Young Reporter|Scientology:Church or Cult?|Shayan Ayaz|Wilson’s School

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Eid. A day of celebration, gathering, and festivities. Not something you’d associate with the mysterious ‘religion’ of Scientology, correct? And you’d be right—most of the time—because my last Eid had everything to do with it. Confused? I was too.

You see, every Eid, we have a huge gathering, with ten families renting a hall for a large get-together. This Eid, it just so happened that the ‘hall’ was the head of the ‘church’ of Scientology building in Birmingham. Can you see where I’m going with this? Well, after we’d done the normal greetings and picked up one of the hundreds of complimentary hand sanitizers (they had a weird obsession with cleanliness), we (myself, my sister, and my cousins) decided to do some exploring…

The first thing we noticed was that these people were rich. Very rich. Almost suspiciously so for an organization with only a few thousand members. The first room we entered was, though slightly extravagant with a huge flat-screen TV and massive chairs, innocent enough. It was only when we ventured further that we began to realize something was off. First of all, it was the placards. There was a huge one decorating each wall of every room and corridor, all outlining the different oaths, tests, and beliefs a Scientologist had to take and believe in to progress up the ‘ranks’ (which incidentally also required a lot of money…). We progressed further down the corridors until we found one of the most chilling parts. The Test Room corridor. Test rooms—sounds innocent enough, right? Wrong. Putting aside the fact that there were twenty alone in the corridor we were in, when we went inside them it became apparent that these weren’t your everyday tests. While there were some question-and-answer tests, the questions being asked were…unsettling to say the least. As we made our way through the test rooms, things got weirder and weirder. There were strange machines used to check the ’emotional balance’ of each member and mysterious steel cans ‘sanitized for your protection’. However, the strangest room was still yet to come.

We had nearly finished going through the test rooms when we saw it. I was studying the placards in one of the earlier rooms when I heard a scream from ahead of me and the slamming of a door. My cousins had ventured ahead to one of the last ‘test rooms’ when they saw it. A deeply unsettling humanoid doll sitting in a chair alongside a bed and table. Now you may be thinking that it probably had a reasonable purpose—perhaps for first aid. You’d be mistaken. I picked up the courage to venture into the room, and it was clear that this was no child’s doll or first aid equipment. No. While I cannot say for sure, its purpose appeared to be more sinister.

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