In the United States of America, every Church of Scientology and all related social betterment activities have been recognized as tax-exempt and organized exclusively for charitable purposes.
Following a two-year examination of unprecedented scope and depth, encompassing all the Church’s worldwide operations, the IRS issued ruling letters on 1 October 1993, recognizing the tax-exempt religious and charitable status of the Church of Scientology International, the Mother Church of the Scientology religion, and 150 affiliated Churches, missions and social betterment organizations—all distinct and separate. The IRS also recognized the charitable and religious status of the International Association of Scientologists, a membership organization open to all Scientologists from all nations.
In this exacting review, conducted under the supervision of the most senior government officials over exempt organizations, the IRS concluded that the Church is operated exclusively for religious and charitable purposes.
The United States Government’s ruling establishes that: (1) Scientology is a bona fide religion; (2) the Churches of Scientology and their related charitable and educational institutions are operated exclusively for recognized religious purposes; (3) the Churches of Scientology and their related charitable and educational institutions operate for the benefit of the public interest rather than the interests of private individuals; and (4) no part of the net earnings of these Churches of Scientology and their related charitable and educational institutions inures for the benefit of any individual or non-charitable entity.
The IRS also determined that the Church of Scientology qualifies as a “church” under criteria that require the existence of an established religious doctrine, religious literature and religious history, the qualification and ordination of ministers, and a religious community of believers.
Ministers of the religion are also entitled to immigration status as clerics by the U.S. State Department and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) decisions finding that Scientology is a bona fide religion. Scientology is officially recognized as a religion throughout the United States by federal, state and local governments.
Scientology has also been unequivocally recognized as a religion in judicial decisions in the United States. For over forty-five years, in case after case, U.S. Courts have consistently held that Scientology is a bona fide religion and that its beliefs and practices are religious in nature and protected under the U.S. Constitution. Case in point: in September 1993, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reviewed every judicial decision on record in the U.S. since the inception of Scientology and determined the undisputed facts:
“No genuine factual issues exist to dispute [that Scientology is] a bona fide religion.”
Likewise, in January 1983, in Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, DC v. Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States District Court, District of Columbia, ruled:
“The Church of Scientology must be treated the same as any established religion or denominational sect within the United States, Catholic, Protestant or other.”
The United States has thus determined that the Church of Scientology is organized exclusively for religious and charitable purposes. This official recognition is especially significant, as the United States is the seat of the Church’s highest ecclesiastic body and central operations, as well as the largest single Church of Scientology in the world, which is the spiritual headquarters of the Scientology religion for all Scientologists. Under these circumstances the decision of the United States to completely recognize and accept the religion should therefore be afforded great weight.