I happened to pull up this posting from April 2015 and in re-reading it I thought it important enough to repost here today.
With The Aftermath on Netflix, many new people are being exposed to the horrifying truth about scientology for the first time. And many have the same question as those who have been in the know for some time. How is it that scientology can be tax exempt?
This is a pretty good essay that explains in some detail why it should NOT. And it addresses a bit why it hasn’t changed. Unfortunately, with a conservative majority now firmly entrenched in the US Supreme Court, it is unlikely the third branch of government will do anything other than bolster the arguments that scientology has so successfully used to shield itself from scrutiny and having to answer for its abuses. Change is more likely going to come from the legislative branch — contacting elected officials is the most effective avenue to bring scientology to justice.
Should scientology be tax exempt?
At the outset — I am not a lawyer. I am certain those more knowledgeable than I can find fault with some imprecise terminology or descriptions I use. But I doubt they would disagree with the general picture I am trying to paint.
Of course, the answer about scientology’s tax exempt status for many people (myself included) is “No, they should NOT be entitled to special exemption from taxation.”
But why? And what is different about scientology than other exempt organizations?
There is a long tradition of protecting religious freedom in the United States. It is a foundation of the country and an extremely valuable and important pillar on which this country was founded and continues to rest today. The First Amendment to the Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
This has been interpreted in numerous court decisions, including from the US Supreme Court, to mean that no government agency and no court can make determinations about the nature of religious belief and practice — so long as it does not violate the laws of the land.
How do you become a tax exempt religion? That is up to the IRS. There is provision in the Internal Revenue Code to forgo taxing certain categories of organizations, including religious ones. Thus the IRS must make a determination whether an organization fits within that regulation. De facto they are required to make a determination of “religious status.” In fact, this is not precisely correct, what they are doing is making a determination about whether an organization fulfills the requirements of Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code as applicable to religious organizations. (Of course, scientology proclaims very loudly that this determination by the IRS means they are recognized as a religion).
The underlying principle of tax exemption is that certain organizations benefit the public at large. Educational institutions, relief agencies and churches fit in that category. The general idea is that because they benefit society, they should not be taxed as this simply reduces the amount of money they have available to spend on benefiting the public, and in any case, taxes are supposed to be collected and spent on things that benefit the public, whether it is infrastructure or providing a safe country to live in through the military.
But tax exempt organizations are NOT supposed to be acting in a fashion that is against the law or in violation of “public policy” (the principle that injury to the public good or public order constitutes a basis for setting aside, or denying effect to, acts or transactions).
And this is where it becomes very complicated.
Scientology engages in abuses and human rights violations. Some of these are clearly illegal — child labor law violations for example. Some seem to be violations of public policy (hiring private investigators to harass people “legally,” going through garbage, putting up smear sites, sending out “Squirrel Busters” etc) and others are simply inhumane and nasty, but not clearly illegal — like disconnection. (See my recent blog post: Predatory Alienation, Religion and the Law).
When confronted with evidence of their abusive activities the default response of scientology is to deny them and begin smear campaigns on the sources. But when push comes to shove and they have to respond in court (as in the Monique Rathbun case in Texas) they claim their activities are “protected from scrutiny by courts by the First Amendment.”
Scientology then trots out their religious comparisons: the Amish and Jehovah’s witnesses have similar disconnection policies. The treatment of Sea Org members with little sleep, sometimes sordid living conditions, the RPF, rice and beans, restrictions on communication with the outside world etc etc are no different than monks and nuns who live under a vow of poverty, eat simple food, pray 5 times a day, maintain a general code of silence and cut themselves off the outside world. In this, scientology is probably correct. They cannot be singled out on this basis under the law as it exists.
Eventually they fall back on the argument that the claims against scientology are not more egregious than the scandals in the catholic church with pedophile priests, and “nobody is saying the catholic church should not have tax exempt status” (there are plenty of people who DO in fact say this, that NO churches should enjoy tax exempt status at all).
So, what IS the difference with scientology and why should it lose its tax exempt status?
First, there is evidence that the income of scientology is inappropriately used for the benefit of individuals. This is called inurement. Money going to L. Ron Hubbard in earlier years was a basis for the IRS denying tax exempt status to scientology organizations. Today, it would appear David Miscavige and Tom Cruise are guilty of inurement. Miscavige pays lawyers to ensure he stays within the law, but they are not informed of everything. There are CEO’s of nonprofits, like National Geographic, who earn high six figure salaries and fly around in private jets and this is not considered to violate IRS regulations. But one massive difference in scientology is the gulf between Miscavige and everyone else. Nobody else even comes close to his income and benefits. And Tom Cruise has received significant tax free benefits in the form of free Sea Org slave labor that I suspect was not accounted for as income on his taxes. Probably not enough in and of itself to lose tax exemption.
