Viability of the Scientology Business

Freeminds

Bitter defrocked apostate
Today I’ve been musing on the long-term future of the group of businesses collectively known as the ‘Church’ of Scientology, and indeed on the future of other groups and individuals that offer Scientology services. Here, I present my thoughts, and I’d be interested to hear yours.

For the purposes of this analysis, I’m not discussing the morals of Scientologists, nor the plausibility of the ‘science’ at its heart. Instead, I’m trying to study the viability of the business empire, in isolation. There are plenty of other articles – and threads right here on ESMB – that discuss all the claims such as war hero status for Hubbard, thetans, being demonstrably ‘clear’, having OT powers and so on... this is just about the commercial operation.

So: what does any business need?

1. Unique selling proposition,
2. Liquidity,
3. Reputation, and preferably...
4. Ability to expand

Let’s take each of those one at a time.

1. Unique selling proposition

A business needs a unique selling proposition. It needs to differentiate itself from all the rival ‘solutions’ that exist out there. You might control patents to vital technology, or have better staff, or be situated in a more convenient location... but you need to offer something different, to stand out from the crowd.

The field of self-help services remains highly lucrative, but it’s also very crowded. There are books, hypnosis tapes, ‘complimentary’ medicine practitioners, therapists, groups and so on... Scientology is just one potential choice among a growing number. Perhaps the most damning thing here is that Scientology doesn’t offer anything new. The ‘source’ has been dead for a quarter of a century, and a misogynist ‘tech’ that claimed to hold a cure for Cold War worries such as radiation burns doesn’t really address 21st century problems.

The Freezone’s unique selling proposition is either (a) that cheapzone auditing is a less expensive alternative to auditing within the ‘Church’... or (b) that the ‘Church’ is using corrupted methods that don’t work. By falling back upon pre-80’s Scientology methods, the Freezone actually makes itself less relevant to the populace than the squirrelly version found in the Miscavige cult. One thing that the FZ has omitted, in their rose-tinted version of Hubbardism is the recognition that Hubbard was always altering things whenever it was expedient to do so. In effect, he was the greatest squirrel of them all.

Neither the ‘Church’ nor the Freezone actually have much of a unique selling proposition anymore, as a result of all the leaks, from Scamizdat onwards, plus the documentaries and news reports that have told the general public just enough about Scientology that they have apparently decided they don’t care to learn any more. Those who learn about Space Opera are ‘inoculated’ against Scientology.

If we subscribe, momentarily, to the nonsense that Scientology is some kind of ‘religion’, we might say that Scientology’s unique selling proposition is that it is the only route to salvation. This is, of course, a common ‘selling point’ that has been employed by real religions for centuries.

Which means it isn’t unique. “We are the only route to eternal life” is an inevitable claim, and one that the 21st century populace are increasingly unlikely to fall for. Heard it too many times before! Also, if we press the analogy that Scientology is some kind of faith (laughs) once more, we might say that the Freezone is like a form of Protestantism: it rejects the idea that one must rely on the monolithic structure of the ‘Church’ to intercede on your behalf, to give you salvation in exchange for your tithes while you remain ignorant of the workings of the ‘tech’. This is like people trained by the church in Rome doing mysterious things in Latin. For centuries now, we’ve had the printing press, and bibles printed in native languages such that you can study it for yourself, instead of relying on the mysterious wizard/priest/shaman/rabbi doing it on your behalf.

What started with Gutenberg continues with the Internet: you can take the holy scripture (or Hubbard spew, in this case) and study it for yourself. Which means, quite simply: the unique selling proposition no longer exists.

2. Liquidity

All businesses need liquidity. It doesn’t matter how much you’re worth, on paper... if you can’t pay your bills, you’re ruined. Even if you own patents and trademarks all over the world.

The ‘Church’ of Scientology has a lot of cash, and a lot of fixed assets too, courtesy of the Ideal Org scam. Paradoxically, it also suffers from a lack of liquidity in a strange way that no other business has ever exhibited. I can’t think of any other business that would sit on a pile of cash, while simultaneously knowing that most of its customer-facing outlets don’t have sufficient liquidity. We’ve seen bizarre situations where those performing supposedly important functions (promoting and delivering Scientology services) aren’t paid – even at the deplorably low level that they are promised – while the paying public find themselves receiving expensive services in buildings where the management can’t or won’t run the air conditioning. Much of the cash that Scientology does still rake in appears to be expended upon PR stunts, legal fees, and sizable out-of-court settlements. Boondoggle projects like the laughably overdue and over-budget ‘Super Power’ Building soak up still more, as does operating the Freewinds as a private yacht for COB.

