Cult designs for Old Trafford

Messenger Newspapers, UK/April 29, 2010

A bizarre religious cult which believes humans are trapped alien souls has announced plans to open a centre in Trafford to serve as its north west HQ.

The Church of Scientology, which bills itself as the fastest growing religion in the world, announced on its website plans to take over the former Duckworth's Essence Distillery factory on Chester Road in Old Trafford.

The movement's website has started advertising the building as one of several across the globe it plans to open in "2010 and 2011", and describes the building as: 'once a monument to the first modern industrial city, this converted cotton mill will soon be home to the Church of Scientology of Manchester. It's designed to service Manchester's work force—long the backbone of Northwest England.' But planning chiefs at Trafford Council have confirmed no planning application has yet been lodged with them, which cult bosses would first have to do before occupying the building.

Scientology, founded by the US sci-fi writer L Ron Hubbard in the 50s, teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings - or martians - who have forgotten their true nature, with Scientology teachings allowing them to 'reconnect'.

But the movement, which counts Hollywood A-listers such as Tom Cruise as one of its followers, has attracted criticism for the way it recruits members, the way practicing followers are asked to contribute financially to the movement, and the way its critics are targeted.

Nobody from the church was able to comment as SUM went to press.

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