Scientology: Church now claims more than 8 million members - 2004-09-18
Melton, who has been criticized by some for being too easy on Scientology, and has been criticized by the church for being too harsh, says that the church's estimates of its membership numbers -- 4 million in the United States, 8 to 9 million worldwide -- are exaggerated. "You're talking about anyone who ever bought a Scientology book or took a basic course. Ninety-nine percent of them don't ever darken the door of the church again." If the church indeed had 4 million members in the United States, he says, "they would be like the Lutherans and would show up on a national survey" such as the Harris poll.