WTF Are Those Scientologists Doing In New Mexico?
The Daily Mail, a publication not known for their journalistic integrity, has posted what they claim to be the very first â€śup-closeâ€ť pictures of the Church of Scientologyâ€™s New Mexico campus.
Now, before we go any further, itâ€™s important to note that we here at redOrbit are open to all peoples, creeds, religions and whatever else. Weâ€™ll even accept bronies, but only because weâ€™ve been threatened with legal action if we donâ€™t.
(I made all of that up.)
There will be multiple ways in which to view the following story, but for the purposes of this story Iâ€™d like to at least acknowledge that this place is certainly out of the ordinary. The campus itself is old news, really. The Church of Scientology (or CST) bought the property in 1986 and began building the campus there later on.
Here are the facts: Itâ€™s built near Tremntina, New Mexico, about an hour east and slightly south of Las Vegas. The entire campus covers about 50 to 60 acres and contains several buildings, a welcome center and a large cathedral built into the side of a mountain. On the far south side of the property lies a one mile-long private landing strip called the San Miguel Ranch Airport. In between the strip and the buildings are two large circles with diamonds in the middle of each, the official logo of the CST.
This campus has popped up in different news sources from time to time, likely because itâ€™s said to be mostly uninhabited yet kept in pristine shape. Itâ€™s also in the deserts of New Mexico, where strange things are likely to occur anyway. Also, the two large crop circles and completely vacant airstrip donâ€™t help things.
Itâ€™s been said by former CST members that the cathedral built into the mountain is a facade that fronts long tunnels that lead to underground vaults. The lectures, teachings and writings of the CSTâ€™s leader, L. Ron Hubbard, are said to be not only buried here, but imprinted on â€śstainless steel plates and nickel-plated records.â€ť These archives are also stored in 2,300 titanium capsules in what the CST calls â€ścalamity-proofâ€ť vaults to ensure future generations have access to these records.
Ah, but about those calamity proof vaults.
Itâ€™s on public record that these underground vaults do in fact exist. BBC reporter John Sweeney wrote a book earlier this year called â€śThe Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology,â€ť wherein he says the gold discs are locked in titanium caskets and the entire vault is sealed with argon. Apparently, the CST built the cathedral to literally withstand a hydrogen bomb blast.
This campus popped up again in the news this January following the release of Sweeneyâ€™s book. A spokesperson for the CST addressed some of the claims about the New Mexico campus, specifically the underground vaults and the circles and diamonds etched into the desert.
“Because [the facility] is in such a remote area, the most practical way to it is by air,” said Karin Pouw in an email to NBC News.
“The corporate logo of the church that operates the facility is carved into the ground to help pilots find the facility. This, too, is commonly done by major corporations.”
According to a 2005 Washington Post article, however, those familiar with L. Ron Hubbardâ€™s teachings know exactly why this symbol is burned into the desert.
“As a lifetime staff member, you sign a billion-year contract. It’s not just symbolic,” explained one man who dedicated 30 years of his life to the religion.
â€śYou know you are coming back and you will defend the movement no matter what. . . . The fact that they would etch this into the desert to be seen from space, it fits into the whole ideology.”
Though the church doesnâ€™t always claim it upfront, theyâ€™re understood to believe in aliens and, according to some, those who reach a certain level in the religion will leave this Earth to return again someday. According to former CST members, those who do escape to outer space will have to come back one day and retrieve these archives, presumably after the world has been destroyed in one way or another.
Perhaps then this is what the mile-long landing strip is for? Itâ€™s also just as likely that itâ€™s used for visitors who fly their private planes to the campus.
A giant corporate logo, welcome centers and private landing strips arenâ€™t unusualâ€¦but when Albuquerque news station KRQE first wanted to run a story about these unusual markings in the desert in 2005, the CST tried to persuade them to keep quiet. KRQE claimed the desert circles were used as a marker to help find these underground vaults.
The church said theyâ€™d give KRQE reporters a private tour of the place if they promised not to run the story. They also called the stations owner and asked her to stop the piece in its tracks. When this didnâ€™t work, they tried to butter up some local politicians to get them to shut the news story down before it could air.
The Daily Mail, who posted the first up-close pictures of the site recently, spoke with the only other non-CST member known to ever get a tour of the grounds, Tim Gallagos, former chief of the Las Vegas Sheriff Department. According to the Daily Mail, he was given a private tour in the late 1990s after he got word that the church had placed cameras and snipers around the campus to spot and kill any snoopers. He was only given a tour of the welcome center, however, but claims heâ€™s still suspicious of the place.
â€śIt did feel like they were hiding something. I wasnâ€™t allowed to go into certain areas. I know when people are lying to me, I can tell from their body language and voice they were concealing something,â€ť said Gallagos.
Though the landing strip and desert circles are clearly visible from any aircraft or mapping application (I used Apple Maps) the Daily Mail obtained close up pictures taken from a helicopter that was hovering close by. The cathedral, circles and welcome center are very clearly visible and, as mentioned in earlier reports throughout the years, mostly vacant.
Those are the facts. Whether or not this strikes you as odd or completely normal and rational completely depends on your upbringing and the openness of your mind, I suppose. I generally believe people are allowed to do whatever they want so long as theyâ€™re not hurting anyone. Two things strike me, however.
First, Iâ€™m not sure why the CST wants to keep something like this so private. Itâ€™s hard to hide something easily seen from aircraft and GPS apps.
Secondly, if theyâ€™re preserving the archives on Earth in anticipation of a total nuclear meltdown and plan to return to the decimated planet years later to retrieve the teachingsâ€¦.why not just take them with you? Seems like a lot of unnecessary hassle…
Image Credit: Jeff Rayner / Coleman-Rayner via The Daily Mail