A frequently asked question: How many members does the Church of Scientology have?
I suggest that the better question is this: How many Scientologists are left in the Church after what has been a continuing mass exodus since 2005?
In 2014, Scientology Public Affairs Director Ms. Pat Harney was quoted in a Scientology-commissioned study in which she gave a figure of 19,000 Scientologists:
In 2013 over 9,000 parishioners visited the Church from around the world for Scientology religious services, many more than once, and for an average 36 days per visit. Additionally, about 10,000 Scientology parishioners currently reside in the Tampa Bay area. It is expected that those current numbers will increase given the recent opening of the Flag Building (providing additional specialized religious training and counseling services)
I am always skeptical of Scientology’s numbers because the Church has routinely lied about numbers since it began. For example, Scientology has variously claimed 12,000,000 members, 8,000,000 million members, and millions of members. None of these claims have ever been substantiated by something as simple as an independent third party audit of Scientology’s actual IAS list of active members in good standing with the Church. That’s what it would take to find the real number because Scientology has zero transparency on anything.
Nevertheless, as Pat Harney offered her 2014 numbers to the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis at Florida State University, let us give them credibility. I say this because one would certainly expect the study’s authors Julie Harrington, Ph.D., Martijn Niekus, Drs., and David Glassner to have verified Harney’s numbers against internal Church of Scientology records.
Pat Harney’s number is buttressed by Scientology’s number given on its webpage about the 2013 grand opening of the Flag Building in Clearwater:
One perfectly poised ribbon.
One ceremonial stage.
Welcome to the crowning accomplishment at the top of our Bridge.
Using Pat Harney’s number of 19,000 Scientologists gives us a year 2013 baseline of the approximate total members remaining in the Church: 10,000 in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and 9,000 elsewhere. We can safely assume that the vast majority of the 10,000 Scientologists in Tampa Bay attended the grand opening of the Flag Building as this was a mandatory event at which Scientology leader David Miscavige spoke.
Much to the consternation of Mr. Miscavige the event was memorably overflown by the Messrs. Rinder and Bennitt in a helicopter:
Harney opined that Scientology’s membership would increase with the opening of the Flag Building. Harney, however, has not offered a current statement of Scientology’s membership based on 2013-2017 numbers. Thus, Harney’s 2013 expectation of increased membership remains purely speculative.
It has long been maintained that Los Angeles has the highest concentration of Scientologists in the world but the Church of Scientology is itself contradictory on this matter. In 2010, David Miscavige opened the “Ideal Church of Scientology Los Angeles” which was actually the same old Church of Scientology Los Angeles that it has always been. At Scientology’s own website we are informed of the following:
The fully renovated Church of Scientology of Los Angeles was rededicated April 24, 2010 in ceremonies attended by 6,000 Scientologists and their guests.
While speaking at this 2010 rededication David Miscavige himself stated:
In describing the significance of the city of Los Angeles to Scientologists, Mr. Miscavige said: “It’s the city where the Church of Scientology was first incorporated in 1954. While even more than that, it’s the city with the largest concentration of Scientologists on Earth.”
Pat Harney claimed that 10,000 Scientologists lived in the Clearwater area in 2013 and 9,000 lived elsewhere. Harney’s statement falsifies David Miscavige’s assertion that Los Angeles is, “the city with the largest concentration of Scientologists on Earth.”
Events at which David Miscavige speaks are considered mandatory events and all Scientologists are expected to attend. Indeed, there is a huge effort made weeks before a Miscavige event to get everyone to attend. Sea Org are ordered to attend and to dress in civilian clothing, their so-called “Uniform K.”
Assuming, therefore, that the 2010 Los Angeles Miscavige event had maximal attendance, the numbers indicate that the location with the largest concentration of Scientologists on Earth is, in fact, the Tampa Bay area of Florida. According to Harney’s 2014 numbers, Tampa Bay has 4,000 more Scientologists residing there than in Los Angeles.
As for the Los Angeles numbers: The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles seats 6,300 people and Scientology rents the Shrine for events. Thus, the 6,000 in attendance at the rededication of the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles and the 6,300 seat capacity at the Shrine give us a reasonable basis to conclude that there are about 6,000 Scientologists in the Los Angeles area.
If the Tampa Bay area has 10,000 Scientologists and Los Angeles 6,000, then the remaining 3,000 Scientologists would most likely be concentrated in England, Italy, Germany, Taiwan, and Russia. Given the uncompromising determination of the Russian Federal Police to protect Russians from fraud by continually raiding Scientology’s Orgs in that country, Russia may well be outlawed there soon. The same goes for Hungary.
Please do comment. I would like as much data as possible on how many Scientologists you think remain in the Church. Leaks are always welcome.