BuzzFeed's Alex Klein investigates the alleged real estate scam that's creating serious ill will between church members and church leaders. Two paragraphs of local interest:
When Bert Schippers forked over hundreds of thousands of dollars to help build an Ideal Org in downtown Seattle, he thought he was helping save the world. "I thought I was in the best religion on the planet," he says. But as he gave more and more from 2001 to 2008, the new cathedral's doors remained locked shut: to people, but not to money. Schippers, who had joined the church in 1986 and spent more than a million dollars on donations and courses, started asking questions about what, exactly, he was paying for; church leaders barred him, his wife, and his friends from setting foot inside.
"We gave that money because we wanted our local church to have its own building," says Schippers, who runs a circuit-board company with his wife. "But when I found out the church had changed the original teachings of L. Ron Hubbard to make so much money... I felt absolute, complete, total betrayal." Nonprofits often tell you that a donation can change your life, as well as its recipient's. For Schippers, losing so much for so little was a disturbing wake-up call. "It was around then I realized, I was in a fucking cult." He pauses, can't quite find the words. "It's…a mindfuck. Just a total mindfuck."