To the editor: Scientology is as authentic a religion as any of them. What is useful about modern religions like Scientology and Mormonism is that they have their roots documented, which makes investigating their origins a bit simpler. ("'Going Clear' filmmaker: Scientology abuses its tax-exempt status," op-ed, April 11)
Scientology and Mormonism have confidence men as their founders. The older religions have the same type of sources, humanity being what it is: glib speakers with a gift for gab, seeking a way to push all that exercise of hunting and gathering onto their listeners, who will do the legwork and present their fruits to the confidence men as a way to hear more of the imaginary world of the supernatural.
It's a long tradition stretching back to the Stone Age. And it still works.
Paul J. Burke, Palmdale
To the editor: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
That's the full text of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There is nothing in there about tax-exempt status for religious institutions. Actually giving churches tax exemption creates a law "respecting an establishment of religion," as religions get an advantage over other organizations.
Funds used for secular charitable work should be tax free. All other church income should be taxed.
Gary Fisher, Lake Forest
To the editor: Regarding "Going Clear" filmmaker Alex Gibney's opinion piece: Where is the petition to sign to end the tax-exempt status for the Church of Scientology? I want to sign it.
Kathleen Murphy, Newcastle, Wash.