Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Transcendental Meditation: Scranton 's Ties to Pagan Religious Cult Haunts Candidacy

Transcendental Meditation: Scranton going for governor again - News about religious cults and sects: "Scranton going for governor again

Some in GOP don't think Attorney General Mike Fisher can beat Democrats. But just as in '86, Scranton faces grilling over ties to transcendental meditation.

The Morning Call, Apr. 23, 2001
More Religion and Cult News

HARRISBURG -- Former Lt. Gov. William W. Scranton III, who narrowly lost the governor's race in 1986, is preparing to re-enter politics after a 15-year hiatus and again seek the state's top political prize.

Over the past month, the 53-year-old Scranton has been doing everything a serious candidate needs to do to join the race for the 2002 GOP gubernatorial nomination. He's met with deep-pocketed and influential Republicans across the state, and he's embarked on a search for someone to manage his campaign.

But even at this early stage, Scranton has found himself answering questions about a political bugaboo that many believe cost him the 1986 race: his connection with the transcendental meditation movement.

Most political observers believe Scranton, although not running the most energetic of campaigns, was leading Democratic nominee Robert P. Casey until late in the 1986 race.

That all changed just days before the fall balloting when Casey unleashed the "guru ad" -- a TV commercial that used old photographs of a long-haired and bearded Scranton to paint him as unfit for office. It worked.

The ad tipped the race toward Casey, who had lost three prior gubernatorial bids. Casey won by fewer than 80,000 votes, or about 2.5 percentage points.

Scranton left politics and the state soon after the defeat. He ventured west and, over seven years, ran three direct marketing and mail order companies in California. He returned to the Keystone State in 1994 to take control of his family investments.

The Harrisburg Patriot reported recently that Scranton had supported John Hagelin, the Natural Law Party candidate, during last year's presidential election. Scranton told the paper that he was merely helping Hagelin, an old friend from the transcendental meditation movement, because he didn't believe Hagelin was a threat to George W. Bush. Scranton said he actively supported Bush.

And Scranton also said he was no longer active in the movement.

Hagelin founded the Natural Law Party to bring transcendental meditation into America's politics. Hagelin's Web site features comments Scranton made soon after a February 2000 debate between Bush and and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

As late as last summer, Scranton's biography listed a 1975 degree from the Maharishi European Research University, Seelisberg, Switzerland, right below a mention of his 1969 bachelor's degree from Yale University.

Opinions differ on the significance of Scranton's connection with transcendental meditation. Time will tell, said Mike Young, a Penn State University professor who tracks Pennsylvania politics.

If Scranton is able to "shun the flake factor" and convince the public that his ties with the movement are over, he can succeed, Young said. If he can't, he won't."


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