Edition: January 1st 2019, Written By: Seringe S.T. Touray
Visible from the peaks of some of Madrid’s high-rise structures is the municipality of Pozuelo de Alarcon at a distance, surrounded by Mediterranean pine-tree forests. My family has made this part of the Spanish Kingdom home for a decade. With a mere ten-minute drive from the region of Pozuelo, one might easily chance upon the busy intersection of Plaza de Cibeles, the iconic square in the heart of Madrid overseen by the Cybele Palace. At a walking distance from this centre of the vibrant city stands conspicuously the Church of Scientology in Madrid.
With the help of the Church, I was put in touch with Iván Arjona Pelado - Director General of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights in Brussels, and President of the Church of Scientology in Spain. Iván Arjona was kind enough to grant my request for an interview in which to discuss important topics regarding Scientology and Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard, and the religion’s perception through the lens of the general political world. Iván was born and raised in Tarragona, a Spanish city by the Mediterranean Sea, and would eventually elect to dedicate his life to the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has maintained his position as President of the Church of Scientology in Spain since 2007.
The world of politics is shaped by culture. As the society evolves, so does the political climate. The political perception of Scientology is thus partly dependent on the social perception of the Church and of the philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard. Therefore, my interview with Iván Arjona delves into what he believes the public perception of Scientology is.
In your time in Spain, what would you say the public image of the Church of Scientology has been?
I would say there has been an increasing interest and a real 360 degrees change since 1997. There are more and more people who just want to find out what Scientology is and what it could do for them. Of course most of them have heard all the non-sense that groups of vested interests have always been pushing when they come in and say that they offer freedom and hope. Some specific people and groups don’t like that. Overall society is enduring a change, and looking more and more for effective solutions, so the image (of Scientology) will keep improving more and more.
How do you communicate with people who have no knowledge about Scientology or L. Ron Hubbard, but are interested in learning?
What’s best is to introduce them to our Church of Scientology audiovisual exhibit, which has over 500 short videos in 17 languages. These videos explain the creed of the church, including topics like The Reactive Mind and how to overcome it, and even videos explaining tools for better personal communication and the social activities that scientologists do all over the world. And after that the best is that they get a book by Mr. Hubbard and read it. Some of the best for starters are DIANETICS, THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THOUGHT, and SELF-ANALYSIS. They are all three very practical.
Among other things, L. Ron Hubbard’s DIANETICS talks about how influential the subconscious is, and how vastly it affects our consciousness. Do you therefore see it as your duty or responsibility to educate and awaken people by introducing them to Scientology and the teachings of Hubbard?
I believe DIANETICS can help people find the best version of themselves, and if everyone finds or unveils this best version, it will benefit mankind, so I would find it a bit egoistic to keep it only for me and my friends. Therefore, yes, it is my responsibility, and this is how I get up in the morning and how I go to bed at night, looking at what I am going to do today to further extend the possibility of unadulterated knowledge of Scientology for everyone.
Religion is a personal thing. Many would like to get into the mind of a scientologist to better understand Scientology. As a member of the Church, what is Scientology to you?
The funny part is that to really catch it, you need to experience it yourself. No sales speech would do justice as to what Scientology is and does for you, or better expressed, what Scientology enables you to do for yourself and others. To me, it is a tool to make this world a better place. It is a tool that is actually a religion, which gets me closer and closer to the true power and essence of life, and by increasing this connection, this knowledge about it, I increase my ability to help others and in this way help myself.
Millions have access to information regarding Scientology. But many with insufficient knowledge about the religion and the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard condemn its practices. What message do you have for such people who voice their disapproval of Scientology?
I advise them to read a book by L. Ron Hubbard, and look for things they can agree with. They will surprise themselves of how many things Mr. Hubbard wrote that if well understood are common to the deepest purposes and thoughts of mankind. However, they have to be brave enough to honestly look into it and make up their own minds, and not everybody is ready yet to find this bravery, but time will come. Times will be easier and easier, and even those currently criticizing will at one point recognize for themselves that Scientology can actually help them.
Ever since L. Ron Hubbard, many have argued that Scientology is not a religion. How would you respond to them?
There are more and more people, courts, governments and experts that recognize Scientology as a religion. Another thing is some media controlled by powerful vested interests. Scientology is a religion in the deepest meaning of the word. Now, we know that the word religion has been manipulated through the centuries to enslave people, but this is again, certain groups of vested interests who want people out of religion, as religion is somehow knowledge, and knowledge, it is said, will set you free. Scientology is knowledge, it has a transcendental goal, it has certain practices to achieve this transcendental goal, and it has a community (a growing one) that exercises these practices to achieve this higher goal.
How does the religion of Scientology affect your relationship with your family and friends?
Personally, Scientology has been of great and invaluable help. It gave me back my parents as a united loving couple. It gave me back my sister. Scientology has helped me be more able to do what I always wanted to do, which is to help people be free, be honest, be willing to help others. I see no possible higher pay that I could get. No money in the world could be compared to the feeling one gets when one effectively helps a relative, a friend, or anyone who is in need.