Scientology says Google gave them $6 million in free advertising funds for non-profits.
As reported by Business Insider, based on a leaked video transcript of a Scientology fundraising meeting in San Fernando Valley, in 2014, the Church of Scientology supposedly received about $6 million worth of free advertising from Google.
Business Insider reported that Brandy Harrison, the Church’s Building Expansion Director Int., said in the meeting:
“In the Bay Area a representative of Google was introduced to Scientology and our 4th dynamic campaigns through the Stevens Creek Ideal Org. This representative connected us up with the department responsible for non-profit advertisements. And as a result, Google awarded us a $10,000-a-month grant for free online advertising.
But that’s not all because Google looked into the responses that we were getting from this advertisement, and they increased that grant to the Truth About Drugs and Way to Happiness campaigns, to $40,000 a month.
But that’s not all. The second man, now with established Google teams solely for the Church of Scientology, suggested that we might want to extend the same grants to some of our Class V Orgs around the world. We applied, and now today, every ideal org in the United States has $10,000 a month of free online advertising.
In fact, in total so far, we have had $5.7 million in Google grants already approved for our 4th dynamic campaigns in United States ideal orgs.”
Business Insider attempted to reach Google for a comment, but the technology giant was on a holiday break. According to a spokesperson for the Church of Scientology: “According to its website, Google works with more than 20,000 nonprofits in over 50 countries. Unlike Tony Ortega and others pushing this story, Google is not bigoted or prejudiced against any religion.”
Business Insider writer Jim Edwards speculates that the free advertising may have originated from the Google Ad Grant program, “which provides free advertising for non-profit organizations and charities.” He further speculates that “Google may have felt it was not appropriate to distinguish between one religion and another.”
The Church of Scientology was granted tax-exempt status as a recognized religious organization by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 1993. Chairman of the Board and Leader David Miscavige announced the religion’s triumph in a 2-hour speech in October 1993, met by a ten-minute standing ovation from the Scientology congregation.
The Church’s official website states:
“This recognition marked the end of a forty-year conflict between the Church and the IRS. It followed a two-year examination of unprecedented scope and depth, encompassing all the Church of Scientology’s worldwide activities. It culminated with the issuance by the IRS of ruling letters recognizing the tax-exempt religious and charitable status of the Church of Scientology International, the mother church of the Scientology religion, and 150 affiliated Churches, missions and social betterment organizations.”