If you have been in Scientology for any length of time, where the Church occupied a lot of your time and effort, it’s easy to still think of Scientology as this huge, omnipresent international organization. And some people fear Scientology because of its “size.”
But what are the facts? Scientology claims “millions” of members. (They used to claim 8 million or 20 million, now they just say “millions.”) I have an advantage here because I used to work for Scientology’s Central Marketing Unit, and had access to all of the actual lists and statistics. I know that event attendance internationally was somewhere in the region of 25,000 to 35,000. The International “Bodies in the Shop” (people actually in the orgs that week for service) was 16,000 to 18,000. IAS was struggling to get 40,000 members. Based on this and a lot of other information I was privy to, I estimate the actual number of Scientologists at a maximum of 40,000. That’s on the high side.
This jibes with the 2008 ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey), which is conducted every 9 years. This is a massive survey, involving over 50,000 subjects. The ARIS study estimates the number of U.S. Scientologists at 25,000. That’s actually less than the number of Bahai reported (84,000) or the number of Sikhs (57,000) or the number of Pagans, Wiccans and Druids (307,000).
How many people is 40,000? Well, it’s about the size of a small town, say, Jefferson City, Missouri, or North Shields in England, or Tikapur in Nepal. What, you’ve never heard of those places? Exactly.
Well, here’s a town of that size you have heard of – San Jacinto, California, the home of Scientology’s International Headquarters. If David Miscavige wants to get some “mass” on the true size of his “empire,” he should get into a pickup truck and drive around San Jacinto.
A friend of mine in New York, when he heard the actual figures of the Church’s size, commented, “that’s not even a good Mets game.” And it’s true. Citi Field in New York holds 45,000.
A Scientology event in LA, where there are more Scientologists than any other area, pulls 5,000 to 7,000 people, including staff. The Dodgers routinely pull 46,000 to their games. In fact, Dodger Stadium is large enough, at 56,000 capacity, to fit every Church of Scientology member in the world, with plenty of room left over for David Miscavige’s ego.
And as to the Tampa Bay area, where Scientology claims 10,000 or 12,000 members, they hold their events at Ruth Eckerd Hall, capacity 2,180. Even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pull in 60,000 to 70,000 fans for their games in Raymond James Stadium.
So before you get overwhelmed by the “size” of the Church of Scientology, look at some actual figures and comparisons.
And before you tell me what a “great leader” David Miscavige is, take a look at the real extent of his rapidly shrinking “empire.”
Looking over the newest Impact Magazine – 188 pages of expensive, four-color fluff – I was impressed not by how much expansion Scientology has accomplished, but by how invisible that expansion is, outside of their own events, magazines, and press releases.
We are told that, thanks to the IAS, the social betterment programs of Narconon, Applied Scholastics and The Way to Happiness have gone from helping 9.8 million people 25 years ago to 119 million today. Wow, 119 million people. Almost 2% of the planet has been through one of these programs? The equivalent of the entire population of Japan? Or a third of the population of the US?
We are also told that “22,000 community, city, state, or federal groups are now running with our programs.” Pretty impressive. With that kind of broad, overwhelming popularity, you would expect that these programs would be all over the news. All over the internet…
LRH says in the Data Series that the hardest thing to spot is an omitted. Hard, yes, but not impossible. Let’s look for some of the things that should be present if the expansion claimed in Impact Magazine were factual.
Well, for starters, if there are twenty two thousand community, city, state or federal groups using LRH tech, you would think there would be news articles about at leastsome of these. You would think that some of these groups, maybe just a few thousand, would have put glowing reports on their own websites. Yet a pretty thorough Google search, using all imaginable search terms, finds…virtually nothing. Try it yourself, prove me wrong.
A search for news on Narconon, for instance, nets 54 responses. And the bulk of those are cited as from TransWorldNews, PRNewswire, PressRelease365 and 24-7PressRelease.com. These are all online press release distribution companies, that is, you write the press release and send it to them, and they distribute it for a fee.Voilá, instant press. A news search for Applied Scholastics gets about eight articles, all from Australia, all dealing with a controversy over a Scientology school getting federal funding. A news search for The Way to Happiness? I get 14, three of those concerning that same Australian school.
And what about those 119 million people who have been through one of these social betterment programs? Wouldn’t you expect that some of those people, maybe just a few million, would have mentioned that fact on their personal blogs or websites, their MySpace or Facebook pages? Well, I couldn’t find them. What, did they all sign a confidentiality agreement promising to never mention their gains online?
All of this is not to negate the work of individual Scientologists who are out in the world, applying what they know to make the world a better place. There are many of them, and their work is appreciated. But for David Miscavige to crow about huge, unrealistic statistics that bear no relation to reality is to make a mockery of the real work being done.
Expansion doesn’t occur because someone claims it occurred. It occurs when someone does the actual work to make it happen.
Scientology doesn’t have millions of members because Miscavige says they do. In fact, there are probably 40,000 to 50,000 Scientologists worldwide, if one looks at the real scene. There aren’t 8,000 orgs, missions and groups, despite what Miscavige claims. there are a few hundred. There could be thousands of orgs, millions of Scientologists with good, hard, effective work. But that work is just not being done by current management. All they are interested in is empty puffery and PR.
Of course, they never show actual org statistics any more. As Miscavige said at the 2005 IAS event, “Even the manner in which we gauge our expansion has utterly changed. In previous years it focused on our internal statistics. Today our expansion is measured by broad-scale impact out there, helping cities, states, and entire nations.”
The only problem? That “worldwide expansion” is invisible. Just like “org expansion,” it doesn’t exist in the real world. You can only hear about it at Church events, or in Church magazines, websites and press releases. Otherwise – it ain’t there. When you fact-check it against reality, it doesn’t exist. But then reality, the Church would have us believe, is an “external influence.”
Go ahead, Miscavige, prove me wrong. Publish a list of the 22,000 agencies using LRH tech. Publish an address list of your 8000 orgs, missions and groups. Show me the millions of blogs, websites, and social networking pages where wins from LRH tech are posted. Show me. Otherwise, all you’ve got are hollow speeches and hyperbolic magazine articles with no basis in any reality.
In his opening address, Miscavige refers to these statistics as “magic numbers.” Right. As in “smoke and mirrors.”
The only thing experiencing “unlimited expansion,” apparently, is David Miscavige’s ability to create an elaborate, gaudy fabric of lies out of nothing.
By Jeff Hawkins