“Bravo für dieses wunderschöne Gebäude!”
If your German is a little rusty, that sentiment translates to “Bravo for this beautiful building!”
With those spirited words, Swiss Federal Justice (Ret.) Robert Mesey congratulated Scientologists and well-wishers attending the April 25 opening of the Ideal Church of Scientology in Basel, Switzerland.
Officiating the dedication of the newest Ideal Church was Mr. David Miscavige, Scientology ecclesiastical leader and driving force of the program that has built 41 major new Churches in cities around the world in the past decade.
In his address to the Scientologists, government officials, religious leaders and academics who gathered for the ceremony, Mr. Miscavige said, “We come to a long-anticipated turning point in European history—a moment when a ribbon falls on a new Ideal Org—and so signals a new era of tolerance, brotherhood, compassion and spiritual power.”
The enthusiasm—the exhilaration—for the significance of the accomplishment of the long dreamed-of goal spread through the thousands in attendance.
Basel is a strategic city—for Europe and for the Church of Scientology. Tucked into the northwest corner of Switzerland, Basel sits astride the Rhine just minutes from both France and Germany. While the city is the nexus of a trinational region, it is equally part of vast social changes sweeping Europe. Home to major chemical and pharmaceutical conglomerates, Basel bears the dubious record as the city where the hallucinogen LSD was first produced.
Such facts did not go unmentioned at the opening event.
“We have sunk in society to a point where we say a doctor is not treating us correctly if he fails to give out a prescription,” Johann Bauer, medical doctor at Ludwig Maximilian University, said in his address. “So it is I’ve been fighting against psychiatry. I’ve been pushing against the tide, against the vested interests and so refusing to slide into the black hole of ignorance. And I soon learned I was not alone, because I next found CCHR.”
When Bauer found that Scientologists, through Citizens Commission on Human Rights, were uncovering and broadly reporting important information about psychopharmaceuticals, he was struck by the signs on their public information displays. “They said, big, ‘Psychiatry Destroys Lives,’ and I said to myself, ‘They think and talk like I do, so I wanted to talk to this CCHR.’ And so I did, and I saw how you don’t back down when it comes to fighting for freedom and justice.”
Some of the major issues facing European nations stem from the influx of large numbers of refugees from other regions of the globe, at times resulting in religious and ethnic antagonism. Countering such potential strife, and rising to provide solutions, constituted a theme at the Basel Church’s inauguration.
“Basel is a multicultural city,” Ayhan Seker of the Basel Muslim Commission said to the gathering. “Our many religious communities practice their beliefs freely and cooperate well together. That is why I like to live here, in this center of tolerance.
“Your Founder, L. Ron Hubbard, once spoke of a road to strength, and that ‘To love in spite of all is the secret of greatness. And may very well be the greatest secret in this universe.’ Well, let this Church stand as a symbol of tolerance and peace, and thus embody those prophetic words.”
Justice Mesey addressed the impact of one of the Church’s broad-based initiatives, Youth for Human Rights International. “During your Youth Summit in Brussels in 2013, I spoke of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how they should be introduced into the curriculum … at the earliest age and across the world. I know that Youth for Human Rights, supported by the Church of Scientology, has already accomplished immense work in this regard.”
Sirio Balmelli, Swiss Scientologist and technology entrepreneur attending the Basel Church dedication, spoke of the importance of the new Church in forwarding the religion’s human rights and drug education programs.
“Our presence in Basel is a major step for the community and for our religion,” he said. “Basel is home and operating center for elements that are busy perpetuating some of society’s faults, so it represents a significant place to plant the flag. Our Church and its community programs will play a vital role in the future of this city and this nation.”
The international Church’s global drug education campaign, now reaching millions, has its roots in Switzerland where it was created by Scientologists more than two decades ago.
Basel’s new Ideal Org stands on the city’s Burgfelderstrasse just blocks from the Swiss-French border in the district of Great Basel-West. The 50,000-square-foot facility is Swiss-Modern in style.
Juerg Stettler, Church spokesman in Switzerland, characterized the Basel Ideal Org as “yet another major step forward” for the religion. “Switzerland is a small country in population, just over 8 million people, but it is a nation of enormous influence,” he said.
“We now have a place where we can truly show Scientology at work, a facility to bring energy to our human rights, drug education and other social programs.”
He said Scientologists across the country are now turning their sights to transforming the other Churches in Switzerland into Ideal Orgs—in Bern, Lausanne, Zurich and Geneva.
Stettler described Ideal Orgs as meeting the highest standards for a Scientology Church, providing ample space to deliver not only the full range of Dianetics and Scientology services to parishioners, but also, and just as significantly, serving as a center for the Church’s humanitarian initiatives and community programs.
Scientologist Elena Chiancianesi, who started a Scientology Mission in Lugano, Switzerland, described what she expects to happen when people—Swiss, French and German—see the activities and impact of the Basel Church. “It definitely means expansion,” she said. “When you establish an Ideal Org in an area, the expansion rate accelerates for the entire country. It is the most meaningful experience for a Scientologist.”