Secondly, and FAR more importantly, scientology is run like a business. There are price lists. No pay = no service. Scientology convinced the IRS that if you are indigent there is an entire section of the organization designated to help you if you ask for it (the Chaplain’s Dept). This of course is a lie. And of course they forgot to mention HCOPL Free Service, Free Fall and numerous other references that forbid any form of free service in scientology. They combined their pitch about free service to those who cannot pay (and calling them “requested donations”) with the “exchange” card. The IRS were told it is a fundamental religious belief that getting something without exchange is spiritually harmful, so for the good of scientologists and as a part of their “firmly held religious beliefs” they MUST pay. They even went so far as to explain refunds and repayments with this logic. The IRS felt services for money was bad, but were even more disbelieving when they discovered the church professed a “money back guarantee.” That was handled by telling the IRS that it would be spiritually harmful to the church to take people’s money and give them nothing in return. It was a clever ploy as it claims that the payments are not merely to make money, but are part of the “sacrament” of scientology. Sort of like the religions that believe in smoking dope. The IRS (and the courts) cannot second guess this and claim it is a sham without running afoul of the First Amendment.
However, they do not need to. Because scientology itself has proven this is a sham. After IRS oversight ended, they also stopped giving money back, even for undelivered services. Proof that the claim that this was a “firmly held religious belief” was a lie.
There is a third enormous problem.
Scientology does NOT provide a public benefit. The “humanitarian” and “social betterment” programs of the church of scientology are miniscule and are primarily done for the purpose of creating videos to convince people to give more money.
And if one were to exclude the activities of Narconon, Applied Scholastics, WTH Fdn, Criminon and CCHR (because scientology repeatedly states they are NOT church entities when anyone sues them, and proclaim their complete separation) the “church of scientology” brings virtually nothing to the table as far as public benefit goes. According to scientology those entities can continue without the church of scientology, in fact they would be more profitable if they didn’t have to “flow money up the management lines.” So, maintain their status and just eradicate the church’s exempt status. It would NOT decrease whatever public benefit there may be of these activities.
What does scientology itself provide as far as public benefit goes?
Volunteer Ministers and some drug education lectures. Scientology does not run homeless shelters or give food to the hungry. It doesn’t run education programs in third world countries. It does nothing that is traditionally considered the role of religion. Even counseling is only offered for a FEE. In fact, the volunteer minister and drug education activities (as insignificant as they are) are not even FUNDED by the church. They are funded by individual scientologists.
The only thing Scientology does with its money is buy buildings. This is partly to try and comply with IRS regulations that prohibit the accumulation of cash by exempt organizations (remember they are supposed to be for the public benefit, not a private bank). Scientology doesn’t want to “throw money down the toilet” by helping the underprivileged in society — they are considered to be “downstats” and you never “validate a downstat.” Traditionally a church buying or building new facilities is considered to be an “exempt purpose” as by expanding the facilities they will be able to help more people in the community, provide shelters in time of natural disaster. You think the Super Power building will open its doors to the general public as a shelter if a hurricane is heading towards Clearwater? Not a chance, but the pink christian church across the street will. Scientology is gaming the system — buying massive amounts of real estate when there is NO NEED for it to provide services to their community. These buildings are REAL ESTATE and PR investments pure and simple. This is easy to prove — walk into ANY of the “ideal orgs” and they are dead. Bereft of people. Clearly not being used. Nobody can contemplate that a tax exempt religious organization would just buy property it didn’t need. Nor that it would accumulate billions of dollars.
Finally, the fourth compelling reason to withdraw scientology’s tax exempt status is the violation of public policy.
And for this, let’s return to the pedophile priests defense: “you’re not withdrawing the catholics exemption because they have pedophile priests.”
IF there were a few bad actors in scientology compared to the overall picture it would be one thing. While one pedophile priest is one too many, and dozens or hundreds of them is obscene, the scope of the catholic church is enormous and their homeless shelters and food banks and counseling services etc etc span the world. To take away their exempt status would harm a lot of people — as above, that is NOT the case with scientology.
But what if the catholic church had a POLICY that they would investigate and harass anyone who sought to expose the pedophile priests? Spending enormous amounts of TAX FREE (ie publicly subsidized) money on lawyers, private investigators, websites, publications, videos and any other means they could to smear the victims?
