There are two very encouraging facts about this article on scientology in the NY Times.
One is that it got published. Once upon a time, newspapers and magazines hesitated to criticize scientology at all, because they’d immediately sic an army of lawyers on the publication, and any journalists involved face some fierce harassment. They probably still do that, but their triumphantly oppressive days are over.
The other is this fascinating disclosure.
The church is vague about its membership numbers. In 11 hours with a reporter over two days, Mr. Davis, the church’s spokesman, gave the numbers of Sea Org members (8,000), of Scientologists in the Tampa-Clearwater area (12,000) and of L. Ron Hubbard’s books printed in the last two and a half years (67 million). But asked about the church’s membership, Mr. Davis said, “I couldn’t tell you an exact figure, but it’s certainly, it’s most definitely in the millions in the U.S. and millions abroad.”
He said he did not know how to account for the findings in the American Religious Identification Survey that the number of Scientologists in the United States fell from 55,000 in 2001 to 25,000 in 2008.
That’s a rather precipitous fall. If they can keep shedding believers at that rate, this will be scientology’s last decade.