Inside the secretive 'Super Powers' building: Pictures emerge of Scientology's $145million 'spiritual headquarters' in Florida

Daily Mail, UK/October 19, 2015

Take a look inside the Church of Scientology's 'spiritual headquarters' in Florida after detailed photographs have emerged of the $145million behemoth.

The Flag Building, also known as the Super Powers building, is a massive seven-story, 377,000-square-foot complex which was the tallest building in Clearwater when it opened in November 2013.

Now new pictures have emerged which give an insight into the notoriously secretive organization and their headquarters which is regularly frequented by Scientologist celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

The jewel in the crown of the property is the fifth floor Super Powers program where church followers are charged thousands of dollars for courses which they believe will give them special abilities.

'Super Power is a series of spiritual counseling processes designed to give a person back his own viewpoint, increase his perception, exercise his power of choice, and greatly enhance other spiritual abilities,' church spokesman Ben Shaw said in 2013.

Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard went further in his description of the program saying: 'Super Power is the answer to a sick, a dying and dead society...With it we literally revive the dead.'

As part of that therapy, members will be spun on an anti-gravity simulator blindfolded to improve their 'perceptics' - Hubbard's 57 senses which include sight, smell, taste, blood circulation, and awareness of awareness. Such as the 'wall of smells' which is said to feature random scents from Lily of the Valley to spaghetti bolognese, is used to train the sense of smell.

Cruise has spent months at a time at Clearwater - and was spotted twice there last year. Scientology celebrities have even had homes built close to HQ, including Kirsty Alley and John Travolta.

He also attended the dedication ceremony of the building when it opened in 2013 with Travolta and Kelly Preston.

Built in Mediterranean Revival-style, with Italian limestone and arched interiors, it is intended to ape great cathedrals in Europe. The building is part of a larger complex of buildings that serve as a spiritual retreat and learning center for Scientologists.

There is even a luxurious, wood-paneled 'Office of the Commodore' for Hubbard - built long after his death in 1986.

Hubbard's office, which is at the center of the Sea Org Museum, is a replica of his on-board the Flagship Apollo - right down to the ornamental model of the Cutty Sark.

Visitors to the building are greeted with the Grand Atrium - an impressive lobby spanning three-stories and the length of an entire block, with countless humanoid statues aimed at bringing to life the beliefs behind Scientology.

Anyone whose interests have been peaked by the statues, can then visit the Scientology Information Center, which contains 600 films about the organization.

A staircase leads from the atrium to a bookstore every singe one of L. Ron Hubbard's books and lectures.

The second and third floors are home to offices and classrooms with the capacity to train a thousand students at a time. Believers study to become 'auditors' -  the Scientology equivalent of ministers or counselors.

Around 250 hundred small rooms for 'auditing' can be found on the buildings upper floors. Auditing is the religions form of counseling and a session can cost $1,000.

A Sea Organization Museum - dedicated to the Church’s hardcore Sea Org wing - and a Grand Chapel which is used both for Scientology Services, as well as wedding and naming ceremonies for followers.

While the 'Purification Program' purports to 'help Scientologists free themselves from the mental and spiritual damage caused by drugs and toxins.'

Another odd feature of the building is a giant circular running track located on floor six - used by members to run until they achieve a moment of enlightenment, while the basement houses a huge kitchen and dining areas.

Fancy upper floors of the southwest tower are reserved for Scientology's biggest backers, those who have made the largest donations over the years.

Emmy-award winning film director Mark Bunker, a Scientology critic for the last fifteen years, said the Flag's main attraction for followers was its super powers program, which they believe would really give them special powers.

'The Super Powers building is this center for people who do the Super Power Rundowns, these are a series of routines which are meant to give you super human powers,' he told Daily Mail Online.

'There are things like the wall of smells, which has 47 different smells, where you can open up a scent jar and perceive one scent from another. There's a thing called the oiliness table.

'They also have some sort of gyroscope device that you get spun around everywhere and still be able to orientate yourself. They have an entire floor made up of a running track with a pole in the middle of it, where you pay for the right to run in a circle for hours until you have a certain cognition or realization of what you've done wrong.

'It's astonishing the things they do, which people have to pay for.'

Work first began on the Flag in 1998 but halted after finishing the shell. For three years, the group ceased construction on the project until the city started imposing $250-a-day fines for code violations.

Scientology defectors claim that the building's slow construction is due to church leader's who have used the project as a fundraising cash cow.

An analysis by the Tampa Bay Times discovered that the church had raised $145million for the building, much higher than the $100million it was estimated to cost.

Former Scientologist couple Rocio and Luis Garcia of Irvine, California contributed more than $340,000 to the construction of the Super Power building, before ultimately suing the church in federal court for dragging out the project 'as a shill'.

Church representatives have described the Garcia's suit as 'frivolous'.

The Super Powers building now stands as the crown in 'Scientologyville' - an area of downtown Florida which has been taken over by the group in the last forty years which now owns dozens of buildings worth well in excess of half a billion dollars.

Founder L. Ron Hubbard arrived in the town in 1975 to begin 'Project Normandy', the code name for a top secret Church of Scientology operation to take over the city.

Two years later, an FBI raid found documents which stated the group's aim 'to penetrate and handle in order to establish area control.' The document goes on to say its 'Major Target' is 'To fully investigate the Clearwater city and county area so we can distinguish our friends from our enemies and handle as needed.'

