Mar 4, 2018

Scientologists offer free dumplings to attract Chinese-Kiwis to Auckland HQ

Dileepa Fonseka and Harrison Christian
March 4, 2018

The Church of Scientology is offering an enticement of free dumplings and a barbecue to Chinese-Kiwis who attend a "self-improvement" course at their new Auckland headquarters.

Scientologists have distributed Chinese-language flyers across Auckland during Chinese New Year in a move to boost attendance at its central Auckland premises. 

Flyers offer a free barbecue lunch, including dumplings, and Chinese services every Saturday and Sunday at the religion's central Auckland headquarters on Grafton Rd.

A leaflet offering free dumplings to Chinese people who attend self-improvement lessons at a Scientology centre is being circulated in Auckland.

Helen Paul-Huang, a Scientologist, said they offered Mandarin-language services so people with limited English could feel included.

A spokesperson for the Auckland church said the pamphlet was intended for the Chinese community, but added it was written in traditional Chinese, which was used in Taiwan and not in mainland China.

"We have more than 10 churches of Scientology in Taiwan and we have Taiwanese Scientologists living in Auckland also," the spokesperson said.

"There is a large Chinese community in Auckland, as well as other ethnic communities, which are parts of the Auckland City. We aim to service all communities, as we are truly multi-national and multi-cultural religion.

"Scientology does seem to appeal to the Asian community, as they have spiritual background of their own and it has a lot of similarity to Scientology."

The Church of Scientology headquarters where Chinese-language services will be held was opened last year.

Scientology is not a recognised religion in China. In, 2003 the Chinese Embassy for New Zealand compared Scientology and Falun Gong to the Japanese death cult behind the 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo.

Massey University history professor Peter Lineham said it appeared the Auckland church was trying to capitalise on the success of the religion in Taiwan. 

Migrants were particularly amenable to religion as it gave them a community connection, Lineham said.

The Chinese language services will be delivered at the Church's $16m headquarters in Grafton, the former site of Whitecliffe Art College.

Scientology's supreme leader David Miscavige, whose official title is Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center, attended the opening of the Auckland headquarters in January 2017.

Often described as secretive about its practices, Scientology is based on teachings from prolific science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard.

"Our founder found a good way to help people expand their business to resolve their financial stress," said Paul-Huang.

Sunday Star Times

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