Scientology Myths Statistics Page updated

I finally got the newest statistics on Scientology (from the Church of Scientology). There is no third party observer for Church of Scientology statistics, so this is the best material I could get.

– Lou

8 Comments

  1. @omment by anmn on February 22, 2008 4:27 am

    “Can you tell me your reason for accepting the word of an organization over the wildly differing claims made by independent organizations with nothing to gain by publishing pessimistic results about that organization?”

    Different ways of counting and methodical errors in the surveys you mention. Its just too much guesswork to extrapolate from 50,000 calls on a percentage for 300 million people. The Church of Scientology counts Scientologists and Dianeticists, anyone trained to be a Scientologist. I am aware there are different grades of commitment but if you use Scientology to help somebody you are a Scientologist.

    – Lu

  2. Can you tell me more about your source for those statistics? You say your source is “Church of Scientology International, Jan 2008” but where, specifically, is that text from? I just spent some time poking around scientology.org and couldn’t find any numbers like that.

    In fact, the only place I did find the “10 million” number is on a press release boilerplate, and the external sources that quote it.

    I do dispute the second sentence on that page. It claims Scientology had 6.1 million members in 2000. In 1992, Heber Jentzsch, the then- and current president of the Church of Scientology International, appeared on Nightline. He affirmed the claim that Scientology had 8 million members, and acknowledged that that number included anyone who had taken even one course in the previous 38 years.

    The transcript is here: http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Story?id=2664713

    The “8 million” number actually appeared as boilerplate text on Church of Scientology press releases since before 1992 until it was increased to 10 million in the last few years. No, I don’t have a source for this, but I can probably find news articles every few years with that text if I were inclined to look.

    adherents.com did not do “a couple of phone interviews.” Their methods are clearly listed on their site, and they are very much in line with accepted statistical methods dealing with populations of people. There is no realistic way to get a more accurate count.

    Also, you must acknowledge the hypocrisy in claiming that there are no third-party sources, and then repeating only first-party information. If you want these pages to be seen as something besides a Church of Scientology PR front-end, you must at least acknowledge the controversy of the numbers you are printing.

    -Officlal claim: 10 million
    -adherents.com claim: 500,000 – 750,000 as an upper bound, 100,000 as an estimate of active members
    -ARIS survey found 45,000 in the US in 1990, and 55,000 in 2001
    (source: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_briefs/aris/key_findings.htm )

    Can you tell me your reason for accepting the word of an organization over the wildly differing claims made by independent organizations with nothing to gain by publishing pessimistic results about that organization?

  3. I’m not saying that Scientology has rules that one would have to give up their faith; I was trying to imply, albeit more discreetly than I should have, that the teachings of Scientology are not as compatible with other faiths as you seem to think.

    I’m a Christian; not one well-versed in his own texts, I admit, but years of Bible study classes at church have hopefully managed to ingrain something in me.

    I read this quote from pages 8-9 of L. Ron Hubbard’s Creation of Human Ability:

    “Subjects which were consulted in the organization and development of Scientology include the Veda; the Tao…; the Dharma and the Discourses of Gautama Buddha; the general knowingness about life extant in the lamasaries of the Western Hills of China; the technologies and beliefs of various barbaric cultures, the various materials of Christianity, including St Luke; the mathematical and technical methodologies of the early Greeks, Romans, and Arabians; the physical sciences, including what is now known as nuclear physics, including the various speculations of Western Philosophers … and the various technologies extant in the civilization of both the Orient and Occident in the first half of the twentieth century.

    “Scientology is an organization of the pertinancies which are mutually held true by all men in all times, and the development of technologies which demonstrate the existence of new phenomena not hitherto known, which are useful in creating states of beingness considered more desirable by man.”

