The FDA had conclusively proven its incompetence, not only by botching its mandate to destroy Scientology, but by taking so long to do it-thus allowing Scientology to grow meteorically, both in the United States and around the world. Thus, the FDA was dismissed to do what it does best: harass vitamin salesmen, and give carte blanche to powerful drug companies well before completion of the product safety tests.
The weight of the mission now fell on IRS shoulders. Actually, the IRS had been part of the same program, harassing the Church since the early 1950s, denying tax-exempt status to various Scientology churches, and issuing Federal tax liens against others. It also provided information to the post office to “support a charge of misrepresentation,” and later sent a host of other government agencies blatantly ludicrous falsehoods on the order of: “LSD and perhaps other drugs are widely used by the members while assembled” and that the Church used “electric shock” on its parishioners in an “initiation ceremony”-fabrications that would have been laughable, if not for the consequences.
IRS illegalities were the subject of 1976 Congressional hearings that found the IRS had been engaged in “intelligence gathering” and had been used as a political weapon disrelated to tax concerns. Thus among the materials turned up through the Freedom of Information Act was a St. Louis IRS file labeling the Church as politically subversive to justify further harassment. This charge, it should be mentioned, is particularly outrageous in view of the fact that Scientology is one of the most politically nonpartisan religions on Earth-fighting discrimination and injustice on the left, the right and all points in between.
The whole tedious history of IRS attacks would fill a book. In fact, it fills scores of filing cabinets of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, revealing not merely a genuinely shocking parade of IRS dirty tricks, but also a mad agency scramble to fabricate a case-any kind of case-against the Church of Scientology.
Specifically, these documents tell of IRS attempts to redefine the term church, expressly to disqualify Scientology from tax-exempt status. And when that didn’t work, an even more unbelievable story unfolded: In an attempt to circumvent the fact that the Church committed no crimes, the IRS engaged in a truly Machiavellian scheme which they pursued for several years.
The plan called for nothing short of complete destruction of the Church. As part of the agenda: infiltration of the Church with a network of undercover agents and the manufacture of evidence. Forged documents were to be seeded into Church files where, through the course of a planned IRS raid, they would be conveniently found and used as evidence for prosecution. The infiltrators were not only to be rewarded financially when Church assets were looted, but they were also to be installed as IRS puppets running a fully tax-exempt church that would use the name but bear no resemblance to Scientology.
Yet, even as the IRS was implementing its plans-attempting to infiltrate church premises, working out how to forge and plant documents-Church attorneys exposed all. In addition to concerns over ensuing public outrage at this exposure, the IRS now had to contend with another problem; one doesn’t spend several years investigating a church at enormous cost to the taxpayer only to report that no crimes were found.
In a last-ditch effort to save face, not to mention careers, the IRS tried to persuade the Department of Justice to bring some kind, any kind, of prosecution as a justification for what they had done. Justice may be blind, but it’s not stupid, and Justice Department attorneys rebuked the IRS and refused to entertain any prosecution or even further investigation. After all, anyone could see that no crimes had been committed beyond those of the IRS themselves. This did not stop the IRS, however. Their assault only intensified, and literally thousands of agents-entire task forces-were thrown into the fray to work on the “Scientology problem.”
The Church, with an abundance of evidence, responded by filing a $120 million damages suit in Federal Court in August 1991. That suit named seventeen Washington, DC and Los Angeles-based Internal Revenue Service officials. It charged agency officials with waging a thirty-three-year campaign of illegal acts, violating the constitutional rights of the Church and large numbers of its parishioners.
Furthermore, the Church took its case to the public, unleashing a massive media campaign to expose IRS crimes and abuses, with daily advertisements in the American national newspaper, USA Today.
Finally, however, even this war came to an end. After subjecting the churches of Scientology to the most intensive scrutiny any organization ever faced-including a meticulous review of its operations and financial records-the IRS came to the only possible conclusion from such an examination: Scientology churches and their related entities were organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes.
Thus, on October 1, 1993, the Internal Revenue Service issued letters recognizing this fact to churches of Scientology and their affiliated organizations across the US and in other parts of the world. The mother church and all Scientology churches, missions, social betterment and social reform groups in the United States, as well as several major Scientology organizations abroad, were granted full tax-exempt recognition by the IRS-a formal acknowledgment of Scientology’s religious bona fides and its benefit to society as a whole.
But what of those blatant false reports that had originated in the 1950s and continued to spew forth in later decades?
They had traveled far and wide-to the major European countries, to Australia, to South Africa, there to be used as ammunition against Scientology.
To counter these, the IRS agreed to apprise government agencies around the world of its decision to recognize the Church, and to send them all a full, accurate briefing on the Scientology religion and its activities.
A major campaign in the war against Scientology had truly ended.
Behind the Worldwide Campaign
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