Who Can Stand Up? - 1997-03-16
As Douglas Frantz reported in The New York Times a week ago, Scientology in 1993 suddenly metamorphosed from a controversial and highly lucrative organization, with an extensive history of criminal activity in the 1970's, into a bonafide nonprofit religion -- at least as far as the U.S. Government was concerned. That's when the I.R.S. turned its back on 25 years of its own rulings and gave Scientology the tax-exempt legitimacy it had long craved. What made this decision startling was not only the I.R.S.'s contradiction of both itself and various court decisions on Scientology's tax status, but also the mysterious circumstances that brought on the about-face. Scientology's victory was set in motion in 1991 when two of its leaders dropped by the I.R.S.'s Washington headquarters unannounced and somehow secured an audience with the agency's then Commissioner, Fred Goldberg Jr.