Many of us came into Scientology or joined staff or the Sea Org with the purpose of clearing the planet. Remember that game? It was a numbers game – make enough Scientologists, enough Clears and the majority of enturbulated humans that inhabit this spinning orb we call Earth would disenturbulate. We didn’t need to physically clear them all, perhaps just a small percentage, but with six billion inhabitants, 3% would mean clearing 180 million, a finite if daunting task. But we knew LRH had made a fantastic start back in 1950 when he kicked the whole thing off with the publication of Book One (Dianetics). It was a runaway success, which led to countless members, groups and the early Scientology Churches. So we knew that if we just put our shoulder to the wheel and others followed suit we would get there in the end.
SO HOW FAR HAVE WE REALLY COME IN THE 60 YEARS SINCE THE PUBLICATION OF DIANETICS?
Now, Miscavige and his spin doctors would have you believe “We are millions” that we are “bigger and greater than ever” and that we are “racing away to a cleared planet, straight up and vertical”. But rather than listen to rhetoric, spin and bald faced lies, to determine the progress we’ve actually made we have to look at the numbers, because real numbers, based on experience, factual “uncooked” figures, don’t lie.
So let’s look at how many Church of Scientology members exist now compared to times past because real expansion could only mean one thing: more members — more Scientologists moving up the Bridge.
My wife and I worked at all echelons of Scientology and the Sea Org for more than 60 years combined. Our years in the trenches, working hands on with Scientology public as well our years in management with access to Scientology international reports and statistics up to the year 2006, plus the very latest intelligence reports from orgs, makes us uniquely qualified to calculate and comment on the actual number of Scientology church members.
Let’s define a member of the Church of Scientology as a person who is actively taking service or who is likely to take service from a Church organization at ANY time in the future, a broad definition.
CLASS V ORGS: As try as they might Class V orgs only get about an 1/8th of their actual public taking service at any given time. We were one of the bigger orgs in the world (Birmingham) and we had only 50 Scientologists on lines at any one time and had around 400 in total. This rule of thumb (total public = 8 times the on-lines public) holds true for the other Class V Orgs.
There are 150 Class V orgs. As of 2006, the incredibly stellar Milano org apart, the top 15 orgs had 50 to 120 Scientologists taking service per week. Shockingly, most of the rest fell into the small and failing category with only 10 to 20 per week.
That means a minority of orgs had 400 to 800 members while most had between 80 and 160. So let’s be very generous and put the average total members per org at 200.
150 orgs multiplied by 200 = 30,000 total members in the Class V org sector – at the most.
ADVANCED ORGS have predominantly the same people listed under Class V orgs but you have a gravitational effect too where Scientologists go and live in the area around advanced orgs.
There are 7 advanced orgs (AOLA, ASHO Day & Foundation, AOSH UK, St. Hill Foundation, AOSH ANZO and AOSH Europe) with around 150 service attendees each, on average (AOLA had more but others had less). Sticking with the same Class V org formula, 150 x 8 = 1200 total parishioners each, on average. So that’s a maximum of 8400 additional advanced org parishioners and that is generous indeed considering a higher percentage attend services than in Class V orgs and at least some members have now been counted twice by being counted under both Class V org and Advanced org categories.
FSO has the same parishioners listed in both the Class V and Advanced org sections but also has some who consider themselves FSO-only public. At 500 of them taking service at any give time (discount the outer org trainees as they are counted in the Class V orgs and Advanced orgs) that’s 500 x 8 (extremely generous) = 4000 total additional parishioners and some of those have now been counted three times.
MISSIONS: There are hundreds of missions but they are far worse off than orgs. Many have just one or two part time staff and a handful of parishioners. I have attended events at missions in two different states of late and there were no more than 10 attendees in each. 300 missions with an average of 25 parishioners (very generous) = 7500 members.
As for field auditors, WISE etc. — all counted a number of times in various categories above so I am not going to repeat the error.
TOTAL: 30,000 plus 8400 plus 4000 plus 7500 = a very generous 49,900 members at the very most.
[Note: this is as of 2006. Things are much worse now with FSO turned into a crush regging machine, the houses of Scientologists for sale in the Clearwater area at an all time high (despite the depressed housing market), a truly crashed Class V org scene and countless other problems not to mention the independent movement in full flow!]
