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Scientology Expands Its Presence in Washington

A new national affairs office will offer more programs, conferences, and ceremonies.

David Miscavige, the Church of Scientology’s leader, at the opening of the group’s DC National Affairs Office. Photograph courtesy of the Church of Scientology.

There were no sightings of two of its famous members, Tom Cruise or Greta van Susteren, but the Church of Scientology held a party for itself outside its Dupont Circle property for the grand opening of its so-called National Affairs Office. The promotional material about the facility indicates the religious group plans a more active role in Washington, with more meetings, seminars and ceremonies. The notables who were on hand included “ecclesiastical leader” David Miscavige, who heads the church, plus three members of Congress and a senior manager from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A press release from the organization said “more than a thousand Scientologists” and guests attended the event Wednesday evening at the historic Fraser Mansion, which formerly served as the group’s headquarters until they relocated to a larger building on 16th Street, Northwest. According to the release, a National Affairs Office was necessary because of Scientology’s “unprecedented worldwide growth.” The building offers facilities for meetings, conferences, seminars, workshops, “and events to promote collaboration on solutions to society’s greatest challenges.”

Miscavige, in prepared remarks, said, “Here is an office designed to give back to a United States government that steadfastly guaranteed our religious rights, the very freedom that allows us to do what we are doing today.” He said the new office will help “extend our reach.”

The members of Congress who appeared publicly for the event, and spoke to the crowd, were Republican representative Dan Burton of Indiana, Democratic representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, and Democratic representative Danny K. Davis of Illinois. Liz Gibson, senior program manager of FEMA, also attended, and lauded the Scientologists. “You have consistently come to the aid of major and many minor disasters around the country. You arrive, help, and then help some more,” she said.

Actor Tom Cruise is probably Scientology’s most famous and visible member, though other celebrities—John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Elisabeth Moss—are publicly members. Van Susterern, the Fox News TV host, and her husband, lawyer John P. Coale, are active members. Both Cruise and Miscavige have been in the tabloid news a lot lately, since the breakup of Cruise’s marriage to Katie Holmes. There were reports that before the marriage to Holmes, the Church of Scientology auditioned various women to possibly be a bride for Cruise. The group refuted this claim.

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