Monday, September 24, 2007

Florida city accepts role as heart of Scientology

Church, followers dominate Clearwater, boosting its economy; not everyone likes it

"I think there's been a slow shift from a very strong adversarial relationship to a tolerance, there's still a lot of people in the city who don't trust them and wish they weren't there, but you can't deny that they contribute, particularly to the economy. Without them, there probably wouldn't be a downtown."

-- Ron Stuart, who clashed with church officials as an editor of the now-defunct Clearwater Sun in the 1970s.

The story:

I remember being just a kid migrating to Clearwater Florida with my brother John. The L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology was unofficially headquartered there. John and I worked for a restaurant. Our waiter uniforms looked just like scientology brainwashees’ garb. I recall trekking to work hearing whistling, expletives, and “go home scieno” vehemently yelled at me. It took a while to realize they thought I was a Jr. Scientologist! No scientologist ever approached me; I think they don’t proselytize in Clearwater but import new recruits to their Florida home cult-epicenter. I resented the fact none tried to “audit” or brainwash me. God knows I needed my brain washed.

But it sounds like Clearwater has accepted the cult and is now home to The Church of Scientology. John Travolta and Tom Cruise now have their own, little Salt Lake City or Vatican City of sort. I am just happy this ends the misdirected persecution of my waiter and busboy patriots. Good for Scientologists and good for the busboys.

Don’t attack a man because of his uniform. Not wise to call an 18 year-old kid ‘scieno’ who is serving your dinner!

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