The Church of Scientology has often asserted that it has approximately ten million members worldwide. Ten million, you say? TEN MILLION???
For crying out loud. Think about it: Jews worldwide number north of 13.5 million, or just about .02% of the population. No way are there nearly as many Scientologists.
How many Scientologists do you personally know? Well, I live in Los Angeles and I am not acquainted with even one single solitary Scientologist (at least not that I am aware of). If I didn’t know better, I’d say that they were about as scarce as Republicans are here!
That we are meant to believe that there are ten million adherents to the sci-fi religion founded by sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard is, of course, ludicrous. In 2011, former editor (and longtime Scientology foe) Tony Ortega wrote at The Village Voice:
According to the latest [ARIS or American Religious Identification Survey] survey, the total number of people who identify as Scientologists is just 25,000 in this country of more than 300 million human beings.
That’s one Scientologist for about every 12,000 Americans.
In other words, the total number of active U.S. Scientologists is about the size of your run-of-the-mill local credit union.
But there’s more. As paltry as that number is, the news is even worse for Scientology, because previous surveys by the same researchers show a steep drop in membership in recent years, reflecting anecdotal evidence that there’s been a “mass exodus” (as Reitman calls it) under the leadership of David Miscavige.
In 1990, ARIS had found about 45,000 Scientologists. In 2001, it found 55,000, and in 2008, it found 25,000.
Yikes, that is some steep seven year drop-off in Scientologists, ain’t it? As Ortega goes on to point out, there are more people who self-identify as Rastafarians than as Scientologists.
Jeff Hawkins, once Scientology’s head of public relations, now an anti-Scientology blogger, activist and author, estimates that there are no more than 40,000 Scientologists worldwide, at the high end. England and Canada both have fewer than two thousand adherents to the gospel of L. Ron Hubbard. Most Scientologists live right here in Los Angeles. The Church’s celebrity elite and its real estate holdings are highly visible, the rank and file membership considerably less so.
Nevertheless, revenues from the Church’s large business network—corporations, non-profits and other legal entities—are estimated at half a billion dollars annually! Additionally, author Lawrence Wright has revealed that the Church has over $1 billion in liquid assets.
As Hubbard once said:
“To keep a person on the Scientology path, feed him a mystery sandwich.”
A $25,000 mystery sandwich, that’s doled out a bite at a time promising the mark that when the sandwich is finished they will be able to “control or operate thought, life, matter, energy, space, and time” whether or not he or she even still has a body! That’s some sandwich and yes, pretty mysterious, I reckon.
Below, four former-Scientologists who reached the upper levels of Thetandom speak out about their experiences in Scientology. How could someone believe that they were a master of “energy, space and time” wearing a Hawaiian shirt and short pants?