Leah and I have often responded to the question “What can I do to help?” by saying people should write to their elected representatives to demand action.
I have been asked a number of times whether there is a form letter to use.
Two people have recently sent me copies of letters they have written that may help.
The first is a fairly lengthy, footnoted letter and the author has made it possible for you to download it here including the footnotes.
He also graciously provided some instructions and guidance on how to go about this:
Hello! Beginning on the next page is a letter that I wrote to my congressional representative and senators, in which I urge them to support the removal of the Church of Scientology’s legal classification as a religion. I wish to remain anonymous at this time, but I grant anyone and everyone who wishes to write to their own congressional representatives and senators permission to use this document as a reference point; I have no problem with others using my words verbatim. If this is what you wish to do, see the instructions below:
- Click “File.” When additional options appear, click “Make a copy.”
- On your own copy of the document, add your name and contact information where appropriate, and do the same for your congressional representative/senator. To look up your congressional representative/senators’ information, see the following links:
- Once the document has been filled in appropriately, copy and paste the content into an email on the website of your representative/senator and/or print the document and mail a hard copy to his/her office.
In addition to writing to congressional representatives, I would also suggest sending a printed letter to Ms. Tamera Ripperda, who is the Director of Exempt Organizations in the IRS. Her address is 1111 Constitution Avenue, Washington D.C. 20224.
Additional ways to help in the fight to end the abuses of the Church of Scientology:
Report Scientology to the IRS directly by following the instructions laid out by the Scientology Money Project: https://scientologymoneyproject.com/2015/04/14/how-to-simply-and-effectively-report-the-church-of-scientology-to-the-irs/
Donate to the Aftermath Foundation and spread their cards to help people leaving Scientology to find their way in the world: http://theaftermathfoundation.org/donate/
Following is the text of the letter without footnotes:
I am writing to urge you to support and enact a congressional ruling that the Church of Scientology lose its classification as a religious organization, as this classification enables a highly corrupt organization to continue to abuse individuals who are members as well as those who are not members.
The IRS’s Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations states that “[t]o qualify for tax-exempt status…the organization’s purpose and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy”. While “public policy” is not clearly defined and is somewhat open for interpretation, I strongly believe that anyone with a standard sense of morality should be able to reason that the practices of the Church of Scientology are highly unethical. The Church’s unethical practices include, but are not limited to, its practices of dealing with Church critics (Fair Game), its requirement of members to end contact with whomever the Church tells them to end contact (Disconnection), and its history of neglecting to report crimes committed by Scientologists to law enforcement in order to protect the organization.
L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, outlined the rules and regulations regarding the administration of Scientology in a series of “Policy Letters” which were written to the Sea Organization, an organization consisting of dedicated Scientologists who devote their lives to working to uphold and further the practice of Scientology. Mike Rinder, a former Scientologist who served in the Sea Organization from 1973 until 2007, has released many of Hubbard’s Policy Letters on his blog, on the website for the podcast “Scientology: Fair Game” which he hosts with Leah Remini, as well as on the television show that he co-hosted with Remini entitled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
Simply put, the Church of Scientology has mastered the art of creating enemies. In Scientology, an enemy is better known as a “Suppressive Person” or “SP.” One can be declared to be a “Suppressive Person” through the “commitment of acts deemed Suppressive Acts in the Scientology Justice Codes—which includes the Suppressive Act of publicly renouncing the faith, an act which in Scientology…is grounds for automatic expulsion…When someone has been expelled from the religion, that person loses both his or her fellowship with the Church as well as with other Scientologists.” Essentially, the Church of Scientology has given itself the authority to declare people as enemies of Scientology, and when they do this to someone, every Scientologist is expected to cut off contact with that person. This practice is used to limit the possibility of Scientologists being exposed to outside sources about the abusive practices of Scientology, regardless of whether or not they are true. Additionally, the practice of requiring Scientologists to cut off contact, or disconnect, from those who are labeled as Suppressive Persons keeps many people from speaking out, as they do not want to lose contact with their family and friends who are still Scientologists.
