The Scientology Money Project

Cult Paradox: Why Scientology Is Collapsing As a Function of Its Burgeoning Real Estate Empire

The Church of Scientology is so heavily entrenched in Downtown Clearwater that it has become harmful to the community. Scientology does not pay taxes on its huge portfolio of tax-exempt properties in Clearwater and yet demands police and fire services, uses the roads, freeways, and other public infrastructure. Worse, Scientology has driven businesses, redevelopment, and tourism dollars out of Downtown Clearwater, thus further depressing the economy and tax base of Clearwater. In 2017, Scientology even announced its brazen plans for what amounted to a hostile corporate takeover of Downtown Clearwater. The details are quite alarming as can be seen in an excellent and highly detailed article by Tracy McManus of The Tampa Bay Times.

Compounding matters, John P. Capitalist recently noted that many public Scientologists are moving out of Clearwater, Florida to escape the never-ending onslaught of Scientology regges. In  Scientology “registrars” are called “regges” and are actually salespeople. All across Scientology, the regges demand donations on a daily basis. It is very bad in Clearwater and Los Angeles where the largest concentrations of Scientologists live. John P. wrote of the public Scientologists in Clearwater:

…I’ve heard from several sources that a number of longtime members have moved out [of Clearwater] in order to avoid visits from desperate “regges” in the middle of the night ringing the doorbell and demanding cash. They’re claiming to be moving for innocuous reasons like “to be closer to the grandkids,” but apparently they’re just tired of the stress and want to deal with the cult from a distance. It’s not clear how many people are making the move, but even a few sure makes it sound like the rank-and-file (all those dentists, chiropractors and small business owners) are reaching a saturation point.

It is quite true that Scientology regges do show up unannounced at any hour of the day or night at the homes and businesses of public Scientologists to demand money. I personally know dozens of former Scientologists to whom this happened. In many cases, when the public Scientologists refused to answer their front door, the rampaging regges went into backyards and beat on the patio doors in an attempt to flush their quarry from hiding. Deplorable conduct but it is nevertheless true.

As Scientology regges are usually Sea Org members, public Scientologists who treat them rudely or object to their intrusive tactics can get in very serious trouble with the Church for doing so. These salespeople are deemed to be helping “Clear the Planet” and so their unwanted intrusions are considered justified by Church management. For this reason, public Scientologists have taken to refusing to answer their doors and have stopped answering their phones as a means to avoid the greedy Scientology fundraisers. These hapless public Scientologists choose to hide as they know the regges have complete immunity to engage in predatory and intrusive tactics that include invading the privacy and sanctity of one’s own home.

John P.’s observation of the flight of public Scientologists from Clearwater led me to create this simplified graph and the accompanying commentary:

J. Swift’s Scientology Real Estate Axiom #1: The more real estate the Cult of Scientology owns in a given area, the more public Scientologists will flee the area, refuse to accept regging phone calls, attend regging briefings, or accept unannounced and intrusive home regging visits. This “Public Scientologist Money Flight” occurs as a function of an ever-increasing number of Scientology fundraising personnel occupying buildings that contain competing Orgs, Scientology front groups, and Scientology fundraising programs.

In practice, each new piece of Scientology real estate becomes a standalone business operating unit within the Scientology corporate structure. These standalone operating units are called “Orgs” or “Social Betterment Groups” and each has its own weekly fundraising quotas.  Scientology also has fundraising programs for both current and planned programs. These fundraising activities also have weekly financial quotas. All of these separate business operating units result in intense competition within Scientology for a shrinking pool of donations.


As a condition of receiving tax exemption, US tax law requires religious tax exempt organizations to spend money in the public benefit. For example, if Catholic churches  provide free services to the homeless this is seen as helping to reduce the tax burden on the US Government. Hence, tax exemption is viewed as a form of exchange. L. Ron Hubbard, however, taught that giving anyone anything for free was wrong. Hubbard said charity was “rewarding a downstat” as it rewarded people for doing nothing. Hubbard’s 1950’s view of poverty was that poor people were lazy; did not want to work; were worthless; and only wanted free welfare checks and handouts.

