Three Church of Scientology Branches Received Trump Administrator Paycheck Protection Act Loans
The Church of Scientology, famous for its shady rituals and famous followers, received hundreds of thousands of dollars in government-backed coronavirus aid.
Scientology branches in New York, Washington, DC, and Belleair, Florida, received small business loans of $ 150,000 to $ 300,000, according to a comprehensive list of recipients published by the United States Treasury.
The three churches were among tens of thousands of mosques, synagogues and other religious institutions that received forgivable loans as part of the Trump administration’s $ 2 trillion CARES Act, designed to provide economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic.
The list of religious organizations to receive loans was heavily skewed toward Christian churches, according to a Reuters analysis. Religious organizations accounted for at least 1 million of the 51.1 million jobs protected by the $ 660 billion program.
Like other small businesses struggling to pay bills and keep staff on payroll, nonprofit churches qualified for PPP loans if they had fewer than 500 employees. Loans are canceled if money is spent on eligible costs and staff is withheld.
According to US Treasury data, the Church of Scientology for Belleair Mission said its PPP loan saved 98 jobs, while the Church of Scientology New York said its loan helped retain 10 jobs.
However, the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, DC, said it did not save jobs. In a statement, Church of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw stated that the DC church “in fact retained 100% of its staff.”
The controversial church, based in Hollywood and supported by celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is worth around $ 1.75 billion, with the majority invested in real estate, according to The Scientology Money Project, a blog run by Jeffrey Augustine, the spouse of a former Scientologist. Estimate annual revenue at about $ 200 million.
The church owns dozens of properties around the world, including $ 400 million worth of properties in Los Angeles. In Clearwater, Florida, the so-called spiritual headquarters, the tax-exempt church owns 60 properties worth $ 168 million.
Former high-profile Scientologist Leah Remini claimed in her television series that the church requires a minimum tithe of $ 250,000.
Among other churches that received loans from the PPP was First Baptist Church of Dallas, a megachurch whose pastor is close to Trump. They received a forgivable loan worth $ 2 million to $ 5 million.
Catholic Church organizations previously estimated that 9,000 Catholic churches received loans, while the Jewish Federations of North America previously told CBS News that 573 Jewish organizations, including 219 synagogues, submitted successful applications.
The Church of Scientology did not provide a comment before the deadline, but later sent The Daily Beast a letter referring to Remini and Augustine as “a conspiracy madman and a celebutard, neither of whom knows anything. about the Church or its finances “.
“As anyone who knows anything about Scientology can tell you, parishioners make donations to audit or train what they want to receive. They are not required to tithe or make other donations, ”the letter said.
The letter did not respond to The Daily Beast’s questions about PPP loans.