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Aliens and departed spirits, head this way

Metro (UK), Thursday, 17 May 2007, page 3


[Photo caption: "Alien signposts? The symbols, seen from the air, are said to lead the way for departed Scientologists to the church's compound."]

It seems dead Scientologists have no sense of direction.

These weird designs etched into the New Mexico desert are not wacky art or part of the crop circle phenomenon.

Without them, re-incarnated Scientologists could end up in Sweden or Sydney or Slough.

These are the latest shots of the two interlocking circles, which were first noticed in 1995.

According to one former member, they mark a landing spot for Scientologists returning from outer space.

Micahel Pattinson told US news network CNN they served as a signpost to a compound, where the Church of Spiritual Technology - an off-shoot of the Church of Scientology - has built a nuclear bomb-proof vault to house the works of founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The Church has hit back saying the symbols are just a logo. But all this begs the question - if, as the religion claims, Scientologists are aliens, would they not be more at home in outer space than New Mexico?

This is not the first bizarre story to be linked to the Church of Scientology, which counts actors John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Juliette Lewis among its followers.

The religion centres on such concepts as reincarnation, the immortality of the soul (called a thetan) and the idea that personal difficulties and ailments can be overcome with spiritual and mental cleansings.

It has been criticised for its cult-like activities, abuse of members and harsh punishments for dissenters.

It hit the headlines this week when the BBC's Panorama reporter John Sweeney raged at a Scientologist while making a documentary.

The church launched a £30,000 publicity campaign ahead of the programme, which claimed Scientology was a brainwashing cult, and posted Sweeney's 'exploding tomato' outburst on YouTube.


[Picture caption: "Founder: L. Ron Hubbard"]

[Sidebar:] Strange but true for some

[Picture caption: "Believers: Cruise and Holmes"]

The Church of Scientology believes humans were first introduced to the Earth 75 million years ago. Teachings assert an evil warlord called Xenu rounded up 135trillion beings from a corner of the galaxy, dumped them in volcanos on the Earth, then vapourised them with nuclear bombs. Their radioactive souls, or thetans, later attached themselves to human beings and are apparently at the root of our personal and global problems.

To rid themselves of 'evil' thetans Scientologists need to complete a number of 'Operating Thetan' levels. However, before being allowed into the OT classroom they must first complete the 'purification rundown' - a vigorous detox programme.

Scientologists are totally opposed to drugs and psychiatry and they believe childbirth should be silent to avoid traumatising the baby.

[Picture caption: "Fan: John Travolta"]

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