Rick Caruso & Karen Bass: My Religion Is Not Your Political Tool

When political candidates struggle to defeat one another, not by demonstrating their best attributes but by broadly advertising their own religious bigotry, one wonders just how low a politician will go to win an election.

In a move that evokes a chilling time in the century just passed, candidate Rick Caruso has been running ads designed to throw shade on his opponent, Karen Bass, by condemning her for speaking at the dedication of a Church of Scientology that opened in L.A. 12 years ago.

Rick Caruso
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso, who made anti-Scientology part of his political campaign in late September (Photo by Ringo Chiu/Shutterstock.com)

The ad uses footage of Ms. Bass congratulating parishioners for their exemplary work in human rights, illiteracy, crime prevention and drug abuse. Caruso, using long-debunked false statements and accusations from a few disreputable and unreliable individuals (several of whom sought unsuccessfully to profit from the Church), seeks to position his opponent as a criminal apologist, and to color the celebrated and laudable programs of my Church as if they were somehow crimes.

This is an appalling attempt to manipulate public opinion, and should disgust all Angelenos and anyone who values tolerance and understanding.

If Caruso’s goal as mayor is truly to make L.A. safer, he is ill-advised to begin by alienating Scientologists. 

By running on a platform tainted by religious intolerance and prejudice, Rick Caruso reveals himself to be uncaring, disinterested and disconnected from the people he seeks to serve. Any honest examination of my religion and my Church’s motives and achievements will quickly reveal the falseness of the outrageous charges with which he peppers his ads. Most of these egregious statements are decades old and long-debunked.

The effects such negative ads will have on the greater Los Angeles community are unknown, but just as in the case of someone irresponsibly shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, the possibilities of tragedy are abundant.

Hate crimes are motivated by prejudicial statements and beliefs, and the more broadly bigoted and inflammatory statements are spread, the more likely these sorts of crimes will be committed.

Karen Bass
Karen Bass (Photo by Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.com)

With the approval and financing of these reprehensible ads, the candidate Rick Caruso reveals himself as one who doesn’t care. He doesn’t care to do thorough research about his constituents, doesn’t care about the results of fomenting intolerance and hatred, and doesn’t care what benefit the falsely accused group has brought to the community.

If his goal as mayor is truly to make L.A. safer, he is ill-advised to begin by alienating Scientologists, who have more commendations for their work in the areas of drug abuse, human rights and illiteracy (all major contributors to crime) than he can ever hope to earn in his lifetime.

To make matters worse, his obnoxious commercials caused his opponent Karen Bass to “condemn” the Church after making the gracious and sincere speech of appreciation that Caruso excerpted in the mudslinging ads. First she applauds, then she throws mud. Bass thereby exposes herself as a patent flip-flopper, and shows L.A. what her stewardship will bring: cowardice.

Cowardice, however, is not just Karen Bass’s signature on this loathsome story. Rick Caruso also reveals his cravenness by maintaining such a low profile in the ads, it almost seems he isn’t part of it; only a small photo and fine print at the end, as required by law, discreetly mark his nasty intentions.

If they treat all such beneficial groups with the same disregard and discourtesy, Los Angeles will be far worse with either in office.

Which candidate is worse? Caruso for launching a bigoted public attack on a well-meaning religious community for his own advancement? Or Karen Bass, for reversing her opinion of a decent group whose effectiveness, charity and empathy are a model of civic contribution?

The choice is discouraging in the extreme.

By defaming Scientologists and their religion, both of these characters are knowingly or unknowingly excluding a vital channel of improvement for the city.

If they treat all such beneficial groups with the same disregard and discourtesy, Los Angeles will be far worse with either in office.

Religion should NEVER be a factor in elections. Rick Caruso and Karen Bass owe Scientologists an immediate apology for dragging them into a contentious and disgusting political dogfight.

Get it together, you clowns.

Jim Meskimen
Jim Meskimen is an actor, director, impressionist and YouTube personality. He comes from a show-business family; his mom is actress Marion Ross, who portrayed “Mrs. C” on Happy Days. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Tamra and daughter Taylor who are also actresses and voice artists.