'From loans and donations to fundraising': Trump's ties to Scientology raises eyebrows
(AFP/File / Jim WATSON)

On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that ex-Scientologists Leah Remini and Mike Rinder are speaking out about the Trump administration's relationship with the Church of Scientology, "from loans and donations to fundraising."

"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," reported Marlow Stern — even though the Church is tax-exempt and has $1 billion in assets. Remini and Rinder have demanded answers from the federal government.

"It’s insane,” Remini, an actress formerly involved in the Church, told the Beast. “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!” She added that singer Joy Villa, a prominent Scientologist, has allegedly "infiltrated" the administration.

“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!” said Rinder, who previously served as the organization's spokesman. “Staff members of Scientology organizations are ‘volunteers,’ they’re not employees, and they’re getting loans so that people don’t lose their jobs?”

The Church of Scientology — which Remini and Rinder also say has ties to Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam — has faced criticism for their opposition to psychiatry. One Scientology-backed museum even claimed psychiatry caused 9/11 and the Holocaust. But Trump's links to the organization go back even before the presidency, through his now-defunct charitable foundation.

"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 Sept. 11-related cause in the wake of the tragedy: $1,000 to the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project," said the report. "That program, started by the Church of Scientology and 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.'"

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