ClearwaterLetters to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times on June 30th again discussed the role of Scientology in downtown Clearwater. "I am incensed over the Times' pointless attacks on my religion. I have been a Scientologist for over 20 years. I do not understand why you continually print editorials or articles which portray Scientology in such a negative light. I do not see any such treatment of Christianity or Judaism. "The Times has a constitutional right to print whatever it sees fit, just as its readers have their right to express their opinions. As a practical matter, however, we see all around us examples of how exercise of these rights can lead to prejudice, bigotry and even war. I feel it is the responsibility of the Times in its exercise of its rights to be careful not to promote an atmosphere where discrimination and mistrust can grow. "Religious intolerance has been part of man's history since the dawn of civilization. Your contribution to it by publishing inflammatory articles and editorials on Scientology is irresponsible and brings your motives into question. - John J. Beachy, Belleair "Although I agree that past errors should not be a basis on which to judge an organization for eternity, in this instance it is wise to remember. When the FBI raided Scientology offices, some of the documents that they recovered included plans to set up then-Clearwater mayor Gabe Cazares for a staged hit-and-run accident; to infiltrate local newspaper offices; and to set up a former Scientologist who had written a book on her experiences. In fact, Scientology so successfully accused her of crimes which she had never committed, that she was arrested until the truth came out in those seized documents. "This very paper ran a story in March of this year that included information on Richard Weigand, who is still a very active member of the church and who was convicted of one of those 'past mistakes.' The mistake was conspiring to conceal theft of government documents. Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology's founder, was also convicted. Has she been purged from the church? "I was a member of Scientology for 20 years. I have lived in the Clearwater area since 1995 and have no intentions of leaving. I want to say: Do not forget what happened in the past. Do not forget that all of Scientology's activities are, per their own policies, geared only toward forwarding their own aims and purposes. "The people of Clearwater can see with their own eyes what Scientology has contributed to them; we are not led by the nose by the St. Petersburg Times. However, it is by remembering the past and keeping a keen eye on the present that we will be able to embrace the future from a fully educated viewpoint. - Teresa S. Summers, Dunedin Message-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Protest SummaryDave Bird reported a protest at the London Scientology org on June 28th. I arrived at the venue early before the others, but we soon had a good crowd crowd comprising Dave, Jens, Hartley, Katie, Tony, SteveCT, plus Andy and Pam. The clams were quite snappy, but I was in remarkably good voice and spirits. I did the mic 95% of the time. Tony went on the mic for a few minutes too, and a guy came past who laid into the clams based on 20 or 30 years of experiencing them. We just gave him the mic and let him rip!! The police were there at the start of the start of the demo. They were particularly concerned that the sidewalk south of the Org, which was already narrowed by scaffolding, should not be further obstructed by leafleters and we carefully complied with this by staying at least 5 meters north of there. "The most notable feature for me was that I acquired a barnacle, who persistently stood in front of me with his back to me. I responded by using him as an example 'this is your mind on Scientology, staring with a googly-eyed look and parroting his few set phrases. I couldn't see the reaction on his face, but others tell me he was becoming a bit of a steamed clam." Message-ID: kHdr06ApLg$+Ewc4@xemu.demon.co.uk
Tax ExemptionThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on June 30th that Scientology is appealing a decision by St. Louis County in Missouri that it is not entitled to a tax exemption on the org building "The Church of Scientology is fighting the decision by St. Louis County to deny tax-exempt status to the group's property at 6901 Delmar Boulevard in U. City. Armstrong Teasdale's Donald Beimdiek filed an appeal on behalf of the Scientologists. The county Board of Equalization denied the group's exemption, saying the property was not 'regularly used exclusively for religious (or) charitable' purposes, as required. The Scientologists have an identical appeal pending before the St. Louis County Council. The county billed the building's former owner $10,277 in 2000, the last year taxes were assessed on the building." Message-ID: email@example.com
TampaThe St. Petersburg Times reported on July 6th that Scientology has bought another cigar factory building in Tampa, Florida, and plans more expansion in the area. "A group of high-ranking Scientologists, concerned the church's Tampa facilities aren't up to snuff, is investing more than $2.5 million to buy a second cigar factory in West Tampa and to lease and renovate a two-story building on one of the hottest corners in Ybor City. The church's three properties, staffed by nearly 100 people, will be the base for Scientology's most aggressive appeal for members to the Tampa Bay community. "This 'dissemination' campaign, primarily focused on Tampa, often comes in the form of an invitation to take a personality or aptitude test. It will be bolstered by television advertising and taking to the street to spread the word. "The remarkable growth spurt for the Church of Scientology in Tampa began this spring with the grand opening of the newly renovated Andres Diaz building. It was purchased last year for $1.2-million. The church then moved to acquire a smaller cigar factory next door, for use as a community center. Now under lease, the church plans to buy the building in September for $425,000. The church spent $500,000 renovating this second cigar factory and its newly opened Life Improvement Center in a leased brick building on Eighth Avenue, in the heart of the Ybor entertainment district. Well-dressed staff members fan out in the crowded streets nightly to offer free 'Scientometric Testing.' "'We want to make ourselves more known,' said Wayne Fuller, a Scientologist for 31 years and executive director of the Tampa church. Fuller is one of an elite group of Scientologists who have completed the highest levels of Scientology training, called OT ambassadors. The OT ambassadors living in the Clearwater area had talked for years about upgrading the Tampa church, he said. "Clearwater Scientologists played a key role. Fuller, the Tampa church's executive director, Louise Cournoyer, who runs the community center in the recently opened second cigar factory, and Peggy Guigon, who runs the Life Improvement Center in Ybor, all commute to the Tampa church from Clearwater. "The church estimates it has 12,000 members in the Tampa Bay area; 5,000 in Tampa. Fuller said about 800 of the Tampa parishioners are active members, who are taking courses or participating in church services. "Personality tests, a popular tool used by the church to introduce Scientology to the uninitiated, are showing up on windshields at hockey games. Cards inviting residents to Scientology Sunday services can be found on countertops of diners and delis around town. Newspaper advertisements tout the benefits of the church's 'purification rundowns.' What's more, the publishers of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's book Dianetics have begun making an area push with television ads and a campaign to place Dianetics books in prominent displays at local large-chain bookstores, Shaw said. "A team of some 200 field staff members of the church also spreads the word about Scientology at flea markets and other events throughout the region. Field staff members are not employees of the church, but make commissions on what the people they bring to the church spend on materials, courses and services. Some make a living out of it. "The Tampa church also plans to add another 20 to 30 employees. The 93 employees of the church are paid based on a percentage of what the church collects in fees for services during a given week. General, full-time staffers typically earn about $200 per week, Fuller said. Unlike employees at Clearwater's Flag, called Sea Org members, Tampa staffers pay for their own living arrangements. "The church has also begun reaching out to its neighbors in West Tampa. During walks around the predominantly Hispanic West Tampa neighborhood, church spokeswoman Ana Tirabassi said she was told by many that they would like help learning English. So the church offers English as a Second Language courses on Monday and Tuesday nights in its community center. 'We want to be part of the community,' Tirabassi said." Message-ID: MKXPHR9E37808.firstname.lastname@example.org
A.r.s. Week in Review is put together by Rod Keller ©
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Only edits done by me is replacing word encapsuled in * or _ with bold and underscore, and made links into HTML.