Irish Church of Scientology revenues drop by 60%

Irish Times/August 2, 2011

Revenues have plummeted at the Irish branch of the controversial Church of Scientology, which remains deep in the red.

Membership of the worldwide church, established in 1954, includes movie stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

However, documents show that interest-free loans from abroad are propping up the Irish branch, which is more than €688,000 in the red in its latest accounts.

According to financial documents lodged by the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin Ltd, the company's revenues more than halved from €484,070 to €193,509 in 2009.

As a result of this 60 per cent drop, the church's operating surplus fell 74 per cent, from €271,804 to €68,292.

The accounts are for the 12-month period to the end of April 2009, but were only signed off by the board on July 20th last after a long delay by the company in lodging the return.

The last occasion the company filed accounts was in October 2008.

Last night the non-executive director of the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin, Gerard Ryan, blamed the recession for the drop in revenues. "We are not immune to the economic circumstances of the wider community and clearly this has impacted on our fundraising efforts," he said.

Mr Ryan said the church "raises funds by the sale of our scriptures in the form of books, audio recordings and DVDs. We also raise funds via the extensive study courses in our scriptures that we provide, and the spiritual counselling that lies at the heart of our practice."

He said the church's numbers in Ireland were "difficult to quantify, but it is several hundred, and there are more than last year".

Mr Ryan said the accumulated deficit "is largely due to a legal case some time back which lasted several years. We have been reducing the deficit year by year, and we expect to continue to do so."

He added: "I'm very confident that this can be continued."

Asked how the church performed from a financial point of view in 2010, Mr Ryan declined to say, stating that the accounts for 2010 were still not finalised.

The Irish branch is part of a global movement established by deceased US author L Ron Hubbard. It has more than 9,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups in 165 countries.

Scientologists believe Hubbard discovered the fundamental truths of existence and they revere him as "the source" of the religion.

Mr Ryan said: "I strongly believe that our church will continue to grow, both in Ireland and worldwide . . . Our growth in Ireland has been slow but steady, which is understandable in such an overwhelmingly Judaeo-Christian country."

Hubbard established a Dublin mission in 1958, but it closed in the early 1960s. However, in the early 1990s, Scientology established its current Irish base on Middle Abbey Street in Dublin.

The movement's directors, Ann-Marie Ryan, Siobhán Ryan and Gerard Ryan, confirm that "the deficit has been funded by loans from members of the Church of Scientology worldwide and other Church of Scientology missions".

The directors state that as there are no fixed repayment arrangements on the interest-free loans, they "will be repaid at the discretion of the directors when future cash resources permit, which in turn is dependent on generating future surpluses".

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