The Church of Scientology argues that its IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt status is proof that Scientology is a religion.
Based upon this logic, then, when the Church loses its tax exemption it will cease to be a religion.
Live by tax exemption, die by tax exemption. In other words, Scientology is a religion only in legal terms and not due to any earned and accumulated virtue or goodness.
Scientology’s products and services escalate in steps. These steps are called the Bridge.
After a paying customer attests to having attained the state of Clear, the customer pays more money — and signs a few more contracts — and finally gets to read the copyrighted cosmological reveal at the heart of Scientology. This “big reveal” solves a cosmic murder mystery so to speak.
Thereafter, the customer is instructed on how to systematically identify and eliminate the negative psychoactive content and consequences arising from the copyrighted cosmological reveal. Predictably, this negative psychoactive content and the means to handle it are also copyrighted. Scientology presents a copyrighted problem for which it offers the only possible and copyrighted solution.
Based upon this copyrighted content, it is quite easy to see that Scientology can exist completely apart from any tax exempt status. What it cannot exist apart from, however, is its contractual basis. Scientology is most fundamentally a business and, as such, must rely heavily upon contracts to transact business and to enforce the confidentiality of both its overt and covert operations.
There is no faith in Scientology; there is only a series of business contracts.
The Church of Scientology long ago legally argued that its Xenu-based cosmology is a trade secret. Therefore, the Church of Scientology long ago made a distinction between its commercial-grade cosmology and its claimed religious status.
Specifically, Scientology’s commercial-grade cosmology has absolutely no necessary or dependent relationship to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Once this distinction is understood one can see that the Church of Scientology is, in its most fundamental sense, a business organization engaged in selling and delivering a copyrighted commercial-grade cosmology-based experience fraught with risks and peril.
If you think about, Scientology is really no different than hiring a tour guide to take one on an extended journey through a dangerous foreign land in search of a promised treasure. In this case, however, one does not learn until after the journey has begun that their tour guide is controlled by the self-serving, deceptive, and intimidating despot who runs the country with an iron fist. One suddenly realizes they are continually being spied on by both seen and unseen agents of the despot. One is asked to come in for interviews.
When traveling in a despotic foreign land one has none of the civil and legal rights they enjoy back home. In the case of Scientology, one surrenders all civil and legal rights on the way into the Scientologyland. This happens when one signs the four unconscionable contracts Scientology uses to legally cripple its members. More contracts follow the deeper one travels into the interior of Scientology. There are ever-presents risks of losing all one’s money and sanity in this foreign land.
If you escape Scientologyland and then seek to warn others of the dangers therein, Scientologists will seek to attack you overtly and covertly.
Scientology is a small and dangerous place.
The monies paid and the many contracts Scientologists must sign argue for the commercial nature of the Scientology enterprise.
When the Church of Scientology loses its tax exemption it will be reconfigured into a slimmed-down secular contract-based business offering a particular product and method, i.e. a copyrighted fusion of Freudian psychotherapy, reincarnation, and claimed esoteric-cosmological phenomena investigatable only by e-meter.
Scientology uses its tax exemption to cruelly exploit its captive labor force; engage in deceptive fundraising practices; hoard and accumulate tax free wealth; attack its critics and former members; pay for an army of lawyers, influence, and friends in high place; and be shielded by First Amendment protections while pursuing while doing these things. The Church of Scientology has no moral compass. It is a group engages in appalling and continued abuses of its IRS 501(c)(3) status.
Categories: The Scientology Money Project
Excellent analysis Jeff, distilling Scientology down to its core business plan. Deconstructed and examined under this rational light without challenging the cosmology is the way to further a rexamination of its privelaged IRS status.
Is there any organization exempt or not remotely comparable to Scientology in terms of the contractual terms allowed between the parent organization and the individual employees, members, or volunteers?
Scientology should properly be labelled a “corporate religion” (very liberal use of the word “religion”).
This probably the worst of two worlds. Corporations are governed by corporate law. Legally they must act in the best interest of their shareholders. This single point can bring about moral and ethical dilemmas. Should a corporation release a product they know will cause injury to the consumer, but will generate income and wealth for their shareholders? This matter often gets relegated to lawyers and accountants. Corporations are not obligated to operate for the public good.
Similarly, Scientology operates solely for its own good, since it does not have any shareholders. However, Scientology is not bound by corporate law and does not have to operate this way – IT CHOOSES to be this way. Like a corporation, Scientology, employs a bevy of lawyers to do damage control when its actions bring harm to the public; and often resorts to big monetary pay-outs to silence their victims.
Corporations often have large PR budgets to persuade public opinion and distract their attention away from their misdeeds. So too does Scientology.
What makes Scientology more dangerous is it’s “get out of jail card” – religious recognition in the form of IRS tax exemption. When victims attempt to use the justice system to force Scientology to take responsibility for its actions, they often run into the brick wall of 1st Amendment protection.
This single factor permits Scientology to operate unchecked. What normally would be considered to be abuse or fraud can now be classified as “religious practice”; and they will muster 20 high-priced lawyers to prove it.
The question the public and their government must answer is: Do we really want to protect this type of operation? What has to happen or how severe must the damage be before action it taken? Does someone have to die?
I’m afraid that has already happened…too many times.
I can think of another religious contract: selling your soul to the devil.
Yes, but unenforceable in a court of law.