- The Minister Louis Farrakhan has integrated Scientology into National of Islam theology
- Farrakhan continues to praise L. Ron Hubbard, the allegedly racist, white founder of the Church of Scientology
- The radical faith leader is training hundreds of NOI adherents in controversial "auditing" and Dianetics techniques used in Scientology to help blacks overcome trauma in their past
- He believes adopting Scientology will help whites avoid being "devil Christians" and "Satan Jews."
Last week, we told you about the Minister Louis Farrakhan's bizarre commentary about the "fall of the United States." In that same sermon, which spanned well over two hours in length, the fiery faith leader also issued praise for the Church of Scientology -- yet another endorsement and public proclamation surrounding a relationship that the Nation of Islam (NOI) has apparently been courting for years.
Considering the increased media coverage of Scientology amid Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' divorce, Farrakhan's comments are particularly timely. Additionally, they create a plethora of questions, especially considering the allegedly racist past of Scientology's founder Lafayette Ron Hubbard, NOI's ethnocentric theology and the controversial elements inherent in both belief systems.
Last week, CNN recently broke down the central tenets of Scientology and explained its appeal to celebrities:
A brief look at the equally controversial ideals that NOI embraces is warranted as well. Founded in Detroit, Michigan, in the 1930s by Wali Farad (Wallace Fard Muhammad), the relatively new religion embraces the Koran and preaches that whites are "devils" who were created by a black scientist named Yacub who lived 6,000 years ago (presumably the biblical "Jacob"). Farad eventually disappeared -- a mystery that has yet to be solved to this day.
Beliefnet has more about what happened next in terms of NOI's complex growth and development:
Fard passed the torch to Elijah Muhammad, who formulated NOI's most controversial tenets, including that he [Elijah Muhammad] was Allah's prophet and that Caucasians were racially inferior. After the death of Elijah Muhammad, his son Warith Deen Muhammad steered the movement away from its previous beliefs to mainstream Islam. Another branch, under Louis Farrakhan, split off and retained the Nation of Islam's more controversial creed.
It is this splinter group, led by Farrakhan, that is forging a connection with Scientology. An in-depth look at the history of the relationship, especially considering the controversial ideals accepted by adherents, is certainly warranted. According to media accounts, it was only a few years ago that Farrakhan first began promoting Scientology, the religion founded by Hubbard, a science fiction writer who died in 1986 (some sources, though, claim that the relationship's roots were set in the late 1990s).
Regardless of when the connection took form, the public connection between the two parties didn't solidify, the Tampa Bay Times notes, until after Scientologists honored Farrakhan at the 2006 Ebony Awakening Awards. The annual ceremony provides accolades to African Americans and is run by Ebony Awakening, a group that was founded in 1982 by jazz performer Amanda Ambrose (Ebony Awakening also has ties to the Church of Scientology's founder and admits as much in its materials).
Based on 2006 media coverage of the growing relationship between NOI and Scientology, it's evident that the latter group has been looking for an inroads to the black community for quite some time. With African American membership in the Church of Scientology purportedly low, the partnership with NOI could prove useful to both parties.
Based on the Times initial reporting, the affiliation between the two faith systems initially focused on Scientology's controversial drug rehabilitation program, which was first brought to NOI mosques in Los Angeles around that same time (the drug program is known as Narconon).
NOI Minister Tony Muhammad had much to say in 2006 about the growing Scientologist influence in the NOI. He claimed that the connection comes from Farrakhan's deep interest in any programs or ideas that will advance African Americans and that Scientology is simply one mechanism that will truly enhance the NOI community.
"I found some validity in some of the L. Ron Hubbard work. They have one of the best drug rehabilitation programs in the country," Muhammad explained. "We like the drug treatment program and we at least want to collaborate on that."
According to the Times, these drug treatment programs -- which have gained widespread criticism -- are known for their harsh methodologies. The program, based on Hubbard's detoxification methodology, claims to remove harmful toxins through intense exercise, hours in a sauna and the ingestion of minerals, oils and vitamins. On its web site, the church describes the program as follows: "The Narconon program not only addresses the mental and physical debilitation precipitated by drug abuse, but also the reasons why an individual turns to drugs in the first place."
