Because of a 1993 secret deal with the Internal Revenue Service, members of L. Ron Hubbard‘s Church of Scientology are allowed to write off costly Scientologist “auditing” and “training” services as charitable gift deductions. Anyone who sends their child to religious school, however, is banned from writing off tuition.
What exactly are Scientologists writing off? Thousands of dollars worth of pure baloney. As authors Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner detail in their fascinating book, “Hollywood, Interrupted,” Scientology itself is a load of psychedelic babble, and an expensive load at that. It costs over $300,000 to reach the top levels of this cult. “Auditing” — the service that the IRS allows Scientologists to write off — is a method of purging “thetans.”
Breitbart and Ebner describe what thetans are: “Over 75 million years ago, in a universe far, far away, evil alien overlord Xenu captured all the rebel souls by calling them in for tax auditing and, after injecting them with a mixture of glycol and alcohol, they were transported in B-1 bombers to earth and flung into volcanoes. Then the volcanoes were exploded with neutron bombs. The souls of these immolated aliens, called body thetans (thetan is L. Ron’s word for souls), now cling to us like nasty body lice, through reincarnation after reincarnation, and can only be removed through hours of auditing at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Once members have completely cleared themselves of thetans, they become all-powerful, according to Scientology: They “can now create life; they can create universes; they have cause over matter, energy, space and time; and they are free of the bonds of the physical — functioning totally on the spiritual.”
So these devout science-fiction fans are being subsidized by the federal government. It’s a good thing George Lucas hasn’t set up a church — yet. Meanwhile, Americans who pay thousands of dollars to teach their children Judeo-Christian morality are forced to pay taxes on their tuition dollars.
This blatant injustice prompted orthodox Jewish accountant Michael Sklar and his wife, Marla, to file a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming that the Scientology deal establishes religion. “Our position is, if you allow them to deduct what they’re paying for, their religious indoctrination, we should be able to get the same thing,” Sklar told me.
When Sklar filed a similar lawsuit several years ago, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his case but not before recognizing that Sklar had a valid point. The Circuit Court admitted that “it appears to be true” that Scientology’s IRS agreement violated the First Amendment.
Sklar’s current lawsuit should reach the U.S. Tax Court in late October or early November. While Sklar represented himself in the first lawsuit, he now has a pro bono lawyer. He won’t be satisfied with a simple rejection of the Scientology agreement, though. “The government has now been doing this for 10 years, and if the only thing they would do is simply stop, the government would then have been giving a religious preference to a particular group for 10 years. There’s nothing to stop it from trying to do it again.”
Instead, Sklar wants the IRS to allow all people of every religious persuasion to write off religious education. “If the net result of this is that the only ones who are entitled to a religious deduction are the Scientologists and the Jews, I’ve really accomplished nothing. This really has to be for every religion in the book,” he explains.
The idea of deducting religious education will surely provoke heavy opposition from the left. Many liberals feel that Sklar’s proposed deductions would constitute state establishment of religion — even if the state is allowing people of all religions to deduct. Judge Barry D. Silverman of the 9th Circuit, certainly feels that way. In the first Sklar case, he wrote: “The remedy is not to require the IRS to let others claim the improper deduction.”
But the leftist argument that encouragement of religion in general establishes one religion in particular is fallacious. America was founded on religious tolerance and the freedom to observe religion without government encroachment. As John Adams stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
If our public schools have discarded Judeo-Christian ethics for the amorality of multiculturalism, Adams’ America rests on those Americans who educate their children in private schools. If Sklar wins his case, perhaps some good can come from thetans after all.
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