Originally Posted by Pablo Rafael
I must confess that I am not very well aquainted with many details about the church of Scientology even though I worked right across the street from its headquarters in LA. (A hideous blue-painted building).
I know that there are many levels of Scientology and a person must work to ever higher levels. Working up the ladder is very expensive. "Religions" that require people to spend money and are founded and run by one person or small group always make me nervous.
Is Scientology a large group? I always assumed it had just a few followers.
In terms of actual numbers of Scientology Parishoners it is very tricky to pin down a number. CoS lies so often it'd make your head spin, and they most certainly lie about their numbers. They regularly claim to have over 8 million members worldwide, however there is nothing even remotely similar to that in terms of census results. Math is not my forte, so take my estimate with a few pounds of salt, but my guess would be they have somewhere between 1 and 2 million members.
The real danger to the general public is not their numbers as much as it is their wealth. As you mentioned, they operate like a business, charging for courses and materials to advance in their faith. They are however classified as a relgious organization and are therefore tax exempt in the United States. The deal they cut with the IRS to get this status is very shady.
Furthermore their influences can be seen in far more places than one might think, including several front groups, which act as "charities" but in reality do very little except to promote the agenda of the "Church" of Scientology. Some of these larger groups include: Narconon, The Citizens Commission on Human Rights, Criminon, and WISE (not the potato chips).
The issue with these, and many other of their so called "charitable" organizations is they frequently target people in vulnerable situations in need of help, and attempt to get more members into the CoS. If you ever see a "Free Stress Test" table on the streets, that is Scientology attempting to recruit.