Subject: SPT: Letter to the Editor: Scientology imposes its identity on a city
Scientology imposes its identity on a city
Letters to the Editor
St. Petersburg Times
June 20, 2003
I've been closely watching the St. Petersburg Times' coverage of downtown Clearwater's economic difficulties, almost all of which can't help but mention the notorious Scientology organization.
All the rhetoric about how the core problems in Clearwater are related to Scientology's unfortunate presence is fully justified. 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. It might not be much of a surprise to learn, however, that encyclopedias are starting to make the association, inexorably equating Clearwater with Scientology. 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 - what the organization called "Operation Normandy" - was a success. The city of Clearwater lost.
-- Fredric L. Rice, Glendora, California