Scientology’s liquidity problems will become catastrophic, branch by branch, when each has a judgment against them. This could be for back taxes, or perhaps as the result of a court case for minimum wage, brought by a former victim. The strategy of never passing money back downwards, requiring that any refunds or payments are made from new income, means that the highly lucrative Scientology ‘Church’ actually performs like an ailing business, even though it has huge reserves. I see this hastening the end of organised Scientology far more swiftly than any external factor, such as Anonymous, Nick Xenophon, Anderson Cooper or anything else. Eventually, we’re left with nothing but an asthmatic dwarf sitting on a pile of money, surrounded by a very few henchmen, with no purpose and no plan. This is no less an end to Scientology than outright bankruptcy.

Liquidity in the Freezone is largely irrelevant, since the Freezone is effectively a gaggle of cottage industries. Effectively, it fails to act in a businesslike manner... which is bizarre because Scientology, as designed by LRH, was first and foremost a business. Still, if you operate out of your own home, while no longer forwarding incomes ‘up-lines’, you can probably afford to survive for a long, long time. It seems likely that some Freezone entrepreneurs will still be solvent and practising after organized Scientology has ceased to exist. (See part 4, though.)

3. Reputation

Businesses live or die by their reputation – unless they have a rock-solid monopoly. Scientology does not have any such monopoly, as we established under ‘unique selling proposition’, so how is their reputation?

It’s never been worse. Scientology has been churning out disaffected members for half a century, of course, but the terrible image they have in the eyes of the general public is relatively new. The death of Lisa McPherson, while supposedly in the ‘care’ of Scientology was a pivotal moment, at least insofar as she has become the ‘poster child’ of Scientology’s more recent critics. In truth, she is only one of dozens of people who died younger than they might have done, as a result of Hubbardism... but the damage is undeniable.

Respectability has always eluded Scientology. Endorsements from celebrities have provided publicity, which is not the same as the bricks-and-mortar solidity it needed. At worst, it got nothing but notoriety, such as in Tom Cruise’s couch-jumping antics. In recent years, all media scrutiny has been uncomfortable for Scientology. Some speculate that this is because it’s now become ‘safe’ to criticise the cult, which it certainly wasn’t in the days of Paulette Cooper’s article and book. Certainly, it’s a lot easier to write a critical article now, given the growing number of people who are prepared to tell their stories of life within the cult. The New Yorker’s meticulous article is a useful indicator here, although it contained no huge revelations.

The Freezone contribution to Scientology’s reputation has been to rubbish it further, although I’m sure this was not the intention. For example, Mike Rinder says David Miscavige beat his staff. Tommy Davis says that it was Rinder who was responsible for the beatings... Who cares? Regardless of what is true here, the general public take away exactly one snippet of information from this tit-for-tat exchange: there are beatings in Scientology.

That’s all it takes. Mud sticks. In the eyes of the public, Scientology is an abusive cult. Even Scientologists understand that their name is mud now, and try not to mention Scientology when they’re giving the Oxford Capacity Analysis.

Ain’t nobody new wants to get involved with Scientology. Not anymore.

4. Ability to expand

It doesn’t matter whether you’re washing somebody’s windows, clipping their pets’ fur, or auditing away their body thetans... 21st century management theory says that your business can’t grow if the limiting factor is you.

Lots of people manage to set up their own small business, and good luck to them... but working hard to get your business through the early years needs to transition into something where you can ease off. Nobody is healthy forever.

Hubbard understood this: “Make money. Make more money. Make other people produce so as to make more money.” (HCO Policy Letter, 9 March 1972, MS OEC 384)

Make other people produce. This is patently something that doesn’t happen in the Freezone. If a person has influence over a few former Scientology victims, he might find himself doing a little bit of Cheapzone auditing... but there isn’t any structure that would allow growth of the kind that used to happen in the ‘Church’ of Scientology. If somebody else produces, they keep the cash. This would appear to doom the Freezone to remain a cottage industry, where any growth can only lead to increasing fragmentation – and also price-based competition.

