How Scientology "Grew" to 8 Million Members
[21 Aug 1997]

I have seen much speculation on where Scientology representatives get their figure
of "8 million members" or "6 million members."

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From: (Robert Vaughn Young)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology,
Subject: How Scientology "Grew" to 8 Million Members
Date: 21 Aug 1997 18:17:07 GMT
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I have seen much speculation on where Scientology representatives get
their figure of "8 million members" or "6 million members." Some wonder if
it is people who have taken courses or who have bought books or perhaps
people who walk in the door. It's none of that. Let me tell you how it

Department 20 has been the section that handles media. It is now called
the Office of Special Affairs but in the early 70s it was called the
Guardian's Office. I worked in the PR section, first in San Francisco and
then at the US offices, 1971-82. We had clipping services for the words
"Scientology" and "L. Ron Hubbard." Other than the PRs scattered about who
would send in clips, that was the only other way to find how we were being

At that time, we were in a massive anti-FDA campaign, stemming from the
raid on the Washington, DC, organization, over the role/function of the
E-Meter so there was media interest. Inevitably, we were asked how many
members we had and while the local PR might come up with a number for
his/her area, we didn't have a figure for national, let alone
international, and this was noticed at the US office. PRs were giving
random figures and so we had to come up with a stable figure. Nothing was
used to calculate the figure. It was dreamed up as "over one million"
because anything less wouldn't sound good. There was no count of students
or anything. It was simply dreamed up and the figure sent to the PRs to
use when asked. (We also needed it for the publications we were putting

Then what came into play was the LRH order that Scientology is always
growing. He wrote it in a policy letter, to never admit to anything but
growth. That meant the "one million" had to grow. Again, no calculations
were made. No organizations were asked to submit figures. Perhaps six
months later, we were "1.1 million" and then later "1.25 million" and so
the membership figure began to grow. Occasionally it would produce some
humor, as when a reporter would call the US office and along the way ask
for the membership figure and he/she would be put on hold while someone
asked what the latest one was. "1.5" someone shouted. "No, we used that
one last month, make it 1.6," suggested another. "Why not 1.75," someone
else asked. "Too many digits," someone would call back, "make it 1.8."
"Hey," the original PR would ask, "I've got a reporter here on hold, gimme
a figure!" "Racquel Welch," came a fast reply from someone coming down the

Okay, so it wasn't "Saturday Night Live" but that was pretty much how we
treated it. I think we stayed with the 1.5 that time. But it soon moved
up to 2 million and it has climbed ever since.

As to their actual count, it depends on the definition of a "member." But
in the meantime, there have been some good samplings that align to my own
estimation. For example, when orgs were closed and there were massive
phone campaigns ordering everyone to an event in the Greater Los Angeles
area, which has the highest number and concentration of Scientologists in
the world, they could must only a few thousand. At a similar function in
Europe where they demanded turnout, they couldn't even raise 2000. You can
also extrapolate back from some of the "stats" they give. None of it
reflects 8 million "members," unless one is including "body thetans" from
OT 3.*

But this was how it all started and how Scientology "expanded."

Robert Vaughn Young

* RTC President Warren McShane is thanked for testifying - with a straight
face - that all that "Xenu" and "body thetans" stuff from OT 3 was NEVER