An Australian television special also delves into the treatment, in detail, while highlighting the criticisms that have been waged against it:
In 2006, Alfreddie Johnson, a preacher out of California, also touted Scientology's teachings, while explaining the attraction that NOI and some members of the black community have to the controversial doctrines. Johnson, who founded World Literacy Crusade, a tutoring program that relies upon Hubbard's teachings, sees no conflict between other faiths using Scientology materials. He also maintains that African Americans are very open to new ideas -- more open than white churches and conservatives (a factor that may add to the reasoning behind Farrakhan's usage of the tools).
"In my opinion, most white churches are run by conservatives who have not been locked out of society," Johnson told the Times. "When you go in and try to share new ideas with people who are conservative in their thinking, they are not as open as African-Americans, who historically have been locked out of the mainstream of society."
Flash forward a few years and this openness can be seen in full bloom. In 2010, the Times dug into the elements and teachings that Farrakhan was already infusing into NOI trainings. It was during that same year that the faith leader chose to hold NOI's annual convention in Tampa, Florida, an interesting choice considering that Scientology's home base is in nearby Clearwater.
During the convention, the Times reported that NOI members were invited to attend a "study tech" workshop (student study mechanisms) and they were also encouraged to purchase books from World Literacy Crusade, Johnson's program that relies upon Hubbard's teachings. Farrakhan's followers were, thus, trained to use Hubbard's study techniques and drug treatment ideals.
This, of course, is only one example of the connections between the two faith groups. At various times, Farrakhan and his associates have reportedly visited Scientology establishments and the fiery preacher has touted the benefits of Hubbard's techniques during numerous sermons. The relationship is so tight-knit that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a leftist group that explores the "radical right," extensively documented it in a blog post back in June 2011.
While it initially seemed as though drug treatment would be the only connective tissue between NOI and Scientology, Farrakhan has spoken openly about the use of "Dianetics." This is a pseudoscience that Hubbard described as a "spiritual-healing technology" that aims to help people overcome their subconscious and, thus, ease personal issues pertaining to physical, mental and moral health.
SPLC writer Leah Nelson explained that Farrakhan's support for Scientology is rooted in his rhetoric that it will help NOI adherents get closer to perfection in preparation for the end times. Nelson also noted that, in a May 31, 2011 article, The Final Call, NOI's official newspaper, reported that around 700 of the church's members had already become Certified Hubbard Dianetics Auditors (other NOI reports claim that 1,000 were trained as of 2011). Auditors, as she explained, are supposedly able to help people achieve higher levels of consciousness.
David Sessions of The Daily Beast explained auditing in an extensive guide to Scientology that the outlet published last week. The practice of delving into one's consciousness is a central component of Scientology. Auditing, he writes, is a phenomenon "reassembling a blend of confession, psychotherapy, and hypnosis." Auditors are trained to ask questions that apparently get into the nitty gritty of subjects' subconscience memories (the so-called root of trauma, addiction and other barriers). He continues:
An auditor asks the person being audited sets of questions directed at uncovering subconscious memories believed to be the root of trauma, addiction, or other obstructions to happy, ethical living. Auditing is an integral part of advancement in the ranks of Scientology. The contents of auditing sessions are said to be confidential, except in cases where the church has reportedly allowed them to be used to blackmail disaffected members (see Fair Game, below). (The church denies virtually all accusations made by ex-members and journalists who have questioned Scientology regarding the incidents the defectors describe.)
Here's a video that showcases how the process unfolds:
In a recent Daily Mail article, writer Kerry Hiatt describes a bizarre experience she had on July 4 while visiting the Clearwater Scientology headquarters with a relative who was once an employee of the church. Hiatt describes a process through which she was "tested and assessed" by a Scientologist. She writes:
At the centre, after a short DVD introduction to Scientology, I was hooked up to the infamous ‘e-meter’, an electronic device used during ‘auditing’. The e-meter is supposed to indicate whether a person has been cleared of the spiritual impediment of past experiences.