As we have seen under ‘reputation’ previously, there is now no potential for growth in the ‘Church’ of Scientology. In fact, we see it shrinking at something like 11 people per day in the USA (figure based on the difference between adherent numbers in the two most recent ARIS surveys) so maybe 20 per day, worldwide. This also provides an upper limit for Freezone recruitment, since it seems nobody enters the Freezone other than as a former victim of the ‘Church’. (Well, maybe a very few children of younger Freezoners?)

The modern economic model is geared towards growth (and inflation – and you can see what the shrinkage in Scientology membership has led to, in terms of inflation in demanded donations)... and obviously, in the absence of any membership growth, the number of people who might one day become Zoners is limited to the total number of present-day Scientology victims. This is probably enough to keep Marty Rathbun going for a while, but it’s not going to provide him with enough cash to declare war on the psychiatrists any time soon.

In conclusion:

Neither Scientology nor Independent Scientology appear to present what would normally be considered a viable business model in the long-term, although the former’s huge cash reserves and the latter’s low cost-base as a ‘cottage industry’ mean that they are unlikely to completely disappear any time soon. Still, the growth phase ended a long time ago. Scientology peaked, and is now slipping into obscurity. Nobody's name got "smashed into history." Not permanently.

Both 'Church' and Freezone are in the doldrums. Remaining adherents will find themselves bypassed and surpassed by those who make an entirely clean break from Scientology, to enjoy more spending money, more free time, more personal freedom – and better mental health!

(But I’d love to know what you think.)
 

Div6

Crusader
"Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."
— Eric Hoffer (The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements)


I think this holds true for most all religions, who have lost the proper significance of their teachings. Scn. Inc is no different, they are just ahead of the curve, on a downward spiral with jets attached.........
 

Gadfly

Crusader
"Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."
— Eric Hoffer (The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements)

I think this holds true for most all religions, who have lost the proper significance of their teachings. Scn. Inc is no different, they are just ahead of the curve, on a downward spiral with jets attached.........

Great analogy! :thumbsup:

I hope that a very strong tailwind adds to its already rapid descent into oblivion.

++++++
 

HelluvaHoax!

Platinum Meritorious Sponsor with bells on
The basic business model is quite good...

Priests with cash registers.

But, Scientologist have to change their approach a little.

It seems that chaining customers to the cash register and screaming at them is not correctly surveyed.

Better they do a new survey and ask Scientologists a direct question so they are sure to know what to promise them. Something like...

What lie could i tell you that you would believe enough to give me all your time and all your money?
 

Moosejewels

Patron Meritorious
Better they do a new survey and ask Scientologists a direct question so they are sure to know what to promise them. Something like...

What lie could i tell you that you would believe enough to give me all your time and all your money?

____________________________

That is good ! :thumbsup:
 
Unless they can leverage their exstablished brands into a market which will attract customers, such as a UFO themed Xenu Donut Shop franchise or UFO themed Xenu Amusement Parks, I can't see much left of the business. There isn't much need these days for a batshit crazy UFO cult that uses obsolete 1950s pop psychology to suck in victims.
 

Freeminds

Bitter defrocked apostate
Unless they can leverage their exstablished brands into a market which will attract customers, such as a UFO themed Xenu Donut Shop franchise or UFO themed Xenu Amusement Parks, I can't see much left of the business. There isn't much need these days for a batshit crazy UFO cult that uses obsolete 1950s pop psychology to suck in victims.

Damn. Why couldn't I write it so succinctly?
 

Auditor's Toad

Clear as Mud
Scientology never workes as a business. It was a vehicle whereby Hubbard made off with as much as a million a week for himeself - but the orgs? The staff? It never worked.

And for the PCs? No clears. No OTs. It never worked.

Bottom line. It is a turd................at best.
 

xseaorguk

Patron Meritorious
a bit off topic, bu just occurred to me while reading this thread that it would be a brilliant idea to make a film out of the life of Lisa Mcpherson.
Just imagine getting a good actress to play her, how she attested clear and was doing fine and then the last 17 days of her life, being treated as 'type 3' and kept against her will locked in a room, it would make a fantastic movie.
Sorry if that is disrespectful of Lisa M., as I don't intend to.
RIP Lisa Mcpherson
 

Auditor's Toad

Clear as Mud
a bit off topic, bu just occurred to me while reading this thread that it would be a brilliant idea to make a film out of the life of Lisa Mcpherson.
Just imagine getting a good actress to play her, how she attested clear and was doing fine and then the last 17 days of her life, being treated as 'type 3' and kept against her will locked in a room, it would make a fantastic movie.
Sorry if that is disrespectful of Lisa M., as I don't intend to.
RIP Lisa Mcpherson

Doing fine? How soon after she was told she could attest to clear was the car accident ?

