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Tom Cruise Pushes for FBI Funding for Scientology
Tom Cruise Pushes for FBI Funding for Scientology
RELIGIOUS RIGHT DILEMMA: CRUISE LOBBYING FOR SCIENTOLOGY FAITH-BASED INITIATIVE GRANTS?
Web Posted: June 26, 2003
It may be Pat Robertson's worst nightmare.
Will the Church of Scientology be a recipient of President Bush's \Religion Tax\ largesse to operate drug-alcohol rehab clinics and other social programs based on the group's strange teachings?
The Washington Post is reporting that Scientology \cause celeb\ Tom Cruise has been meeting this past week with key senior Bush administration officials at the Department of Education and even the White House. On Thursday, Secretary of Education Rod Paige reportedly hosted a lunch for the film idol, who inquired about the president's \No Child Left Behind\ program that provides grants to churches and other houses of worship.
Will taxpayers now be funding Scientology-controlled groups?
Ever since Mr. Bush opened his White House Office of Faith-Based and Community initiatives three years ago, controversy has surrounded the multi-billion dollar program. Religious conservatives have supported the general idea of government funding for faith-based activities, but worry that non-mainstream and \fringe\ religions including Scientology or even Islamic groups, may end up receiving money. They also voice concern that with federal dollars could come surveillance and fiscal oversight -- a practice they fear would interfere with the independence of religious groups by \Caesar.\
More liberal religionists have embraced the program. They are concerned, though, that their fundamentalist brethren might use the government lucre to set programs that discriminate on the basis of religion, or involve blatant, sectarian proselytizing. Bottom line: the Bush faith-based initiative still faces an up-hill fight. The president has relied heavily on everything from Executive Orders which were used to conjure the White House office, to bureaucratic mechanisms such as re-writing federal rules on which groups may receive taxpayer money. This allows the White House to temporarily sidestep congressional oversight, as well as nagging questions regarding the separation of church and state.
All of which raises questions about fairness, and which faith-based groups qualify for government funding, and what Tom Cruise is doing mixing with policy gurus in the nation's capitol.
The prospect of Scientology or other non-mainstream religious groups profiting from the federal faith-based initiative has been a concern for leading Protestant evangelicals including Christian Coalition televangelist Pat Robertson. No sooner had Bush set up his White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives than Robertson was blasting the program on his \700 Club\ television show.
\I really don't know what to do,\ Robertson complained. \This thing (the initiative) could be a real Pandora's box. And what seems to be such a great initiative can rise up to bite the organizations as well as the federal government.\
For Robertson, the prospect of groups like the Hare Krishna Scientology, and even Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church receiving government funding to operate religion-saturated social programs was, well, profane.
\I mean, the Moonies have been proscribed, if I can use that, for brainwashing techniques, sleep deprivation and all the rest of it that goes along with their religious proselytizing,\ Robertson continued. \The Hare Krishnas much the same thing. And it seems appalling to me that we're going to go for somebody like that, or the Church of Scientology...\
Similar concerns were voiced by another television preacher, Rev. Jerry Falwell. He proposed that only \established\ mainstream religion charities qualify for government funding. That seemed to conflict with the initiative as described by Mr. Bush, who told the audience at the WHOFBCI opening, \We welcome all religion and we do not impose any religion.\
Barely a month later, AANEWS reported that the Scientology-controlled magazine \Freedom\ ran a photograph of President Bush and wife Barbara at the Presidential Summit for America's Future, where the couple was flanked by John Travalota (another Scientology celeb) and Church of Scientology International Executive Karen Hollander. Word was also breaking that Scientology officials would be asking for White House funding of a church-linked program known as Applied Scholastics that incorporates the teaching of founder L. Ron Hubbard.
As for Cruise, he has emerged in Scientology press broadsides and articles as a international representative of the controversial sect. In April, he sent a check and letter of support to \Drug-Free Ambassadors\ in New Zealand, a program sponsored by the COS founded by John Travolta a decade ago. In the U.S., the program operates as \Drug-Free Marshals.\ The group is based upon several points which include \living a drug free life,\ \Helping my fellow Drug-Free Marshals,\ and \Telling people the truth about the harmful effects of drugs.\
While Robertson and Falwell have entertained notions of selective government funding for the faith-based initiative -- a prospect that would likely not pass constitutional muster since it clearly discriminates -- the Church of Scientology has maintained a somewhat staid, even professional distance from the controversy. A statement issued by COS International Vice President Janet Weiland said that the controversy over who receives the public lucre \has in some cases turned ugly,\ and that \The Church of Scientology does not attempt to judge or pass comment on the religion of others.\
Weiland also pointed out that \Government funding of social betterment activities is nothing new,\ and pointed to groups like Catholic Charities, Lutheran Services of America and the YMCA which \collect billions of dollars in federal money for their charitable programs.\
\The religious leaders of this country should not be climbing over the backs of their brethren in the mad scramble for government coins,\ continued Weiland.
As for Pat Robertson, while Scientology has been catching the flack for wanting to step up to the Treasury window, a Robertson-controlled entity known as Operation Blessing has scrambled for Caesar's gold and received a $500,000 grant thanks to the faith-based initiative.