April 10, 1953.
L. Ron Hubbard, seeking a better way to scam the public in order to increase his income, writes a letter to Scientology executive Helen O’Brian.
“…We don’t want a clinic. We want one in operation but not in name. Perhaps we could call it a Spiritual Guidance Center. Think up its name, will you. And we could put in nice desks and our boys in neat blue with diplomas on the walls and 1. knock psychotherapy into history and 2. make enough money to shine up my operating scope and 3. keep the HAS solvent. It is a problem of practical business.
I await your reaction on the religion angle. In my opinion, we couldn’t get worse public opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we’ve got to sell. A religious charter would be necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick. But I sure could make it stick. We’re treating the present time beingness, psychotherapy treats the past and the brain. And brother, that’s religion, not mental science.”
Herein lies the indisputable proof that Scientology’s claims of being a religion are founded not in thousands of years of history, but less than a century of deception.
It is, as Hubbard states, a problem of practical business.
In the United States religion has been secularly defined as “a sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God in the lives of other persons. This religion or religious concept need not include belief in the existence of God or a supreme being to be within the scope of the First Amendment.”
In this Scientology fails across the board.
Hubbard’s cult has nothing occupying its members lives that parallels the place held by God in the lives of other persons. There is no sincere religious concept or meaningful belief in anything. While the definition states there is no need for a belief in the existence of God, still there is an undisputed requirement for a religion or religious concept.
Scientology’s ultimate teaching is that Man can save Himself through the exact application of Hubbard’s baseless technologies. Scientology is neither science, psychology nor religion. Hubbard engaged in no legitimate research, there exists no documentation that might be proffered for review by legitimate scientists or experts in the field of psychology or neuroscience. Without any credible foundation for Hubbard’s outrageous claims Scientology cannot be called a “Science” of anything.
Equally true is that without a single shred of spirituality, faith, or a religious concept, this cult cannot be called a religion.
Conversely, with overwhelming, substantial proof of corporate operations, quid pro quo business dealings and the focus on fundraising, real estate acquisition and income what Scientology IS is a global, billion dollar conglomerate.
If practitioners of Scientology did indeed hold a sincere and meaningful belief equal to that which is held by those who believe in God, there would be no confusion or equivocation in their beliefs and practices.
Instead, members of Scientology hold an individual, scattered jumble of ideas lacking uniformity or cohesion. God aside, Scientologists are unable to display any sort of homogenous identity at all. In fact even those chosen to act as official spokespersons are not secure enough in their understanding of Hubbard’s false religious pretense to act effectively.
In a Tampa Bay Times’ article dated December 20, 2018, Scientology Spokesperson Karen Pouw scornfully refuted claims made by member James J. Jackson who dared the unthinkable; he confronted David Miscavige about the sinking state of Scientology.
In her statement “Pouw then said Jackson was telling people he was communicating with the dead, including Hubbard. That indicates he is ‘delusional’ and ‘certifiably insane,’ she said.”
The problem with this smug comment is that it destroys the entirety of the fundamental core of Scientology’s belief system. As Jeffrey Augustine wrote at the time, “Scientology’s OT III – OT VIII levels are exclusively concerned with telepathically communicating with the souls of the billions of dead people murdered by Xenu. These OT levels seek to resolve the problems created by ‘body Thetans’. In doing so, the Scientologist communicates with these dead souls with these BT’s, in order to set them free. Once liberated of all BT’s, the Scientologist discovers who they really are up there at the pinnacle of OT VIII.”
Pouw dismissively nullified the very raison d’etre for Scientology’s upper levels; belief in “body thetans” is the only way to achieve the State of Clear. Thus it would seem she has no real understanding as to the doctrines of her own religion.
Pouw is not the only Scientology official with no clear religious concept.
In 2002 an article published in the Chicago Reader that details the tragic downward spiral and ultimate suicide of Greg Bashaw also displays the lack of an understood unified Scientology doctrine.
In June 2001, after multiple attempts, OTVII Scientologist Bashaw “…pulled onto the shoulder of a road in Montcalm County, northeast of Grand Rapids. Using duct tape, he attached a hose to the exhaust pipe of his Honda, then ran it through the passenger window, sealing off the opening with a towel. He reclined in the passenger’s seat, folded his arms across his chest, and breathed in a lethal dose of carbon monoxide–just as L. Ron Hubbard’s son had done 25 years earlier.”
Former Scientologist and jazz musician Jim Beebe contributed to this article, saying “‘When you first get into Scientology they have a wonderful facade,’ he says. ‘Come on in. We’re going to help you become more able. We’re going to raise your IQ, and we’re going to help you get rid of your problems.’ It’s all very attractive. You go to a Scientology place. There’s an exciting group dynamic there. You take the first course, which is a communication course–and it’s quite a good little course. There are some good ideas on communication, and it’s fun to do. But this is all a trap. ‘In Scientology,’ he says, ‘there is only L. Ron Hubbard. And little by little, as you move from one course to another, you move right into his mind-set. Your own thinking very subtly gets replaced by L. Ron Hubbard’s.‘”
Mary Anne Ahmad and Sue Strozewski, both official spokespersons for Scientology’s public relations department in Chicago, provided the Chicago Reader with the following statement.
“The church’s Illinois branch is well aware of Beebe, and its public relations department advises ignoring everything he says. According to Mary Anne Ahmad, he’s ‘antireligionist,’ a ‘crackpot,’ and ‘delusional.’ She says Scientology has no dogma, and her colleague Sue Strozewski says the religion only imparts knowledge – what you do with it is up to you. ‘You find your own reality,’ she says. ‘No one is going to sit there and tell you what to believe, what’s wrong and what the solution is.’ A solution is, however, guaranteed.”
