Millions for scientology super church

Angela Pownall

Scientologists in WA are giving millions of dollars to the religious organisation so it can build a super church in Perth and expand its practices and teachings across the State.

The location of the "Ideal Church", which will be Australia's second after Scientology's leader David Miscavige opened the first in Melbourne last year, will be decided within a year.

Perth Scientologists are believed to have made donations ranging from $100,000 to $1 million to allow the group to move out of its rented base in Murray Street, city.

Tanya Clarke, the Perth Church of Scientology's public relations volunteer, said they had been planning and fundraising for several years.

"We have some very successful Scientologists who would like to see others benefit from the gains they have made through Scientology and each donates according to their ability," she said.

The Ideal Church would have an auditorium and chapel.

Ms Clarke said the number of Scientologists in Perth was rising, but she was unable to say how many people visited the city's church. She said there were 250,000 Scientologists in Australia.

In last year's census, 2163 people said they were Scientologists, a 13.7 per cent drop from the 2006 census.

The results showed WA's contingent of Scientologists was the third biggest in the country, behind NSW (884) and Victoria (620).

Scientology teaches that man is an immortal being, whose experiences extend beyond a single lifetime and through a form of counselling seeks to rehabilitate people spiritually.

Former members allege that Scientology is a sinister organisation. Last month Laura Ann DeCrescenzo accused the Church of Scientology in a lawsuit of forcing her to have an abortion and false imprisonment while she was a member in the US from 1991, aged 12, until 2004.

The divorce of Scientology's most famous follower Tom Cruise from Katie Holmes was finalised this month.

Speculation about the reason for the split has centred on Cruise's involvement in Scientology. DID YOU KNOW? 2136 Australians told last year's census they were Scientologists