Hubbard’s 1950 view of poverty became Scientology doctrine. Given Scientology’s doctrinal refusal to engage in charity, the only things Scientology can actually spend its money on are real estate, self-promotion, and financing its perpetual state of warfare with those people and groups it deems enemies. This spending plan results in the Scientology we see today: A self-aggrandizing, angry, paranoid, and hostile cultic group characterized by its bloated real estate holdings and its insane and lavishly-financed wars against former members, critics, the media, and those governments that oppose Scientology and correctly see it as a for-profit business.


The endless purchasing of real estate by Scientology is paradoxically and ultimately self-destructive as it acts to exponentially increase fundraising pressures amongst competing Scientology business units while simultaneously driving membership and donations out of the Church. Scientology incessantly boasts that the growth in square footage it owns proves Scientology is growing. However, this is a misdirection. While Scientology’s real estate portfolio is indeed growing, the Cult quietly sweeps the real story of its shocking membership decline under the rug.

Scientology’s Ideal Org program was a debacle which proved that the more real estate Scientology purchases and accumulates, the fewer members it will have. The Ideal Org scam drove untold thousands of people out of Scientology due to incessant fundraising demands. Likewise, the Basics book campaign was a giant $100,000,000+ cynical money grab that saw legions of people leave Scientology.

The pointless accumulation of real estate by Scientology is a function of its tax exemption and L. Ron Hubbard’s policy that endless fundraising must occur. What Hubbard called “new money” must be brought into the Scientology each week. The smallest possible portion of this “new money” is spent paying expenses. Hubbard mandated that the remaining money be locked away in untouchable reserves. Hubbard purposely designed Scientology to generate large cash reserves. This is why Scientology’s main focus is on money. Because the IRS does not allow excessive capital accumulation by tax exempt entities, however, Scientology spends part of its reserves on the items described above.

Scientology also spends the minimum amount of money possible on its Sea Org labor force. Sea Org members live far below the US poverty level of $13,860 in annual income for an individual. Legally speaking, Sea Org members are not employees and are classed as religious volunteers. As such, they receive a meager weekly stipend of $50, usually less, plus room and board. Scientology’s goal is to spend the least possible amount of money on Sea Org members while demanding the maximum amount of production. Sea Org members routinely work 80-100 hours per week. A Sea Org work week is six and one half days in duration.  One half day is given to do laundry and clean one’s berthing area. Scientology’s slave labor program also applies to the child labor Scientology uses in the Sea Org.


As an illustration of my premise, Scientology’s Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida has numerous Orgs, Scientology front groups, and  fundraising programs that compete with each other daily for an ever-shrinking volume of donations. Here is what a Scientologist can be expected to donate to, or pay for, on a trip to Flag Land Base; this list is not exhaustive:

1. Flag Service Organization — Mandatory donations for auditing services and courses
2. The International Association of Scientologists — Scientology’s multibillion dollar slush fund
3. Lodgings at one of the several Scientology-owned hotels
4. Meals at one of the several Scientology-owned restaurants
5. Citizens Commission on Human Rights — The rabid anti-Psychiatry component of Scientology
6. The Way to Happiness Foundation — A Scientology Front Group
7. Youth for Human Rights — A Scientology Front Group
8. United for Human Rights — A Scientology Front Group
9. Foundation for a Drug Free World — A Scientology Front Group
10. Applied Scholastics — A Scientology Front Group
11. Criminon — A Scientology Front Group
12. Volunteer Ministers — A Scientology Front Group
13. The Basics Book Campaign — Fundraising to put L. Ron Hubbard’s books into libraries
14. The Ideal Org Campaign — Fundraising to buy more real estate called “Ideal Orgs”
15. The Archival Project — Fundraising to store L. Ron Hubbard’s works in nuclear proof vaults
16. Advanced Payments — Scientologists are asked to donate money now future services later
17. The L. Ron Hubbard Hall — a planned auditorium in Clearwater


Monastery Scientology is a term I coined in 2008 when I predicted that Scientology will be drained of its middle class parishioners and become a haven for only the wealthiest of Scientologists who can afford to stay in the game. Monastery Scientology is becoming inevitable as only the wealthiest and most status-obsessed Scientologists will remain in the Cult of Scientology.