    And I thought about how the apostle Paul wrote:

    “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8)

    As Scientology was founded on a composite of many religions and tenets of human philosophy, and indeed seems a very humanistic theology, I can’t see how to mesh it with true Christian faith without compromising the Christian aspect of it. For while Scientology explores the capacity of man in terms of being a spiritual being (‘thetan’, I believe you refer to it as) and promises ways for man to fulfill his own potential by his own power, Christianity rests its foundation on the existence of God, the redemption brought by his Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit he has sent to be our Helper and Guide.

    Jesus called himself the ‘cornerstone’, an apt word to describe how intrinsic he is to Christianity as a whole. We cannot save ourselves from our shortcomings; ‘sin’ in definition is ‘to fall short’, therefore everyone has sinned at some point. No one is perfect, and that weighs on us. But because a Man named Jesus died for us even though he himself did no wrong, we have a lifeline.

    I’ll try to express it in terms easier to understand: Christianity isn’t about trying all you can to perfect yourself. It’s about admitting you’re imperfect, knowing that a perfect Someone has taken the judgment for your imperfections, and because of that not only will your imperfections not matter anymore, but you’ll be perfected over time with the help of that perfect Someone and the Holy Spirit, as long as you trust Him. By faith in that grace we have our peace, not by faith in ourselves, as Scientology espouses.

    To say to me, then, that I could practice Scientology with no conflict to my Christianity, would be similar to saying that I could practice Islam or Buddhism with no conflict to it, and just as erroneous.

    To those who claim or believe that they can have ‘memberships’ to both, I strongly exhort them to review what Christianity truly is about. It’s not a club, it’s a acknowledgment of an unchangeable Truth. If you believe in what Scientology teaches, say that you’re a Scientologist. There will only be a middle ground between it and Christianity if you throw out the very essence of what the latter is all about.

    …anyway, Lu, I apologize for the length of this speech, which is probably off topic. My personal viewpoint is that I have no ill-will against willing adherents of Scientology like you, but that such a person as a Christian who practises Scientology cannot exist. It’s a contradiction. I hold the hope that a very small portion of those who marked themselves as ‘Christian’ on the government censuses did so in the knowledge of this.

    “So the bottom line once again is that there are no third party observers for statistics of the Church of Scientology.”

    The American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York could be considered a third party, as could the government census data. It might be a good idea to include that data in your information section, at least, since the use of statistics from the CoS alone would hint towards a certain bias (academically speaking, multiple sources are vital).

  4. @Comment by Tim on February 19, 2008 8:24 pm

    Thanks. I adjusted the bold tag. Adherents.com did a couple of phone interviews (what religion do you belong to?) and then took this figure to make a guess for the United States. The rest of their “facts” is full of guesses, probably’s and maybe’s.

    “It seems statistically odd that a religion with purportedly 6.1 million followers in the year 2000 would only be estimated to have 55,000 proponents in the USA, and about 2% of that figure in the UK– both major English-speaking countries, and countries where Scientology seems to have the most presence out of others.”

    “Then again, perhaps only 1 in 10 practitioners of Scientology would actually put it down as their religion, because the other 9/10 are simultaneous adherents of other religions. Because the teachings of Scientology are most definitely not incompatible with Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. Isn’t that true?”

    Exactly. The way they went about their research was wrong from the start. As of simultaneous memberships in other religions, yes, this is common practice for Scientologists and Scientology has no rules that one has to give up his/her faith.

    So the bottom line once again is that there are no third party observers for statistics of the Church of Scientology.

    – Lu

  5. Ah, a correction; I made a mistake in the HTML formatting in my previous comment. The second half of it wasn’t meant to be bolded. Apologies.

  6. The above commenter seems to have quoted from http://www.religioustolerance.org/scientolnbr.htm. There were three sections of statistics; one from the Cos, one from a third-party group, and one of government census figures. I have included the latter two since you already have the CoS statistics up. Here is a more detailed repost:

    * From Adherents.com: This is an independent web site that specializes in publishing “adherent statistics and religious geography citations … for over 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups…” etc.

