IAS Gala Weekend Fetes Year of Humanitarian Help and Advance
The International Association of Scientologists (IAS), an ever-expanding force for good within the worldwide humanitarian community, gathered in East Grinstead, Southern England, on the first weekend in October to recognize a year of expansion and accomplishment.
The narrow old carriage roads that twist and turn through the small villages and farms of West Sussex were crowded with cars and buses on a Friday evening in early fall, as thousands of Scientologists, guests and friends poured onto the well-manicured grounds of Saint Hill Manor—the home of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard.
Through openings between the dense hedges and trees that line those roads, visitors could see the distant outline of the elegant Saint Hill—alive with light on the rolling horizon—glowing like distant fire in the fading autumn light.
Beyond the Manor gates, past the entrances and down the long sweeping drive to the pavilion and the Great Hall, to a stage erected under cover of a massive marquee, members of the International Association of Scientologists from more than 65 nations filled the air with diverse language as they walked into the arena with a purpose—to celebrate their humanity and that of all mankind.
The celebration for 2017 marked the 33rd since the IAS was founded at Saint Hill in 1984 to unite, advance, support and protect the world’s youngest and fastest-growing major religion. Members and guests came also to honor those who helped the Church realize a year of hope and achievement on the path toward Scientology’s goals for a better life for all.
“Yes, you’ve arrived at this Kingdom of the IAS,” said David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion.
“Where all similarities to the physical universe are purely coincidental…
“Where IAS members from all over this Earth, come in and take a seat: From North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Oceania, a hundred cities of Europe and from all over this United Kingdom.
“Because, and all told, we now celebrate 147 lands with an IAS presence no one will ever forget.”
So it was, Mr. Miscavige outlined each punctuation point of that presence across two and a half hours of solid-packed energy. In fact, the night not only surveyed the kingdom of humanitarian outreach from the highlands to the lowlands of Earth, but it further focused on expansion of the religion itself in outlands never previously seen.
The accelerating pace of the Church’s expansion and of its humanitarian missions is also reflected in the account of stories featuring diverse expressions of social goodwill. Each story unto itself is a chart-topper, but altogether they form a symphony of humanitarian help spanning renowned IAS-sponsored initiatives. All began with telling accounts of mental health abuse and its rapid reform by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).
Campaign action further unfolded courtesy of: Drug-Free World and a power movement driving The Truth About Drugs against the tide of abuse; United for Human Rights, keeping alive the flame of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; The Way to Happiness instilling moral resurgence through its 21 precepts for universal living; and the wave of Volunteer Minister support brought to 21 major disaster sites this year alone, not to mention countless moments of personal strife for individuals across this world.
Examples of the sheer impact of the initiatives during the presentation included:
- The Way to Happiness ambassadors entering uncharted territory in the Philippines, sparking widespread adoption to train some 29,000 police officers on the booklet’s universal moral precepts.
- In Zambia, a land where survival is a day-to-day endeavor, an Anglican Minister forming 70 Way to Happiness groups, turned a message from the pulpit into a tenfold increase in productivity across a region of 50,000 square miles.
- United for Human Rights enlightening and empowering over 19,000 Pakistani students and subsequently drafting and getting passed, the “Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence Act” to guarantee their rights forevermore.
- 5,000 Drug-Free World volunteers leading a campaign that launched at the Brazil Olympics and saw over 2 million Truth About Drugs booklets distributed across São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
- And the Scientology Volunteer Ministers traversing 200,000 miles to bring life and hope to nearly four million people including those worst hit by an onslaught of natural and man-made disasters.
Many more tales unfolded, led by the stars of this bright and dynamic night. Namely, three IAS Freedom Medal Winners, who each epitomize relentless progress toward the goals of the religion everywhere for a peaceful, productive and crime-free world, where social justice prevails. As Mr. Miscavige introduced them one by one, a common ethic of work, courage, persistence and dedication were evident in their stories:
- In the UK, Freedom Medal recipient Brian Daniels, stepped out under CCHR’s banner to tackle psychiatric abuses within the country’s mental hospitals, pointing to misconduct by psychiatrists in the field and forcing reforms. He further inspired a run of national exposés on links between mind-altering drugs and an increase in child suicide, leading to unprecedented “black box warnings” on pharmaceutical drugs to permanently protect British youth.
- Peacemaker and activist for human rights, Minister Tony Muhammad, created a Way to Happiness movement in the inner cities of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world, with 50 peace rides across 33 notorious neighborhoods resulting in a 40 percent drop in crime. Tony then persisted in bringing together rival gangs to confront the violence between them, winning a ceasefire and peace agreements between bitter gang rivals—the Crips and Bloods.
- Binod Sharma, a native of Nepal, launched his VM team in response to the 2015 monster earthquake to bring succor to 15,000 residents in the first five days of response. Binod then led his teams across 101 otherwise forgotten villages and districts hit by disaster, ultimately bringing help to 4 million Nepalese. In the aftermath, and to bring permanent help, he further established a Volunteer Minister headquarters and 169 groups across his nation.
Friday night’s celebration was expanded Saturday evening as the grand marquee transformed into the annual IAS Patrons Ball. The spectacular black-tie dinner and entertainment gala is held in recognition of those IAS members supporting the humanitarian work and initiatives feted over the course of the weekend.
The accent on the weekend of festivities was the traditional Saint Hill Charity Concert attended by 1,500 local residents. The evening of music and dance saw five local charities awarded donations to expand their activities serving the local community and all of it in keeping with the tradition started by L. Ron Hubbard during the years he called Saint Hill home.
The IAS, the official membership organization of Scientology open to all Scientologists from all nations, was formed in 1984. The purpose of the IAS is to unite, advance, support and protect the Scientology religion and Scientologists in all parts of the world so as to achieve the Aims of Scientology as originated by L. Ron Hubbard: “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights.”