Dear Senator Cardin,
As a Senator for the State of Maryland, in which I reside, and as a member of the US Senate Finance Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, I would like to request that you question the IRS on why they continue to allow the Church of Scientology to remain a 501(c)(3) entity based on their extremely horrendous record on human rights.
In 1989, the US Supreme Court made an explicit ruling in the Hernandez v. Commissioner case stating that payments made for auditing and/or training services within the Church of Scientology amounted to a quid pro quo arrangement and therefore, do not meet the deductibility requirements as set forth in Internal Revenue Code 170.
Four years later, in 1993, and after the Church of Scientology mounted massive legal threats not only to the IRS as a whole, but to its individual agents, the IRS settled with the Church of Scientology and allowed them to achieve their coveted tax-exempt status. The IRS Commissioner at the beginning of the negotiations, Fred Goldberg, was compelled to settle with this organization in order to make the lawsuits just go away, according to public testimony by Mark Rathbun, a former high ranking official within the organization at the time who was second in command in the Church of Scientology and who was present at these meetings.
Therefore, the IRS went against an explicit ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, the final arbiter of the law in our nation. I fail to understand how the IRS can justify ignoring an official ruling by the Supreme Court.
The gross violations of human rights by the Church of Scientology are too numerous to list, but I believe even a cursory review of the available testimony from former members will show that their tax-exempt status has allowed them to accumulate approximately 3 billion dollars in assets, much of which is funneled to building “churches”, which largely remain empty, and which they use to harass and intimidate anyone who decides to leave the church and speak out about the horrific conditions they were placed in by this organization, which in many cases, include children and others brought to the US from other countries under religious work visas (which the organization will hold to prevent them from leaving) in what amounts to what I consider to be the textbook definition of human trafficking. There is also an inurement issue with the leader of this church living very well while his staff and higher ranking members of this organization (called the “Sea Org”) work up to 16 hours per day for 7 days per week for only $50 per week, sometimes even less.
This is all done with tax-exempt money, which I, as a tax-payer, am technically subsidizing. That does not sit well with me. I do not wish to subsidize an organization (labeled by most observers as a destructive “cult”) that engages in practices such as this.
I understand that we have religious freedom in this country and for that, I am grateful. I agree that everyone has a right to believe in whatever they wish to believe in. However, no one has a right to act as they wish, especially if those actions violate so many basic tenets of human dignity and human rights. This organization that calls itself a “church” uses a series of threats to force members to stay loyal to this organization or to stay silent about what they suffered if they decide to leave (called their “Fair Game” policy, the aims of which is to ruin the lives of anyone who dares to speak out about their abusive practices). I do not appreciate subsidizing the silencing of victims.
As a member of the committee for IRS oversight, you have the ability to ask the IRS to look into this organization’s 501(c)(3) status, therefore, I believe you also have the responsibility to ask them to look into this agreement that the IRS made, an agreement that went against a prior Supreme Court ruling, an agreement that the Church of Scientology, based on survivor testimony, violates on a consistent basis, if not daily. The members of this “church” need your help, even if some the most “loyal” members don’t realize it yet, and I am sincerely asking that you consider helping them escape this psychological prison, especially the children who are born into and/or raised in this organization, through no choice of their own.
The criminal actions, the criminal cover-ups to protect their organization (even at the cost of justice for victims who were abused in the most horrific manner), the silencing of victims, the harassment and destructive actions against those who speak out, the human trafficking, the tearing apart of families, and many other despicable actions they take must be stopped.
I have never been associated with the Church of Scientology, nor do I personally know anyone who has been associated with them. However, I’ve heard the testimony from a number of individuals who all corroborate the same story, which is that the Church of Scientology is a destructive organization determined to “destroy utterly” the lives of those who have been victimized as a result of their association with this organization and wish to inform others of the dangers of associating with this “church”.
That is why I am so passionate to see these abuses come to an end, both as a human being who is compassionate about their plight, and as a tax-payer who is outraged that I, as a citizen, am subsidizing this type of behavior, allowing it to fester in our country.
As your constituent, I ask you to please consider my humble request to look into this issue and ask the IRS to reexamine this 1993 agreement, for the sake of those still trapped in this organization, many of whom fear leaving this “church” and thus risking the wrath of a multi-billion dollar behemoth operating under the guise of a “religion.”
As a side note, I wish you well in the upcoming election this year.
With all sincerity,