A CoS Web page has a graph of the worldwide growth of countries where Dianetics and Scientology services are available dating from 1997:
"At the current rate of expansion, Scientology churches will be found in every country in the world within 10 years."
The above sentence is identical to one from a 1992 page, except for that one having a 15 instead of a 10 year target of course. On this webpage we test that assertion. Our thanks to 'Inducto' for the original concept and research, 'Hubbard-Telescope' for compiling the 2009 data.
The CoS like other religious organisations aquired its present structure over time. The basic unit is the Org, the Scientology equivalent of a Church. As can be seen from the table below, the number of Orgs has remained at around 130 in recent years.
Above Orgs are the Advanced Service Orgs (ASOs) which as their name suggests provide the high level courses in Scientology. There are five of these. Below Orgs are the Missions, which derive from the franchising system originally devised for Scientology's predecessor Dianetics. Most Missions are run by an individual 'Mission Holder' and offer only the basic starter courses.
A caveat for those unfamiliar with Scientology: this is not an offshoot of Christianity, Islam, Buddism or any other religion. Scientologists do not engage in communal worship, the principal function of churches, mosques and synagogues, they attend individually for Training and Auditing. Gatherings are only held for social or fundraising purposes. so-called 'Sunday Services' in 'Chapels' are sometimes staged events put on for journalists, academics and other visitors.
Recent CoS press releases often cover Grand Openings of new Churches. This is in fact part of a rolling program to purchase larger premises for Orgs, which are then termed 'Ideal Orgs'. This replaced a previous program whereby Orgs were encouraged to achieve 'Saint Hill' status, which was measured by the number of staff employed. There is no evidence that the larger buildings are being purchased to accomodate an increasing membership.
The present official world map locator uses Google Maps. It is well constructed, shows both Orgs and Missions and is the best way of finding addresses, telephone numbers etc.
Summary (April 2009)
So the CoS lists a total of 50 countries which have a CoS presence out of the 129 most recently claimed. Just to emphasise the point, this is the Church's own data we are using.
Here's a nice 2007 map by Stan Em taken from Wikipedia using the same data as in the table below. Orange countries had at least one Org, yellow at least one Mission but no Orgs.
Not all CoS branches are called 'Church of Scientology', there are Dianetics Centers, Hubbard Foundations, etc, but the administrative division between Missions, Orgs and ASOs is maintained everywhere. Some of these alternative names may be due to local regulations, for example in Scotland non-Christian organisations cannot call themselves 'Churches'. For 2009 the original data on the CoS website does not distinguish between Missions and Orgs, so we have relied on previous identifications.
|United Kingdom||9||7||8||8||8||8||8||8||8||4||2||2||2||3||7||6||1AO 1CC|
|United States||33||39||42||42||43||43||41||41||119||59||68||82||88||98||104||91||2AO 3CC|
The 1978 data comes from the What is Scientology? Edition for that year.
What is Scientology? 1998 Edition lists 143 Class IV Orgs, 230 Missions.
Celebrity Centres are a mixed bag. Some such as Hollywood are genuinely aimed at showbiz 'personalities', others seem to be ordinary Missions. I've listed them all seperately.
The CoS bureaucracy sometimes cuts across national boundaries, for example the Belfast Mission has 'Ireland' in its address which the CoS seems to think is a country, not an island. I have been about as inconsistent (!), arbitrarily shifting some branches around. Puerto Rico as another example is sometimes seperate, sometimes listed under the USA.
It has become apparent in the past decade that the CoS felt that closing an Org would be a big loss of face and has kept apparently moribund Orgs open presumably by subsidising them from central funds. This does not apply to Missions, which are left to sink or swim. As of 2009 with greatly increased pressure from opponents this may have cracked, as reports are starting to come in of actual closings as opposed to moves to less expensive premises.
Freezoners are scientology heretics operating outside a Church which hates them and does not consider them to be scientologists. They are accordingly circumspect about their activities which are consequently unverifiable, particularly as the media consider them a complication and would prefer to ignore them.
So far as I know Rons Org is the largest Freezone organisation. It is decentralised, with its 'Orgs' ranging in size from the same as a CoS Org down to study groups. As of 2009 most, around 25, are in the former Soviet Union, and there are one or two in each of half a dozen Western European countries.
Other Freezone organisations appear only to provide contact between members and have no branches as such.