Ahmad was, according to her LinkedIn, “Director of Public Affairs; Church of Scientology of Illinois from Aug 1988 – Mar 2007. Handled all external affairs of the Church including but not limited to Public Relations, Media, Government Relations, Social Reform groups, All legal matters”
Ahmad, backpedaling from her statement that “Scientology has no dogma” subsequently attempted damage control by issuing a scathing, furious letter to the Chicago Reader wherein she describes her “religion’s” belief system and defends it by citing attention from “the world’s leading religious scholars and sociologists”.
As for Strozewski, she further compounded the confusion that surrounds her “church’s” beliefs by stating, “…no one has advanced beyond OT8, though more levels exist. She says the materials for them are entrusted to the staff at the church’s Religious Technology Center in Los Angeles, then adds, ‘I would venture to say they would protect them with their lives.‘”
We reached out to Mike Rinder who confirmed that Strozewski’s comment was way off the mark.
“She has no idea.
These levels don’t exist. You know Hubbard was still obsessed with BTs to his last day on earth. That is OT 7 not even OT 8.”
The confusion is real.
Requirements listed by the IRS for a religious institution to qualify for tax exemption include;
“Recognized creed and form of worship
Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
Formal code of doctrine and discipline
Distinct religious history
Membership not associated with any other church or denomination”
A recognized creed is not just a printed statement on a website or hanging on the wall for aesthetics. It must be universally understood, embraced and practiced by the entire congregation. This creed is in fact part of the “…sincere and meaningful belief that occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to the place held by God”.
So too the formal code of doctrine, something that is clearly absent according to the various Scientology spokespersons who publicly claim the lack.
What the IRS requires is a unique religious identity.
Membership not associated with any other church or denomination.
A unified group who all embrace, who hold in their lives a codified, sincere and meaningful belief system that occupies in the life of its parishioners a place parallel to the place held by God in traditional, recognized faiths.
Requirements absolutely missing from Scientology.
Desperate to appear religious, Scientology has no choice but to bastardize the rituals, symbols and holidays of other faiths. The cult has no true exclusive, distinct religious history or character.
In fact this lack is most clearly demonstrated by Scientology’s own members who publicly proclaim their dual religious citizenships.
Actress and Scientologist Erika Christensen tweeted “Jewish Scientologists celebrate Hanukkah…there are Baptist to Buddhist to Muslim Scientologists.”
Scientology’s non religious watchdog club Stand League publishes numerous articles with members proclaiming that they practice another religion in addition to Scientology. On March 2, 2020 an article appeared on Stand League’s blog wherein the author claims both Jewish and Scientology religious practices. “I was born Jewish and continued to embrace this faith even while I became a Scientologist some 47 years ago. Over my lifetime, I have personally been denigrated for practicing each of these religions.”
There are other, similar declarations of obviously acceptable dual religious practices:
Stand League is a Scientologist populated group. If such claims are being publicly made then they reflect the acceptance of the Church of Scientology of the embrace of and practice of secondary religions in conjunction with Scientology. There are no disclaimers on the site to the contrary.
Given the absolute heresy and bigotry towards Christianity by Hubbard, this last is beyond ludicrous. It is patently impossible for Christianity to coexist with Scientology ideology.
Ultimately the question of Scientology’s status returns full circle to Hubbard’s letter of 1953.
There can be no doubt that the reformatting of LRH’s pseudoscience of the mind, lacing it with religious language to give it a spiritual veneer was a conscious, premeditated deception. Hubbard’s motives were purely financial then and they are purely financial today.
Without a true and distinct religious identity, without a cohesive system of belief, without members who all recognize such a system of belief there is no religion and therefore there is no adherence to the stated requirements for the tax exemption.
For twenty five years Scientology was denied tax exemption. Then, as The New York Times reported, “Fred T. Goldberg Jr., the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service at the time, had an unusual meeting with Mr. Miscavige in 1991. Scientology’s own version of what occurred offers a remarkable account of how the church leader walked into I.R.S. headquarters without an appointment and got in to see Mr. Goldberg, the nation’s top tax official. Mr. Miscavige offered to call a halt to Scientology’s suits against the I.R.S. in exchange for tax exemptions.
After that meeting, Mr. Goldberg created a special committee to negotiate a settlement with Scientology outside normal agency procedures. When the committee determined that all Scientology entities should be exempt from taxes, I.R.S. tax analysts were ordered to ignore the substantive issues in reviewing the decision, according to I.R.S. memorandums and court files.
The I.R.S. refused to disclose any terms of the agreement, including whether the church was required to pay back taxes, contending that it was confidential taxpayer information. The agency has maintained that position in a lengthy court fight, and in rejecting a request for access by The Times under the Freedom of Information Act. But the position is in stark contrast to the agency’s handling of some other church organizations. Both the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and an affiliate of the Rev. Jerry Falwell were required by the I.R.S. to disclose that they had paid back taxes in settling disputes in recent years.”
Today Scientology enjoys its exemption and the associated First Amendment protections, not due to its legitimacy as a recognized faith, but rather because it blackmailed the IRS into submission.
From its inception Scientology’s existence was founded on deception, its current status is based upon the same false malice.
According to the Establishment Clause, government may not engage in preferential treatment towards any religion.
Given the totality of the circumstances surrounding this cult and the ultimate achieving of its exemption there can be nothing but the image of preferential treatment in this situation.