To illustrate how I was holding on to bad experiences, I was pinched and told to recall the pinch over and over again. Instead, to see what would happen, I silently recalled scenes from The Sound Of Music. Unsurprisingly, the e-meter did what was expected and I was told I was carrying painful memories that were holding me back in life. [...]
I spent the next hour under observation by Sea Org members – elite Scientologists – while I answered hundreds of questions such as ‘Do you smile much?’ and ‘Does life seem vague and unreal to you?’ [...]
The test results were analysed by computer – yet more data to be stored away, no doubt – and I was told that I’d tested as extremely nervous and irresponsible. ‘Are you nervous?’ the woman asked. ‘Do you take too much on in life and feel as though you can’t cope?’
I’m usually a private person but I opened up by talking about my occasional feelings of inadequacy and my need to strive for perfection.
Why was I telling her things, I wondered? I remembered reading that many Sea Org members use hypnosis techniques when communicating. I didn’t believe I’d been hypnotised but I’d certainly said much more than I’d intended.
While at the center, Hiatt was also told that she would need to purify her body by sitting in a sauna for hours each day and by also taking specialized vitamins (the latter fact seems to corroborate the Times' coverage of how drug treatment plans are implemented). This purification process was said to cost thousands of dollars and the woman who was asking questions of Hiatt told her that it was possible to begin treatments that very day. Hiatt ended up fleeing the facility.
Farrakhan, of course, is apparently looking to use similar tools to reach scores of adherents through hundreds of his Scientology-trained members. As he has publicly stated, he hopes to help alleviate the emotional pain he believes African Americans hold within. Considering Farrakhan's anti-white and anti-Semitic rhetoric that is deeply rooted in his interpretation of past events, Dianetics serves as a useful fit for his theological inclinations.
However, there are some glaring differences between the two religious constructs that beg to be noted. While Nelson highlights some of the similarities between NOI and Scientology, the incongruent tenets seem too profound for the groups to hold a viable partnership. Yet, Nelson explains that this is exactly what seems to be happening:
Although both the Nation of Islam and Scientology embrace extraterrestrial theories as well as self-improvement programs aimed at lifting members to higher and higher levels, they nevertheless make for extremely surprising partners. NOI is a racist hate group that holds that white people are intrinsically, biologically evil — “blue-eyed devils,” in the group’s parlance. Scientology’s followers, who include several well-known celebrities and other wealthy people, are overwhelmingly white (although membership is open to all) and its founder reportedly was a racist who long defended South African apartheid.
It's difficult to delve into the exact details or to discern exactly what this partnership looks like, but there is at least one NOI member who has spoken about his personal experience utilizing Scientology's teachings. "Brother Jesse Muhammad," a member of NOI Muhammad Mosque No. 45 in Houston, Texas, and a writer for The Final Call, described his experience with Scientology in detail.
He explained, in a blog post for the Houston Chronicle last year, that he became convinced that Dianetics was worth pursuing after Farrakhan told adherents in 2010 that it would help African Americans to get past all of the horrific crimes that have been committed against them.
"It leaked out and some became rattled, confused and even upset by the fact that Minister Farrakhan would bring to his body of followers a teaching from a White man," wrote Muhammad. "I have been a student under the leadership of Minister Farrakhan for sixteen years now, and he has yet to lead me astray."
Rather than joining in the angst, Mohammad, one of Farrakhan's devoted NOI adherents, decided to pick up Hubbard's "Dianetics" book and to check into all that Farrakhan was touting. He continues, describing what happened next:
That summer, Minister Farrakhan started sending groups of student officials to the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles. A few of them were from Houston and I was personally hearing their testimonies about what they were learning ,seeing, feeling and experiencing as a result of the rigorous study regime and Dianetics auditing process.
In August he called for another conference in Rosemont, Illinois centered on the NOI’s new relationship with the Church of Scientology. This time I was blessed to be among the over 800 invited to experience it for ourselves. Before going we were required to read the book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health” by L. Ron Hubbard.
I was intrigued and impressed by what I read in that book plus, I read other pamphlets regarding the teaching methodologies they use in the field of education.
