Rep. Karen Bass, a California Democrat considered a top contender to become the party’s vice presidential nominee, offered an explanation Saturday for having spoken glowingly of Scientology a decade earlier.
Ms. Bass issued a statement in light of her 2010 speech at the Church of Scientology building in Los Angeles resurfacing amid murmurings about her potentially being named Joseph R. Biden’s running mate.
“Ten years ago, I attended a new building opening in my district and spoke to what I think all of us believe in — respect for one another’s views, to treat all people with respect and to fight against oppression wherever we find it. I found an area of agreement in their beliefs — where all people, of whatever race, color or creed are created with equal rights, which is what my remarks were about,” Ms. Bass said in the statement.
“Since then, published first-hand accounts in books, interviews and documents have exposed the group,” the congresswoman continued. “Everyone is now aware of the allegations against Scientology. Back in 2010, I attended the event knowing I was going to address a group of people with beliefs very different than my own, and spoke briefly about things I think most of us agree with, and on those things — respect for different views, equality and fighting oppression — my views have not changed.”
The conservative-leaning Daily Caller site first noted Friday that Ms. Bass had spoken at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Scientology building while serving in the California General Assembly.
“I know your goal and your commitment is truly to make a difference,” she said at the event. “The Church of Scientology I know has made a difference, because your creed is a universal creed and one that speaks to all people everywhere.” The church’s creed, Ms. Bass noted, is that “all people of whatever race, color or creed are created with equal rights.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by Scientology president David Miscavige, who several former members of the group have since sued for alleged child abuse, human trafficking, forced labor and libel. The church has called those accusations unfounded.
Ms. Bass, 66, said in her statement that she proudly worships at a Baptist church in south L.A.