And I've wondered how the " CS " watching her session via CCTV decided she was "clear" and then how did it happen managed to "originate" she was " clear".

That probably made more than a few people curious how what the CS "thought" the PC oh so soon - as if on cue -"originated" right out of the blue. Really?
...

Just another murder done by the rulers in scientology that was done, covered up, and gotten away with. Not the first and most likely hardly the last.
 
yeh, yeh, yeh...

Scientology never workes as a business. It was a vehicle whereby Hubbard made off with as much as a million a week for himeself - but the orgs? The staff? It never worked.

And for the PCs? No clears. No OTs. It never worked.

Bottom line. It is a turd................at best.

i hear you and mystic too.

fo my own part, i am exceedingly pleased with the auditor training i received and my experience as staff staff auditor at fcdc. i wish could recommend it. as a practical matter i would no more send someone into CoS than tell a horny dude to get a blowjob from a cannibal.




but there is viable valuable virtuous vital vibrant vittles to be had if it is done in consonance with it's own ideals, the hippocratic oath, the bill of rights and the wisdom of scripture by men and women of good will

and...

just because you do not have "OT" experience it does not negate my own
 

anonomog

Gold Meritorious Patron
..........
It seems that chaining customers to the cash register and screaming at them is not correctly surveyed.
..........

I can't imagine why this wouldn't work.:confused2:
Maybe they should start inviting people to events and locking the doors until they get the required funds...
oh wait---

So this business has a product that doesn't work, it is staffed by slaves including child slaves and ridiculed by 98% of the population who have actually heard of the business.
It steals their customer's money, breaks up customer's family ties and relationships, blackmails any customer who is disatisfied and blames the customer for making the product fail. It stalks customers with spam and brochures and late night phonecalls and insist they buy the next product.

It also calls itself a religion.

Wow, what a prospect, where do I sign up?



Freeminds, your analysis is interesting, imo the business would never have got off the ground like it did without the slave labour and client extortion.

But there will always be people looking for that "something", that special elixir that will make them better, richer, more powerful than everyone else and will be willing to swallow anything in order to achieve it.

If Sci went under, (and I have my doubts in the near term simply because of the large amount of real estate that it owns apart from the cash reserves) another thing will spring up to fill its place. It never ceases to amaze me how very intelligent individuals feel the need to thow up all their self knowledge and follow some crackpot in a guru suit.

If the Indies lost all mention of Scientology and LR Hubbard in their promotional pieces I think they could get another business growing and thriving really quickly. And they would be able to fulfill all your points at least in the beginning.

But the internet has pretty much screwed any chances of anything associated with Scientology to thrive. The reputation is just too bad.
 

Auditor's Toad

Clear as Mud
i hear you and mystic too.

fo my own part, i am exceedingly pleased with the auditor training i received and my experience as staff staff auditor at fcdc. i wish could recommend it. as a practical matter i would no more send someone into CoS than tell a horny dude to get a blowjob from a cannibal.

and...

just because you have no "OT" experience doesn't negate my own

but there is viable valuable virtuous vital vibrant vittles to be had if it is done in consonance with it's own ideals, the hippocratic oath, the bill of rights and the wisdom of scripture by men and women of good will


Are you saying that per the EPs listed on the published Grade Chart that you can demonstrate those EPs ?

As I understand it, you can collect one million dollars US for demosstrating OT abilites - have you done that?

Or, as I most suspect you have a most wonderful imagination and like all other self proclaimed OTs are completely short of any demonstratable proof other than what you " dfeel in your universe".

Are you ready to prove what you say?
 
aaah...

Are you saying that per the EPs listed on the published Grade Chart that you can demonstrate those EPs ?

As I understand it, you can collect one million dollars US for demosstrating OT abilites - have you done that?

