If you're a resident of Ascot Vale in Melbourne, you may be wondering what's been going on with the old Sisters of Mercy convent at 251 Mount Alexander Road.
It's surrounded by temporary fencing, security is tight and nondescript vans have been coming and going at all hours of the day and night.
Well, wonder no more. It's the new Melbourne headquarters of the Church of Scientology.
Apparently they'll be shutting up shop in their current location (Russell St in the city) and moving out to the burbs.
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On the weekend a friend approached and spoke to a security guard by one of the gates. The guard was somewhat reticent to talk about it, but it's not really a big secret.
Here is the agenda of the Moonee Valley Council planning meeting on 7 August 2007, in which the application was discussed. The minutes of the same meeting are here. Unfortunately, most of it's about car parking. Yawn.
What's interesting, although not really surprising, is that the Scientologists have set up shop in an old convent. Like their logo featuring a crucifix, they're latching on to the iconography of existing religions in a bid to appear . . . what? More accessible? Less threatening, maybe?
Well, why not? Christians used exactly the same strategy back in the day . . . co-opting the popular pagan festivals and changing the names on statues.
And it certainly worked out well for them.