Google gave Scientology almost $6m in free advertising according to reports from an activist for the church.
The news emerged on Hacker News, a technology news aggregator, which pointed to a story by journalist by Tony Ortega in New York publication, Village Voice. The article was based around a transcript from a video of a Scientology fundraising meeting where a Scientology member discussed the ad funding.
In the video the speaker Brandy Harrison, Scientology's building expansion director, says a Google representative was introduced to Scientology and put them in touch with the department responsible for non-profit advertisements.
She says that Google initially awarded Scientology a $10,000 a month grant for free online advertising before upping it to $40,000.
According to Harrison Google created specific teams “solely for the Church of Scientology” leading to every individual church in the US receiving £10,000 a month of free advertising.
“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” says Harrison.
It is likely that the free advertising is part of Googles Ad Grant programme which provides free advertising for non-profit organisations and charities.
A spokesperson for Scientology told Business Insider that “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."
Scientology was officially recognised as a tax-exempt religion by the US IRS in 1993. The decision was steeped in controversy however after reports at the time in the New York Times claimed that IRS employees were pressured by members of the religion as part of a year-long campaign to have the religion certified.