    When comparing the main religions of the world, they estimate that Scientology has 500,000 members and ranks 22nd in size. However, they caution that:

    “Sizes shown are approximate estimates, and are here mainly for the purpose of ordering the groups, not providing a definitive number. This list is sociological/statistical in perspective.”

    In their section on Scientology, they state:

    “There are not 8 million people who, if taking a survey, would name Scientology as their religious preference. One might generously estimate up to one million worldwide, but the actual number who would fit this criterion is probably under a half million. Adding up organizationally-reported membership on a state-by-state, country-by-country basis would yield a current membership figure of about 750,000, according to a church critic. As with all religions, the complete body of adherents represent a spectrum of participation, including fully active members as well as non-attending or disengaged sympathizers.”

    “Realistically, a figure lower than 750,000 seems be more reasonable for this page’s listing. Some documents suggest that even the tabulation of 750,000 based on country-by-country/state-by-state organizationally-provided data is quite out of date. Internal documents suggest 100,000 active members — which would easily yield an estimate of a total of 600,000 or more, including one-time members, lapsed members, and strong supporters. …”

    “If one eliminated from the total number of Christians in the world all those who are counted as Christians only because they identify themselves as such in a survey or census, even though they never actually attend Christian services, study Christian literature, or make behavioral changes based on Christian teachings beyond general societal norms, one might obtain a similar downgrade in actual number of effective adherents.”

    * Estimates of the numbers of Scientologists in English speaking countries:

    – USA: The 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York sampled American adults randomly by telephone and asked them: “What is your religion, if any?” ARIS pollsters concluded that Scientology is the seventh largest non-Christian religion in the U.S. It is exceeded in membership only by Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Unitarian Universalists, Hindus and followers of Native American Spirituality.

    ARIS estimated that there were 55,000 American Scientology adults in 2001, an increase from 45,000 in 1990. A linear extrapolation would suggest that there will be about 61,000 Scientologists in 2008. However, these values are undoubtedly an underestimate. They include only those individuals whose primary religious self-identification is as a Scientologist. There are many more American adults who consider themselves Christians, who have integrated Scientology beliefs and practices into their life, and who would respond “Christian” to the pollster. So too, with many Jews, Muslims and others who are simultaneously using Scientology beliefs and practices.

    – Other countries: Wikipedia lists numbers of adults in predominately English speaking countries who state that they are Scientologists during various government censuses :
    – In Australia: 2,507 Scientologists out of a population of about 20.5 million in 2006.
    – In Canada: 1,525 out of about 31.0 million people in 2001
    – In New Zealand: 282 Scientologists out of about 3.7 million people in 2001.
    – In the UK: 1,781 Scientologists out of a total of 52 million adults responding to the optional census question on religion in 2001.

    Again, these would be underestimates for the same reason as is the ARIS poll value.”

    It seems statistically odd that a religion with purportedly 6.1 million followers in the year 2000 would only be estimated to have 55,000 proponents in the USA, and about 2% of that figure in the UK– both major English-speaking countries, and countries where Scientology seems to have the most presence out of others. According to the CoS data, Scientology operates in 164 different countries. To have the 6.1 million each country would need an average of approx. 37,000 proponents– a figure which only the USA seems to achieve/exceed, and the other English-speaking countries seem to flag behind by at least 90%.

    Then again, perhaps only 1 in 10 practitioners of Scientology would actually put it down as their religion, because the other 9/10 are simultaneous adherents of other religions. Because the teachings of Scientology are most definitely not incompatible with Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. Isn’t that true?

  7. Dream on. Or start with giving a source. “Internal documents”? Show me the documents!

    – Lu

  8. “Some documents suggest that even the tabulation of 750,000 based on country-by-country/state-by-state organizationally-provided data is quite out of date. Internal documents suggest 100,000 active members — which would easily yield an estimate of a total of 600,000 or more, including one-time members, lapsed members, and strong supporters.”

    Under one million.


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