Scientology’s diminishing expectations

St Paul has a Scientology center. I’ve seen it. It always looks kind of…dead, not exactly a thriving enterprise. I guess it really is fading, because here’s an article on our local Scientology scene, and it includes what I thought were really useful numbers.

A scientologist (now an ex-scientologist) was sent here several years ago to recruit and shore up the membership. The church claims to the public that there are 10,000 active scientologists in this region. Internally they have a different story.

The church gave him a list of “950 people who were supposedly Scientologists” in a five-state region that included the Dakotas, Iowa, and Wisconsin. His task was to make sure they were still involved. If they weren’t, he would work to regain them.

Shelton soon found that most had barely any connection at all. One, who was listed as a trained auditor, had merely bought a copy of Dianetics at a flea market once.

“That’s how goofy the church’s records are,” Shelton says.

In the end, he could find only 100-150 legitimate members in the entire five-state area.

Welp, that looks like one religion that might just die out in my children’s lifetime. Now we just have to finish off all the others.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    Something will come along and replace it. Never underestimate the human ability to create stupid shit.

  2. says

    Do they have that much stored cash that they can keep up that facade? Or are they raking it in in a few places that allows them to keep open all of the revenue-losing centers?

  3. says

    Not being taxed is probably a major benefit that allows them to keep their doors open. It’s the same scam that allows Christian churches to thrive everywhere — if they actually had to pay to support the services they rely on, they’d die, too.

  4. Anders says

    PZ : have you seen Leah Reminis show? I shared most peoples aversion/contempt for scientology well before, but that show is SCATHING. It is brutal the level of exposure and depths it goes thru , just watch it if you thought you knew anything about this cult .only good thing it shows is that they lie systematically about its own size, but unfortunately the also go to great lengths to understate the absolutte destruction they cause to the actual families involved

  5. chrislawson says

    This particular trick is also used by the Catholic Church which routinely counts anyone who was ever baptised a Catholic as a practising member, especially when trying to influence politicians.

  6. Tethys says

    I’m happy to know that they are dwindling away. It’s worth noting that they currently occupy the former Science Museum building. I’m hoping it can be put to better use.

  7. Ichthyic says

    Something will come along and replace it. Never underestimate the human ability to create stupid shit.

    just to be clear, that SHOULD only encourage people to work on getting rid of these things faster, not give up because there inevitably will be something stupid to come along next.

    it’s like saying “don’t bother protesting the polices of George W Bush, because sure as shit, someone like Trump will replace him”

  8. Ichthyic says

    …and I would have started with Trump in that example, but I literally cannot imagine anything more stupid to come along and replace him.

    and frankly, I’d rather NOT imagine it!

  9. bargearse says

    …and I would have started with Trump in that example, but I literally cannot imagine anything more stupid to come along and replace him.

    Somewhere in America a young eager Republican just said, “hold my beer.”

  10. robro says

    Add Mormons to the list of cults that pump up their numbers. I have a friend who grew up in a Mormon family in Salt Lake City. When his parents took him to be baptized, they locked him in a room while he waited. However, he tried a door which was unlocked. It opened to the outside, so he just walked away. No one ever mentioned it again. Despite not being baptized and being gay, they harassed him for years. Nothing he did or said stopped them from contacting him. I bet a gazillion dollars that they still count him as a member.

  11. rietpluim says

    Scientology’s little stepbrother, Avatar, is now in the news in The Netherlands because Avatar wizards have infiltrated some private schools. And I thought Avatar died out two decades ago. So don’t hold your breath for the extinction of Scientology.

  12. busterggi says

    I told Xenu it was a bad idea to attack Kolob because he would lose his focus but would he listen?

  13. kaleberg says

    Maybe it is a real religion after all. Religious involvement has been going down long term. Now Scientology is acting like a real religion. Farmville, it aint.

  14. blf says

    $cientology has been attempting to invade Ireland — so far, I gather, without much success — and The Irish Times has been keeping on eye on their antics (much to the frauds’s annoyance). For example, and rather unsurprisingly, they appear to be trying to do a tax dodge (Why are Scientologists setting up a European hub in Ireland?, Oct-2017):

    One year after launching a “National Affairs Office” on Merrion Square, the Church of Scientology is opening an “Ideal Org”, not dissimilar to a mother church, in the Dublin suburb of Firhouse.

    Merrion Square is in a very nice (read: expensive) part of Dublin, close to St Stephen’s Green and the National Gallery.

    The organisation is turning Ireland into a European hub, and a former high-ranking member believes that Scientology’s operations here might gain even more significance as pressure mounts in the United States.


    Bar staff [in a pub in Firhouse] complained to [ex-Scientologist John] McGhee that in recent weeks, foreign Scientologists had come to the business questioning why alcohol was being served early and why sports games were being shown on TV, while eavesdropping on conversations. One member of staff called their presence “intrusive” and said she had already barred a Scientologist from the pub.

    Complaining about alcohol and sports in a Dublin pub? Those eejits are truly clewless.

    The philosophy behind the [new construction / facilities] is “if you build it, they will come”, explains Chris Shelton, who grew up in Scientology […] He left in 2013 and became an outspoken critic.

    “[This] strategy has been a top priority for [$cientology führer David] Miscavige for well over a decade now,” he tells The Irish Times. “The idea is that these [Ideal Orgs] will be a living, breathing embodiment of Hubbard’s technology and policy. People will walk into them and won’t be able to help themselves but start doing Scientology. The AV displays, staff appearance and swankiness of the quarters will convince doubters that Scientology is the real deal.”

    Census figures put the number of Scientologists in Ireland at a mere 87 but up to 250 members from around the world have recently moved into the country to operate the Firhouse premises. This is more than double the usual number of foreign support staff, says Shelton.


    The reason for selecting Ireland as a base is unclear, given the low level of Irish membership, but it may be designed to create a tax haven for the Church of Scientology International in case the organisation was to lose its religious tax exemption status in the US.


    Fiona O’Leary is an autism advocate from Cork who in that capacity stumbled across the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology offshoot denouncing psychiatry, conventional mental health services and most prescription drugs. Over the past year CCHR has been handing out literature in front of medical practices in Dublin and sending out letters warning professionals of the dangers of psychiatry.

    O’Leary says she made contact with the CCHR but the more she learnt about its core principles the more she became alarmed. She says she was told by the organisation that psychiatrists are above the law and rape patients as a form of treatment, that vaccines can cause autism in children, and that schizophrenia is a symptom of an underlying physical issue.


    Here in France, $cientology is officially considered a “dangerous cult”; and in 1978, L Ron Hubbard was convicted of fraud.