What if the catholic church as an institutional policy sought to claim that their abusive actions were “protected under the First Amendment”?
What if the catholic church had an institutional policy to investigate, threaten and harass any media that sought to report on the allegations about pedophile priests?
What if they paid lobbyists to get laws passed that would ensure they were allowed to protect their pedophile priests and that they should be exempt from law enforcement or civil court action because they were ONLY to be dealt with by internal procedures in the church?
What if ALL of those things were true (and some will no doubt claim they are) AND the catholic church did NOTHING to benefit their communities at large?
In that case, I would feel just as strongly that the catholic church is NOT entitled to tax exempt status.
I am no expert on the catholic church. I am an expert on scientology.
All of those things and more ARE true about scientology.
Thus, it should NOT continue to enjoy tax exempt status under the IRS Code.
Anyone can believe anything they want. It is actions that matter. Scientologists have a right to practice their religion as they see fit, no different from christians, jews, moslems, buddhists or rastafarians. But their institution should not be subsidized by the general public when its toxic policies and practices are harming far more people than they are helping.
The only way scientology’s tax exempt status will change is with pressure brought to bear on the IRS. And the most effective pressure is from US Congressional Representatives. Media coverage of the issue helps raise awareness of elected officials and the IRS. But a Congressman or Senator demanding that the IRS answer up on why they are doing nothing about this is what is most effective. Especially if it comes from someone who sits on a key committee. The IRS has to get their budget authorized by Congress too. And while scientology is statistically insignificant numerically, it is NOT statistically insignificant financially. There are are a few billion dollars sitting there.
So, if there is something you want to do, write to your Congressman. Demand he or she take action.
Jo Lori Drake says
My Congresswoman is on the House Ways & Means Committee. I emailed her sections of this blog. Do you have a form letter I could use to send another email? Thanks!
Jo Lori (jldisme on Youtube)
Mike Rinder says
NO, sorry I dont have a form letter. But I do appreciate you writing to her!
Dennis McDermott says
Sorry I am a bit late to this party.
I saw this post in a Bing Search related to some research I am doing. I am a resident of Clearwater, FL where the Church of Scientology has directly and indirectly acquired hundreds of properties, taking many off the tax rolls thus shifting the tax burden to others.
I don’t wish to debate the validity of the religious exemption Scientology won from the IRS, yet I do want to debate the practice of hiring and using an army of lawyers to fight property assessors who attempt to determine that some of the properties owned by Scientology are not used for religious or charitable purposes, and thus not eligible for property tax exemptions.
I also question many of the activities of Scientology which seem to confer ‘excess benefits’ to Miscavige and others who occupy senior positions in the Organization.
Having received tax exemption from the IRS as a religious organization, the Church of Scientology and its many affiliates are also exempt from filing an annual “Information Return” (Form 990) with the IRS: ‘They are encouraged to file, but not required to file.’ The 990 provides a treasure trove of information, including executive compensation, benefits, governance, etc.
If I was a gangster posing as a religious leader, I would want to be exempt from any public disclosure, including the requirement to file a 990.
If I was an honest, fair, selfless religious leader I would hope to be fairly compensated for my education, wisdom and service so that I had adequate shelter, nutrition and safety, but I wouldn’t object to disclosing the financial affairs of my organization, which would include disclosure of my personal compensation and benefits.
This goes well beyond Scientology as there are more than a few Religious Organizations which opt into the nondisclosure option.
Yet, a rather large number of religious organizations which have received tax exemption from the IRS continue to file their 990 forms every year.
This seems to be another serious and dangerous loophole in our Federal Tax Laws that needs to be addressed.
We, The People, ought to know what is going on behind the curtain, particularly because we are left paying the piper when tax exempt organizations stray from the garden path.
How does the Topic 606 Revenue for contracts and topic 842 for leases affect Scientology. Aren’t members signing contracts? When they pay before hand for a level to complete, where does the money go and doesnt it have to be accounted for clearly until the promise of the contract they paid for has been met?
Especially a billion year one, lol. Really though, arent they signing something at every level they need to pay for?
danielle lake says
I noticed that on the receipts (from membership payments or payments toward the Bridge / courses) it is called a “donation”. I would imagine that it is written that was as you are not mandated to “refund” or “repay” donation. As sick as it all is, it is also brilliant.
