Yesterday, the Ventura County Star reported that the Church of Scientology's wholly owned subsidiary Social Betterment Properties International has paid $5 million cash for the late actor Larry Hagman's palatial estate in Ojai, California.
Scientology's "good works" non-profit umbrella group, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), has used SBPI in the past to purchase property for its programs, including the facility that makes up its flagship drug rehab facility in Oklahoma, Narconon Arrowhead.
But why would Scientology buy up such an expensive piece of property at this point? The church has been in acquisition mode, buying expensive buildings for its "Ideal Org" program -- but those are usually in the middle of sizable cities, not in a less populated part of California.
We asked former church spokesman Mike Rinder for his speculation on this purchase...
My guess is that it is for a celebrity detox/rehab facility.
Maybe even something with a completely different name than Narconon, which is rather rapidly going out of style.
Further, I would guess that Tom Cruise or John Travolta or someone has a celeb contact they want to help and there is nowhere to send them. So the Donald Trump of Scientology [church leader David Miscavige] orders that a facility be found and purchased. Nine bedrooms, 10 bathrooms would be ideal. It will then be staffed with hand-picked people in a cost-is-no-object-when-it-comes-to-pleasing-Tom kind of way that Miscavige has used so often in the past (see plane hangar, motorcycles, limos, in fact the entire "Ideal Org" scheme).
It's certainly not a retreat for ABLE executives to spend long weekends sitting by the pool. Unlikely to be used for criminals, or kids learning how to read or for printing The Way to Happiness booklets. So as far as ABLE activities go, that leaves detox/drug rehab. It even looks like Promises and some of the other high-end drug rehab facilities north of LA.
We think Rinder is correct, and someone who agrees with us is Luke Catton, Narconon Arrowhead's former president. He tells us Scientology has been planning to open a "celebrity Narconon" for several years.
For even more on this story and other new developments in the world of Scientology, please read the rest of this item at tonyortega.org