Readers React: Scientology deserves its tax exemption
To the editor: Alex Gibney appears trapped in his own prison of bias when he wrongly asserts that the Church of Scientology did not deserve IRS recognition of its tax-exempt status in 1993. The truth is the Church underwent the most exhaustive IRS scrutiny of any applicant in history to be recognized. (“‘Going Clear’ filmmaker: Scientology abuses its tax-exempt status,” op-ed, April 11)
As the church’s longtime outside tax counsel, I am familiar with everything that transpired during the administrative proceedings that led to the 1993 IRS settlement; Gibney has no clue. Not only does the church reject Gibney’s revisionist history, but so did the IRS officials involved in the proceedings. Gibney conveniently omits that the IRS issued a statement reaffirming church recognition when this myth first arose. All this information was provided to and ignored by Gibney.
Gibney pretends ignorance of the unprecedented public record, comprising 14 feet, in which the IRS recognized the church as exempt. The church not only answered every question the IRS put to it, but IRS officials also made on-site inspections of its records and facilities. I offered to walk Gibney through these materials, but he stonewalled me.
Gibney’s commentary regarding church finances is just plain false. Church funds are dedicated to promulgation of the faith and supporting global humanitarian initiatives for the benefit of people of all faiths. Not one iota of the church’s actual activities is reflected in Gibney’s one-sided piece.
It is unfortunate that the church has to defend itself from scurrilous attacks like Gibney’s. Like any other nonprofit, however, it has a right to respond through public discourse and has done so with a website and videos. Gibney’s complaint that the church has the audacity to defend itself against his attacks by exercising its own rights to freedom of speech and religion is decidedly un-American.
Monique E. Yingling, Washington
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