Tom stewart says
I have a sense of “something more, a god perhaps” I was brought up as protestant; and no judgment for the people who stayed in Scientology for so long before getting out. However, I did have a run in when I was in my 20’s with a Scientologist in the 90’s (or it might of been late 80’s when I was still in high school. I was living in Philadelphia PA and there was a Scientology building that I wondered into. I was curious about what it was exactly. There was only one person a woman in the building in the public area or lobby there were books. I was approached by the woman and the first question she asked me. ” Are you a reporter, if you are you need to leave.” That was the first red flag for me, the second was the sales pitch for the; “levels” I think she said. I would have to pay for information if I wanted to know anything about this (religion)? first I had to take a test but that was free, when I inquired about how much the cost of moving through the (ranks?), I was like yeah this is a scam ( to myself) and I politely walked out. How ever I am currently watching The Aftermath on Netflix and I am very, very curious about why such a high profile corporation/cult/religion Will not give any proof if the leaders wife Shelly Miscavige of whether she is alive or not obviously a lot of people do not really trust the polices reassurances that she is. All religions want money, in fact all my friends were catholic and if you had children in catholic school and you were behind on your payments you would get a visit from a priest, however, the catholic church would work with my friends family’s if they were in financial hard ship, and they were providing a good education for my friends because all of them are currently doing well, Scientology doesn’t even give children brought up in the “religion” a high school education? How is this Cult tax except, they are obviously doing what drug dealers do and laundering their money by buying up extremely expensive properties. How is our government letting people who speak out against them harassed to the point that their lives are destroyed. One more thought, in the beginning of the show the “Founder” L.R.H. the books he wrote are shown on the opening credits, AND THE BOOKS CLEARLY STATE THAT HE WAS A FICTIONAL WRITER, HOW ARE PEOPLE FOLLOWING THE TEACHING OF A “FICTIONAL WRITER” he wrote fantasy not doctrine.
Well Biden is in now in charge (and the Dems control both parts of the legislature too) so he can order the IRS to drop the tax status IF he wants to. The CoS can fight it out in the courts from there.
Patricia McCoy says
I’m just now seeing the series on Netflix and have to say that I’m shocked! I’m wondering if an attempt has been done at a state level to have the organization pay sales tax on their program packages? If the IRS isn’t responsive the state sales tax department may be? Meanwhile writing my congressman!
Bubba Phillips says
No, you aren’t a lawyer. You, of course, would know. But it’s my considered opinion that you should have been one. You seem to have that type of mind, and that’s offered as nothing but the highest of compliment. Hell, it’s a damned shame I’d have to qualify that, and it’s lawyers like those that do that little turdlet David Miscavige’s bidding that are the reason behind that necessity in the first place. Look, no one can “know” anyone from infrequent or inconconsequential contact, and damned sure not from seeing someone on TV here and there, but, if asked or tasked, you would be a hard nut to crack by anyone who saw what you and that other little sawed off prick Tommy Davis (and I say “other” here referencing Miscavige, not you) did to poor old John Sweeney, then compared it with your apparent sincere regret afterward and your subsequent likewise apparently sincere attempts to repair the damage, and then tried to resolve who Mike Rinder is. My guess is that you are a decent human that was introduced as a child into an oppressive organization, indoctrinated with a take-no-prisoners-we-are-out-to-save-the-world-here-damn-it-you-little-ingrate-shit-give-no-quarter-to-the-others-just-kill-em-all mentality, and you excelled. At some point, after no telling what torture you were yourself subjected to, you woke up, and here’s where you got me, you put yourself back into that shit, super crossways with them, KNOWING how scheming and nasty they are, and you tried, and are still trying, to jack their asses up for their arrogant inhumanity to others. Of course, I don’t know jack shit, and even then, that’s all based off a few handfuls of TV programs, anyway.
Hell, by that science, I guess Tom Cruise could appear to be a child from the wrong side of the tracks who, after going to military school grew up and worked with a management agency until he royally fu^%$# that up and went on to be secret agent fighter pilot Navy lawyer Vietnam vet that fights mummies and aliens (both the extra-terrestrial sort and the subjugational colonialist type who he once belonged to and maintained absolute solidarity with until he saw what real dickheads they were and how truly cool he thought a Samurai sword was… kinda like you, Mr. Rinder, and Scientology, sans the sword part), who can predict with exacting specificity ANY AND EVERY CRIME BEFORE IT EVEN HAPPENS (something that his brother, who can accurately count 123,455,654 flying matches in one second may actually be the one doing and then passing the info on to him), who dreams shit that would scare the dogshit out of Mescalito himself, who really wants to walk on the wild side but gets all whacked out on it because of what I suspect are certain proclivities he admits not unto himself, and who recreationally dances is his little boy drawz (“underwear” for you non south Louisianians), and who wears the very same pair later on while he seductively advertises his nether regions to his fighter pilot cohorts in the latrine … oh shit, I just puked in my mouth a little bit when I typed all that about his drawz … enough! Enough! I think you follow what I’m saying here.
