Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

How Scientology generates revenue on multiple fronts

The Ideal Org in Nashville sells “The Basics,” a $3,000 set of 18 books and 280 recorded lectures, along with church services.

Church of Scientology

The Ideal Org in Nashville sells “The Basics,” a $3,000 set of 18 books and 280 recorded lectures, along with church services.

Church revenue sources

The Church of Scientology says it is in the midst of the greatest period of growth in its history, boasting of new properties, book campaigns and humanitarian efforts. But former members say the growth has come at a cost, as church fundraisers have become more heavy-handed. Today's Scientologists are repeatedly pushed to donate money on multiple fronts.

Donations for services

Practicing Scientologists pay for courses, religious counseling and materials such as books and CDs. The cost can range from a few hundred dollars for a course to tens of thousands for counseling sold in 12 ½-hour batches called "intensives." Church registrars try to get parishioners to pay in advance for multiple intensives. One intensive in Clearwater can cost anywhere from $6,500 to $12,500.

Ideal Orgs

In 2004, Scientology launched a program to turn every one of its churches worldwide into an "Ideal Org," with a broader range of services, more space, nicer furnishings and audiovisual displays that seek to explain the church to potential new members. In most cases, local congregations are expected to raise the money to buy the necessary property and pay for renovations. Eighteen Ideal Orgs have opened since 2006, and the church says 51 more are in progress. A sampling of the building costs alone, according to public records: $6 million in Nashville, $3.7 million in Seattle and $7 million in Tampa.

International Association of Scientologists

The IAS is one of Scientology's most formidable entities. It raises money to defend the church against threats and for expansion programs and social betterment campaigns. It is "the glue that holds everything together," says one church publication. Former members say IAS fundraisers, some of whom work on commission, are among the most skilled and hard hitting in Scientology. Donation categories range from $500 for an annual membership to $50,000 for "Patron" to $1 million for "Gold Meritorious" and up.

"Super Power" project

Planning for the Super Power expansion project in Clearwater goes back 20 years. The church broke ground in 1998 on the centerpiece, a massive seven-story building downtown known as the Flag Building or the Flag Mecca. Construction stalled in 1999 and 2003, then started again in 2009, drawing more than $413,500 in city fines. The church says it was trying to get the building just right, likening it to a cathedral. About 1,200 "Cornerstone" donors have given at least $35,000 each. An additional 300 individuals and families have given at least $100,000 each. More than 30 others are down for at least $1 million.

The Basics

This is the name given to a set of 18 books and 280 recorded lectures costing about $3,000 when purchased in full. Released in 2007, the Basics are re-edited and remastered versions of the foundational work of L. Ron Hubbard, and the church wants every Scientologist to have a set. The church promises "life-changing wins" to those who study the works. In one testimonial, a woman says she used a wheelchair when she started studying the Basics, in addition to her church counseling, and now is "leaping up and down the stairs like a gazelle!"

How Scientology generates revenue on multiple fronts 11/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2011 6:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  2. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Workers from the Advanced Granite Solutions in Maryland console each other Wednesday after a shooting there killed three people. Officers said the attacker fled and also shot a man in Delaware.    as police and Emergency Medical Services respond to a shooting at a business park in the Edgewood area of Harford County, Md., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.  A gunman opened fire at the office park killing several co-workers and wounded others, authorities said.  (Matt Button/The Baltimore Sun via AP) MDBAE105
  3. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  4. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.
  5. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.