In addition to publicly speaking negatively about Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard writes in Introduction to Scientology Ethics that another example of a “suppressive act” is reporting “or threatening to report Scientology or Scientologists to civil authorities in an effort to suppress Scientology or Scientologists from practicing or receiving standard Scientology”. This policy prevents many victims of abuse within the church from speaking out or reporting their abusers to law enforcement, because doing so is grounds to have themselves declared to be suppressive, which will force all of their friends, family, and acquaintances within Scientology to cut ties with them. However, in addition to preventing members from speaking out, this policy protects abusers who are devout members of the Church.
In a Policy Letter dated October 18, 1967, Hubbard wrote that those who are declared to be enemies of Scientology are “Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed”. The following year, Hubbard sent an additional Policy Letter stating that the “practice of declaring people FAIR GAME will cease. FAIR GAME may not appear on any Ethics Order. It causes bad public relations./This P/L does not cancel any policy on the treatment or handling of an SP”. While the term “fair game” no longer appears in official Scientology writings, the Church’s tactics of abusing those who criticize the Church continue to this day.
Although L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986, the Church of Scientology continues to operate following Hubbard’s policies under the direction of the Church’s current leader, David Miscavige. Many former high-ranking executives of Scientology have spoken out against the physical and psychological abuse committed by David Miscavige—in addition to Mike Rinder, other former Sea Org members who have spoken about Miscavige’s abuse include Amy Scobee, Marc Headley, Claire Headley, Jefferson Hawkins, John Brousseau, Valerie Haney, Debbie Cook, and even David Miscavige’s father, Ron Miscavige.
All of the former Sea Org members mentioned above have also acknowledged the existence of “The Hole,” a prison for Sea Org members which is located at the International Base. Valerie Haney, who escaped the International Base in 2016, has said that the Hole was still there at the time of her departure, and it contained Heber Jentzsch, Guillaume Lesevre, and other Sea Org members who have witnessed David Miscavige’s beatings. Hiding members who have witnessed and/or experienced his beatings is Miscavige’s method of limiting the number of people who can reveal his true nature to the public. One additional Scientologist who has perhaps witnessed more abuse committed by David Miscavige than any other individual is his own wife, Shelly Miscavige, who has not been seen in public since 2007. Thanks to the brave former Sea Org members who have spoken out, though, there are already numerous witnesses who have publicly stated that they have seen such abuse.
It is worth noting that every former Sea Org member who has spoken out against the Church of Scientology has done so fully aware of the consequences. Several people have chosen to put their own well-being on the line in order to expose the organization; it is inevitable that there are more people who have witnessed and/or experienced the abuse. Those who have spoken out against the abuses represent a fraction of the victims of Scientology. The fact that so many have come forward in spite of Scientology’s practice of harassing and intimidating critics is telling.
In 2009, the FBI conducted an investigation into Scientology, particularly focusing on the international headquarters in Riverside County, CA, as well as the spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, FL. The investigation centered around claims that the Church of Scientology engages in practices of human trafficking and forced labor. The criteria for what constitutes forced labor is outlined by the U.S. Government Publishing Office. The FBI report indicates that all of this criteria is met by the Church of Scientology. Additionally, the report indicates that all “Sea Org members are instructed how to lie to outsiders and authorities who might inquire of their living and working conditions”. For this reason, collecting statements from current Sea Org members will not be sufficient evidence that abuse is not occurring within the organization.
Many undoubtedly wonder how it is possible for the Church of Scientology to continue its abusive practices; the answer is that, when the IRS recognized the Church of Scientology as a religion in 1993, the Church received tax-exempt status, which means that there is no limit to how much money the organization can accumulate, and the internal policies and practices of the Church are protected on the grounds that, legally, Scientology is a religion.
