ClearwaterLetters to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times on June 17th and June 20th addressed a recent editorial, the issue of Scientology's dominance in Clearwater, Florida and its expansion into nearby Tampa neighborhood Ybor City. "I know well the history of Scientology in this community, especially the 'shenanigans,' as you put it, that occurred more than two decades ago. There is no doubt that during that period there was legitimate reason to question the motives of some members of this church. Even its current members and leaders will acknowledge those past mistakes made by former leaders who were purged because of their actions. "My relationship with individual members of the Church of Scientology grows out of many years of friendship and observing the good things they have done for my hometown of Clearwater. I see positive improvements in a downtown that was suffering. I see new stores, retail activities, coffee shops and arts events where there were none. I see an honest effort to reach out to people in my community, not for nefarious purposes but out of a genuine love for this city and a desire to be part of its future. It amazes me that you cannot see those same changes that so many people in Clearwater have seen in the Church of Scientology's effort to undo the damage of 30 years ago when it first arrived here. "Especially disappointing to me, as someone who has been in the public eye for more than 20 years and who is a big believer in the media's important role in our community, is the threatening tone of the editorial. Instead of making a reasoned argument in the marketplace of ideas, your editorial resorted to calling out individuals such as myself by name and threatening their political futures should they continue to treat Scientologists as even possibly productive members of society. - Mary Repper, Clearwater "I want to thank you for your excellent editorial on Scientology. As a former 20-year member, who was not aware of the continual pattern of illegal/unethical covert activities practiced by this so-called church while he was in the group, I commend you for exposing the true nature of this cult. Scientology's recent attempt to clean up its image is like Osama bin Laden getting a haircut and a shave, and has the same purpose: to disguise what it really is. - Peter Alexander, Tampa "Your recent articles on the opening of the Scientology Life Improvement Center in Ybor City created a controversy about complaints that are not even specified, allegedly concerning Scientologists inviting the public to the center. The Church of Scientology is opening a new and beautiful center in a restored historic building where anyone can walk in and find out about Scientology for themselves. "The Scientology Life Improvement Center in Ybor City is open for anyone to come in and find out for themselves about Scientology. We have had a wonderful reception from our neighbors. We are there to help people and the community to thrive, prosper and achieve better conditions in life. - Ana Tirabassi, Church of Scientology, Tampa "This organization is not a church, but a cult. It is built on falsehoods and stands on sinking sand. The citizens do not want this cult in our community and by the organization's own research find that it is considered a detestable organization, which is unfortunately located on our mist. The St. Petersburg Times reports that the words used to identify this group were 'cult,' 'scam,' 'crooks,' 'despicable,' 'lost souls and evil,' 'mind-controlling.' "Scientologists are blaming the Times for the negative responses. They blame everybody but themselves for their own failings. Remember when they first came into Clearwater? They came under the disguise of United Churches. If this is a church, why do they use falsehoods and devious tactics? They have loaded upon the citizens of this community their tax burden because they are hiding under the name 'church.' Churches do not sue about everything and everybody that may offend them. All this cult is about is money, money, money. - Ken Peters, Clearwater "Clearwater has become synonymous with Scientology, a goal that the organization deliberately set out to achieve when it sneaked into town under the assumed name 'United Churches of Florida' and promptly tried to frame and eliminate Gabe Cazares, then-mayor of Clearwater. Just how synonymous Clearwater is with Scientology is something that most of the St. Petersburg Times' readers are probably not aware of unless they read national news. Horribly, if you visit the Web site Encyclopedia.com and enter 'Scientology' in the search request, Clearwater is offered as one of the four encyclopedia entries. "In a fairly recent court case in the county, a judge reviewed documentation covering the more than 100 video cameras Scientology has set up to watch and record vehicle and pedestrian traffic in downtown Clearwater. The judge turned to the Scientology lawyers and rhetorically asked them, 'I just don't get it. When is the invasion coming?' The fact is Scientology's invasion was a success. The city of Clearwater lost. - Fredric L. Rice, Glendora, California" Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org Message-ID: email@example.com
