Scientology video production compound has Scottish feel

The Press-Enterprise, California/March 27, 2010

The 700-acre compound located on the winding Gilman Springs Road has a distinctive Scottish feel, complete with a building patterned after a Scottish castle.

The compound, which includes about three dozen buildings, is known as the Gold Base, home to the Church of Scientology's Golden Era Productions, where all the church's training videos, books and audiotapes are made.

The church, which was founded in 1953, bought the resort, once a popular vacation spot for Hollywood moguls, in 1978. At the time, the resort was in disrepair, its buildings tattered and the large golf course brown and pot-holed. Today, the compound is meticulously maintained by Scientology staff.

All the buildings in the complex share a Scottish motif. Flagstones line exterior walls that are bright white, and gates are made of rough oak on wrought-iron hinges. About 500 staff members live and work at the base. About 100 employees who are not Scientologists also reportedly work on the compound.

Photographs of Scientology's founder, the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, are displayed throughout the compound and photos of famous Scientologists, including John Travolta, also can be found on site.

Fundraisers for more than 100 local charities have reportedly been hosted on the compound, providing the community with a large gathering place. Free tours also are available, and have been provided to the general public, as well as county leaders.

Visitors unfamiliar with the area and its history often stop at the compound, curious about its use and unique architecture.

The compound also frequently draws attention from protesters, who object to Scientology and the group's presence in the area. Some protesters claim the self-help movement is a cult and that leaders are guilty of human rights abuses.

Last year, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors placed stricter limits on protesters in unincorporated areas, requiring anyone protesting near private residences to stay at least 30 feet from the property line.

The new limits were a direct response to complaints from Scientology leaders, who said protesters in Gilman Hot Springs were disruptive and threatened violence.

Scientology teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings who have gotten away from their true nature. Followers practice a type of counseling known as auditing, where followers work to re-experience painful or traumatic events from their past as part of an effort to move beyond them. Many of the materials produced at the compound are designed to assist followers with auditing efforts.

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