It’s hard to know exactly how much money Tom Cruise‘s secretive church rakes in every year. Following a potentially destructive class-action suit and intense scrutiny from the U.S. government, the Church of Scientology has done everything in its power to make its finances untraceable and unassailable. But Portfolio spoke to former Scientologists familiar with the Church’s finances to come up with an estimate of its revenue.
Portfolio: [T]he group has reportedly spread its revenues—and its liability—among a vast array of independent trusts, corporations, and nonprofits. All are reportedly tightly controlled by David Miscavige, a second-generation Scientologist who has run the church since the 1986 death of its founder, science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard…
Ok. So how do those organisations get their money:
- Fundraising: According to a former Scientologist, a single 2007 event in the U.K. helped pay for dozens of new buildings and fuelled a two-week pledge drive that netted nearly $50 million. The biggest recent U.S. gift was reportedly a $7.5 million donation from Nancy Cartwright, who does the voice of Bart Simpson. Other major donors include Tom Cruise, who’s given an estimated $25 million over the years, Kirstie Alley, and Jenna Elfman. Estimated revenue: $50 million to $100 million
- Membership Fees: Scientology boasts hundreds of organisations, centres, and missions around the world, which charge fees to members. (Followers also pay to be “cleared” of their problems via counseling sessions known as auditing, which average $500 an hour.) In something akin to a franchise model, the centres send 12.5 per cent of such fees to Scientology’s management arm. The biggest chunk comes from the Flag Service organisation, the church’s largest centre, in Clearwater, Florida. Estimated revenue: $400 million
- Consulting: A web of church-related groups promotes the principles of L. Ron Hubbard. One licenses his management doctrines to small-business owners, particularly dentists and chiropractors, who pay fees in return. A portion of those licensing fees goes to a separate entity, which holds the copyrights to Hubbard’s works and which some ex-Scientologists claim is connected to the church itself. Estimated revenue: $50 million
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