Tom CruiseMSNBC reported on June 19th that Tom Cruise has been talking to U.S. administration officials about education and Scientology issues. "The Church of Scientology's Top Gun has been lobbying the White House. Tom Cruise has been meeting with officials from the Department of Education and lawmakers at the White House, reports the Washington Post, and a source says he believes that Cruise is hoping to get government funding for the church. "'Tom is a big believer in the teaching tools of Scientology and has spoken in the past about how it cured his dyslexia,' says alternative religion expert Rick Ross. 'It looks to me like he is seeking federal funds for Scientology schools under President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative.' "Ross also says that Cruise is appealing to the Bush administration to pressure some European countries to ease up on their anti-Scientology policies - just as John Travolta lobbied the Clinton administration. "'Tom met at the Department of Education because he has always been passionate about education and wanted to meet the Secretary [of Education],' a spokeswoman for the actor told The Scoop. 'And, in a separate meeting, he met with a few White House officials to discuss his concern about the state of human rights in the world today, especially religious intolerance in parts of Western Europe.'" From the New York Daily News on June 22nd: "Tom Cruise wants to get your children off drugs. We're talking about medications doctors prescribe to help them conquer learning disabilities such as hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. Last week, Cruise went to Washington to push one of the key causes of his Church of Scientology. "'There's a bill that just passed the House that makes it unlawful for schools and doctors to coerce children to get on drugs,' he told us Thursday night at a benefit for MENTOR, the school charity that honored him for his work with tutoring programs. 'We have some serious problems with education. I know a lot about it. There are 8 million kids that are being medicated with educational medication. "A few days before, Cruise, who has credited Scientology with helping him overcome dyslexia, lobbied for his position at a lunch with Education Secretary Rod Paige in Washington. Cruise, who previously was a Bill Clinton supporter, may have been lobbying the White House for the funding of Scientology programs through President Bush's faith-based initiatives program, according to some familiar with the organization." Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org Message-ID: email@example.com
NarcononThe North County Times reported on June 17th that a new Narconon facility has opened in the San Diego, California area. "Narconon Southern California recently opened its second rehabilitation center near Warner Springs. Narconon is a 35-year-old nonprofit drug rehabilitation and education organization providing residential rehabilitation services. "Performing the official ribbon cutting ceremony are, Don McKinney from U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa's office; Clark Carr, president of Narconon International; Tommy Thompson from State Assemblyman Ray Haynes' office; Gerry Marshall, president of Narconon Southern California Inc; John Allan, chief of the Sunshine Summit Volunteer Fire Department; and David Worthington, executive director of Narconon San Diego." Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
In MemoriamFormer Scientologist Robert Vaughn Young passed away on June 15th after a long battle with prostate cancer. From his wife, Caren Cohen Young: "Robert died at 1:10 pm on Sunday, June 15, 2003. It was a couple of hours after his son, who spent the night with him, left to return to California. I was at his side, holding Robert's hand in mine. He was in no pain, resting calmly and peacefully until his last breath. Robert will be cremated in accordance with his wishes, and his ashes will be scattered over water. Robert loved Vashon Island and Puget Sound and had fond memories of the sailing scene around San Diego. "Robert asked that in lieu of flowers or other memorials, tax deductible donations be made to Phoenix5 so that the work can continue. There are instructions as to how to support Phoenix5 at http://www.phoenix5.org/Phoenix5/support.html. I will continue to maintain the Phoenix5 website in accordance with Robert's wishes as I have computer expertise to do so. "Robert found fulfillment and joy in helping all those in the prostate cancer community. My life and I'm sure many others' are richer because of his life and his work. I want to thank the many of you who have written to me in these past weeks while Robert was ill. There were so many heart warming emails that I wasn't able to respond to them all personally." Message-ID: email@example.com
A.r.s. Week in Review is put together by Rod Keller ©
This collection is organised for WWW by Andreas Heldal-Lund.
Only edits done by me is replacing word encapsuled in * or _ with bold and underscore, and made links into HTML.