Scientology is (just about) alive in Manchester
When travelling down to Oxford Road this morning on the free Shuttlebus service (it’s one of 3 covering the whole city centre) I was pretty surprised to see, on Deansgate, a “Church of Scientology” shop-front. Bold as anything, with a proud blue and yellow sign, it sits beside Hobs (By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen) Reprographics, right on the corner.
The shop offers workshops, seminars, books, and who knows what else if you actually step inside rather than just staring in shock? The entrance looks welcoming and almost like a travel agent, enticing you to take a cute little wooden seat. According to the shop’s website, Scientology converts have in the past defeated that confusingly titled discipline “Science” to perform miracles no less impressive than the revival of babies and motorcycle crash victims from comas. Seriously: that’s what they claim. Follow the link. You don’t really need to be the wonderful Christopher Hitchens or (is he an Atheist?) Richard Dawkins to realise there is something a little bit “Trades Description Act” about that.
A Google search reveals that a few years ago an anti-Scientology protest took place outside the shop. Organised by the masked Anonymous network, it was only one of several held world-wide on the same day. Despite the best efforts of “V” and his followers the shop remains open for business…
Adding to its majestic property portfolio, the “Church” has spent over £3.5 million on a former distillery at Old Trafford. Sadly, they were refused planning permission to turn it into a “place of worship” and the building has been theirs, but disused, since 2007. See it described and rendered here in their video library as the “Future Manchester Church of Scientology” – accompanied by a voiceover that makes squirm-inducingly awkward references to the working class “machine” and the Georgian interiors. The Church of Scientology’s motto is, reassuringly: “Something CAN be done about it”.
Right now, I am starting to wonder if the photos I took through my bedroom window – in an attempt to capture the trains that move peacefully over the
red purple and grey brick railway arches – are proof that aliens really are here? I am also uploading (for purposes of comparison) a Photoshopped version of the image where the lights are notably absent. Not convinced? Think clearly!