March 1, 2008
Scientology comes to Harlem
By Kristen V. Brown
New York's Church of Scientology is hoping its newest acquisitions --
three buildings on 125th Street in Harlem -- will become more than just
another quiet storefront on the block. The new buildings will mark a
major move into Harlem for the church, and will replace its small
5,000-square-foot location around the corner on Third Avenue with a
fully functional church and community center.
"People at the Harlem church are hoping to create a second Harlem
Renaissance, and to do so by providing useful tools in education, drug
education and human rights," says Rev. John Carmichael, president of the
New York branch of Scientology. "We are all convinced that it can happen."
The three buildings were acquired for a total of $13.65 million. The new
church will include a chapel for services, drug education program,
literacy training and job training. In honor of to its new neighborhood,
the church plans to include African design motifs in its decor.
To some, the new presence of a church that has typically been known for
its appeal to upper-class Caucasians is just another sign of Harlem's
pressing gentrification, but Carmichael insists it isn't so.
"This is anti-gentrification, really," he says. "It's designed to help
people who are already there. We're for Harlem, not against Harlem."