Thursday's War Room publication of The Church of Scientology's friends in Washington is drawing no shortage of public attention to the growing lobby the Church of Scientology now boasts. According to the report, which follows another recent exploration of the issue by The New Yorker, the church of Scientology avoids "official" political donations, but prominent members still support politicians and politicians return the favor.
Former Rep. Ben Gilman, R-N.Y., received thousands from the church, and, in return, as chairman of the International Relations Committee, he complained on several occasions that European nations were discriminating against Scientology. Florida's Mark Foley was a Scientology ally. (It was rumored that he checked into a church-affiliated recovery center after his resignation from Congress.) As a state legislator, Nevada's Sharron Angle supported a Scientology-affiliated drug treatment therapy program for prisoners.
The Church of Scientology infamously espouses a system of beliefs and related practices created by fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, starting in 1952 as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics.
Scientology teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings who have forgotten their true nature. The story of Xenu is part of Scientologist teachings about extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in Earthly events, collectively described as space opera by Hubbard.
Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counseling known as "auditing", in which practitioners aim to re-experience consciously painful or traumatic events in their past, in order to free themselves of their limiting effects. Study materials and auditing courses are made available to members in return for specified donations. Scientology is legally recognized as a tax-exempt religion in the United States and other countries, and the Church of Scientology emphasizes this as proof that it is a bona fide religion.
Over time, however, Scientology and its practices have grown immensely controversial. There are, of course, the previously reported stories of "rampant physical abuse of underlings" by church head David Miscavige, the church's large contingency of underage workers signed to "billion-year contracts" performing manual labor "for little to no money," and the tales of the church "separating families and milking its members for thousands of dollars." As highlighted in the War Room piece, the church is even under investigation by the FBI "for what could amount to human trafficking."
Consequently, there is no shortage of brewing opposition to the Church of Scientology gaining power inside the Federal Government. In the wake of recent headlines, many Tea Party activists have grown vocal against prominent political figures growing so cozy to a church about which millions of Americans have legitimate concerns. But, to date, Sarah Palin has not answered calls from fellow Tea-Partiers to speak up and demand that elected officials not accept financial donations from the church of Scientology and its members until more questions are answered about the religious organization's questionable practices.
Sarah Palin, of course, is no stranger to Scientology and, as a result, may not readily join the large and growing anti-Scientology movement. As coverage from the War Room notes, "Sarah Palin is personal friends with prominent Scientologists Greta Van Susteren and her husband, attorney John Coale. Coale helped Palin start her PAC -- and he once proposed starting a Scientology PAC, in the 1980s."