Is Louis Farrakhan trying to merge Islam and Scientology?
Is the founder of the U.S.-based Nation of Islam planning on uniting his group with the late Ron Hubbard's controversial sect?
BY: Billy Hallowell, Assistant Editor of The Blaze
Farrakhan recently made a long, 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 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 aboutwhat 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.”
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