August 25, 2008

Scientology in Africa

Scientology in HollywoodChances are that when most people think about the Church of Scientology, they picture an American religion that’s especially popular in Hollywood. Founded by controversial science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology has major administrative centers in both Los Angeles, California and Clearwater, Florida. The movement counts Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise, and John Travolta among its celebrity followers.

But did you realize that Scientology is expanding in Africa? The latest Scientology Today News Flash (8/20/2008) reports that “New Scientology churches are on the horizon for Durban, Cape Town, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg in South Africa and Bulawayo and Harare in Zimbabwe—part of an international Scientology strategy to increase service to Scientologists and the community.”

But Scientology isn’t only advancing in southern Africa. On August 16, Nairobi’s Daily Nation newspaper ran a news story headlined “Scientology comes to Kenya.” It states (not altogether accurately) that:
There is a new religion in town. It recognises no sin, pays homage to no one, has neither angels in heaven nor fire and brimstone in hell and whose members say they can create miracles at will.... A year ago, it was introduced quietly in Nairobi. Its offices are tucked away on the third floor of an unremarkable building along Ngong Road between two Christian churches; a far cry from the mother church.
The movement’s progress in East Africa is further underscored by an article in the current edition of International Scientology News. It extols Peter Mageri—the “Christian minister” who is leading the cult’s recruiting efforts in Gesonso, Kenya—explaining that
DianeticsTo meet the demand, Peter erected Kenya’s first Dianetics School—funded by selling a portion of his cattle—and located it on a patch of land he calls “L. Ron Hubbard Avenue.”

Then talk about grassroots wildfire across the African veldt, there are now 400 Book One [i.e., Dianetics] co-auditors in Gesonso, with another 250 in the town of Kisii proper. In the neighboring Rosaiga village there are an additionally 120 people co-auditing Dianetics, and 180 more throughout the villages of the famed Maasai Lion Hunters. Add to that 100 across the Islamic Kuria villages, and there now stands a Dianetics movement that’s at least 1,000 strong and delivered no less than 245,440 Book One co-audit hours for the year.
From Lagos to Lusaka, the Church of Scientology is increasing its missionary thrust across Africa. An ongoing Scientology Ministers “Goodwill Tour” has taken Hubbard’s volunteers to Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. And, as I wrote in May, “Dianetics and assorted companion works by Hubbard are already available in every public library in Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Angola, Chad, and Sierra Leone.”

Lord willing, the Africa Center for Apologetics Research will soon be able to respond with materials and training to counter Hubbard’s teachings. And, by God’s grace, we will equip believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ with Scientologists.