This post is part of my Doubt Formula at the step of examining the actions done by Int. Management and the Church of Scientology.
It is certainly not easy to find information about how many scientologists there are in the world today. The Church does not supply any readily accessible information and many of the obvious sources on the Internet are coming from people and websites who are in one way or another questioning the Church.
There are statistical sources to refer too, done by organizations or companies who specializes in demographic investigations and analysis of populations. These results are of course the best ones to use to validate what anyone is claiming – since it would be very unlikely that all of these organizations would have an invested interest in altering the numbers in either direction. (If you start thinking that then, I’m sorry to say, you are just being paranoid.) But this information is neither easy to obtain or for that matter to understand.
After having spent a few days, not only trying to find information, but also trying to validate the sources and interpret what I see and what is being said, I must say that I’m starting to feel a bit disgusted with the whole subject.
Why isn’t the Church just telling us how many scientologists there are?!
Why are they hiding or making it so hard to find that number? You can believe whatever you want about the Church, but if there is one thing we can all agree on, that is that the Church, or at least it’s highest Management, is very much aware of what is being said in the news and on the Internet. And the question of the number of scientologists in the world is one very hot topic!
It’s frankly embarrassing to be a scientologist and see how the Church just keep on dodging the question. If this information has such a high news value and a point of continuous PR problem – then why not just make sure that the number is published, in plain sight, on the official website of the Church? Why?
Any such an announcement, with a transparency on how that figure came to be and was calculated, would in an instance stop any further spreading of rumors. The Church would be standing strong and with integrity and anyone who wanted to, could look for themselves.
If this is the solution, then why doesn’t the Church just do it? It’s hardly complicated. Do they honestly not care or think it’s important? Or do they just brush it aside as something that only people with alternative motives and an interest in harming or attacking the Church would ask?
What is the Church saying?
As I said earlier, finding any official information is not easy. There are certainly indications that the Church is claiming that we are between 8-10 million scientologists in the world today. This is a number that is repeated throughout the Internet on different websites from news articles to critical websites questioning the Church – and I haven’t seen any information from the Church that contradicts that number or claiming it to be false.
8 million scientologists in the world
What I did find was an old article from the freedommag.org website. This is an online magazine published by the Church. When I found this page I took a screenshot of it because it’s interesting.
This article was published in 1997, you can see that by doing a little math from the information there.
In this article it’s being said that there where 8 million scientologists in the world at that time. It’s almost the exact same figure that’s being referenced today – a number that the Church at least is not denying.
Doing some more research I found this “What is Scientology?” video, see the bottom of this page , that is published by the Church. In this video there are a few statements, in relation to how many scientologists there are in the world, that are of interest.
4.4 million new people each year
On one of the slides in this video the Church is saying that we are “welcoming over 4.4 million new people each year” . And a bit later it’s being said that Scientology is a movement that is “growing faster today than anytime in history” .
Seeing this video and I’ve seen it several times, I at least, get the distinct impression that the Church is claiming that Scientology is growing with 4.4 million new people each year.
But if you look closer – they are actually not saying that. The only thing that is being said is that we are welcoming 4.4 million new people not necessarily new scientologists each year. This is just playing with words. If the Church indeed are in contact with 4.4 million new people each year then that doesn’t say anything about how many of these that actually do become interested and from that moment on call themselves scientologists – that number could, for all I know, be zero.
But the Church manage to balance on a very thin line. They paint a vivid picture of a world where the number of scientologists grow with 4.4 million new people each year, but at the same time they can maintain full deniability as they point out that this just happen to be the viewers interpretation.
I could actually be rather impressed by this, if it wasn’t for the fact that this kind of PR always backfires in the light of any kind of common sense.
10 000 Churches, Missions and Groups
The second slide from the video I want to talk about is stating that there are “more than 10 000 Churches, Missions and groups” . It’s also said that these groups exists across 167 nations.
At the official Scientology website you will find a page that lists all the current organizations which includes all the Churches, Missions, Test Centers and Advanced Organizations. If you scroll down a bit on that page and look to the left you will see some navigation with the headline Churches by region . Click on any of the links below and you will get a list of the organizations in that region. I took the time to count all of them and this is what I found:
- Churches: 141
- Missions: 345
- Test Centers: 5
- Advanced Organizations: 6
- In total: 497
I’m sorry to say, but that is a very long way from the 10 000 churches, missions and groups the Church is claiming in the video. What happened to the rest? If the Church is correct about the 10 000 we would then have 9 503 other types of groups. I do not understand what is counted.
Let’s look at this in another way. These 10 000 churches, missions and groups are supposed to exist over 167 nations. If we divide the 10 000 with 167 we get almost 60 groups in every country. I don’t know how it is in the rest of the world, but I do know that we do not have that many groups here in Sweden and not in Norway and not in Finland and not even in Denmark – even if we do have an Advanced Organization there.
For every country that dose not have that many groups these groups need to exist somewhere else. Two countries, USA and Russia, might have a lot of groups, but that is only two countries.
How many Scientologists are there in the world?
Well, as said before, it isn’t easy to find any confirmed numbers from the Church, but if we take into account the numbers we do have; 10 000 groups, 4.4 million new people and the old statement of 8 million scientologists, I think it is safe to assume that the Church will not argue against that there are 8-10 million scientologists in the world today.
But what does 8 million people mean?
We do know that there are 497 larger groups, like Churches and Missions in the world. If we divide 8 million with 497 we will get just over 16 000 scientologists around every organization. Yet again, I do not know about the rest of the world – but I do know about Sweden and here we have 3 Churches, one being the Ideal Org of Malmö. If these numbers are correct then we should, at least in theory, be more than 48 000 scientologists in Sweden, something we clearly are not. But if these people do not exist here then, yet again, they need to exist somewhere else.
For every Church or Mission that do not have these many members, these people need to exist somewhere else. So somewhere in the world there need to be huge Churches and Missions with several tens of thousands of people attending service and going up the Bridge.
But how come I’ve never heard about them? Of course some of these people could be active in these smaller groups that are just to small to count as Churches or Missions. But if we take 8 million people and dived these among 10 000 groups there should be 800 people around every single group !
It doesn’t matter how every you look at this – there is no way that there can be 8 million scientologists in the world today.
But I really want there to be 8 million Scientologists!
I do want to point one thing out here: I really, really, really do want to live in a world where there are 8 million scientologists. I am a scientologist and I believe in the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. But these numbers are just wrong and no organization that claims to follow a philosophy that is based on knowing and finding out truths about oneself and the world, can ever survive if they try to expand over a lie of this magnitude. People are not stupid, they will see that this isn’t true and then Scientology, this beautiful philosophy, will be ridiculed and disregarded as pure nonsense.
So, how many Scientologists are there in the world?
According to different demographic studies one can estimate that there are around 40 000 to 80 000 scientologists in the world today.
What do you think?
What do you think about all of this? How many scientologist would you estimate that there are in the world today or in the area where you live?
This is the movie produced by the Church that contains the data I analyze in this article. I actually like this video – apart from the fact that the numbers stated here are just not correct.