As a cross check, let’s figure it a different way and let’s go back a few years. As of the year 2000 Scientology as a whole got a total of 20,000 attendees worldwide for an “important” international all-Scientologists-must-attend event. That’s all attendees on the night plus all worldwide attendees for all the delayed events – total showings. Now, it’s no surprise but as hard as they try, A Class V org can only drag about a quarter of its public to any given event no matter how “important”. FSO and Advanced Orgs manage around 50 percent of their resident public. That puts the entire Scientology population in the year 2000 at sixty thousand if we are consistently generous and say that the total number of attendees for an important worldwide event represents only a third of all members.
In summary, that’s 60 thousand members in the year 2000, down to around 50,000 by 2006 and much less by 2010, which all jives with experience, stats, reports and more recent intelligence my wife and I have witnessed.
There is also an empirical observation that can be made that supports these figures. Have you noticed how the remaining staff and public seem to be made up of mostly older people on the one hand and fairly young people on the other? Even the young people are most often the sons and daughters of the older staff/Scientology public (and they are heavily recruited to staff because they are one of the few remaining recruit pools). I know I’m far from alone in making this observation — an age polarization has taken place in Scientology creating a wide gap. Now, that’s not so hard to spot but what about the omitted? What about the countless missing members from all the years in between? Where are they? As shocking as it may seem, it looks like we failed to make any meaningful number of Scientologists for the last twenty odd years (which is also the period of Miscavige’s utterly dominant reign by the way).
Now, another thing that shocks me about these numbers is that it seems very likely LRH had more members way back in 1953 than Scientology has now. Let me expand: In 1953, Birmingham in England had only a Dianetics group. But on page 339 of Tech Volume 1, LRH wrote that he travelled from London to Birmingham on 21st May 1953, to give a lecture to 100 attendees. He was very disappointed in the attendance but very happy with their obvious knowledge of Dianetics. But if you fast forward 50 years to 2003, Birmingham boasted one of the biggest Scientology orgs on the planet yet with all the modern forms of communication it struggled and I mean struggled to get 100 public attendees to ANY event, of ANY kind, at ANY time. What the …?
And how come after working for 14 hard years in Birmingham (before we returned to management in 2005) my wife and I managed to build the org up from nowhere to a level where it only just matched the size of London Foundation circa 1977 (nearly thirty years earlier) and it’s worse than that because in 2005 Birmingham was the only Class V Org in the UK of ANY real size.
And can anyone explain why my wife went to a tech briefing in Sacramento in 1977 at which there were more than a 1000 attendees (just a tech briefing) whereas you wouldn’t hear of a 1000 Scientologists gathering in the Sac area these days. I visited Sac Org in 2006 – it was dead.
And can anyone also explain how come I attended a Flag World Tour event in London in 1976 at which there were thousands present whereas I attended an important London event in 2003 for the benefit of both London Day and Foundation for which less than 90 showed up.
So in our zeal to correct obvious abuses lets not miss outpoints about the size of the Empire State Building — Scientology is puny and it is smaller now than at any time in its entire history, which is an outrage, but the facts and numbers don’t lie.
“But … but … what about the grand opening events for the big shiny new buildings where hundreds of people show up?” a few might ask. What? You mean like Dallas where my wife worked on the final stages of the building prep cycle for weeks and was at the opening event and reported that the number of Scientology members in Dallas was actually less than the average number I used in the above calculation and the big Dallas shiny new building was empty. And Madrid opening event where Miscavige forced Scientology church executives from all over Europe to attend to pad the numbers. I know because my wife and other execs from Birmingham were forced to fly there and consequently mingled with all the other attendees similarly press ganged.
These “grand openings” are staged to look great but after the event is over and rent-a-crowd departs all you are left with is an empty building, a handful of staff and less public than ever before.
And there is another colossal outpoint that goes hand in hand with all the above: an LRH rule and observation on book sales states that for every 25 books sold to the world at large a Scientologist is made. Through orgs and trade lines we have sold something like 50 million books out in the world over the years. That’s two million Scientologists. Where are they? And are they the missing members between the ages of twenty-something and fifty on up?
You could ask what the hell we have been doing for the last 60 years. But that would be an unfair question because it’s no secret that Scientology’s international stats crashed in the summer of 1990 and have not reverted twenty years on.
So the real questions are:
– What have we been doing for the last 20 plus years?
– Why are there fewer members now than at any time in our history?
– Where are the missing two million members?
– And above all, what factors underlie this terrible state of affairs?
Next, I’ll proffer some answers from my perspectivie.