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The harassment of the Church and its leaders for purposes totally removed from proper enforcement of the tax laws was definitively exposed during a series of Congressional investigations and hearings in the 1970s. These hearings focused on, among other things, the infamous 1969 Nixon White House “enemies list,” and revealed previously secret and illegal IRS programs against individuals and organizations, including the Church of Scientology.

History shows us that of the 213 names on the Nixon list, 211 were left bankrupt, collapsed, disbanded or dead. Indeed, of the individuals and organizations on that infamous “enemies list,” only two survived intact: L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. That these attacks continued for as many years as they did serves as a study in how bureaucratic momentum can carry raw animus forward long after the initial “reason” has been forgotten.

The whole tiresome history of IRS attacks would fill a book. Faced with the choice of defending itself or perishing, the Church used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain and ultimately expose government documents which demonstrated a broad range of discriminatory conduct and illegal acts against the Church and its parishioners by certain elements within the IRS. When the agency balked at releasing the information, the Church was forced to litigate hundreds of cases which ultimately resulted in precedent-setting legislation — and exposure and confirmation of the very matters alleged by the Church, and more. One federal judge credited the Church with reforming IRS procedures which directly benefited “over 1,000 cases involving identical legal issues.” An official of the US Department of Justice remarked that the Church’s actions “significantly contributed to the preservation of democracy for everyone.” Indeed, it is virtually impossible to read a page in a legal textbook about the FOIA today without finding a precedent set by the Church of Scientology.


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