After I considered the admittedly paltry, planned, edited, manipulated footage of you, I’d think you are a decent guy. And boy, were you a DICK SUPREME in my mind after the Sweeney Incident! I wouldn’t want you to marry one of my daughters, but that’s just because I think you’re too damned old for them, not because I think you’re a hate mongering, arrogant, power hungry, obstructionist asshole! So, I’ll give you something here that you can take, add a dollar to it, and combine it into a treasure that you can use to buy a dollar’s worth of what-the-hell-ever with: my opinion. And that opinion is that you are more than likely a decent, trustworthy guy who I would probably enjoy having as a neighbor. You, of course, would not fare so lucky in that deal. But, c’est la vie.
Much like you are no lawyer, I am far from any military tactician. But, I know a little about dogs, because I have one. And, like you, I will give you the benefit of my opinion. I of course can’t rise to the level you did, but I will give it my best.
Procure two well trained dogs. One, the lean headed, long snouted Belgian Malinois, a hound of hell to any miscreant if there ever was one. Second, the male offspring of a Pit Bull x Chow cross sire and a Belgian Malinois x Dutch Shepherd cross dam, both KNPV working stock lineage as much as possible. Consult with the best military tacticians possible to plan and prepare for a well executed raid on whatever burrow it is that that little shit Miscavige hunkers down in and does God only knows what with that little-bitty, teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy, baby wee wee of his. Big mystery why his wife disappeared, huhn? Yeah, my ass!! It could be because she couldn’t sleep and laugh simultaneously and got wore out from that, Lord knows from nothing else in that bed, or, because as a witness to that freak of nature, she had to be silenced. Either way, there’s the rub.
Locate the little shit, deploy the tacticians accordingly, and send in the dogs. The Belgian, with his long, slender shepherd snout and impressive bite force, is to be directed to contact the little shit’s scrotum. As with any biological system that is influenced with exogenous mediators, the testicles, and the scrotum accordingly, will atrophy in their disuse. This could be due to introduction of exogenous testosterone, or through the unbelievably inordinantly excessive use of high powered lawyers with low morals and ethics, obedient thugs, and sycophantic yes men seen in such quantities never before. In other words, his nuts will match his little pee pee. The Belgian’s slender snout and high bite force matched with his great heart and love of duty render him the best, if not only, able dog to secure with tenacity such a microtarget.
As with the atrophy to biosuppliers suffering pathological disuse as a result of exogenously supplied mediators, the reverse is likewise expected, except of course also in reverse. So, the PitChow/Belgian/Dutch will make simultaneous contact with the other end of Miscavige. The nasty end. The mouth. Swollen, Neanderthal cheekbones and huge, bulging jaw muscles crafted from years, and years, and YEARS of overuse will call for this special canine. I know you doubt him, and understandably so, as will anyone who has seen Miscavige’s freakish, nuclear chipmunk jaw muscles. But, if anyone can do it, he can.
Make contact, drag the little fu$#@^ out into the light of day, where the sun can sear his nasty ass “flesh”. It won’t hurt to rub the dogs down liberally with garlic, sprinkle some silver granules and holy water on them, and hang crucifixes on their harnesses first. Pull out your tactical operators swiftly and safely, and use L. Ron Hubbard masks worn facing backward on their heads toward any potential pursuers. Rinse and repeat until the necessary adjustments are made.
In an odd kudos to Miscavige’s highly refined evil borne of pure arrogance, the first treatment will very, very likely be enough.
There is one alternate chance. One! You could instigate an internal coupe d’etat by Cruise by convincing him that he is actually the real LRH. Hell, with all he is already, it shouldn’t be hard to convince him of that! Then, let him and and Miscavige eat each other. Wait, wait, wait!! No, let’s try the dog ops first, since I couldn’t bear the thought of how much those two clowns might enjoy sitting down to a meal of each other. Ugh. Ewwwwwww!!
All bullshit aside, it appears to me with my very limited knowledge and info that you are likely a kind and decent man, just human like us all. Though your transgressions were many and severe, your admissions and attempts to mitigate them seem to meet, if not very likely surpass, them. And, it seems so far that your attempts will end only when Mike Rinder does. If I am anywhere near correct, you have far surpassed anyone else I know of in any similar situation.
