Legislators Attend Scientology National Office Opening: Associations Overlap with Nation of Islam and Unification Church

From the Daily Caller, last week:

Three U.S. congressmen and a top-level government official attended the opening of the Church of Scientology’s National Office in Washington, D.C., Thursday.

…Lawmakers in attendance were Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton and Illinois Democratic Rep. Danny Davis. Liz Gibson, Senior Program Manager at the Federal Emergency Management Agency was also in attendance.

Burton and Davis have received donations from the Church’s “Citizens for Social Reform” (noted by Alex Pareene at Salon last year); Burton has for some years promoted the work of the Church-linked Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights, which lobbies against medication for mental health problems, and he praised the organization in July.

One should be cautious of reading too much into what appears to have been a standard civic function, but Jackson Lee went so far as to praise L. Ron Hubbard:

“I want to thank L. Ron Hubbard for recognizing that courage is not rewarded but it is valued,” said the congresswoman.

A PR release with further details can be seen here.

Some forums are speculating that this development may be connected to the Nation of Islam’s embrace of Scientology: Jackson Lee has also praised Robert Muhammad, and, as I noted in 2010, the NoI has in recent years promoted Hubbard’s book Dianetics. An audio of a 2011 speech, purportedly given by Robert Muhammad, was recently uploaded to YouTube; at 23:20, Muhammad reports Louis Farrakhan describing Hubbard as “the greatest aider to the prophets”, and promising to take Dianetics to “the Muslim world” and to set the book “next to the Koran”.

Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have also been commended by Danny Davis. Further, Ed Brayton reminds us that in 2004 Davis was involved in a ceremony in Washngton DC at which Rev Moon was declared to be the world’s “King of Peace”; as the Washington Post reported (following John Gorenfeld’s article on the subject):

Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) wore white gloves and carried a pillow holding an ornate crown that was placed on Moon’s head. 

The Unification Church itself has long-standing links with the Nation of Islam, as discussed in a piece for Salon by Frederick Clarkson in 2000. In 2008, Tynnetta Muhammad, the wife of Elijah Muhammad (she believes that Elijah Muhammad is still alive, and so she’s not seen as his widow) attended a Global Peace Festival organised by the Unification Church’s Universal Peace Federation at the Presidential Palace in Mongolia. Here, she met Rev Moon’s son Hyun Jin Moon, and received “gifts and awards”.

Of course, politicians say all kinds of things and attend all kinds of events for reasons of political expediency or as part of their civic duties; it does not follow from the above that Jackson Lee or Davis are necessarily personally invested in these groups. However, their overlapping associations suggest an interesting convergence of rejected knowledge and controversial fringe religious organisations.

One Response

  1. Burton is a consummate and craven opportunist. He has a long history of being an advocate for ‘Sikh interests’, but this actually means that he has been a supporter of crude anti-Indian propaganda dressed up as “Sikh nationalism”. Both India-bashing and Sikh-nationalism-mongering fit in with Burton’s close ties with Pakistan. None of this is done on the basis of principles, but rather as part of an elaborate dance of corruption and influence-peddling that is really just simple bribery in all but name.

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