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Scientologists Deny Allegations of Harassing IRS to Gain Tax-Exempt Status Seen in "Going Clear"

Scientologists Deny Allegations of Harassing IRS to Gain Tax-Exempt Status Seen in "Going Clear"

Members await the opening of the new office of the Scientology Church in Berlin January 13, 2007 | (Photo: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann)

The Church of Scientology is denying allegations made by the HBO documentary "Going Clear" that claim the religion's leadership harassed the IRS to obtain its tax-exempt status in 1993.

The controversial documentary directed by Alex Gibney, which is critical of the religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, purports that the organization obtained its tax-exempt status from the IRS using bullying tactics by filing thousands of lawsuits against the government agency and agreeing to drop them if they were made tax-exempt.

The Church of Scientology vehemently denies these claims, according to Scientology Attorney Monique Yingling.

"Alex Gibney's claim that the Church of Scientology harassed and intimidated the IRS to obtain tax exemption to which it was not entitled is as absurd as it is false. Gibney falsely paints as sinister the perfectly legal and eminently justified actions — Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, individual petitions to the tax court and refund suits — that the church and its parishioners brought to defend their rights," Yingling told The Christian Post in a statement.

"The IRS recognized Scientology as a tax-exempt religious and charitable organization because it provided substantive proof on the merits, following a two-year examination, that it was entitled to that recognition. The results of the IRS examination are a matter of public record and have been available to all, including Gibney, for more than 20 years. The IRS necessarily concluded that the Church of Scientology operates in the public interest and does not violate public policy when it recognized the Church as tax exempt. These findings were subsequently reaffirmed by the IRS and are as accurate today as they were in 1993."

The organization also denied claims made by former executive Tom DeVocht that it had him framed for his involvement in the documentary "Going Clear."

According to a Gawker report, two narcotics officers with the Burbank, California, police department showed up at Tom DeVocht's door and claimed they received an anonymous tip that he was selling drugs in the area. The police even wielded what the publication describes as "dubious photographic evidence" of him engaging in illegal activity.

The incident occurred just five days after the premier of "Going Clear." The report states that Adam Baumgarten, one of the narcotics officers who showed up at DeVocht's door, showed him a picture that had been taken of him sitting in car holding a quart-sized plastic bag with something white inside.

The Church of Scientology labeled the claim made by DeVocht as "invented and unsupported" in an email to CP, and referred to a article as a source of information on why he exited the organization in 2005.

The article titled "Tom DeVocht: Alex Gibney's Hard-Hat Hustler" accuses DeVocht of losing $10 million during his time in the organization's construction department through a series of "shady deals," "phony work orders" and "disastrous financial management."

The site also features several other articles aimed at defaming the filmmakers and former Scientologists involved in HBO's "Going Clear" including director Alex Gibney.

FreedomMag is described as "the voice of the Church of Scientology."

"Freedom uplifts human aspiration," reads the description on the website. "It stands for accurate and accountable reporting and publishes information available in no other publication. Freedom addresses issues, not politics."

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