As a man with adult daughters that I love more than anything in this world (except grandbabies, of course…they are all equal there), I hate it for you that you have lost contact with your kids. We reap what we sow, like it or not, deserve it or not. It is the human condition. I just hope for your estranged kids that their eyes open before you leave this planet, and they at least have a chance to speak to you again. They should have the courage to speak to you face to face again, to tell you to “Fu$% off”, to say “Hello, Pop”, or whatever. It’s a real shame that they can’t foresee how unflattering it is to hide under Miscavige’s skirt from a father who only wants to communicate with them. If they don’t want to see you ever again, I’d be the first to back their right to do it. That possibility, to do that for themselves, only gets less and less possible with each and every passing day. You’d think they’d be substantive enough to do that for themselves, especially if you are as evil as Auntie David says that you are. Oh, I forgot. That takes more than mere substance. It takes an individual.
I wish you the best, Mr. Rinder. I truly do.
Jere Lull says
Bubba, I applaud your imaginative essay, even though It was almost as confusing as a Hubbard PL or HCOB.
James Royston says
As I was reading an earlier comment about a petition. I didn’t see anything on change.org, is there any type of petition that exists that we can sign or does someone have to create one. I have no legal knowledge on how to even go about this but would be willing to get the ball rolling if someone could steer me in the right direction. I have spent endless hours on Twitter promoting all videos and podcasts, on every site that I can find that promotes this cult. (getting banned on most but I won’t stop)
Is there a petition on change.org? Have you considered starting one to raise awareness and bring about change?
Petitions, especially in $cientologys’s case, do little… if anything.
The way to bring an end to this vile cult is constant speaking out, reading blogs like this one and Tony Ortega’s, and writing those in a place of authority high enough to be brave and give a damn.
Jere Lull says
Cam, change IS happening through Mike’s efforts, though glacially because there is SUCH a bureaucracy built up in scn.
In particular, scientology HAS no converts coming in, to speak of, largely because googling scientology brings up this site or others following his example: a simple presentation of the facts as he sees it. No rancor or vicious screes about the subject, though it’s plain he’d have good reason to go that way. Calm, measured, and most of all, EFFECTIVE.
Dwarfenführer® is doing a GREAT job dismantling what Hubbard, et al. built. It’s not quite prone on the floor, is still twitching, but eventually Davey will run out of the money it takes to maintain the pretense of viability in what’s left of that old relic of a dinosaur.
Nancy Vasta says
Thank you,Mr.Rinder for your in depth article concerning Scientology’s tax exempt status.As you have stated,you are not an expert about the Catholic Church,but are when it comes to Scientology.I used to be a practicing Catholic until around 1990.I feel all religious organizations should have their tax exempt status taken away from them.I live in Brooklyn.Not too far from me is a very large enclave of Hasidic Jews.The husbands are all studying to be rabbis and the wives are having a child every two years.Nobody has a job.Yet they either live in apartments or private homes.Who is paying for this.Now before I get bombarded with cries of Anti Semetism,who is paying for this?All religious organizations should no longer be tax exempt.I can write to my local congresssperson,but it will take a lot more than just one person to see any possible results..And before the complaints come rollling in,all of the pedophile priests should be defrocked and excommunicated,not shoved from one parish to another.It is an outrage.Keep your informative blogs coming,sir.I want to learn as much as possible about Scientology.Thank you.
Here’s a good amount of information if you have time to read it:
Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations…..
Great article Mike thanks for writing and for all you are doing to expose this horrific organization.
To date do we know if there are any members of Congress that are open to pushing this issue forward? I would imagine most do not want to get involved for fear of retribution but there must be some who are brave enough to get involved
Jere Lull says
Currently, there may or may not be any congressmen willing to get involved, but there WILL be none if none of them get contacted by their constituents. Politically, They live or die by their responsiveness to VOTERS’ opinions. One e-mail might not do the job. LETTERS make a greater impression since they’re more work & expense for us to send out. MANY letters make more of an impression than one or two from an obviously disgruntled apostate. Still, one well-done e-mail might make a real difference if it gets the congressman *thinking*.
There have been so many essential blog posts here, that there should be at least one repost of such every week. Throwback Tuesdays?
Thanks for doing this.
#1 Son says
Mike – as a former Scientologist and “conservative” I find the assumption odd that a conservative SCOTUS would allow tax exempt status of a criminal organization to stand. It goes completely against Christian tenets.
