How Much Does Scientology Cost?

The Financial Expenses of Spiritual Development

Scientology is a set of beliefs that's on the fringe. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, only 25,000 Americans report that they are Scientologists.

The financial cost of Scientology depends upon how involved you plan to be. Some people buy nothing more than the book Dianetics. Others attend one or more classes at local churches. The Church of Scientology even offers some auditing services for free for those with financial need who are willing to be audited by a minister-in-training.

In these cases, Scientology is quite inexpensive.

Estimated Processing Costs to OT VIII

Scientologists who are interested in accomplishing the major goals of Scientology – to become Clear and develop their capabilities as Operating Thetans – can expect to invest heavily in their spirituality. Costs can vary considerably depending upon the needs of the individual, but a rough estimate suggests you’ll be paying $128,000 to reach Clear, another $33,000 to reach OT III, and an additional $100,000 to $130,000 to reach OT VIII, which is the highest level currently available.

Cheaper Alternative Through Co-Auditing

An alternative is to train with a study partner to become an auditor and participate in co-auditing. That is to say, you audit each other until both of you reach Clear. This is much more time intensive, probably taking many years to complete, but the price tag is much lower at about $50,000 to reach Clear.

The Church's Response to Criticisms

While many critics balk at the price tag, the Church points out that education, in general, is expensive, and it all boils down to priorities. Attending a good, four-year public college can easily run $40,000, while a private college can run more than $100,000. Critics often suggest that people entering Scientology are not made aware of the costs involved, yet the American Saint Hill Organization (ASHO), which trains auditors, today posts the costs on their website.

Ex-Scientologist Vance Woodward is known for his lawsuit against the Church, claiming that he was psychologically manipulated and that the organization ripped him off of $600,000 from 2007-2010.

The Church's Earnings

Given the high cost to members, what does the Church's balance sheet look like? According to a 2015 article on Fortune.com, Jeffrey Augustine, author of the blog The Scientology Money Project, says the church has a book value of $1.75 billion. Approximately $1.5 billion of that is in real estate, primarily at its headquarters in Clearwater, FL and in Hollywood, CA. The Church also owns property in New York, London, and Seattle, as well as other locales.

Based on conversations with former Scientology officials, Augustine estimates that the church collects annual revenues of about $200 million, About $125 million comes from selling auditing services to its members, and the remainder comes in the form of donations. Augustine estimates that much of the money that comes in is spent on legal defense of the church.

The Church of Scientology's Tax-Exempt Status

The documentary Going Clear taxes on Scientology’s tax-exempt status, which was awarded by the IRS in 1993. The film alleges that the Church engaged in a campaign against the IRS for many decades, which included filing dozens of lawsuits against the IRS and its workers, and hiring fake journalists to dig up incriminating information about IRS employees.

The Church fully disputes the claim.

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Beyer, Catherine. "How Much Does Scientology Cost?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2017, thoughtco.com/how-much-does-scientology-cost-95805. Beyer, Catherine. (2017, August 22). How Much Does Scientology Cost? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-much-does-scientology-cost-95805 Beyer, Catherine. "How Much Does Scientology Cost?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-much-does-scientology-cost-95805 (accessed November 19, 2017).