Irish Scientology branch has serious fundraising problems

REVENUES have plummeted at the Irish branch of the controversial Church of Scientology, with the church remaining deep in the red here, data shows.

Membership of the worldwide Church includes movie stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

However, documents show interest-free loans from abroad are propping up the Irish branch, where it is more than €688,000 in the red in its latest accounts.

According to financial documents lodged by the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin Ltd, the company’s revenues have more than halved, from €484,070 to €193,509 in 2009.

As a result of revenues falling by 150%, the Church’s operating surplus dropped by 74% from €271,804 to €68,292.

The accounts are for the 12-month period to the end of April 2009, but were only signed off by the board on July 20, 2011, after a delay in lodging the returns — the company last filed accounts in October 2008.

Last night, the non-executive director of the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin, Gerard Ryan, blamed the recession for the drop in revenues.

He said: “We are not immune to the economic circumstances of the wider community and clearly this has impacted on our fund-raising efforts.”

Mr Ryan said that the Church “raises funds by the sale of our scriptures in the form of books, audio recordings and DVDs. We also raise funds via the extensive study courses in our scriptures that we provide, and the spiritual counselling that lies at the heart of our practice.”

Mr Ryan said that the Church membership in Ireland “is difficult to quantify, but it is several hundred, and there are more than last year”.

Mr Ryan said that the accumulated deficit “is largely due to a legal case some time back which lasted several years. We have been reducing the deficit year by year, and we expect to continue to do so.”

He added “I’m very confident that this can be continued.”

Asked how the Church performed from a financial point of view in 2010, Mr Ryan declined to say, stating that the accounts for 2010 are still not finalised.

The Irish branch is part of a movement established by deceased US author, L Ron Hubbard and it has more than 9,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups in 165 countries.

The Church states that its purpose is to transform individual lives and the world, saying that every person is a Thetan — an immortal spiritual being that lives through countless lifetimes.

Scientologists believes that Hubbard discovered fundamental truths of existence and they revere him as “the source” of the religion.

Mr Ryan said: “I strongly believe that our Church will continue to grow, both in Ireland and worldwide… Our growth in Ireland has been slow but steady, which is understandable in such an overwhelmingly Judaeo-Christian country.”

However, in relation to the deficit being carried by the Irish branch, directors, Ann-Marie Ryan, Siobhán Ryan and Gerard Ryan confirm that “the deficit has been funded by loans from members of the Church of Scientology worldwide and other Church of Scientology missions”.

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