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Monday, April 13, 2015

Going Clearer

In an op-ed in the LA Times, Alex Gibney, who made the devastating documentary about Scientology, "Going Clear," details how the church has fought back through intimidation and lawsuits, and says it should lose its tax-exempt status:

In the past, critics of the church have called for its tax exemption to be revoked because it is not a "real religion." I agree that tax-exemption isn't merited, but not for that reason. The Church of Scientology has a distinct belief system which, despite its somewhat strange cosmology — mocked by the TV show "South Park" and many others — is not essentially more strange than, say, the idea of a virgin birth. Scientologists are entitled to believe what they want to believe. And the IRS website makes it clear that anyone is entitled to start a religion at any time without seeking IRS permission. To maintain the right to be tax-exempt, however, religions must fulfill certain requirements for charitable organizations. For example, they may not "serve the private interests of any individual" and/or "the organization's purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy." On these points alone, it is hard to see why Americans should subsidize Scientology through its tax-exemption.
Read Gibney's full op-ed here.