Membership of the worldwide church — established in 1954 — includes movie stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
Interest-free loans from abroad are propping up the Irish branch, which is €686,723 in the red, acc-ording to its latest accounts.
However, the non-executive director of the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin, Gerard Ryan, said yesterday its membership continued to grow last year and “our church in Ireland is definitely here for the long haul”.
Financial documents lodged by the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin Ltd with the Companies Office show revenues fell 14%, from €193,509 to €166,086.
This followed the church’s revenues more than halving in 2009 from €484,070 recorded in 2008.
As a result of revenues further decreasing in 2010, the church’s operating surplus dropped 98%, from €68,292 to €1,391. This compares to a surplus of €271,804 in 2008. The accounts are for the 12-month period to the end of Apr 2010, but were only signed off by the board on Feb 20 of this year.
Mr Ryan blamed the recession for the drop in revenues. “Like everyone else in Ireland, our parishioners have been adversely affected by the current harsh economic conditions.”
He pointed out that the Irish branch is a not for profit. The church raises funds by the sale of its scriptures in the form of books, audio recordings and DVDs; via the extensive study courses; and spiritual counselling.
Mr Ryan said: “There are a few hundred adherents of Scientology in Ireland. There was a modest increase in numbers in the past year. We have churches in Dublin and Belfast.”
The church’s accumulated deficit stood at €690,370 at the end of Apr 2010.
Mr Ryan said: “I am very confident that in the medium to long term, we will completely eradicate our deficit.”
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.
Mr Ryan said: “Our church in Ireland is definitely here for the long haul. It was originally set up by L Ron Hubbard when he lived in Dublin for a period in the 1950s.
“Our current mission has existed since 1986 and that is evidence of our longevity.
“We fully intend to expand our church in Ireland, not only in our spiritual programmes, but in our social reform programmes such as drug rehab, prison inmate rehab, human rights education and much more.”
Mr Ryan said: “Scientology is a relatively new creed. Indeed, it is the first worldwide creed for over 2,000 years that is not based on, or a schism of, some earlier creed.
“That of itself is quite remarkable. Given that Scientology has a presence in over 160 countries, it is the only worldwide creed to have established in the 20th century.”
The Church of Scientology states that its purpose is to transform individual lives and the world, postulating that every person is a Thetan — an immortal spiritual being that lives through countless lifetimes. Scientologists believe Hubbard discovered the fundamental truths of existence and revere him as “the source” of the religion.
In relation to the deficit being carried by the Irish branch, Mr Ryan and fellow director Siobhan Ryan confirm “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 is 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”.
The outstanding amount on the loans increased during 2010 from €370,304 to €376,383.
The church’s deficit has prompted the company’s auditors, O’Gorman & Co Accountants to highlight the issue “in view of the significance of the deficit and the uncertainty of generating future surpluses”.