On John Linder and Scientology

U.S. Rep. John Linder rang up about an hour ago. He wanted to talk about the Bruce Bartlett attack on the Fair Tax, which we made reference to on Monday.

Most importantly, Linder wanted to explain that he and Tom Cruise are not of the same faith.

In a piece for the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Bartlett, a number cruncher for Bush No. 41, said the Fair Tax “was originally devised by the Church of Scientology in the early 1990s.”

Hogwash, said Linder, who has paired up with local radio talk show host Neal Boortz to write one book on the topic. Another is on the way. Linder and U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss also have a bill pushing a national sales tax in lieu of an income tax.

“I was just astonished. First of all, I know Bruce. I’ve been on the same stage with him. Where this Scientology stuff came from is just beyond me,” Linder said.

The congressman said he understood that another group with a similar aim — Citizens for an Alternative Tax System — had some sort of relationship with the Church of Scientology.

“But CATS has nothing to do with us. In fact, they got very angry when we started Americans for Fair Taxation, because they thought they owned the field. We just ignore them,” Linder said.

Now, we’ve heard enough charges fly back and forth about this — so we called CATS, which was founded in 1990, at its Virginia office. Glenn Wahlquist, the national director, picked up.

Is there a Scientology connection? “There was in the very, very beginning. A couple of guys who founded CATS were Scientologists. Their interest grew out of some of the church’s experience,” Wahlquist said.

The group has peaked. The organization’s phone rings at his house.

Oh, and about Linder’s religion. “I’m not now nor have I ever been a Scientologist,” he said. He is a Presbyterian elder.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday August 29, 2007.
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