Undaunted by the pummeling it is taking from former members, the Church of Scientology has been stepping up efforts to reach out to African-Americans.
Details appear in an interview with veteran rapper Doug E. Fresh at essence.com.
"Scientology is not a White religion. It is not just for White people," the artist, whose birth name is Douglas E. Davis, tells Terrance Dean. "Scientology is not written with disrespect toward God. It doesn't worship something that is evil. It is scientific, mathematical, and spiritual. The Black community has to check it out and see what's there. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but you have to take a look. You may be amazed at what you get."
The largely favorable piece, which mentions the erratic behavior or Tom Cruise but says nothing of the more troubling allegations against the church, lists several African-American entertainers it says have been associated with it: Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, MC Lyte, Haywood Nelson (who played Dwayne "Hey HEY Hey" Nelson on the 1970s television show, "What 's Happening!") and Isaac Hayes.
(Which raises a question, at least in my mind: We know of entertainers who are Scientologists. Are there prominent politicians/public officials, academics/scientists/intellectuals, writers/artists or athletes who are Scientologists? That is, are the only well known people involved with Scientology actors or musicians?)
Back to outreach to the African-American community: The Essence piece details Scientology operations in Inglewood, Calif., and Harlem in New York, where the church opened a center in 2001."Harlem, from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and eventually Stevie Wonder and Hip Hop, has been an international cultural beacon," John Carmichael, president of the Church of Scientology of New York. "Besides residents of the neighborhood, the Church of Scientology of Harlem will also provide an especially congenial atmosphere for Scientologists in the Bronx and in Brooklyn, who already make up a large part of the Scientologists of African descent, as well as more recent arrivals from Africa and the Caribbean."