Or, as I most suspect you have a most wonderful imagination and like all other self proclaimed OTs are completely short of any demonstratable proof other than what you " dfeel in your universe".

Are you ready to prove what you say?

i came up with a half way decent line the other day.

i guess you missed it.

so i'll rerun it.

those who call for Proof will never understand the invention of the motion picture camera did not steal fom the child, the old man and old woman, the enlightened and The Friend the privilege of watching the butterfly emerge from the cocoon
 

HelluvaHoax!

Platinum Meritorious Sponsor with bells on
those who call for Proof will never understand the invention of the motion picture camera did not steal fom the child, the old man and old woman, the enlightened and The Friend the privilege of watching the butterfly emerge from the cocoon


Good point.

It is silly to ask for proof when the existence of OT is a self-evident truth, right?

The key word is "self".

When you OT's are not just OT "on the 1st Dynamic" let us know, we'll line up to watch and do whatever you say.
 

Auditor's Toad

Clear as Mud
i came up with a half way decent line the other day.

i guess you missed it.

so i'll rerun it.

those who call for Proof will never understand the invention of the motion picture camera did not steal fom the child, the old man and old woman, the enlightened and The Friend the privilege of watching the butterfly emerge from the cocoon

Yes, a butterfly emerges from a cocoon. demonstratable fact. Seen it. Believe it. Has happened many many times, And it is reproduceable.

Now for your alleged " OT " abilities. " OT " is described by Hubbard. The EP of each OT level is described on the Grade Chart, by Hubbard. Now, either you can or can not demonstrate the state of "OT" as defined by Hubbard.

You say you can, so rather than double talk and slip and slide why go collect the one million dollar prize offered by demonstrating what you post here you can do?

Can you do what claim or not?
 

HelluvaHoax!

Platinum Meritorious Sponsor with bells on
Unless they can leverage their exstablished brands into a market which will attract customers, such as a UFO themed Xenu Donut Shop franchise or UFO themed Xenu Amusement Parks, I can't see much left of the business. There isn't much need these days for a batshit crazy UFO cult that uses obsolete 1950s pop psychology to suck in victims.


Cool!!

I would like to license the Xenu rights for kids, kinda like the billion dollar Hello Kitty marketing bonanza!

I'm calling it Hello Xenu!

It will have cute little action figures and video games for pre-schoolers who try to help Xenu escape from the mountain prison where he is trapped by an eternal battery.


JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WHY DIDN'T I WALK OUT THE DOOR WHEN I READ THE WORDS "ETERNAL BATTERY"??? THAT IS SO INSANELY STUPID!!! FUCKINGCRINGE!!!!!!!!!!
 

Auditor's Toad

Clear as Mud
Look, I know people drink the koolaid and think they got " Clear " or " OT "
from scientology.

Standing out in the light of day outside the cult the state of
" Clear " does not exist as definited by L Ron Hubbard in DMSMH - it just does not exist and no one has ever been able to demonstarte they have achieved any such thing.

' OT " is defined by L Ron Hubbard and the EP for each OT level is stated on the Grade Chart. And not one person has been able to stand up and demonstrate any of those abilities.

And, bear in mind on this " Bridge to Total Freedom " on which the " church claims some 8 million members that by their own count less than 2, 000 have made it "up" the bridge through OT VIII ( nevermind precious few of those of still 'active' in the cult ).

Someone have " wins & gains " ? Absolutely ! I believe 'em !

But did anybody get the promised " clear" or ' OT " ? No. Hell No.

Please do not the koolaid:duh:
 
One distinct (and wholly undeserved) advantage the cult enjoys over its competitors in the self-help industry, at least in the United States, is that its products & services are tax deductible to the buyer (at least to those parishioners who employ Schedule A itemization on their tax returns).

Of course, sadly, this advantage extends to the seller as well, for the Church of Scientology pays neither income taxes nor normal commercial property tax levies on its many properties. Most municipalities and counties in the U.S. grant extraordinarily generous property tax concessions to non-profit entities. It is a travesty that taxpayers in these counties are obliged to subsidize this criminal and worthless Scientology rubbish.



Originally Posted by Auditor's Toad:
Doing fine? How soon after she was told she could attest to clear was the car accident ?

Lisa attested to Clear on 7 September 1995. Her car accident occurred 72 days later, on 18 November.
 
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