At present, the Cult is in a Palace of Versailles phase in which wealthy Scientologists vie for David Miscavige’s attention and favor as signified by a competition for larger and gaudier IAS statuses and trophies. These statuses and trophies require wealthy Scientologists to increase ever-larger amounts of cash to Scientology.

The prime example of failure in this pointless Palace of Versailles status race was Scientologist Richie Acunto. After donating ten million dollars to Scientology, his Survival Insurance company went bankrupt. And to his ignominy — and that of Scientology —  Richie’s ten million dollar IAS trophy languished in a storage locker. When Richie failed to pay rent on the storage locker, its contents were sold at auction. Richie’s $10,000,000 trophy was sold on eBay to the highest bidder. The Church of Scientology was likely the highest bidder as the Acunto trophy has never been seen since it was sold on eBay. Again, another inconvenient matter swept under the rug. Richie Acunto has been long forgotten by Scientology.

This Palace of Versailles phase is characterized by a never-ending series of useless galas awash in flimsily contrived stories of imagined Scientology global triumphs, wildly inflated and nonsensical statistics, and garish trophies and awards. One of Scientology’s more patently absurd claims is that the mere distribution of its insipid Way to Happiness booklet reduced crime in Colombia by 50 percent.

In the terse no-nonsense language of American corporate life these events can be correctly described as circle jerks.

13 replies »

  1. I can attest to the fact that once registrars know where you live, they’ll bug you incessantly. My son, who was in middle school in Beverly Hills (we lived in Glendale) had to get up at 5 a.m. to catch his bus to the private school he earned a full scholarship to so we had to get up early. One time, when a reg was banging on our door at 11 p.m., my son said, “Mom, why don’t you call the cops on these people?” That was the beginning of the end for me. The fact that my 13 year old son had to tell me the obvious thing to do was astounding to me. The next time they came, I said, “Get off my porch in 3 seconds, or I’m calling the cops.” They left, I got declared and my life has never been better!

  2. Jeff, thanks for using a quote from something I published. What’s amazing is not that heavy regging is driving some people out of Scientology but that it doesn’t send more people over the edge. I can’t even understand the level of belief in auditing and the rest of the Scientology carpet bag of nonsense that would motivate someone to stay in when they’ve been repeatedly driven to the brink of financial ruin but keep showing up voluntarily for more services.

  3. I think you nailed it Jeff.

    I’d speculate that the top richest whales have more than one of them, in fact a bunch of them, have similarly set up continuing repeating, weekly donation schemes, to keep the IAS income constantly rising, despite ANY of the other “income sources” (income sources are what Hubbard rags on and Finance Banking Officers are the local overlord of all money banking for each corporate church, each FBO person is to do a weekly “income source” breakdown, listing from whom the weekly income is made, specifically).

    For IAS, the whales, the top whales, my guess, have had a continuing weekly donation scheme created, to willy nilly keep a slightly increasing donation coming to IAS, automatically, weekly.

    Which is the way to “stat push” one’s accumulating stat.

    The ways ASI staffers used to upkeep their stats, I did too when I joined ASI, I walked into a post (computer guy) with 3 key stats, one being my primary stat, and unlike LOWER Scientology orgs, up at ASI my primary post statistic was what we call a “range stat”. Range stats are easy to stat push, and ensure one is in a good safe staff member “condition” each week, escaping any penalties.

    And above having a “range stat” is the “accumulating stat” which LRH said in policy is NOT to be a regular staffer’s stat. BUT Miscvige’s stat I think is an “accumulating stat” (total value of assets type of stat). That is even easier to ensure he’s always “upstat.”

    The higher you go in staff ranking, in the cult, at ASI it was easy to always keep your stats up, I think I was “downstat” not ONE week in my entire 3-4 year sub career at ASI, due to the “range stat” being my primary stat by which I was judged.

    So what that means is Miscavige’s stats are up in his mind, he’s never been downstat for likely his whole decades long career as COB RTC due to how he grades himself in this accumulating stat grade he allows for himself.

    And the top whales are playing into keeping Miscavige upstat per the rules.

