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Friday, June 6, 2008

A Look at "Exchange"

This is a hot item with the Church of Scientology: Exchange.

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:
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.
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.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
Exchange is seriously out. Scientologists are being forced to pay millions and they get nothing in return. They pay millions to Miscavige who did nothing to earn it. This violates this supposedly-key Scientology concept of exchange.

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.
The only things that Miscavige does do well are those fancy (and fanciful) event presentations. But don't look for any outside evidence for anything Miscavige says, don't go check for yourself. Those wonderful bits of Scientology news exist only in his big event presentations. If those events told the truth, there would be nothing to applaud. Miscavige has failed miserably.

Exchange? David Miscavige is badly "out-exchange" with all current and former Scientologists, and with society.


  1. Really insightful observations as usual. I really look forward to your posts. Not only are they entertaining but "really spot" on, to use the vernacular.
    Bunker Mentality? There's none of that here! Back to your porridge kids. Those events! That's the picture I get--the last days.

    Brown Limper

  2. Brown Limper

    What do you mean "Bunker Mentality"? Is that a slur against someone particular?

    General Public

  3. Hubbard did write to charge "whatever the traffic will bear," in his policy letter of November 11, 1969, titled "PROMOTION AND MOTIVATION".

    There is no lack of historical records which shows that while Hubbard was at the helm, the emphasis was also on bringing in as much money as possible. Miscavige (clumsily) just emphasized his way Hubbard's money making scheme.

  4. @r. hill

    Ah, yes, Hubbard certainly wanted to "make money, make more money, make others produce so as to make money..."

    And that attitude really has no place in any religion.

    And that's a really good point. I do appreciate your input.

    But that's really not the main point here. I really wanted to narrowly focus on the fact that the Church of Scientology makes such a big deal about their "holy" concept of "exchange" as the reason that they charge so much for their "services". But if that concept of "exchange" is so damn holy and so damn important, why do most of their actions violate the concept of exchange?!!!

    Miscavige shows a tremendously greedy lack of "exchange" when it comes to money. He is such a hypocrite!

  5. "Exchange" is an interesting topic, and you are asking interesting questions here. Since I began studying Scientology more in depth (some time after the Idle Org campaign began) I've marveled at how out-exchange so much of CoS fund raising is.

    As a contrast to DM, Catholicism's ecclesiastical leader, the Pope, receives no salary nor does he receive a commission on donations. Like DM his needs are all provided for (housing, food, clothing), but the Pope doesn't own the cars, buildings, etc.

    Unlike DM, he is constantly involved in actual religious work: liturgical work, studying/writing on theology, mending (metaphorical) fences and building (metaphorical) bridges.

    It seems like DM is more interested in how the church can benefit him, than in how it can facilitate him to serve its people, which I think should be the goal of any church or religious leader.

    I just started reading your blog, and am finding it very interesting reading indeed. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint!

  6. My question is, "Why do the faithful put up with it? A simple "No thank you," would put the madness to an end."
    If enough people just said "No", then the threat of justice actions or "no more service for
    you" would become meaningless.
    Scientologists have a right not to go into debt. They have a right not to refinance their home. They have a right to financial solvency. When will the public wake up?

    1. Yes they DO and they ARE free to say no. Maybe the current climate of the church makes it difficult, but definitely not impossible.


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