Metro got a personal invitation to tour the Times Square Scientology Center, the seven-story New York flagship of the controversial religion.
Nevermind the rumors of slavery and abuse — church officials say Scientology is gaining young followers in the Big Apple.
“False reports about Scientology come from people with an ax to grind,” said the Rev. John Carmichael, president of the Times Square church.
The number of people under 35 taking their first course in Scientology has doubled, from 200 in 2009 to 400 in 2010, said Carmichael.
“There’s so much bad PR,” said Scientologist Adam Shuty, 33, a personal trainer and actor. “I think my parents and sister were a little concerned.”
Shuty began taking courses in 2005. He visits the church daily, taking advantage of “auditing” (spiritual counseling) and “purification” (a vitamin, exercise and sauna regimen).
“As life became more difficult and complex, I started looking for something else,” said Queens law school grad Thalia Harrari, 26.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter at @EmilyatMetro.
- PHOTOS: Filipino devotees nailed to crosses to re-enact crucifixion4 Pictures
- PHOTOS: Memorial spotlights the man behind Nipsey Hussle rap persona14 Pictures