Church of Scientology obtained Covid-19 relief loans for three branches despite $2 billion estimated worth

According to the full list of COVID-19 beneficiaries released by the U.S. Treasury, the church's three branches located in New York, Washington D.C. and Florida respectively received anywhere between $150,000 to $300,000


                            Church of Scientology obtained Covid-19 relief loans for three branches despite $2 billion estimated worth
The exterior of the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International on April 3, 2006 in Los Angeles, California (Getty Images)

The Church of Scientology reportedly obtained small business loans for three of its branches from the government's COVID-19 relief funds despite being estimated to be worth close to $2 billion. According to the full list of COVID-19 beneficiaries released by the U.S. Treasury, the church's three branches located in New York, Washington D.C., and Florida respectively received anywhere between $150,000 to $300,000. The loans came as part of the government's efforts to inject billions of dollars into the economy to prevent mass layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government released the records on Monday, listing every recipient, after the Trump administration responded to repeated calls by Democrats to disclose specifically which businesses received loans through the Payment Protection Program (PPP), that was established by President Donald Trump's CARES Act.

(L to R) Actors Tom Cruise, Kelly Preston, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley listen to actress Jenna Elfman speak at the opening of the Church of Scientology, Mission of SoMa September 29, 2001, in San Francisco, CA. (Getty Images)

According to the report, religious organizations accounted for at least a million from the 51 million-plus jobs protected by the $660 billion package. Non-profit churches qualified for PPP loans just as other small businesses if they had fewer than 500 employees.

However, the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington D.C. received a PPP loan despite saving no jobs, according to data from the U.S. Treasury. Meanwhile, the Church of Scientology for the Mission of Belleair, Florida, and the Church of Scientology of New York said they saved 13 and 10 jobs respectively with the PPP loans they received. The controversial church is said to be worth $1.75 billion, as projected by the 'Scientology Money Project' -- a blog run by Jeffrey Augustine, the spouse of a former Scientologist. Augustine estimates the church's annual revenue is no less than $200 million.

Furthermore, the Church of Scientology owns several properties across the globe. They own at least $400 million in property in Los Angeles, while the church's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida boasts a whopping 60 properties worth an estimated $168 million. 

According to a Reuters analysis, Christian churches made up the majority of religious organizations that received PPP relief. It is being said that Catholic churches are finding it easier to secure the coveted loans as compared to other small businesses. Pat Markey, executive director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, revealed that more than 70 percent of the nation's close to 17,000 Catholic churches have applied for loans. At least 75 percent of those churches had their applications approved, Markey estimated.

General view of the Church of Scientology community center in the neighborhood of South Los Angeles on June 5, 2013, in Los Angeles, California. (Getty Images)

On Monday, July 6, the Trump administration revealed the names of more than 650,000 companies that received loans under the government's small business lending program, intended to support them through the repercussions of the economic downfall. The disclosure came amid calls for more transparency surrounding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which are funds established under the $2 trillion CARES Act. Trump signed PPP into law at the end of March.

After being slammed by Democrats for implying that the Trump administration would not disclose the names of the borrowers, the Treasury and the Small Business Administration later upended their decision and said they would disclose names and details of the businesses that took PPP loans of above $150,000 and above.

The PPP was introduced to offer forgivable loss to the small businesses that were struggling to stay afloat and earn a living due to the pandemic recession.

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