The opening of the new Church of Scientology Amsterdam along the historic city’s “Knowledge Mile” reflects the character of the community of Scientologists who celebrated the new facility’s opening and renewed dedication to its already successful work in anti-drug and humanitarian initiatives.
Amid Amsterdam’s old-world feel of canals, bridges and centuries-old architecture, there is also an ambiance that comes from its legacy of welcoming others; a sense of tolerance and diversity permeates its cosmopolitan atmosphere, where people of 187 nationalities share this historic city. All that was richly evident in late October as some 1,300 parishioners and guests gathered under unsettled skies to open the new Church of Scientology Amsterdam and to rededicate the Church’s humanitarian missions there.
The Scientology religion has a long history with the city, establishing its first Church of Scientology in Amsterdam more than 40 years ago. The new Church, with its modern architecture along what is known locally as “Knowledge Mile,” marks a renewed commitment to the longstanding work of local Scientologists in social betterment and humanitarian campaigns with and among the people of the Netherlands.
Mr. David Miscavige spoke of the relationships Scientologists have shared with the city. “Before that ribbon falls,” he said, “let’s take a moment to contemplate your place in Dutch history—not to mention mythology. For you are no longer sailing seaward and windward, and you’re no longer skirting headlands homeward. On the contrary, you’re outward bound on a course to eternity itself.”
That journey has brought with it dedication, guest speakers noted, a compassionate relationship between the Church’s congregation and the community at large.
Maarten Lubbers, chairman of Together One Amsterdam, spoke of the Church as a new partner to enhance the institutes of learning, companies and organizations of “the smartest street” in the Netherlands.
“Everyone needs a sanctuary that offers solitude and serenity, with yourself and with your family and friends,” he observed. “In life, people experience loss, have tragedies and want and need to reflect. And your new home is like an extension of the street, the doors are open and the people are welcome. And I believe that here everyone will be met with compassion and be greeted with open arms—because this is a center that is genuinely dedicated to inspiring and uplifting our Dutch society.”
The social betterment campaigns by Scientologists in the Netherlands are perhaps best captured by the work of the local chapter of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which has been a vital force in protecting the rights of Dutch children. Their presentation to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on the over-drugging of the country’s children resulted in a national mandate to investigate the root causes of the symptoms of ADHD.
Scientologists of Amsterdam have also battled drug abuse in the city, distributing over 25,000 Truth About Drugs booklets. L. Ron Hubbard’s universal moral precepts in The Way to Happiness have reached 150,000. As an active voice in interfaith activities, the Church has also championed dialogue among faith-based groups to bridge differences and strengthen community interaction.
The striking new 79,000-square-foot facility expands the Church’s footprint in Amsterdam and provides a new launching point for more extensive humanitarian outreach. The five-story facility, minutes from the center of the city, stands out as a dazzling new landmark for hope and collaboration, which more than 70,000 commuters pass by daily.
Other speakers also took particular note of the Church’s social betterment programs and spoke to what Scientology-supported human rights awareness and social justice campaigns have meant locally.
Michael van Gils, a medical expert and retired chief regional officer, has been active exposing abuse in the mental health industry, leading to new laws and public awareness.
“Too often,” he told the crowd, “schools find children ‘too excited’ or ‘easily distracted’ and send them to the family doctor who directs them to the psychiatrist … to drug their child. Together, we have to take a stand, and in the middle of this crisis, our guide is CCHR.”
Sheela Vyas, chair of the Women’s Council of Amsterdam, who helped pioneer women’s rights and has been a voice against domestic violence and child abuse, said she first met Scientology volunteers through an interfaith women’s group.
“It is through them I discovered The Way to Happiness,” she said. “This little book is a very useful tool to empower people to take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of others around them. It inspires them to grow into responsible and loving citizens. And so it forms a rock to build decent societies upon.”
Ari van Buuren, Chairman of the United Religions Initiative Netherlands, noted the city’s diversity and the social enrichment to which the Church has been committed. It has flourished through participation in the city’s United Religions Initiative, he said.
“We can win a better world without fear, a world without injustice and a world without intolerance. Let us … be complementary of each other. The essence comes down to welcoming each other and celebrating together the blessings. Let us continue doing so in the spirit of Amsterdam.”
FROM THE HEART
Local dignitaries share their support and pledge to continue to work together for the good of Amsterdam and the world at large.
Inspiring and Uplifting Dutch Society
“Everyone needs a sanctuary that offers solitude and serenity, with yourself and with your family and friends. In life, people experience loss, have tragedies and want and need to reflect. And your new home is like an extension of the street, the doors are open and the people are welcome. And I believe that here everyone will be met with compassion and be greeted with open arms—because this is a center that is genuinely dedicated to inspiring and uplifting our Dutch society.”
A Crusade to Protect Children
“With CCHR, I found myself among a crusade of millions. Here was a partner that would not only state something, they would take action. And you did so, on behalf of us all. You went to the National Parliament to tell them, ‘our children deserve better.’ You reached over 2,000 doctors, educators and political leaders with your message and the facts … Thanks to CCHR, child doctors had to warn against the prescription of ADHD medicine—and that is permanent change.”
Providing a Moral Compass
“This little book [The Way to Happiness] is a very useful tool to empower people to take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of others around them. It inspires them to grow into responsible and loving citizens. And so, it forms a rock to build decent societies upon. In this time when moral standards are decreasing in Holland and elsewhere, people need effective tools to educate themselves … Because true education is not obtaining certificates but having a moral compass to self-empowerment.”
Providing Spiritual Freedom
“There is an ancient Dutch proverb that says: ‘Improve the world and begin with yourself’ … We are in need of a counter movement of spirituality, out of loneliness and isolation. And your transformation and educational training deeply contributes. It is all about self-knowledge and spiritual awareness. You offer an important contribution to spiritual awareness and freedom. In the Western culture, rational thinking and spirituality have become separated—and Scientology reconnects them together again.”