- A top contender for Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a Scientology church in 2010.
- Rep. Karen Bass praised the Church of Scientology for its “commitment … to make a difference.”
- Former Scientologists have accused the group of operating as a cult, while others have detailed rampant sexual abuse and a culture of intimidation.
California Rep. Karen Bass, who has emerged as a leading contender to be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, praised the Church of Scientology during a 2010 ribbon-cutting ceremony for one of the group’s facilities in Los Angeles.
Bass, 66, served in the California General Assembly when she spoke at the event, held on April 24, 2010.
“This day and this new Church of Scientology is an exciting moment because I know your goal and your commitment is truly to make a difference,” Bass told the 6,000 attendees at the ceremony, which was led by Scientology head David Miscavige.
“The Church of Scientology I know has made a difference, because your creed is a universal creed and one that speaks to all people everywhere,” Bass continued.
Karen Bass in 2010 at a ribbon-cutting for a Scientology church:
“That is why the words are exciting of your Founder L. Rob Hubbard…The Church of Scientology I know has made a difference, because your creed is a universal creed and one that speaks to all people everywhere” pic.twitter.com/EghkCwqHi6
— Alex Thompson (@AlxThomp) July 31, 2020
Other speakers at the event included Lee Baca, who served as sheriff of Los Angeles County through 2014. Baca pleaded guilty in 2016 to lying to the FBI about inmate abuse at county jails during his tenure.
Bass has praised the controversial group as a U.S. Congresswoman as well.
In November 2011, she submitted a letter to be read at the opening of a Scientology center in South Los Angeles. According to reports, Bass praised the church for its “many humanitarian initiatives and social betterment programs for the benefit of South Los Angeles.”
Scrutiny of Scientology has increased in recent years, with former Scientologists saying the church operates as a cult, and that members face pressure to disassociate themselves from non-Scientologists.
The church’s leadership has long been known for dealing aggressively with its critics.
Scientology and Miscavige have come under additional scrutiny in recent years amid allegations of rampant sexual abuse within the organization.
The church settled a lawsuit in July 2018 with a woman who claimed she was forced to have an abortion and prevented from leaving the church.
Last year, four women who accused actor and Scientologist Danny Masterson of raping them sued the church, Miscavige and Masterson.
The Huffington Post reported that the women accused the church and Masterson of stalking them and invading their privacy in order to keep them from coming forward about the rape allegations.
Bass, who is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is thought to be one of three or four women on Biden’s list of potential vice presidential nominees.
According to CNN, her star has risen due to an intense lobbying campaign on her behalf by California Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Biden has committed to choosing a woman as his running mate.
He has also faced growing pressure to choose a woman of color, due in large part to the protests and riots that have erupted in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May.
Other leading contenders for the Biden ticket are California Sen. Kamala Harris and former national security adviser Susan Rice.
Bass’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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