The Church of Scientology claims that the concept of exchange is the reason for the church's "fixed donations" for all services. It's just not right to get something for nothing.
OK. Fair enough. Let's take a look at the Church of Scientology and exchange.
So what did Ron mean when he considered exchange in relation to Scientology services?
He arranged it so that, if you wanted a Scientology service, you needed to pay for it. If you wanted free auditing, you could volunteer to be a guinea pig for student auditing. That's pretty straightforward.
Hubbard never said he wanted anything more from people in exchange for his work. That was the way he set things up. That's the way he ran things. There's no reason to believe he wanted anything else.
What did Hubbard say about "contributing more"? In "An Open Letter to All Clears", he said:
In other words, if you thought you should do more, then join staff or otherwise work on various Scientology projects as needed. He never said anything to Scientologists about "give me more money". He never indicated to Scientologists that he thought they owed him more than they'd already paid.
If you wish to help, your first duty is to protect the repute of the state of Clear by exemplary conduct. Your second duty is to attain OT as soon as possible. Your third, if you wish to help, is to become part of the endeavour to clean up this sector of the universe and make it safe not only for ourselves but the billions of others who have been harmed.
But then L. Ron Hubbard died. And with him died that concept of exchange.
Now how are things run?
Yes, all Scientologists still must pay for any and all Church of Scientology services. The basic idea of "fixed donations" is still with us, although those prices have increased substantially. But that is only the beginning.
After Ron died, David Miscavige took over the church and made significant changes. One of the first changes was bringing in "pure donations". The idea was that Scientologists now had the obligation to give the Church of Scientology lots of money, for no exchange at all. This first fund was the International Association of Scientologists (IAS). But it wasn't long before this was expanded. There soon were many other Scientology "causes" that required Scientologists' pure donations: Super Power, the new buildings, CCHR and on and on. Now we had pressure to give and give with no exchange back to Scientologists.
It soon developed, in Miscavige's church, that Scientologists were considered "out-ethics" if they didn't contribute heavily to all these causes. Eventually, this became so bad that a person would be denied their next service if they hadn't "voluntarily" contributed enough to these funds.
And what about exchange? What about the all-holy concept of exchange?
Well, the party line from Miscavige is, if you're a Scientologist, you owe Hubbard big time. You owe Hubbard more than you can ever pay, for the wonderfulness of Scientology.
But wait! There are just a few problems with that:
- Hubbard never asked for that kind of donation. He set things up exactly as he wanted to. He defined what exchange he thought was correct and that's how it was while he was alive. He never, ever put that kind of it's-never-enough obligation on Scientologists.
- At one time, someone suggested the idea of pure donations to Ron. He immediately rejected the idea and, further, wrote specific directions forbidding the practice.
- Even more to the point, Hubbard isn't around. That money goes to Miscavige. Now, Miscavige did not create Scientology, so why should Scientologists pay millions to Miscavige for something Miscavige says is owed to Ron?
In fact, Miscavige is paid somewhere around $150,000.00 per year to run Scientology, where is his exchange? He pays nothing for his staff, his clothing, his food, his cars and motorcycles, his vacations, his many houses, his cigarettes, his whiskey ... he has no expenses. And, he controls millions and millions of dollars with very little accounting.
His job is to run the Church of Scientology correctly and well. It's his job to keep the church out of trouble. It's his job to boom Scientology. It's his job to run the church so it makes enough money selling its regular services that it doesn't have to come, hat in hand, to every Scientologist, begging for money!
If the church needs more money, it is Miscavige's job to boom the church and make that money. Hubbard made many disparaging remarks about "having to have before you can do," but that's Miscavige's story: Scientologists have to pay millions and millions to Miscavige before he can do his job! But, even when he has all that money, Miscavige fails.
- Under Miscavige's leadership, independent religious surveys have seen the church go from a very minor religion to virtually non-existent--too small to count.
- Under Miscavige's leadership, mistakes by the church have triggered the largest protests against Scientology in its entire history.
- Under Miscavige's leadership, the entire executive structure of the church has been destroyed. Previous leaders of the church have left or are now locked up.
- Under Miscavige's leadership, the image of the Church of Scientology has gone from "somewhat acceptable" to "really kooky cult".
- Under Miscavige's leadership, membership numbers have crashed. Existing members are leaving in largest-ever numbers and new recruits are virtually non-existent.
- Under Miscavige's leadership, reports of crimes and abuse by the church have gone up several orders of magnitude.
Exchange? David Miscavige is badly "out-exchange" with all current and former Scientologists, and with society.