Largest Scientology church in Midwest opens in downtown St. Paul

Once upon a time, a science fiction author invented his own religion. Inspired by his studies in Eastern spirituality, engineering and nuclear physics, L. Ron Hubbard’s controversial theories on psychology, reincarnation, extraterrestrials and the mental blocks holding most people from achieving greatness quickly spread, and the Church of Scientology grew to become the only major new religion established in the 20th century.

It’s still growing. On Saturday, the church opened its latest mega-center – or “Ideal Organization” – at the corner of Wabasha and Exchange streets in downtown St. Paul, adjacent to the Fitzgerald Theater.

The three-level, 82,000-square-foot building occupies the old west building of the Science Museum of Minnesota and encompasses dozens of classrooms, seminar rooms, video rooms, a coffee shop, two saunas, a bookstore and 300-seat IMAX theater, which is now a chapel, conference center and concert hall.