Scientology is a religion that has been the subject of controversy and debate for decades. Many people are curious about how many followers it has, especially in 2021.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: It’s difficult to know exactly how many Scientologists there are in 2021, but estimates range from around 20,000 to 50,000 worldwide.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of Scientology, the challenges in estimating its membership, and the current state of the religion. We’ll also take a closer look at some of the controversies surrounding Scientology and what the future may hold for this unique belief system.

The History of Scientology

Scientology is a religion that was founded in the mid-20th century by L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard was an American author and self-help guru who believed that the human mind had untapped potential that could be unlocked through certain practices.

The Life of L. Ron Hubbard

Hubbard was born in 1911 in Tilden, Nebraska. He spent much of his early life traveling with his family and eventually settled in Montana. In the 1930s, he began writing science fiction stories and became a well-known author. In the 1950s, he began developing the ideas that would become the basis for Scientology.

Hubbard was known for his charismatic personality and his ability to attract followers. However, he was also a controversial figure who was accused of lying about his past and exaggerating his accomplishments. He died in 1986, but his legacy lives on through Scientology.

The Founding of Scientology

Scientology was officially founded in 1954 in Los Angeles, California. The religion is based on the idea that humans are immortal spiritual beings known as “thetans” who have lived many past lives. Scientologists believe that by going through certain practices and courses, they can rid themselves of negative past experiences and achieve spiritual enlightenment.

Scientology has been the subject of much controversy over the years. Critics have accused the Church of Scientology of being a cult and of engaging in abusive practices such as brainwashing and forced labor. However, the Church denies these accusations and claims to be a legitimate religion.

Expansion and Controversy

Despite the controversy surrounding Scientology, the religion has continued to grow over the years. According to the Church’s website, there are now over 20 million Scientologists worldwide. The Church has also expanded its reach into various sectors such as education, drug rehabilitation, and criminal justice reform.

While there are many people who are devoted to Scientology, there are also many critics who believe that the Church is harmful and dangerous. The Church has faced numerous lawsuits and has been the subject of several documentaries and exposés over the years.

Why It’s Hard to Determine the Number of Scientologists

How many Scientologists are there in 2021? It’s a difficult question to answer due to several factors.

Firstly, the Church of Scientology has a notorious lack of transparency when it comes to membership numbers. The organization claims to have millions of members worldwide, but it’s unclear how accurate this number is. Without official figures, it’s difficult to know the true extent of the religion’s reach.

Secondly, there are differing definitions of what constitutes a Scientologist. Some people may have taken courses or participated in some form of Scientology practice, but do not consider themselves full-fledged members. Others may have been raised in Scientology but have since left the faith and no longer identify as Scientologists. This discrepancy can further complicate efforts to determine the number of people who identify as Scientologists.

Lastly, media coverage can also affect the perception of the religion and potentially impact membership numbers. In recent years, Scientology has been the subject of several high-profile documentaries and exposés that have shed light on controversial practices and alleged abuses within the organization. This negative coverage may discourage some people from joining or cause existing members to leave.

While it’s difficult to determine an exact number, some estimates put the worldwide membership of Scientology at around 50,000 to 100,000 individuals. However, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, given the various factors that can affect their accuracy.

Estimates of Scientology Membership

Scientology is a controversial religious organization that was founded in the 1950s by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Despite facing criticism and lawsuits, the Church of Scientology claims to have millions of members worldwide. However, the actual number of Scientologists is difficult to determine and is a matter of debate.

The Church’s Claims

According to the Church of Scientology, there are millions of members in over 160 countries. The church claims that its membership is growing, particularly in countries like Russia and India. However, critics argue that the church’s claims are inflated, and that many of its members are inactive or have left the organization.

Independent Scientologists

One factor complicating estimates of Scientology membership is the existence of independent Scientologists. These are individuals who practice Scientology outside of the official church and may not be counted in the church’s official membership figures. Some estimates suggest that there could be tens of thousands of independent Scientologists worldwide.

The Global Picture

Despite the difficulty of obtaining accurate figures, some researchers have attempted to estimate the number of Scientologists worldwide. A study published in the Journal of Religion and Society in 2011 estimated that there were between 25,000 and 50,000 active Scientologists worldwide. However, this estimate has been criticized for being too low.

Another estimate comes from the book “Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices,” which puts the number of Scientologists worldwide at around 500,000. However, this figure may also be outdated and inaccurate.

Source Estimated Number of Scientologists
Church of Scientology Millions
Journal of Religion and Society 25,000-50,000
“Religions of the World” 500,000

Controversies Surrounding Scientology

Scientology is a controversial religion that has faced criticism from former members, legal troubles, and negative public perception. Former members have spoken out against the church, claiming that it is a cult that brainwashes its members and takes advantage of them financially.

  • In an interview with ABC News, Leah Remini, a former member of Scientology, spoke about her experiences and the negative impact it had on her life.
  • Another former member, Mike Rinder, has spoken out publicly about the abuse he endured while in the church and the tactics used to keep members in line.

Scientology has also faced legal troubles in the past, including allegations of fraud and human trafficking. In 2020, a federal judge ruled that the church’s practice of forcing members to undergo “purification” rituals was medically risky and could endanger their health.

Legal Troubles Public Perception
2009: Church of Scientology convicted of fraud in France 2011: UK Charity Commission denies Scientology tax exemption status
2012: Former member files lawsuit against church for harassment and stalking 2013: HBO documentary “Going Clear” exposes the inner workings of Scientology
2015: Church of Scientology sued for forced labor and human trafficking 2018: Scientology’s controversial leader, David Miscavige, faces accusations of abuse and mistreatment of members

Due to these controversies, Scientology has a negative public perception. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study, only 13% of Americans have a favorable view of Scientology, while 51% have an unfavorable view.

The Future of Scientology

Despite its controversies and scandals, Scientology still has a significant following worldwide. However, the future of the Church is uncertain, and there are many challenges that it currently faces.

Challenges Facing the Church

One of the most significant challenges facing the Church of Scientology is its dwindling membership numbers. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, the number of self-identified Scientologists in the United States has decreased from 55,000 in 2008 to 20,000 in 2019. This trend is not unique to the US, as membership numbers have also been declining in Europe and other parts of the world.

The Church has also faced numerous legal challenges, including allegations of abuse, fraud, and harassment. These allegations have led to several high-profile lawsuits and negative media coverage, which have damaged the Church’s reputation and credibility.

Possible Changes on the Horizon

Despite these challenges, the Church of Scientology has been making efforts to modernize and adapt to changing times. One example is the launch of its own streaming platform, Scientology TV, which features original programming and content about the Church.

The Church has also been making efforts to improve its public image by engaging in more outreach and community service activities. For example, the Church has been involved in disaster relief efforts and has partnered with other organizations to promote humanitarian causes.

What Does the Future Hold?

It is difficult to predict what the future holds for the Church of Scientology. While it has faced numerous challenges in recent years, it still has a loyal following and significant financial resources. The Church’s leadership has also shown a willingness to adapt and change, which could help it stay relevant in the years to come.

However, the Church will need to address the concerns and criticisms that have been leveled against it if it hopes to regain the trust and support of the wider public. It will also need to find ways to attract new members and ensure the long-term sustainability of its organization.


While it’s impossible to know exactly how many Scientologists there are in 2021, it’s clear that this religion continues to generate significant interest and controversy. Despite its challenges, Scientology remains a unique and fascinating belief system that is likely to continue to evolve and adapt in the years to come.

Whether you’re a Scientologist yourself, a critic of the religion, or simply curious about its history and membership, we hope this article has provided you with some valuable insights and information.

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