Although my objective of tax exemption status is fictitious, the Church of Scientology tax relief isn't.
When recommended I read Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion, I hesitated at first. I wasn't sure the subject matter would hold my interest but in being naive on the topic and only hearing about it based on its connection to Hollywood, I gave in to my insatiable curiosity.
Religion and Politics are two subjects that conjure up intellectual emotion, topics that I generally avoid. I'm not here to argue or opine on one's First Amendment right to freedom of religion nor is Reitman. You can worship a head of lettuce for all I care. What Reitman does though is rip the shroud off the face of Scientology unveiling past discretions, including human rights violations, leaving one to wonder, how can a self-proclaimed religion and church hold itself in such a way then claim tax exemption?
If one considered themselves a house of worship or a religious based organization, why the need for guards at your gate? Visit Clearwater FL.
From founder L. Ron Hubbards travels on his yacht, Apollo,( for the sole purpose of avoiding prosecution) with all his teenage girls called Messengers as part of his Sea Org, to the intense salacious attack against the highly critical author Paulette Cooper, Reitman doesn't state opinion, only facts through hours and hours of interviews with former members and current members, ( some names changed to protect privacy).
Phone taps, burglary then using Coopers' stolen stationary, they sent bomb threats to the NYC chapter of Scientology. Cooper was arrested on felony charges and faced fifteen years in prison. Her saving grace? Passing a truth serum (sodium amytal ) test dissuading the government from pursuing prosecution. Are such activities worthy of being called a religion or church?
Then there's the sad, tragic case of Lisa McPherson. McPherson, distraught, psychotic, and living in a constant state of paranoia died while in the care of the organization. Died, due to the overwhelming neglect of proper medical and mental care.
How does one consider themselves a religion when they engage in activities blatantly contradictory of social decency, not to mention illegal?
Welcome to Hollywood - - Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley, Mimi Rogers, John Travolta and Kelly Preston just to name a few are devout Scientologist and wield quite the power. Reitman devotes, for lack of a better word, two chapters to the pursuit of the Hollywood elite...The Celebrity Strategy and The Seduction of Tom Cruise.
So, how did the Church of Scientology become tax exempt.
Here's a couple of ways:
- By having members of their "religious" sect infiltrate the IRS and the FBI. Once hired, they were tasked with uncovering records then copy these documents and report back any activities the IRS and FBI were engaged in against the Church. Makes one wonder what type of screening/hiring process the IRS and FBI had at the time.
- Then file thousands of lawsuits, pressuring the IRS to rethink and redefine their definition of church and religion.
The result: Tax exemption status to the tune of billions.
Reitman educates one on many other shocking and stunning revelations in her book. If it's called the Church of Scientology, then what are they worshipping? I guess, Scientology. But what is it? A bunch of whooey is what I think or maybe a head of lettuce, but hey, only my opinion.
I did however come to the realization that after reading Reitman's authoritative book on Scientology, Hubbard was one cup of kool-aid away from Jim Jones and the "L" in L. Ron Hubbard's name stands for - - Loony!
See you on December 22, 2012.
*** Serendipitous connection - - Upon discussing this book with a fellow reader, she suggested I read Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, by Jon Krakauer. After finishing Reitman's book, I was reading through the notes and appendix and Reitman sites, Krakauer's book as a reference for additional reading.