The Church of Scientology requires all new members to sign a series of contracts which make it very difficult for former members to achieve justice or even seek help. The contracts require each member to provide their signature to confirm that they believe that Scientology is a religion, they will never sue the Church of Scientology (and if they do, the case must be handled through religious arbitration with the Church of Scientology’s International Justice Chief), and they will never see a psychiatrist (and if they do, they give the Church of Scientology permission to have them removed and placed under the exclusive care of the Church of Scientology).
One current ongoing court case which directly involves The Church of Scientology is the case of actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson, who has been accused of rape by four women, at least one of whom (Chrissy Bixler) was a Scientologist at the time of the alleged assault. Because of the agreements that she signed at the beginning of her membership with the Church, achieving justice is extremely difficult—each of the four accusers came forward in 2017, but the investigation is still ongoing, and Masterson’s attorneys are continually pushing back court dates. Chrissie Bixler, who had been in a relationship with Masterson for six years at the time of the alleged assault in 2001, shares that she was told that she could not have been raped by someone with whom she was in a relationship (Masterson’s publicist Jenni Weinman makes this same claim).
Because all members have signed away their right to sue the Church, the organization has essentially made itself lawsuit-proof. For this reason, the only realistic way for the abusive practices of the Church to stop is for the government to step in. The Church of Scientology will undoubtedly work hard to contest and prevent such an undertaking, but if it does not happen, the organization’s abusive practices will continue, and current members and victims will continue to suffer. Step one in the process of achieving justice for victims of the Church’s abusive practices will be to eliminate Scientology’s current classification as a religion. One reason that I have hope that this is an attainable goal is that it should not be a divisive partisan issue; I strongly believe that any member of Congress, when presented with details about the abusive practices of the Church of Scientology, will agree that the abuses must end.
Any organization which engages in forced labor, restricts its members from receiving necessary medical care, and enforces the attack of those who attempt to speak negatively about the organization is in clear violation of public policy and does not deserve to be protected on the grounds that it is a religion.
As a member of Congress, victims of Scientology depend on you and your colleagues to fight for them in the way that only you can, and as a resident of your community, I beg you to raise awareness about this devastating injustice to other members of Congress as well as the IRS in order to ensure that such unjust practices do not continue.
Here is the second letter, Much shorter. Less formal and perhaps more to the liking of some.
Hi Vern! (Congressman Vern Buchanan)
I wanted to write you also about another subject. I wanted to talk with you about bringing up in Congress to STOP the tax exemption status of the “Church” of Scientology. They are able to stalk, follow, harass anyone they choose to based on the means that they are a “religion” when I’m fact they are not. This gives them an enormous amount of money to continue to buy up precious land and properties, and they are all tax free. This is also what gives them money to be able to hire private investigators on ex parishioners, fair game acts, and just ruining lives. The “religion” is based on a man who was mentally ill and wrote a book. But included with these books are books for employees on how to sell, don’t take no for an answer, it’s 100% a money making operation and not a religion. What can be done? Families are being separated, disconnected. Tax exempt status for them allows them freedoms to harass people, and try to recruit more members into this very awful cult. And it is definitely a cult. They push to sell even if you don’t have the money. They are making people lose their homes (they make you get a second mortgage!!) To afford courses they teach, they make individuals get higher credit lines, loans that they could never pay back. Something has to be done about this. Taking away the tax exempt status would greatly take away their ability to harass, demean, and hurt others. The buildings they but are completely empty, they do not do humanitarian efforts. They hand out pamphlets instead of water or food you those in need. Please help!!!!!! Get tax exempt status taken away, when they are truly a cult!!!!!
Thank you Vern!
A commenter added this helpful information:
Besides your local Congress person you can also send you concerns about the abuses of Scientology to the following people:
Charles P. Rettig- the current commissioner of the IRS. The work address is
1111 Constitution Ave NW Washington DC 20224-0002
The deputy commissioners of the Tax Exempt/Government Entities offices are:
1111 Constitution Ave NW
Washington DC 20224-0002
The National Treasury Employees Union
National union President is
800 K St Suite 1000
Washington DC 20001
These are other people who can be contacted to trying and get them to step up the enforcement process to have the 501C(3) status.