So, Mohammad went to the conference, watched videos about Dianetics and auditing and learned everything that goes into the process. He was so moved that he decided to further embed himself in the teachings. He describes "co-auditing" with a "twin or partner" at the conference and claims that he is a witness that auditing works.
In his post, Mohammad goes on to claim that the experience helped him cope with horrible memories from his childhood that have previously held him down; he also reports shedding tears in the process. As a result of the experience, he decided to become a registered auditor -- a process the NOI member describes as a three-week string of reading, sketching drawings, listening to audio messages from Hubbard, writing essays and "passing auditing drills." He claims that he was "mentally fatigued" at times but that he was overjoyed at his ability to finish the process. His is only one story out of a great many.
While he hasn't given many specific details, Farrakhan has been more than open about the overarching relationship. In an April 2011 article, The Final Call proudly touted its connections to the Church of Scientology, claiming that Farrakhan has "introduced Black America and the world to modern equipment." This "equipment," of course, is the use of Dianetics and auditing -- tools that NOI claims will "help in the salvation and liberation of Black people in America and others who are poor, downtrodden and oppressed."
Farrakhan believes that the use of these elements will bring NOI members closer to their savior Wallace Fard Muhammad. Additionally, he believes that Dianetics can help Christians get closer to their savior -- Jesus Christ.
"We are Muslims but if Scientology will help us be better, then I want the technology of this to help us to be better Muslims. Christians can accept it and be better Christians. I don't care who gets it. Just get it and be better at who you say you are," Farrakhan proclaimed.
"I hate spiritual cowards who don't want to look at things and who feel that because I have something great I can't improve what I have by finding something that will make me a better representative of what I represent," he added.
In a 2011 speech, Farrakhan said something similar, but took his rhetoric even further saying that Hubbard "civilizes" white people and that whites should flock to them. Doing so, he said, would prevent them from being "devil Christians" and "Satan Jews." Watch this particular speech, below:
But what about Hubbard's allegedly racist past? Wouldn't it be too much for Farrakhan to bear? Nelson continues, providing more background on the odd nature of Farrakhan's support for the father of Scientology (and here's a list of allegedly racist comments that Hubbard once purportedly uttered):
Astoundingly, L. Ron Hubbard, the late Scientology founder for whom Farrakhan has nothing by praise, reportedly was a notorious racist who supported South African apartheid and described black Africans as barbarous, savage and primitive, and once allegedly wrote his wife, “You shouldn’t be scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees. Get yourself a nigger; that’s what they’re born for.”
Somehow, Farrakhan is tuning this out – along with the fact that Hubbard himself was white, which should be an insurmountable problem in itself. Central to NOI theology is the idea that whites are devils, created 6,000 years ago by an evil scientist for the sole purpose of oppressing blacks. They are seen by NOI members as so inherently evil that they cannot be redeemed unless they commit “mental suicide” and “erase the mentality of white supremacy,” according to scholar Mattias Gardell, author of the 1996 book, In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.
While many believe Farrakhan truly embraces Scientology as a means to help his people, there is also the factor of control -- something that he may be able to exercise more fervently by integrating Hubbard's theories. Nelson also mentions a theory that is advanced by Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates. According to Berlet, Farrakhan may see Scientology as a quicker avenue to help prepare his people for a journey to the "Mother Wheel," a massive spaceship (artificial planet) that he believes those who will be "saved" will live on.
The final thing is the destruction. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Mother Plane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day, but a pillar of fire by night. The Hon. Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the original scientists. It took 15 billion dollars in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this Mother Wheel, which is a half mile by-a-half-mile. This Mother Wheel is like a small human built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.
Oddly, this is somewhat similar to the themes described by Hubbard and embraced by Scientology -- creating a noteworthy ideology relationship characterized by similar ideals. The Los Angeles Times described Scientology's take on earth's formation in detail back in a 1990 article:
Seventy-five million years ago a tyrant named Xenu (pronounced Zee-new) ruled the Galactic Confederation, an alliance of 76 planets, including Earth, then called Teegeeack.
