West Valley City • The founder of Scientology had no direct ties to Utah, but the state's second-largest city has recognized the 100th anniversary of his birth with a proclamation.
The City Council last week approved a proclamation declaring March 13 as L. Ron Hubbard Centennial Day in West Valley City. The proclamation will be sent to Tampa, Fla., where a celebration marking the day is planned for next month.
West Valley Mayor Mike Winder said the city routinely grants requests for similar proclamations, which only cost a few minutes of time, and that proclamations recognizing other religious figures, such as Joseph Smith or Mother Teresa, would be treated the same.
The Friends of L. Ron Hubbard Foundation in Los Angeles submitted the proclamation, but the request originated from followers in Utah, according to foundation representative Louis Ricketts.
He said there are more than 500 Scientologists in the state, several hundred of them in the Salt Lake City area. The organization usually requests proclamations from areas where people have benefited from Hubbard's work, he said.
Salt Lake City received a request from the foundation but did not present it to the City Council because it did not come from a constituent, said Lisa Harrison-Smith, spokeswoman for Mayor Ralph Becker. One factor in weighing a request for a proclamation is whether it comes from the local community, she said.
Ricketts estimates that hundreds of the proclamations will be sent to Florida for the celebration from the United States and around the world. He does not know yet how many are coming from Utah.
Other types of proclamations also are routine in West Valley City.
The council is slated to vote next week on a request to declare March as National Caffeine Awareness Month. The proclamation by the Caffeine Awareness Association outlines the health risks associated with the substance.
The one-page proclamation on Hubbard describes him as an influential philosopher, humanitarian and prolific writer of fiction and nonfiction works. It cites his efforts to help others through his drug rehabilitation programs, nonreligious moral code and humanitarian research.
Hubbard was born in Nebraska on March 13, 1911, and died on Jan. 24, 1986. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954.
Scientology now has 9,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups in 165 countries, according to its website. The controversial church has some high-profile members, including actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta.