The Caribbean

Freewinds Maiden Voyage Anniversary Honors Unforgettable 12 Months for Scientology

Advanced Scientologists board Freewinds for June week of planning in the name of Church expansion and celebrating an amazing year of triumphs.

They started arriving on Friday in small groups, and by Saturday they were more than 200 strong—dedicated, determined compatriots happily wending their way through bustling Bridgetown, the capital of the Caribbean nation of Barbados. As the tropic sun warmed them, and trade winds cooled them, the group streamed towards a ship docked at the city’s harbor, a dazzling white vessel, 440 feet in length and festooned for celebration. The visitors were greeted by steel-drum bands, a festive crowd of well-wishers and local dignitaries cheering the visitors with “bon voyage.”

Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board Religious Technology Center, commenced a week of celebration that included an array of events covering Scientology advances, expansion, good news and much more.
 

For the Caribbean, merry send-offs of cruise ships and their seagoing tourists are common. But that ship is not a pleasure craft, nor were the attendees assembled for mere fun, although they certainly enjoyed themselves. While the ship, the Motor Vessel Freewinds, has similarities to a cruise ship—the classic lines, stylish staterooms and first-class cuisine of an ocean liner—it is a religious retreat for the Church of Scientology.

For 51 weeks of the year, the Freewinds logs and charts adventures that bring humanitarian and educational programs to the Caribbean and Latin America; and the ship hosts spiritual services for the most advanced Scientologists.

That remaining week of the year? It’s special. Very special. Scientologists who have attained the highest spiritual levels of the religion gather in June to look back on the year, celebrate the expansion of the Church, and the successes of massive global humanitarian crusades. Even more important, they coordinate their actions for even greater accomplishments in the coming months.

The annual expedition is a convocation of the most advanced Scientologists of the religion. Those attending Maiden Voyage also are part of a dedicated group that has spearheaded the expansion of the religion, particularly through the creation of Ideal Churches in their geographic zone.

“Indeed, you are about to witness a panoramic view of our movement,” said David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, at the inauguration of the Maiden Voyage Anniversary. “A movement that now spans across both hemispheres in the name of Ideal Organizations: from South America and Central America, to the borderlands of the United Kingdom and the heartland of Europe, and onto Africa and across to Australasia. Because, and after all, with an Ideal Organization we can bring all we have to bear in the name of help, to every neighborhood, every community, everywhere—and thereby all together we can realize a better world.”

Nightly major events and briefings of Maiden Voyage covered a diverse and captivating agenda.

HONORING A HUMANITARIAN SHIP

First on the agenda was the Freewinds itself. This is a ship with a unique humanitarian mission, which was underscored by campaigns in the Caribbean and Latin America throughout the last year. For example, Maiden Voyage attendees learned about Ecuadorian Police Captain Marcelo Montenegro, who vowed to bring Scientology-sponsored programs to his nation, spearheaded by the nation’s police and cadets. Already, there has been a 65-percent drop in general crime and homicides where The Truth About Drugs program and The Way to Happiness, Mr. Hubbard’s common sense moral code, have been applied.

The ship’s humanitarian mission was further highlighted by officials and dignitaries all across the islands. They include:

  • The Secretary General of UNESCO in St. Kitts giving her “heartfelt gratitude” for the Ship’s “continued Human Rights partnership and making the world a better place.”
  • The Commission of the Antigua Royal Police in recognition of the nearly 250 officers now educated in The Way to Happiness eliciting their pledge to apply those precepts for “uplifting [their] Island Nation.”
  • And the Royal Dutch Navy of Aruba honoring the Freewinds’ now total “27 years of service.”

Those sentiments echoed through the islands the Freewinds calls home: Antigua, Dominica, St. Martin, St. Kitts, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Barbados, Grenada, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Freeport and Nassau. Altogether, the Freewinds has won more than 400 awards and honors for aiding her ports of call.

AN EVENING DEDICATED TO L. RON HUBBARD

“First and foremost, LRH was an author,” said Mr. Miscavige when introducing the enchanting evening’s presentation in honor of Mr. Hubbard’s legacy.

Dan Sherman, the biographer of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, gave a narrative about LRH’s exploits and accomplishments as one of the leading writers during the Golden Age of Science Fiction in the 1930s and ‘40s—before he authored Dianetics and established Scientology. Mr. Sherman presented interviews with luminaries of the literary genre—including a legendary agent, one of the genre’s most acclaimed illustrators and a pioneer of science fiction fandom.

That narrative led right through the chronological milestones of Mr. Hubbard’s writing, right up to the very book he wrote to celebrate his golden anniversary as a professional author—Battlefield Earth, a New York Times bestselling novel, now released in a 21st century edition.

A NIGHT IN THE NAME OF GLOBAL SALVAGE

Those aboard for the Maiden Voyage attended a formal event honoring the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), whose mission is to further the social betterment efforts of the religion, support and protect the aims of the religion, and to expand the Church. Among the IAS-supported groups highlighted in the event were:

  • The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which during 2016 fought to curb systemic psychiatric abuse in Kazakhstan mental health facilities, within hospitals of Peru and throughout California's foster children’s network.
  • United for Human Rights and Youth for Human Rights, which installed human rights networks in the Ukraine, across Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands and in Washington, D.C.
  • Drug-Free World, a group that carried its crusade to turn back the tide of addiction spreading over South Africa's townships, to bring the anti-drug message to Dominican Republic schools, and during a weeklong blitz for San Francisco's Super Bowl 50.
  • Finally, The Way to Happiness, which brought calm and morality as it arrived in Latvia, on the streets of Amsterdam and in the city of Gomez Palacio in Mexico's Durango state.

What was undoubtedly a magnificent win for religious freedom became a cause for celebration aboard the Freewinds. Mr. Miscavige crowned the night with the announcement of a landmark legal decision that protects the freedom to practice one’s religion throughout all 47 countries that adhere to the European Convention on Human Rights. It was a victory over a blatant act of bigotry, a 670-page Belgium Parliamentary Commission report published in 1997 that stigmatized 189 religions and religious organizations. Driven by sectarian fervor, false charges followed against the Church and its members in what the court described as a deliberate attempt to put a religion, its doctrine or beliefs on trial. Yet, after 18 years, and a 7-week hearing, a 173-page decision dismissed all charges, vindicated all defendants and declared the entire case to be a “serious and irremediable breach of the right to a fair trial.” The decision was a total triumph for the Church and for religious freedom in Europe.


One theme was evident in many ways throughout the weeklong convocation: Church expansion. Between the evening events, Scientologists gathered for planning meetings, in groups representing various continents and geographic zones. The agendas included scoping out new Church buildings for acquisition, reviewing space plans and designs and targeting for construction. On hand were representatives of the Church’s International Landlord Office, the operations headquarters for building projects across the globe.

The result has been the opening of 51 Ideal Churches (Ideal Orgs). The most recent opening was in April in Atlanta, and the next are slated in Harlem, NYC, and Budapest, Hungary. Another 50 Ideal Orgs are set to open in the next two years.


The finale message of the weeklong convocation was not so much one of “farewell.” But rather, Mr. Miscavige gave a spirited “fare-forward” as passengers disembarked now loaded with ideas for a bold future, and their sights set on horizons and another year of accomplishment.