I also have a question on one frequent reference from the show. It is states that you wete CMO on Flag from 1973-75. I was there as an IT from mid-74 into ’75. I don’t remember you. I was at Terry and Trudy’s double wedding. I’m in a photo from the wedding (in Janice’s book) back to the camera dancing with Kima’s niece (cant remember her name). After the significant abuse I suffered while on Flag its not surprising I don’t remember you. Don’t remember you during our judo training or photography lessons. Don’t remember seeing you in the “office” in the ‘tween decks. What was your job or title? Terry was CO at the time. This is not a challenge to the reference, trying to piece together the puzzle.
Mike Rinder says
Hi there. Thanks for reading and commenting. I assume we know each other from many years ago, at least peripherally.
First, I have never anywhere stated I was in the CMO in 73-75. I was a deckhand, then part of the Madeira shore unit and then COFB Comm until we got to Clearwater when I became Supercargo FB, then Ext Comm Aide then D/Staff Captain and then into the CMO. Not sure who is saying this, they are incorrect.
As for conservative judges, one only need look at the ruling from the USSC last Friday. The new hard right majority, led by Gorsuch, Cony Barrett and Kavanaugh ruled that state laws seeking to protect citizens during the pandemic were an intrusion into religious practice. That from the perspective of curtailing abuses in religious organizations is terrible.
The issue is not whether Christians support scientology. They do not. It is a larger and longer term view that tolerates the fact that decisions that favor religions have the unintended consequence of protecting scientology and other fringe organizations they may intensely dislike. Add to that: the “fringe” religions are seen as a bulwark by the mainstream religions against intrusion of their rights. It is a small price to pay for their own safety to also be shielding scientology and other fringe organizations. And they understand that the reverse is also true — though law that is good for mainstream religions protects groups they don’t like, conversely, law that is bad for fringe organizations is the start of a slippery slope towards curtailing their special status.
I plan to write a blog post about the recent USSC ruling, just haven’t gotten to it yet.
Here is an earlier blog post that describes this phenomena: https://www.mikerindersblog.org/2476876-2/
Susan Harbison says
“The new hard right majority, led by Gorsuch, Cony Barrett and Kavanaugh ruled that state laws seeking to protect citizens during the pandemic were an intrusion into religious practice.”
I am a liberal, but I have to agree that trying to prevent churches from holding services was bizarre. There was no reason to believe churches were incapable of taking the appropriate precautions.
I think this ruling was a no brainer, as evidenced by the fact that NY voluntarily changed it’s restrictions before the case ever got to the court. It is odd that SCOTUS rules on an issue that was moot.
Mike Rinder says
Susan — the issue is whether the law targeted religions. Clearly, it was a broad prohibition against gatherings of certain numbers of people that was equally applied. The justices carved out an exception to the law. ANd they did so even though the law was no longer applicable, just as you say. This is a very bad omen of things to come. These 3 new appointees were so anxious to start their activism they did what the Supreme Court rarely does. Issued a constitutional ruling on a moot issue. Stay tuned as more exemptions are carved out for religious organizations.
#1 Son says
Thank you Mike. You were indeed on Flag before I arrived and after I was “offloaded”. I think I misconstrued the reference as you being CMO. Thank you for the clarification.
So as part of the Madeira shore team were you there during the attack/riot? I know some folks were in town where the Stars were performing. It was probably one of the most memorable events of my life. Watching small row boats come alongside the port side of the ship with people carrying torches was surreal. Not to mention people jumping onto the dock to try to get their motorbikes to the end of the dock before they were dumped in the water. I still remember Doreen Gillam loading film in cameras and the messengers taking photos of the crowd while ducking projectiles.
My spouse agrees with your assessment of why conservative religions might be reticent to remove SCNs tax exempt status. Says it would open a crack that could be damaging to all legitimate churches. This bothers me…a lot. We need to do whats right because its right. If we think we must protect our religion(s) then we don’t really have faith at all. Its a bit like holding the door for the bank robber, eh?
Jere Lull says
“legitimate religion”…. Isn’t that an oxymoron? I believe the standard should be organization beneficial to society beyond their own adherents, similar to the UK’s test for charitable organizations. Add, too a non-profit clause.
scientology fails every such test, and always will, with the admonition: “Don’t reward downstats.” And of COURSE scientology won’t, can’t self-examine because, by definition, scientology and scientologists are PERFECT!) If that were true, then WHY is there ever heavy ‘ethics’? Tubby hisself laid down the heaviest and most arbitrary ‘ethics’ of all, because “tech” was failing and of COURSE his teachings couldn’t have been wrong, could they? Did the guy believe his own stories & excuses? Seems so, sometimes, but he did get down in the funks, pretty often.
Sherry Harris says
Mike, my sister is current Scientologist. She says one time, the church drove her to a bank to give them money (possibly from stocks) to pay for her courses and avoid paying taxes on cashing them out. She had to prove her husband was deceased. Could this be possible? She said it was not a gift.
