Religion? Cult? Business setup in order to profit and nothing more? The relevance and legitimacy of Scientology is one of the more controversial topics one might think of, but it’s a recognized religion in the United States since 1993, which gives it a tax-exempt status. Turns out they got a lot of free publicity off of Google thanks to that status.
How much? Almost $6 million. In September 2014 it was reported that during an event held at the San Fernando Valley for Scientologists (all paying $100 or more to be there) those in attendance were told that Google has approved advertising grants totaling $5.7 million for Scientology churches around the country. Google didn’t comment on that matter, while the Church of Scientology didn’t make much of it, saying this: Google works with more than 20,000 nonprofits in over 50 countries. Unlike those pushing this story, Google is not bigoted or prejudiced against any religion.
There’s a transcript of that meeting, which was a fundraising event, with Brandy Harrison, Scientology’s Building Expansion Director doing the talking.
In the Bay Area a representative of Google was introduced to Scientology and our 4th dynamic campaigns through the Stevens Creek Ideal Org. This representative connected us up with the department responsible for non-profit advertisements. And as a result, Google awarded us a $10,000-a-month grant for free online advertising. But that’s not all because Google looked into the responses that we were getting from this advertisement, and they increased that grant to the Truth About Drugs and Way to Happiness campaigns, to $40,000 a month. But that’s not all. The second man, now with established Google teams solely for the Church of Scientology, suggested that we might want to extend the same grants to some of our class v orgs around the world. We applied, and now today, every ideal org in the United States has $10,000 a month of free online advertising. In fact, in total so far, we have had $5.7 million in Google grants already approved for our 4th dynamic campaigns in United States ideal orgs.
Maybe this is just another exaggeration from the Church of Scientology, often claiming they have millions of members, although surveys have shown there are only about 55,000 in the United States.While there has been no confirmation since, the advertising, or free advertising to be more exact, probably came from the Google Ad Grant programme, providing free advertising for non-profit organisations and charities.
As mentioned above, Scientology got its tax-exempt status in 1993, not without controversy, making it a religion (corporate owned) recognized by the government in an official and formal way. Before that, rulings by the court dismissed the idea that Scientology was a real religion, citing ‘the commercial character of much of Scientology, its ‘virtually incomprehensible financial procedures and its ‘cripturally based hostility to taxation.