Lake headquarters outside St. Louis. As that project wallowed and eventually failed, Benetta and David moved on to greener pastures.
And that would be Memphis, TN.
The Mission was failing, reportedly defaulting on their mortgage. In what could well have been an amends project for failing at Spanish Lake, now the Slaughters ride into town to take over the Mission.
But they apparently didn’t do anything to increase the activities and viability of the Mission. Things didn’t go well. But to avert a “flap” of a foreclosure of “Isaac and Lisa Marie’s Mission” , on 21 May 2008 David, as the “Mission Holder” sold the Mission to himself for $635,000. But this wasn’t a move designed to increase the delivery of the Mission. In fact, the Slaughters proceeded to convert it back into a home — for themselves! And earlier this year, they put it on the market for $995,000.
Here is an article from the Memphis Daily News, Friday, May 23, 2008:
Church of Scientology Sold, Will Be Converted to Home
By Eric Smith
The sale closed Tuesday, and Slaughter said he will renovate the 10,500-square-foot building into a residence. He said he will live in the home temporarily and eventually put it on the market once the renovations are complete.
Meanwhile, the church will stay in Memphis, but it has found another location and will move soon, Slaughter said. He wouldn’t comment on the new site, but he did confirm that the church is moving “east,” as detailed in a Feb. 3, 2006, story in The Daily News.
He said details on the Church of Scientology’s plans for Memphis are coming.
“We’ll be making an announcement in a few days,” Slaughter said when reached by phone Thursday, adding that the church is not currently meeting at the Central Avenue property.
The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal of the building is $440,500. It sits on 1.14 acres and is zoned for religious use. The building was built in the early 1900s and served as a private residence for about 30 years. Then it was home to St. James Episcopal Church for roughly 50 years after that.
The Church of Scientology Mission of Memphis bought the building in June 1997 for $475,000, opening its doors later that fall. The building has 7,500 square feet on the top two floors, plus a 3,000-square-foot renovated basement.
Slaughter said the home needs to have regular bathrooms put back in, and that he’s started doing “minor, deferred maintenance stuff,” but after that he wouldn’t disclose other details about the renovations.
“We haven’t really decided what we’re going to do yet,” he said. “It’s kind of early for me to give a full description because we’re still investigating what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it and how long it’s going to take. We’re still in the planning stages and under design.”
In conjunction with the latest sale, Slaughter assumed a Jan. 20, 2006, deed of trust on the property for $550,000 through Slaughter Enterprises LLC. Slaughter himself signed as the managing member for that entity.
(Photos from the Zillow entry for 1440 Central Ave Memphis)
Now, you may well be wondering: what happened to the Mission?
The Slaughter’s moved it to a strip mall in the sticks.
If you Google “Scientology Memphis” you get a number of official church links. The one at http://www.scientology.org still lists the Central Ave. address and a disconnected phone number.
There is another entry under http://www.scientology-memphis.org. Click on that one and it takes you to a page that still has a nice photo of the Central Ave. premises at the top, but the address is now given as Colliervillle TN, 20 miles outside Memphis.
And here is the final proof of the shriveling world of Miscavige. Right on the webpage, the opening hours of the “Memphis” (Collierville) mission are listed:
Wednesday and Thursday 7pm to 9pm
Saturday 9am to 1pm.
This is the “booming” Scientology Mission Network as it ACTUALLY is.
When the lights and cameras are packed up and there is no more “PR caper” to be had, the sad truth is that the Mission network is disappearing from the face of the earth.