    My guess is the top whales have continual weekly donation schemes set up with IAS to ensure always increasing IAS accumulated income which feeds into the total assets of the movement.

    If whales, then Scientology carries on, even if the insides are in constant eating each other alive turmoil.

  4. I just wish that people would spend as much, if not more, time and effort checking out this “religion” (like they might prior to making a large and EXPENSIVE purchase like a car, etc.!) BEFORE they commit themselves and their families to this CULT who will in fact change the course of their lives!!!!

  5. The mentally weaker Scientologists fall more prey to the “crim regging”.

    What’s more disappointing is the “executive Case Supervising” making all followers do the “Survival Rundown” (the heavy indoctrination routines that drill in obedience and demolish a person’s will power and submit to “positive control” and be able to deliver “positive control” to another, a group brainwashing really into the ways of presuming everything they will do in Scientology is now for their own good and for the good of the rest of the universe). Under even Hubbard’s era, there was less of this whole group enforced “case handling” repeating the lowest level (let oneself be controlled and control others so oneself and others are all happily controlling and being controlled) Scientology obedience training in effect.

    This whole last several years of “Survival Rundown” is just a big “return to the beginning and get the full obedience training again” before doing everything again and again.

    If only Scientologists would honestly notice L. Ron Hubbard has failed to return to earth, and also that none of them are “OT” supernaturals, and never is that even attainable, it’s “blue sky” as Jon Atack’s book title states: “Let’s Sell These People A Piece of Blue Sky.”

    Money for blue sky Scientology, where no one gets the supersoul abilities which Hubbard promised.

  6. the ex is still letting this cult bleed him! No $ for any of his kids’ education; or family events….Only give to the cult; & cry poverty to others

  7. Excellent as always Jeffrey.

    I really wonder on when the tipping point will hit. When it does I expect that Miscavige won’t even realize what is happening. His stat will still be rising after all even donations cease, assuming they have a semi-competent investment manager.

  8. Have you not noticed the same behavior by millions of taxpayers who continue to vote and support politicians, most of whom are participating in drowning the entire nation in trillions of dollars of debt that can only be later repudiated via inflation / bankruptcy, or repaid through higher taxes?

    Sometimes the context in which events occurs causes them to be invisible to the people who are being defrauded.

    Scientologist are distracted by the phony planet=saving PR surrounding church front groups

    Taxpayers are distracted by the phony PR about (insert social services program here) and the immediate benefits provided without considering “who” is going to eventually pay the debt accumulating because of those for those benefit programs.

    It’s a human behavior that is more common than one would like to think.

  9. The Richie Acunto Scientology trophy debacle is a microcosm of the Scientology experience; a very expensive, and in the end, worthless waste.

  10. Is the trophy on a pedestal, or is that just all trophy? lol

  11. The Scientologists are also getting their hooks on Clearwater Beach, as the Opal Sands and Sand Pearl resorts are owned by parishioners. They’re making constant cash-flow from unsuspecting tourists. The Opal Sands has recently bought up the Post Corner Pizza (across the street from Opal Sands) along with the next 3 hotels heading North from Post Corner Pizza. Their plan, which the city had approved, is to build a walkway over the road to more hotel space where Post Corner Pizza and the other motels will be destroyed and replaced by Opal Sands hotel space, thus bringing in even more money for the cult. The city counsel has allowed the beach to be beyond over-built to the point it’s not enjoyable due to so much over-crowding during peak times and horrendous traffic. It’s only a matter of time before the beach loses its number 1 rating and clearly the Scientologists are trying to quietly take over the tourism income because hoarding up downtown isn’t working as a source of income from unsuspecting non-parishioners.

  12. The promise of Scientologist is “Total Freedom”. Or, that is what it was in the 60s when I was a Scientologist. Accompanying ‘Total Freedom’ is ‘total cause over matter, energy, space, and time” in other words, Scientology will turn you into a veritable God. For a child who was into superheroes, that I was being told that becoming a superman was now possible, naturally I fell for it at the tender age of 14. When I reached 25, I snapped out of it, and realized it was nonsense, and this goal is the antithesis of spirituality. Scientology’s goal was the epitome of greed. I sincerely doubt nature is going to allow any mortal soul have the advantage over her.

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