Leadership. It is a powerful word that summarizes a phenomenon of faith. It encompasses trust, defines responsibility, and is built upon goals, the passion of belief, a dedication to the commonweal and a perception of things to come. It is also what has defined the life of the ecclesiastical leader of Scientology, David Miscavige. He leads people toward a more peaceful, compassionate and ascendant civilization, following a path first trekked by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard. How is leadership displayed? Location and words are not the defining ingredients of leaders, but they can be signposts indicating the intense commitment of people who command allegiance—David Miscavige. In 2017, those signposts were emblazoned with accomplishment, deeds that could only be achieved by a true leader.
In broad strokes, Mr. Miscavige’s leadership depicted the continuing expansion of the Scientology religion, which this year was marked by the opening of new Churches in eight major cities on four continents, by official religious recognition declarations in three countries, and by the Church’s able response to natural disasters around the planet.
Where could Mr. Miscavige be found in 2017, building and inspiring the religion? The year began in Los Angeles, at the annual Scientology New Year’s celebration, and ended 12 months later in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the opening of a new Church, the 63rd “ideal” Church in a program Mr. Miscavige strategized, developed and executed across the globe.
The very concept of “ideal” Scientology Churches was a vision of L. Ron Hubbard. And the implementation of those “ideal” Churches is a cornerstone of David Miscavige’s leadership. Each Church reflects L. Ron Hubbard’s discoveries and philosophies regarding Mankind and the Scientology religion as “ideal” in every respect. The Churches create sanctuaries through which the religion’s spiritual and humanitarian work can flourish, and where the spiritual awakening of its members can occur. At the same time, the Churches are an environment conducive to crafting a common home within communities around the world for all who seek a deeper understanding of their own lives through the religion.
“We stand for what L. Ron Hubbard set forth in the Code of a Scientologist and the Creed of our Church.”
Between Los Angeles and Johannesburg, Mr. Miscavige repeatedly traversed the globe, inspiring Scientologists, embracing humanitarian leaders, bringing the religion’s spiritual and secular solutions to communities on every continent.
Auckland, New Zealand; San Fernando Valley, California; Miami, Florida; Copenhagen, Denmark; aboard the Scientology ship Freewinds in the Caribbean; Saint Hill Manor, West Sussex, England; Dublin, Ireland; Birmingham, England; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Johannesburg, South Africa.
The staccato roll call of cities was just the backdrop to the messages with which Mr. Miscavige greeted, uplifted and guided Scientologists and non-Scientologists alike. His voice, a commanding and inspired clarion call, told the world in speeches, convocations and simple communications in every city he graced.
In tones that ranged from understanding to triumphant, Mr. Miscavige told Scientologists, allies and friends, government officials and humanitarian leaders these messages:
“We are Scientologists—and we stand for what L. Ron Hubbard set forth in the Code of a Scientologist and the Creed of our Church. This becomes our platform: We believe in human rights. We believe in racial equality. We believe in liberty, eternity and the dignity of Man.
“And we believe all men of whatever race, color or creed were created with equal rights. And that the souls of men have the rights of men. And these things are not subject to political debate. In fact these things are inviolate.
“Regardless of which way the winds of history blow, our platform is unshakable.
“That we will stop at nothing to achieve our aims—a world without insanity, without criminals and without war.
“And that we stand by all people who work to make that better world.
“Because only through mutual understanding comes kindness.
“From which comes peace and genuine freedom.”
Those statements—a tiny, tiny fraction of Mr. Miscavige’s messages of hope and, yes, also warning—were plotted along the timeline of the past year. They were illustrated by dramatic developments along the way, made evident by the hard work and dedication of thousands of Church members and their congregations.
Between those signal events, the story of an ever more rapid expansion unfolded in close concert with the humanitarian work that has helped Scientologists make a difference in people’s lives through the world’s youngest and fastest-growing major religion.
The great works Scientology creates for masses of people result in continuing acclamations from governments, often in the form of official recognition. In 2017, Mr. Miscavige’s leadership was rewarded by the recognition of the Church in Macedonia, Colombia and Mexico.
The full story of Scientology in 2017 is filled with poignant accounts that, in their retelling, speak also to the Church’s ever-larger mission—the fulfillment of the enlightened vision of L. Ron Hubbard—and to the work and dedication of the individuals who participated over the past year to bring that vision closer to recognition.
“Human progress is most imperiled where human rights are absent: the right to democracy, the right to sanctuary and the right to education.”
Successful efforts of the ongoing campaign to promote human rights in 2017 were detailed by Mr. Miscavige throughout the year. He invoked the challenge posed by Mr. Hubbard to the religion: “Human progress is most imperiled where human rights are absent: the right to democracy, the right to sanctuary and the right to education. These things are not to be trifled with, and especially now that the IAS [International Association of Scientologists] can jump-start a human rights movement anywhere on Earth.”
The words Mr. Miscavige uttered, the places he brought his message of goodwill—had real impact for the world. And it is one of the highest degrees of leadership. His strategic initiatives to develop effective educational and communications tools in the fight against human rights abuse, mental health abuse and human trafficking brought help to millions more. He ensured that the messages of Drug-Free World and of literacy campaigns through L. Ron Hubbard’s Applied Scholastics programs were heard, and that the brave work of the Volunteer Ministers—who answered challenges of disasters across a troubled planet from earthquakes, hurricanes, fires and floods—were recognized.
As emergencies multiplied in 2017, as war, famine, massive population displacement and terrorism burned across the world—modern day’s apocalyptic horsemen—Mr. Miscavige unleashed his religion’s resources and leadership to salvage Mankind.
Amid those growing incidents of social, political and physical disruptions reflected in natural disasters, climate concerns, war, crime, social injustice, mental health abuses and drug dependencies, that urgency was once again made clear. But there has been good news. In the course of the past year, with the ever-widening expansion of the Church’s foundational base and the exposure of millions more people to the ideals of human rights and a peaceful civilization it represents, there have been new opportunities for hope.
That was clearly visible this year in the response of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers program with volunteers streaming into the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and the devastation left in their wakes across south Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands. The yellow-shirted volunteers brought food, water, rebuilding supplies—and, most of all, hope—to people throughout the regions.
For many decades Scientologists have been answering the call when catastrophes strike, and when people are besieged by drugs, illiteracy and crime, and when human rights have been violated. A core mission for Scientologists is building a flourishing, free and productive society. That mandate is the overarching “right” to salvage the planet and mankind. As Founder L. Ron Hubbard proclaimed: “The biggest right there is in human rights is the right to help!”
David Miscavige’s leadership is expressed in a multitude of endeavors to build Scientology. But the pinnacle of his work is ensuring through his dedication and actions that he challenges and inspires Scientologists the world over to broaden their responsibility for their fellows, and thus bring unconditional help to this world.
Leadership. Vision. Commitment.