Written by: J. Gordon Melton
The relatively new religion of Scientology, little more than half of a century old, has arisen in a modern, secularized world.Just as it has made no place for the many denizens of previously posited supernatural worlds (angels, demons, gods, fairies, etc.), it has not adopted older sacred sites as its own nor designated new ones.From its beginning, it operated out of offices, classrooms, and auditoriums. The majority of these were rented facilities that, as needs arose, were freely abandoned and forgotten.Slowly, as the religion grew, it purchased more permanent facilities in what appeared to be locations where a long-term presence was desired.This situation only changed in the 1980s.
In 1986, the church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, passed away, and other Scientology leaders considered how best to commemorate his life and work and acknowledge their significance for humankind.That discussion will continue, but has to date led to the development of several structures, most notably the L. Ron Hubbard Exhibition on Hollywood Boulevard in downtown Hollywood, California.Here, guided tours of an extensive exhibition of Hubbard's life, complete with many original artifacts, is daily available to church members and the general public.A few blocks away, Author Services, Inc., has taken charge of all of Hubbard's non-Scientology writings and works to see that they stay in print and are available in multiple languages.
The most notable commemoration of Hubbard for the average church member, however, is found in each church facility, where a room is set aside as an office for Hubbard and is made ready as if he might arrive at any moment.In fact, during his life, local churches were expected to be prepared should he make a visit, but the present offices have become shrine-like spaces in local church facilities where copies of Hubbard's many books in mint condition can be displayed, a certain reverence for his accomplishments acknowledged, and general respect for him nurtured.In most churches, the office also includes a small statue of Hubbard.
In the years since Hubbard's death, the idea of not just attaining the state of Clear, but of moving through the advanced Operating Thetan (OT) Levels, has assumed an increasingly important role in the Scientologist's world.Though a person may receive all the instruction and auditing to attain the state of Clear at any local church, the OT levels are delivered only at church facilities specifically established to deliver them.OT I-V, for example, is made available at the four Advanced Organizations located in Los Angeles, California; East Grimstead, Surrey, England; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Sydney, Australia.
The Advanced Organization in Los Angeles is located on L. Ron Hubbard Way, a short street that begins on Sunset Boulevard and which the city council allowed to be named in Hubbard's honor.The Advanced Organization in England is located at Saint Hill, the estate where Hubbard lived for seven years in the 1960s.Adjacent to the Advanced Organization, in the same four cities mentioned above, are the Advanced Saint Hill Organizations (ASHO), which, among other services, train auditors.The ASHO facilities were named for the Saint Hill estate in England, and the British ASHO occupies one of the estate's larger buildings.ASHO Los Angeles is located in what used to be a prominent hospital, across the street from the Advanced Organization on Hubbard Way.