Bunker explained: 'They came into town and paid cash for two buildings - the old Clearwater Bank Building and Fort Harrison Hotel. At first people were excited that some religious order was coming in and sprucing up the area and hotel.

'Scientologists were meant to get themselves in every job and function in the city - from the police to newspapers to council - and leverage power. It eventually led to the arrest and conviction of the top ten people in Scientology including Hubbard's wife Mary. Hubbard himself escaped arrest and went into hiding for the last ten years of his life in the desert.'

Today, local politicians, police and residents have long given up fighting Scientology.

Now the central city is mostly deserted apart from thousands of uniformed Sea Org members - the ultra devoted members of Scientology who have signed one-billion year contracts that bind themselves to to the Church.

According to local newspaper the St Petersburg Times, the Church owns 67 buildings over ten square miles, which includes motels, training centers, offices for 'Special Affairs' and 'religious retreats' for visiting Scientologists, who often pay upwards of $100,000 each for its services.

The church has denied that there are fixed fees, adding that 'Donations requested for 'courses' at Church of Scientology begin at $50 and could never possibly reach the amount suggested.'

The Scientologists even own a working mill, which makes all the furniture and equipment used in their offices.

Ex-Scientologist Mike Rinder said Clearwater had always been a focus for Scientologists since Hubbard first descended on the town.

Rinder served on the Church's Board of Directors and was executive director of its office of special affairs, overseeing the corporate, legal and public relations matters of the Church at the international level.

But he defected in 2007 and is now considered a 'Suppressive Person'. He left his mother, father, wife and two kids to flee from the Church and is an outspoken critic.  

'Clearwater should have a prosperous, flourishing downtown, but instead it's the dead zone. People steer clear of it because it's Zombie Land. The generally impression of Scientology to them is sinister and secretive and they don't want to go anywhere near it. Most of them are too afraid to say anything critical as they fear repercussions.'

He claims that while 'hundreds of millions of dollars go through Clearwater each year', many members are crammed into rooms of six, separated from their wives or husbands and forced to work over a hundred hours a week for less than $50 a month.

'The Sea Org in Clearwater live in a controlled environment. They live for the Church full-time. Many live in a compound called Hacienda Gardens,' says Rinder.

'It looks okay from the outside, but then you see it's a fortress. There may be a basketball court and swimming pool on campus but it'll be the most underused in Florida, as everyone is working. If you are allowed a car, you'll only be allowed to travel from the campus to another Scientology building. If you get stuck in traffic, they'll be on the lookout for you.'

TV actress and former star of King of Queens, Leah Remini, is the latest to speak out against the Scientology after she left the church in 2013.

Daily Mail Online learned that Remini, 45, anticipates even more blow back and possible lawsuits with her expose of the corrupt inner workings of the covert organization in her explosive memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology .

Remini labels herself a 'troublemaker' in this hotly anticipated take down of the church and its hierarchy, in what is also an expose of its most famous members that include Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.
The book is to be published by Ballantine Books in November.

How to become a superhuman the Scientology way

The Super Power course was developed by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and  promises to boost a person's perceptions or senses through a series of mental and physical tasks.

Scientologists believe that in addition to the five senses of hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell we have 57 additional abilities known as 'perceptics'.

These include an ability to sense blood circulation, balance, compass direction, temperature, gravity as well as an 'awareness of importance, unimportance.'

In his writings Hubbard described the course as: 'A superfantastic, but confidential series of rundowns that can be done on anyone whether Dianetic clear or not that puts the person into fantastic shape unleashing the super power of a thetan.

'This is the means that puts Scientologists into a new realm of ability enabling them to create the new world. It puts world clearing within reach in the future. It consists of 12 separate high-power rundowns which are brand-new and enter realms of the tech never before approached.'

Hubbard had originally wanted to offer the course in 1978 but many of his staff who had been through the instructor training left the church on completion of the course.

Key to the Kingdom: The Church of Scientology has completely taken over the city of Clearwater, owning half a billion's worth of real estate. It is the biggest concentration of Scientologists in the world

1. The Oak Cove Scientology Center. Lower level services including 'auditing' and 'case cracking'. Real estate value: $4,483,100

2. The Fort Harrison Housing for visiting Scientology members  with 220 rooms and suites, the Crystal Ballroom, Flag Auditorium and  Convention Center. Real estate value: $13,137,700

3. The Sandcastle Home of the Flag Advanced Org. Real estate value: $5,896,600

4. The Osceola Inn Accommodation for visiting Scientologists with 76 rooms and suites. Real estate value: $6,000,000

5. The Coachman Five stories of Standard Tech course rooms and the largest Scientology library in the world. Real estate value: $3,700,000

6. Super Powers Building Scientology HQ and the home of advanced Church courses. Real estate value: Over $30,000,000

7. Former Clearwater Bank Building New Church administration offices and staff dining. Real estate value: $2,038,400

8. Station Square Exclusive 146-unit condominium with pool. Real estate value: $20,000,000

9. Parking area Three-level parking and bus garage for Scientology coaches. Real estate value: $3,500,000

10. Clearwater Academy Exclusive school for Sea Org members' children. Real estate value: $5,000,000

11. Further Church Real Estate One of more than 50 buildings own by the Scientology Church in Clearwater. Real estate value: $50,000,000 plus

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