When L. Ron Hubbard created Scientology, he set out to make money, and make money he did. The founder of Scientology was worth hundreds of millions of dollars when he died of a stroke. Scientology has had casualties, people who have perished or suffered because the organization prohibits use of many common drugs. A class of drugs demonized by the church is psychiatric drugs, which Mr. Hubbard himself was taking at the time of his death. The self-styled intellectual flunked out of George Washington University yet claimed Scientology could cure everything from epilepsy to radiation burns. (See: Dianetics)
One of the great appeals of Scientology is a sense of community, and offer a cure for psychological and social ills. Scientologists count amongst my readers and I have family members involved with the organization. One most peculiar trait of Scientology is its active courting of celebrities, one of whom director and screenwriter Paul Haggis.
Mr. Haggis joined the group over 30 years ago and left only recently due to the Church's support of Prop 8. It should be noted that Hubbard claimed to be able to cure homosexuality through Scientology, but efforts to do so are no longer politically correct.The movie man stated many of the same things that many others had about Scientology, including human trafficking and slavery in the Sea Orgs.
Mr. Haggis' brave departure from the group has sparked a sea of other former members coming forward with tales of everything from forced isolation to outright torture. Exposes of being forced to work for little to no pay to serve famous adherents are coming out, like this one, where Scientologists worked for Tom Cruise for $50.00 a week. The church is currently being sued by numerous former members and is now under FBI investigation for illegal practices including slavery, money laundering, and human trafficking. Naturally, the Church has shot back, denying any wrongdoing.
In his own words, L. Ron Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology as a money-making operation ( "MAKE MONEY. MAKE MORE MONEY. MAKE OTHER PEOPLE PRODUCE SO AS TO MAKE MORE MONEY." - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 9 March 1972) and then started believing the legends he produced. In Germany, the Church of Scientology is considered a cult whose goals are counter-constitutional. However, on our side of the pond, the Church enjoys the same privileged tax status as any other religion.
So my question to you is: is the Church of Scientology any more or less dangerous than any other belief system? And should it deserve tax-favourable status? And if not, is it because it is a newer belief system or the content of the system? And also, do any religious institutions that demand submission deserve tax-protected status?