Donald Trump, Pam Bondi, and the Church of Scientology

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Donald Trump         L. Ron Hubbard

 

 

By Jim Bleyer

Donald Trump does not believe in science-but he does believe in Scientology, its tactics, truth twisting, and totalitarianism, if not its tenets. He cavorts regularly with its followers and sympathizers, utilizes the same fundraising scheme, and made one of his blue moon “charitable” donations to the Church of Scientology.

The COS is flush with cash and not above pursuing its goals by whatever means necessary including cozying up to politicians. How much it has donated to the Trump campaign is anyone’s guess because of the multitude of ways political contributions can be masked. Scientologists are not prone to identify themselves to outsiders.

A source with intimate knowledge of how the church operates told Tampa Bay Beat a Scientology/Trump liaison is entirely plausible but would be an outlier. Usually low-level government officials succumb to the allure of Scientology’s support and cash while higher profile politicos treat the COS like kryptonite, the source said.

“Trump is a different case. He likes people who praise him no matter who they are or what they represent.”

That makes sense in light of Trump’s failure to repudiate the support of Stormfront, the American Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and other hate groups. Multiple sources assert Scientologists overwhelmingly vote as a bloc with a pre-election understanding as to which candidates should be supported.

In light of revelations about his stinginess, Trump has stopped talking publicly about his barely existent charitable endeavors. Since 2001, the Trump foundation’s tax returns contain a single donation identifiable with a 9/11 charity: in 2006, Trump gave $1000 to a controversial Scientology program that administered a medically questionable treatment to firemen who inhaled toxins while working on the World Trade Center rubble.

The New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Fund conducted something called a “Purification Rundown” invented by Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard. This requires inhalation victims to ingest a vitamin cocktail and cooking oil, run on a treadmill and sweat heavily in a sauna with temperatures ranging from 140 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit for about a month.

Trump has other links to Scientology.

Steven Mnuchin, finance director for Trump’s presidential campaign, owns Dune Entertainment. That company merged with Scientologist tinged RatPac Entertainment, owned by James Packer, a wealthy, wayward Scientologist whom the church is trying to return to the fold.

Trump’s evolving scandal over a $25,000 check he donated to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi while her office received complaints about Trump University underscores his ties to the cult. Bondi’s Scientology-sponsored fundraiser at its Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater Oct. 1 was not the first time she accepted contributions from church members. Her ties to Scientology go back at least as far as 2010 and a Scientology-sponsored fundraiser took place at the Fort Harrison during her 2014 re-election campaign

Bondi’s rationale for accepting contributions from the controversial group? Both parties have a common interest in cracking down on human trafficking, she explained to the news media. The Church of Scientology has been investigated by the FBI for mental and physical abuse of its members, including minors, and whether it constituted human trafficking. No charges have been filed.

The Attorney General of the State of New York this week issued a cease and desist order against the Trump Foundation which funneled the $25,000 to Bondi’s PAC. Proven misconduct by the Foundation could result in fines and jail time.

Trump’s allure, like the Scientology cult, is not in the logic of his beliefs but in his ability to control behavior. There is no denying the parallels between Trump and Hubbard. The recruitment tools and pyramiding financial commitment deployed by Trump University replicates the template used by the Church of Scientology.

Revelations about Trump’s avoidance of paying any federal income tax for up to 18 years also parallel Hubbard’s unbridled worship of mammon. Trump took advantage of tax rules benefitting only a handful of the wealthy. Hubbard claimed Scientology as a religion to avoid paying federal income taxes. After using its usual tools of the trade–litigation and threats–against the Internal Revenue Service for years, Scientology was granted a tax exemption in 1993. It culminated a 25-year battle against the federal government that previously branded the “church” as a commercial enterprise.

Then there is rape and child abuse. Donald Trump has been accused of both on several counts. Hubbard believed Scientology should ignore and even cover up crimes committed by the church’s high echelon, big-income producers for Scientology. He termed this condoning of immoral conduct “ethics protection.”

And like Trump, the Church of Scientology is thin-skinned and retaliatory. Wikipedia is a case in point. After multiple cyber attacks, the world’s go-to reference source took the unusual step of prohibiting edits from any web address associated with the Church of Scientology.

Sources have told Tampa Bay Beat Scientology will go to any lengths to wreck the reputation of an individual it deems as an “SP” (suppressive person). This includes spreading falsehoods aimed at destroying relationships, careers, and finances. Tactics include litigation, intimidation, harassment, spying, and bribery as well as disseminating pure fabrications about the target.

What would Scientology gain from a Trump presidency? Plenty.

Trump enthusiastically supports limiting freedom of the press and altering libel laws. Nothing would please the Church of Scientology more. The mainstream media’s allegations of Scientology’s checkered history, abusive practices, and unrelenting demands from its adherents is well chronicled. Expanding paths to litigation would take some of the heat off the church and bolster its treasury.

Trump, an unabashed admirer of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism, has let it be known how he will facilitate the Russian’s goals: terming NATO “obsolete” and cutting back the U.S. commitment; encouraging the Russian hacking of U.S. Government agencies, endorsing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and threatening to pull the plug on the U.S. alliance with Japan who is in the midst of a territorial dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands.

Putin’s payback would not compromise any of his aggressive foreign policy goals. Russia has been tough on Scientology, not recognizing it as a religion. The Russian president could lift Moscow’s ban on The Church of Scientology and rein in Russian law enforcement authorities who have been conducting raids on Scientology centering on money laundering.

Russia’s 143 million citizens, especially its growing number of “celebrity” Trumpian oligarchs, represent a fertile recruitment base.

There’s no doubt if Trump is elected president, the Church of Scientology will have its man in the White House.

 

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