Church of Scientology reopens on The Drag after several delays, sparking protests

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Over 1,500 people from across the nation packed the Church of Scientology on Guadalupe Street to celebrate the building’s grand reopening on Saturday after almost seven years of renovations and delays, said the community liaison for the church in an email.  Two University alumni opened the Guadalupe location in 1967. The church relocated to the Hancock neighborhood in 2017 while the original building underwent renovations. The pandemic and other complications further delayed the re-opening. David Miscavige, head of the Church of Scientology, led the event and welcomed other Texan Scientologists. Multiple speeches emphasized the church’s mission of humanitarianism, mental health awareness and ending drug abuse. Charles Guine drove to Austin from Arizona to protest. He held a sign calling the church a cult and drivers honked or shouted in agreement as they passed. 

“(They’re here for) young, impressionable people who want to make a difference,” Guine said. “They have a good story, ‘Come in, we’re gonna save the planet, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna help you with this, we’re gonna help you with … relationships, families.’ But then eventually they tear those things apart. You walk in the door to become a better person and then you never leave because they got you.”

In 2009, Scientology member Marc Headley sued the church after he earned an average of 39 cents per hour after 15 years of employment. In a 2019 lawsuit, two women claimed “That ‘70s Show” actor and Scientologist, Danny Masterson, assaulted them, but they said the church discouraged them from speaking out. 

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