Officials at the controversial religion, which many critics have called a cult, have been boasting about its ties to the current administration, and are saying that the president's support of faith based social programs could mean that the government will funnel tax money its way.
One such program is is Applied Scholastics, a Los Angeles based operation that promotes the teaching methods of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Applied Scholastics has been successful with church and community tutoring programs, especially in some inner cities in California - but Scientology foes have charged that it's a front for the church and a recruiting tool.
A recent issue of Freedom, the official Scientology magazine, features a picture, taken back at the President's Summit for America's Future, with Barbara and George H. Bush embracing both a high-ranking executive of the Church of Scientology and John Travolta, the actor who is a member and vocal advocate of Scientology. Colin and Alma Powell are also in the photo, which was taken when the church officials went to the summit in Philadelphia, during the Clinton years, to promote Applied Scholastics. The [Bush administration] initiative may break down the academic church/state formula and instead look at who can provide the help that's really needed," says a church spokesman. "I'm optimistic about the whole thing."
"The Bushes have long been associated with faith based programs that address the needs of our society," says cult and alternative religion expert Rick Ross, whose Web site, www.culteducation.com, outlines the Bushes' connections to the Rev. Moon and his various programs. "Some of these groups are very controversial and may have alternative agendas. So when we talk about funding faith based programs, we should proceed very cautiously."
A Bush spokesman had no comment by press time.