HBO's documentary "Going Clear" aired Sunday night and revealed shocking allegations about the Church of Scientology. It has been around since the 1950s, and has had a presence in the Twin Cities since the 1960s.
There are more than 11,000 churches and missions affiliated with the group, and St. Paul's Church of Scientology is one of them. The group opened their $10 million Center for Personal Development in downtown St. Paul four years ago, and was designed "for able people who want to become more able and improve their lives," a spokesperson told Fox 9 on a tour when it opened.
"Going Clear" painted a very different picture of the organization. Among the allegations, former science fiction writer and scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard believed that earth was created 75 million years ago when an alien overlord froze people and dropped their bodies into volcanoes. Hubbard believed their spirits called "thetans" jumped into newborns and live on in everyone and are responsible for our fears and anxieties.
The film also claims there is a scientology "prison camp" where members are punished by performing menial labor, and that the group tapped Nicole Kidman's phone because Tom Cruise drifted away from the church during their marriage.
The group responded with its own video against the documentary's Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, and created attack ads against about a dozen former church leaders and members who speak out in the film.
St. Paul's Church of Scientology did not offer comment, but they referred Fox 9 to statement on one of their websites, which says Gibney cherry-picked discredited former members and ignored current members who wanted to speak out in favor of the group, and that the allegations in the film are not true. However, the documentary makes one thing crystal clear: The Church of Scientology remains a source of fascination for millions of people around the world, even the people who live and work near the giant church on Wabasha Street.