- Michael D. Pitman Staff Writer
Days before Ohio Rep. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., was sworn in to the Statehouse, he was asked by a member of the Butler County GOP: “Are you a Scientologist?”
The question was asked at the recommendation meeting to find out which resident would receive the party’s support to succeed former Ohio Rep. Margy Conditt, R-Liberty Twp., who resigned on Sept. 8 to spend more time with family.
The question first drew laughter by most of the Central Committee members within the Ohio House district, but it drew the ire of Lang, who succeeded Conditt and was sworn in on Sept. 13.
Lang, a Baptist, first explained why he attended the opening of a new church of Scientology center in Northern Kentucky: a long-time friend who is a Scientologist asked him to speak at the opening of the new center.
He was one of several local and regional officials to speak at the opening of the center.
“I’ve never been to a Scientology facility since then — that was seven years ago — I am not a Scientologist, I’ve never practiced Scientology,” Lang said.
Then he became angry.
“You know what really (upsets me) about this question? Let me tell ya, what if I was?” Lang asked. “What if there was someone up here tonight that was Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist or Jewish or Catholic or Baptist. What does it matter?”
He went on to tell his fellow Republicans that “it’s the liberals that try to paint us as the party of hate, the party of religious intolerance.”
Lang told his fellow party members that “we have to stop it right now. I am not a Scientologist, but if I was? What would it matter?”
He also said to whoever asked that question, “You really should be ashamed.”
Scientology has been the focus of the A&E documentary series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.” Remini, who left the church in 2013, won an Emmy for her work on the series that works to expose the practices of the Church of Scientology through testimonies of former members and Remini.
In her acceptance speech earlier this month, she forgave her mother “for getting us into a cult.”