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Funding drops for Irish Scientology branch

Revenues have taken a 150 per cent dive at the Irish branch of the controversial church – but just what is Scientology anyway?

US actor Tom Cruise, a well-known Scientologist, makes a speech during the official opening of a new Scientology church in central Madrid.
US actor Tom Cruise, a well-known Scientologist, makes a speech during the official opening of a new Scientology church in central Madrid.
Image: PAUL WHITE/AP/Press Association Images

FUNDING PROBLEMS HAVE arisen at the Irish branch of the Church of Scientology, which is now almost €700,000 in the red, according to its most recent accounts.

Financial documents lodged by the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin Ltd show that revenues have taken a 150 per cent dive, with operating surplus falling by 74 per cent, from €271,804 to €68,292, for the 12-month period to the end of April 2009.

The branch’s  situation non-executive director Gerard Ryan put the situation down the recession, the Irish Examiner reports. Ryan said that the financial report for 2010 have not yet been finalised.

What is Scientology?

The Church of Scientology was founded by the American science-fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in the 1950s and has become one of the most controversial spiritual movements of the last century. Although Scientology is a recognised religion in the United States, it has a significantly lower religious status in most European countries.

Scientologists believe that they are immortal souls, called thetans, which reincarnate. Members believe that they must undergo a form of spiritual counselling, called auditing, to re-experience and ultimately free themselves from the traumas of their past lives.

The secrecy surrounding some of the church’s practices has led to criticism, with detractors saying that the church defrauds members by charging exorbitant fees for services like auditing. Critics have said that some of the more controversial teachings, including the alleged belief that humans have lived on other planets in past lives, are not revealed until a member has reached the Upper Levels of the organisation – and has spent a lot of money doing so.

However, the church says that the intimate nature of spiritual counselling requires it to practice confidentially to protect members’ privacy.

As well as personal services for members, the church is also involved in humanitarian and active-citizenship activities and anti-drug advocacy. It teaches, controversially, that the practice of psychiatry is harmful and abusive.

Recently, a book about the church by journalist Janet Reitman, called Inside Scientology, in which she states that it “has the goods on everybody” has been dismissed as “full of inaccuracies” by the church, Reuters reports.

Read: Scientologists say Russia has lifted ‘extremist literature’ ban >

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