Mike, this brings up the question about the linkage between the 1st amendment and the creation and imposition of taxes. Is the « . . . shall make no law . . . » a blanket shield from taxation of churches, no matter what later amendments? And was this addressed in the 16th Amendment, passed by Congress on July 2, 1909, ratified February 3, 1913, the first imposition of federal income tax? I can’t find any easy answer. Any one with knowledge or sources?
Mike Rinder says
Well, I don’t know. Apparently it has not been interpreted that way as the IRS has the power to tax organizations even when they claim they are religious if they do not meet their criteria. They have taken away tax exempt status from organizations who have had it on the basis of their religious status. Initially they granted religious tax exemption to scientology — an organization that forms itself as a religion is presumed to be tax exempt. But then they took it away based on inurement to L. Ron Hubbard. For many years the IRS did NOT recognize scientology. And scientology even challenged the deductibility of “donations” in the US Supreme Court and lost.
Susan Harbison says
” this brings up the question about the linkage between the 1st amendment and the creation and imposition of taxes.”
There is no link between the First Amendment and taxes. The First Amendment simply says the government may not interfere in religious matters. That includes matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine. The FA does not say the church can’t be taxed.
Churches are subject to the same laws as everyone else. The only exception would be a law that appears to be targeting a religion, which would be unconstitutional.
The IRS exempts a lot of non-profit organizations based on the theory that the income is given back to the community. These organizations have to show their “giving” to the IRS every year. “Faith based organizations” don’t have to show the IRS anything. This is certainly an invitation to commit tax fraud.
Mike Rinder says
Churches are subject to the same laws as everyone else. The only exception would be a law that appears to be targeting a religion, which would be unconstitutional.
While this is a generally true statement, there are some very important thing that churches are exempted from — most importantly labor laws.
Susan Harbison says
Churches don’t have a blanket exemption from labor laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not cover volunteers from any organization. Other types of church workers may qualify as an exception to the FLSA.
I have no doubt the cult has qualified as many of their workers as possible for a ministerial exception to the FLSA.
The government has chosen to allow this cult to blatantly pervert the law. I don’t think that will change.
Jere Lull says
Sortingitout, the full phrase you started to quote, commonly called the Establishment Clause, goes:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” The second half of the phrase is important.
–Congress can’t make a law establishing what a religion is, then can’t rule when/where/how a religion (still undefined) can be worshipped.
— I’m of the opinion that scientology isn’t a religion; never was, never wanted to be, and never can be, unless that definition also includes the KKK and Mafia as churches, because it does a great job combining the most repugnant qualities of each.
Zee Moo says
The IRS was shackled by tRump and by previous administrations. They only have the ability to go after pizza Shops that understate their cash flow. The IRS simply doesn’t have the courage and resources to take down the Clampire. It doesn’t matter if $cientology has violated the ’93 agreement, there is no sheriff in town. Barney Fife is running that store.
Jere Lull says
Zee, Barney Fife would be more effective than the current crop of bureaucrats.
Then, of course, ANYTHING which impedes the government from extending its reach is GOOD, including (PARTICULARLY!) its own incompetence.
Mission guy says
I am familiar with c of s western us not international. There were many abuses on the non profit standing and rules and regulations as originally when “The War Is Over” happened.
Lots of evidence of tampering and false books to make it appear compliant. But the evidence and falsification would never hold up to even simple discovery.
The funds are so badly managed. Slave wages in most missions class v and most SO service orgs. Lots of pay for ASI, RTC and their cronies.
It was a cruel and very out of touch operation. It hurt me badly from all the abuse of employees.
30 years “in” and finally out a broken person in 2004.
Finally addressing the nightmares with counseling meditation and prayer.
Supreme court could find they are not serving the community just the financial needs of the powerful church leaders. DM will be their downfall.
A real shame the FBI investigation got dropped. Some powerful corrupt mafia gangsters got brought down by financial crimes and tax evasion. I believe it will be their undoing.
John Baugh says
I have started reading your blog and have been watching your show with Leah and have found it amazing. I feel for your situation with having being disconnected from your children. Fot that I’m sorry and hate you have to deal with that. I am happy yoi found a good wife and have gotten a nice family. I will write a letter to my congressman and senator. I believe in what you are doing. I have never been a scientologist but raised in the Christian faith. But they are hurting people and destroying families that has to stop period. You have all my prayers to keep fighting and keep telling the stories of those qho have left that cult. Keep strong and you will prevail.