A cult's effort to curry favor -- Scientology's reputation

6 Feb 2002


A cult's effort to curry favor
Re: An invitation to the Fort, Jan. 26.

I opened the newspaper this morning to find our least favorite cult, Scientology, on the front page again, and from the party acceptance list I read it seems we are again "sleeping with the enemy."

This is not about a 75th anniversary of the old Fort Harrison Hotel but more about getting the people in power over to their side. How can our elected officials go along with such a farce? I have lived here more than 44 years and can remember when the downtown area was a nice place to shop, and I also remember the Fort Harrison when it was a nice place to go for lunch or dinner. Are we going to continue to allow Scientologists to gobble up the rest of Clearwater and perhaps rename it Hubbardville? It would seem that's the direction we are heading in.

-- Shelby Sabathe, Clearwater

A checkered past
Re: An invitation to the Fort.

Lots of Clearwater folks well remember the old Jack Tar Hotel, now called the Fort Harrison, and do not confuse it with today's cult occupation of this historic landmark. Now Scientology takes out newspaper ads and hosts "gala black tie events" attempting to blithely link itself to a 75-year history of a Clearwater landmark. Any true history of this hotel should include Scientology's own history with it. The group slithered into Clearwater under the false name, "United Churches of Florida," when it acquired this historic building. The St. Petersburg Times reported the first instances of Scientology's fraudulent behavior in Clearwater nearly three decades ago.

This so-called church attempted to run covert operations to smear former Clearwater Mayor Gabe Casares to silence his exposure of it in 1976 and has never stopped this kind of unsavory behavior since. We still have the pending civil case in the death of Lisa McPherson, who died in Scientology "care" at the Fort Harrison, and the admission from a court case reported by the Times just last year that Scientology has more than 100 surveillance cameras trained on the residents of Clearwater. We have witnessed this "church" hiring private investigators to frame another outspoken critic of its behavior, Jesse Prince, with marijuana charges just a few months ago. We have heard the courts state that the Clearwater Police Department was coming dangerously close to becoming Scientology's private police force as a result of its influence. The list goes on. Will Scientology include a truthful recounting of its own history with the old Jack Tar Hotel during this "celebration"?

Kudos to the Times for listing those who chose to dine at Scientology's trough and those who refused. Let's hope the Pinellas County and Clearwater voters don't forget.
-- Randy Enerson, Port Richey


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