Church of Scientology hosts awards ceremony in Ketchikan
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — The Church of Scientology’s 70 largest benefactors from around the world flew to Ketchikan this past weekend to attend an awards banquet.
The unpublicized ceremony took place at the Cape Fox Lodge, the Ketchikan Daily News reported Tuesday.
Lauri Webster, one of the ceremony organizers, said the gathering was to honor those who have donated significant sums of money to construct “L. Ron Hubbard Hall,” a 4,000-seat auditorium in Clearwater, Florida. The hall is the spiritual headquarters of the religion.
Scientology was founded by Hubbard, who prior to forming Scientology served in the U.S. Navy, wrote fantasy and science-fiction novels and was part of The Explorer’s Club — an international organization focused on field study and scientific exploration.
Hubbard first came to Ketchikan in 1940 with the club as part of what he called the “Alaskan Radio-Experimental Expedition.”
“He also came up to study the Tlingit Indian tribes, and send back a finding of the research of the tribes and the ethnological factors of the Indians here,” Webster said, adding that the church often hosts events at places where Hubbard lived and worked.
She said neither Tom Cruise nor John Travolta — two famous adherents to the faith — attended, but those at Saturday’s awards banquet were well-known in the church.
“They’re humanitarians. They’re helping to change the world,” Webster said. “And just so you know, they love Ketchikan, and they love the people that are here.”
The Internal Revenue Service formally recognized the Church of Scientology as a religion in 1993, granting it tax-exempt status.
Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com