1: Yes, I know the IRS was browbeaten into it. That actually supports my initial point.
Google will happily refuse your ad or your business for a very large number of reasons, many of them quite opaque. Google hasn't refused Scientology, and has actively encouraged them to spread their message. That's a choice they've made, not one forced on them by any law. They should accept the praise/blame for that action - they've earned it.
Assuming Google gives similar offers to other potential new customers, this means nothing.
And anyone who suggests Google should refuse to do business with Scientology on the basis of their personal feelings is advocating trampling all over egalitarianism.
If you get a chance and want to try something crazy try to visit their Celebrity Center in LA.
We were bored visiting some friends at Caltech and decided to do it. It was probably 10-15 years ago. We made up fake names, addresses, history, background story. When we got there they made us watch their recruitment video. But then the tour was pretty nice.
Even just seeing the people hanging around there, listen to the absolute batshit crazy worldview. Yeah the people seemed just a bit off -- spoke just a bit too slow and seemed a bit too robotic. Enjoyed seeing the architecture of the building, the explanations about how Ron Hubbard is going to come back from Saturn (or is it Neptune) and so they his office ready. Saw the saunas downstairs, where they supposedly "detoxify" people. The one sad thing there was a little old Korean lady. She didn't seem to speak English well and looked confused as they were telling her she needed to go back into the sauna. But then the best part, when night fell we got to go to the top level (or maybe the roof?) -- it was pretty nice view of the city.
The trick is to of course not give your disbelief away and don't act mean or condescending. We pretended to be ignorant young people who "heard good things" and just nodded and smiled. One of us couldn't resist making a sarcastic commit, we had to signal him to cut if off as he could have gotten us kicked out too early.
We were good nerds, but not very good con artists I suppose. We shouldn't have told them we were from Caltech (well I wasn't, I was just visiting a friend there) but the background story was that we all were.
Scientology is a non-profit? is not founded as a company?
Organized religions including televangelists are one of the best business around, in a more cynical world I think there would be VCs and accelerators for creating new of them.
Lawrence Wright's 'Going Clear' (more so the book than the HBO movie) goes into some detail about the apparent hand-wringing going on with the IRS as it suddenly had to come up with a definition of a religion.
Predictably it's a pretty fuzzy set of criteria -- though whether you want religion defined by your revenue collection branch of the government is a whole other question.
From http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/16/15-scientol... :
> In 1993, after a prolonged fight, the IRS settled with the church over its tax-exempt status. Miscavige was able to regain the status (after the government’s disastrous handling of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas) by paying only $12.5 million of the $1 billion (which would have bankrupted the church) in back taxes it owed.
Youtube removed "related content" videos section for official Scientology material. This censors critique videos and breaches the principle that Google was founded on:
- To offer a search engine in the academic domain, where ranking is not decided by advertisers, but by link-weighted popularity.
As a comparison: A mobile phone manufacturer pays Google to remove the "related videos" for their videos, because one of those related videos talks about the dangers of driving while using a mobile phone.
Youtube embeds content hosted by Scientology on their Youtube profile page. This gives the Office of Special Affairs the IP (personal information) in their visitor logs. Scientology also places a cookie while surfing on the Youtube site. No confirmation is asked.
Scientology gets around the "all comments vs. no comments at all" by removing any negative or critical comment, and only allowing positive and astroturfing comments.
Even though religious advertisements used to be against their policy, they have since then taken money from religious institutes.
Advertisements are against Adwords TOS, when:
- Sites with content that incites or promotes hatred against a group or individuals.
- Content that encourages others to believe that a group or individual is inhuman or inferior
Scientology.org has content that promotes hatred against medical professionals. They vilify doctors for prescribing drugs for ADD. Factual quality of the content is low, while impact on the life of someone who believes all information there is high.
There is freedom of speech, and there is suiting advertisers. Google really needs to refind their balance. And be consistent in enforcing the rules, for instance their link-farm makes blackhat SEO's pale.