By Christy Strawser

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Detroiters have a reputation for a salt of the earth attitude and working class sensibilities, so where does Scientology, a religion founded by a science fiction author, fit into that?

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It’s unclear. But curbed Detroit is reporting the Church of Scientology is working to transform the Standard Savings Building, which overlooks Hart Plaza, into its first location in downtown Detroit.

The location is interesting because Standard Savings sits on the location of the first church in Detroit, which was founded in July, 1701.  The Standard Savings building there now at Griswold and West Jefferson was constructed in 1930. The bank moved to Troy in the 1973, and Raymond James later took over offices inside.

The Church of Scientology quietly bought it in 2007, leaving it vacant and remaining silent on any plans for its future.

But this week a plan to replace the Raymond James sign with one for Scientology and make various other changes, including the addition of a roof deck, was presented to the Detroit Historic Commission. It was tabled until a later date.

Why would Scientology want to move into Detroit? The church has locations in 25 states, including two sites already in Michigan. The church is in a new era of worldwide expansion, per its website.

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“New Ideal Organizations now regularly open their doors, with many others … on the horizon, as Scientologists rally in support of a global Ideal Churches movement to serve their communities long into the future,” the site says.

Scientology is in the spotlight after HBO’s “Going Clear” became one of its most-watched documentaries of the last decade.

Scientology is strange, viewers discovered, with proponents believing invisible aliens cling to the skin of people holding in negative emotions, and that electromagnetic “audits” can clear past memories of pain.

It’s embraced by some heavyweights, especially in Los Angeles where its tenets are held close by celebrities Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

That’s apparently how it can afford a real estate empire worth an estimated $400 million in Los Angeles alone, per the Hollywood Reporter.


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