Foreigners essential for Scientology in Denmark

Expert contends that membership numbers are dwindling

At the moment, around 4,000 to 5,000 foreign Scientologists are in Copenhagen taking part in courses and receiving guidance, while another 2,000 or so work permanently in Copenhagen, according to the belief organisation.

And the stream of foreigners heading to Scientology's European headquarters in Denmark are essential to the belief organisation's business, according to Peter B Andersen, a professor in religion sociology at the University of Copenhagen.

”Scientology educates people from all over Europe to the highest possible level on the continent in their building on Jernbanegade,” Andersen told Kristeligt-Dagblad newspaper. "And that's also where its international administration is located.”

READ MORE: Anti-cult conference planned in Scientology's backyard

Membership numbers in decline?
And while it costs at least 350,000 kroner to reach the highest level of self-development in Denmark, many end up giving much more, often ending up in debt, according to Peter Åkerbäck, a religion historian at the University of Stockholm.

Åkerbäck contends that members are very enthusiastic in their first few years and take a lot of courses in a short period of time, while Scientology applies more pressure on its members than before, as its membership numbers are in decline.

”My impression is that Scientology is experiencing problems because a lot of high-profile members have left the organisation over the last five years,” Åkerbäck said.

”It's happening in all countries, but especially in the US. There are lots of people who don't like the organisation but still support Hubbard's thoughts and create their own organisations.”

Anette Refstrup, the head of communication at Scientology Denmark, doesn't agree with the experts' opinions, saying that Scientology memberships numbers "are actually on the rise".

Scientology's headquarters in Europe was established by the belief organisation's founder, L Ron Hubbard, back in 1969 because, amongst other things, he liked the well-organised Danish society.

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