NEWSFLASH!! ''Pres.'' Bush Scientology Remarks

20 Feb 2001

There are a few clues so far to how the Bush administration will look on proposals from religious groups that seem out of the mainstream. In an interview with The New York Times during the campaign, Bush was asked if, for example, he would approve of government financing for a Church of Scientology antidrug program.

He answered: ``I have a problem with the teachings of Scientology being viewed on the same par as Judaism or Christianity. That just happens to be a personal point of view. But I am interested in results. I am not focused on the process.''

For its part, the Church of Scientology, founded as ``dianetics'' in the 1950s by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, claims it can document the effectiveness of its literacy programs and its drug and prisoner rehabilitation programs, Narconon and Criminon.

In Oklahoma, the church receives state money to treat drug addicts at Narconon Chilocco, a Scientology rehabilitation center, said Kurt Weiland, director of the Church of Scientology International.

``In Scientology, we believe in past lives and future lives,'' Weiland said, adding that the church's programs are open to people of all beliefs. ``Nobody who does anything in drug rehabilitation or in literacy programs has to formulate that belief in order to go through the program.''

The White House Office on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives has already come under pressure from one religious group to deny government contracts to another. In recent weeks, the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish group, has lobbied behind the scenes for assurances that the Bush administration will not enter into partnerships with the Nation of Islam, whose leader, Louis Farrakhan, has a history of making anti-Semitic statements.

Anti-Defamation League leaders met on Feb. 12 with John DiIulio Jr., who is heading the president's program, and afterward said they left reassured that the president would not allow financing for the Nation of Islam's programs. Bush told The Austin American-Statesman during the campaign, ``I don't see how we can allow public dollars to fund programs where spite and hate is the core of the message.'' The Nation of Islam did not respond to repeated requests for interviews.

Bush has told religious leaders that his program would allow them greater leeway to integrate their teachings in their community service and still be eligible for government money.

In Philadelphia, Dobson expects to add Krisha spirituality to his programs by hiring a few clergy and mentors, and teaching about the history of non-Western religions.

``We're not just here to educate and feed people,'' Dobson said as he entered a basement lounge where two parolees watched Jerry Springer on television. ``We see people as spirit souls. Our goal is to help them spiritually develop.''

NYT-02-19-01 1952EST


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