In 2010, I wrote a Huffington Post blog about the need for Scientology’s U.S. tax exempt status to be removed. With no change six years later, it is time to really make an effort to get the IRS to act.
Word on the dangers of this group is getting out. The past few years have seen the release of important books like Ron Miscavige’s Ruthless, Leah Remini’s Troublemaker and Jon Atack’s classic A Piece of Blue Sky. The group has lost a few high profile members (Lisa Marie Presley, Katie Holmes) who have spoken out against the organization. In addition, a number of documentaries including Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie, and the 30 hour conference Getting Clear (which was recorded and is available online) featuring top former leaders and insiders have been made telling us what’s really going inside the group.
From the “Please Call Me” billboard in California to the legal issues around the world, Scientology has been under the microscope these past few months in the media. Every day, more secrets of the group are being shared and its practices are being scrutinized. The topic is so interesting, that this last week, I was invited to appear on a news broadcast by a Sarasota ABC News affiliate to discuss the dangers of the group prior the the 20/20 interview with ex-member and father of the current leader of Scientology, David Miscavige.
Also appearing with me was former member Roger Weller who shared his first-hand knowledge of Scientology’s heartbreaking disconnection policy. Due to the regulations of the organization, he was cut off from her after leaving the group.
Based on overwhelming evidence, it is clear that Scientology is an organization that does not deserve tax exemption. In fact, many of the group’s practices violate articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to name a few: use of slave labor, inhumane punishments, interference with family,privacy, freedom of thought, and expression). However, due to shady dealings with the IRS, lobbyists and legions of lawyers have managed to get a behind door deal gaining tax-exempt status and classifying Scientology as a religious group.
Scientology is getting away with untold millions of dollars in tax liabilities every year. Not only does this put a strain on the economy, it helps to finance an organization that systematically uses undue influence to imprison the minds of followers and destroy lives. This is simply unacceptable.
Though many have insisted on action, the IRS and other government organizations seem to do little to address the issues with Scientology. Because we are a country which prizes freedom of belief, those in power are afraid to criticize any group claiming to be a religion. However, by focusing on unethical and illegal behaviors, it is possible to differentiate between ethical religious groups and those who use undue influence and control over followers.
Is now the time to find a courageous law firm to sue the IRS and make them enforce their own policies and guidelines? I hope so!