‘From loans and donations to fundraising’: Whistleblowers are voicing concerns about Trump’s connection to the Church of Scientology
Leah Remini and Mike Rinder were once prominent members of the Church of Scientology, but these days, they are outspoken critics of the cult and are painting a very dark picture of its activities. Remini has stressed that Scientology has a wide outreach, and in an interview with the Daily Beast, the whistleblowers discussed Scientology’s connections President Donald Trump as well as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
The Beast’s Marlow Stern reports, “The celebrity-obsessed church — which professes that an intergalactic overlord named Xenu brought billions of aliens to Earth 75 million years ago, arranged them at the base of volcanoes, blew them up with hydrogen bombs, and their surviving souls haunt the human race — received three loans of up to $350,000 each for its sites in New York, Florida and Washington, D.C., supporting what it claims is a total of 137 employees. It’s a curious decision by the Trump Administration, awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars to a scandal-plagued organization that, due to its tax-exempt status, has reportedly amassed more than $1 billion in assets — mostly in real-estate holdings.”
Remini, according to Stern, is outraged that Scientology has profited so handsomely from Trump’s policies. The Scientology whistleblower told the Beast, “It’s insane. Mike and I have tried to meet many times with the IRS, and the IRS knows what they’ve done. They’ve known that they’ve cleared the way for Scientology to misappropriate their money. It’s run like a business for profit, and this just says that.”
According to Remini, Joy Villa — a singer and prominent Scientologist — has “infiltrated the Trump Administration.” And Scientology has taken advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program, which is part of the CARES Act of 2020 and is designed to help businesses that are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
Rinder told the Beast, “The PPP loans were about ensuring that people don’t lose their jobs, and Scientology — when confronted about the fact that they don’t pay minimum wage or anything — say these people are volunteers. Staff members of Scientology organizations are ‘volunteers’; they’re not employees, and they’re getting loans so that people don’t lose their jobs?”
Stern notes that Trump’s charity made a Scientology-related donation. The Beast journalist reports, “According to a 2015 investigation by The Smoking Gun that analyzed — and published portions of — tax-return filings from the Donald J. Trump Charitable Foundation between 1990 and 2014, Trump’s charity arm made only one donation to a September 11-related cause in the wake of the tragedy: $1000 to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project. That program, started by the Church of Scientology and (actor) Tom Cruise, sought to heal first responders with smoke-damaged lungs via the ‘Purification Rundown’ — a medically unproven detox method that involves pumping the body full of vitamins, performing loads of exercise and spending many hours a day in a sauna. Scientists and health professionals have called it ‘dangerous.’”
Farrakhan, meanwhile, might seem an unlikely ally of Scientology. The Nation of Islam preaches a black separatist ideology, claiming that the white race was invented 6000 years ago by an evil mad scientist named Yakub — a claim that is rejected in traditional Sunni or Shiite Islam — and most of Scientology’s members have been white. But Stern reports that “since 2010, the Nation of Islam has been promoting the ‘benefits’ of Dianetics, the core set of principles taught by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.” During a July 1, 2012 speech in Chicago, Farrakhan told Nation of Islam members, “I found the tool that I know can help us, and I thank God for Mr. L. Ron Hubbard. And I thank God for his research and teaching.”
Stern notes that photos of Tony Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s West Coast regional minister, are “plastered all over the Scientology website” — and that Muhammad has been “the recipient the IAS Freedom Medal, the church’s most coveted award, for spreading its teachings.”
Rinder said of the Nation of Islam/Scientology alliance, “It’s such an ugly marriage of convenience between these two, and it’s going to ultimately end in an ugly divorce, because both of these organizations believe that they are the only true answer. Scientology, through (leader) David Miscavige, has done enormous things to try to engage and involve the Nation of Islam in Scientology. They have subsidized their involvement and given the highest Scientology awards to Tony Muhammad, the West Coast leader of the Nation of Islam. They have Nation of Islam people showing up to their events, acting as security people — and conversely, Farrakhan is preaching from his pulpit about the ‘great man’ L. Ron Hubbard, who’s come to save the Black man. It’s utterly insane.”