To control overpopulation and solidify his power, Xenu instructed his loyal officers to capture beings of all shapes and sizes from the various planets, freeze them in a compound of alcohol and glycol and fly them by the billions to Earth in planes resembling DC-8s. Some of the beings were captured after they were duped into showing up for a phony tax investigation.
The beings were deposited or chained near 10 volcanoes scattered around the planet. After hydrogen bombs were dropped on them, their thetans were captured by Xenu’s forces and implanted with sexual perversion, religion and other notions to obscure their memory of what Xenu had done.
Soon after, a revolt erupted. Xenu was imprisoned in a wire cage within a mountain, where he remains today. [...]
During the last 75 million years, these implanted thetans have affixed themselves by the thousands to people on Earth. Called “body thetans,” they overwhelm the main thetan who resides within a person, causing confusion and internal conflict.
In the Operating Thetan III course, Scientologists are taught to scan their bodies for “pressure points,” indicating the presence of these bad thetans. Using techniques prescribed by Hubbard, church members make telepathic contact with these thetans and remind them of Xenu’s treachery. With that, Hubbard said, the thetans detach themselves.
Farrakhan may be desperate to prepare his people for the aforementioned Mother Ship journey before he dies. Considering that he's already 79, time may be of the essence. Perhaps he truly believes that clarity will help his people advance to the level needed for this journey to outer space to unfold as planned. Either way, it's clear that the faith leader sees Scientology as a key element to helping African Americans and the downtrodden mentally advance.
Last Sunday, July 1, Farrakhan doubled-down on his support for Scientology's teaching, dismissing critics and denying that he has convoluted NOI theology through his Dianetics endorsement. He also addressed claims that Hubbard, a Caucasian, was racist, while also dismissing any critics who would see it as a conflict of interest that he would be using a white man's teachings.
"You know the critics are saying 'Aww, Farrakhan talking all this black talk and went over to that white man L. Ron Hubbard'...if it weren't so silly. I am you," he told his audience. "I haven't changed my religion. You know all the prophets taught us to seek truth from the cradle to the grave. They said wherever knowledge is you should seek to be a possessor of it."
Here, he was clearly attempting to convince his audience that they are on a never-ending path to discovering truth. Scientology, it seems, is merely a part of the process, in his view, and a piece of the knowledge that they are meant to pick up.
Here's a transcript of a portion of his comments, in which he defends the integration of Hubbard's teaching into NOI theology. Notice, he talks about the "demons" that auditing can help bring out (one wonders if these are the "thetans" that Scientologists embrace):
"Islam is magnificent. It's beautiful. We search the scriptures...and we come up with wonderful teachings from the honorable Elijah Muhammad and God himself has guided us -- but I found something in the teaching of Dianetics of Mr. L. Ron Hubbard that I saw could bring up from the depth of our subconscious mind things that we would prefer to lie dormant. But the auditing process brings it up and it's like bringing up demons out of us and just as this book Bible says that was the work of Jesus. How can you say you love Jesus the Christ when he was an exorcizar of demons out of the people? And when the demons were coming out, they were screaming. They didn't just come out peacefully."
How could I see something that valuable and know the hurt and sickness of my people and not offer it to them. So the criticism 'Mr. Hubbard was a racist.' I don't know that...and I wouldn't care. You don't have a good understanding of racism -- you don't. So, I found a tool that I know can help us and I thank God for Mr. L. Ron Hubbard and I thank God for his research and teaching.
He's gone on now. So if he was a racist, that went in the ground. But I didn't find racism in his book. If he was a hater, that went in the ground, but I didn't find hate in his books. If he wanted nothing to do with black people, well maybe that's in the ground. But his word was that this teaching that he had would find prominence once it was exposed to black people and black people lay hold to it. I'm not in disagreement with that. So you can continue to criticize me...all evil said and done to Farrakhan does not bother me"
Watch this portion of the sermon, below:
Farrakhan has made his alliance with Scientology clear. Rather than denouncing Hubbard, he's embracing a portion of the religion that he believes will help his followers on their path to the so-called "Mother Wheel." And there's no telling where the alliance will go next.