The Church of Scientology and companies run by its members spent $103 million over the past three years buying up vast sections of downtown Clearwater.
They now own most commercial property on every block within walking distance of the waterfront, putting the secretive church firmly in control of the area's future.
Most of the sales have not previously been reported. The Tampa Bay Times discovered them by reviewing more than 1,000 deeds and business records, then interviewed more than 90 people to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding the transactions.
The Scientologist-led Conscience Coalition is continuing its anti-vaxx agenda despite losing the battle in California over SB 276, which made it more difficult for doctors to lie about their patients' condition to get a medical exemption from required school vaccinations. Other bills are being introduced to increase vaccination rates including the Vaccinate All Children Act (H.R. 2527).
One member of the coalition received a reply to his letter opposing the bill and it seems clear the congressman understands the importance of vaccines in preventing infections in children.
That battle is yet to come as the bill hasn't been voted on in committee. In the meantime the coalition is devoting its efforts to fundraising and building alliances. Renee Bessone and Jonathan Lockwood attended the annual Ulan Nutritional Systems symposium to enlist Scientologist Freddie Ulan and his group of chiropractors in the anti-vaxx cause. It was an easy sell as Scientologist chiropractors are against the use of any medicine, including vaccines.
2019-10-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Tracey McManus' meticulously researched article dominating the front page of this morning's Tampa Bay Times is a bombshell.
I doubt many people in Clearwater realized just how complete scientology's takeover of the downtown is.
This is why I have been supporting and promoting Mark Bunker for the city council.
The church begins
May 1950: Science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard publishes Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which theorizes that a so-called reactive mind is the source of all ills, from anxiety to arthritis. It teaches a person can erase the reactive mind and achieve a superhuman state called "clear." The book becomes a bestseller but is seen as a pseudoscience by health professionals.
1954: Hubbard turns his teachings into the Church of Scientology of California. The federal government recognizes the church as a tax-exempt religious organization three years later. It revokes the exemption in 1967, saying the group was a for-profit business enriching Hubbard.
Since arriving in Clearwater in 1975, the Church of Scientology has purchased 60 properties in Pinellas County under its name. Fifty-eight are in the city of Clearwater and 49 are downtown. About 72 percent of those properties are tax exempt for religious uses.
In 2017 the church acquired six downtown Clearwater retail properties through limited liability companies. Scientology leader David Miscavige told city officials the properties were part of the church's proposed retail redevelopment plan. But after a dispute with the city, Miscavige cut communication.
This gallery shows all 60 properties Scientology owns under its name in Pinellas county and the six retail properties the church acquired through limited liability companies in 2017. It does not include properties recently bought by companies run by church members. (On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Times reported that since 2017, companies run by members of Scientology bought another 86 downtown commercial properties. Click here to read the story.)
CLEARWATER — The mayor now wonders whether the city's $64 million downtown waterfront redevelopment project is a wise expenditure.
Another City Council member is hoping "we'll get lucky" and the federal government will revisit the Church of Scientology's tax exempt status.
A third is unperturbed, pointing out that when Walt Disney did outside of Orlando what Scientology is doing in Clearwater, Orlando got Disney World.
All three council members were reacting to a Sunday Tampa Bay Times investigation that revealed $103 million in commercial land purchases tied to Scientology in the center of downtown Clearwater, around the church's international spiritual headquarters. The recent purchases doubled the combined footprint of the church and its followers, giving Scientology a commanding say in the area's future.
2018-10-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is something from the STAAD website decrying hypocrisy.
It's almost like this was written for a TV satire — The Office or Veep. The character who is a horrible racist files a complaint with HR over an alleged slight on him that he interprets as racially motivated because he has a complete misunderstanding of the term that is used.
Scientologist Stacy Sass is complaining so bitterly of "hypocrisy" yet she is part of an organization that embodies the very definition she quotes:
Scientologist and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan compared Jews to termites. This is Holocaust language — but this is exactly what we've come to expect from Louis Farrakhan.
The CSI Board of Directors granted a license to the Nation of Islam to use Dianetics and Scientology. CSI's license to the Nation of Islam has not been suspended or revoked due to Mr. Farrakhan's conduct.
Neither COB RTC Mr. David Miscavige nor the CSI Board of Directors have taken any disciplinary action against Scientologist Louis Farrakhan.
In June, we were very fortunate to have author Alec Nevala-Lee with us in Chicago for our annual small gathering, HowdyCon. He was there so we could get to know him ahead of the publication of his exciting new book, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
For science fiction aficionados, this book is a real treat, narrating with deep research a crucible of the genre's development: Astounding magazine editor John W. Campbell and his work with three of his most famous writers.
In each chapter, Nevala-Lee takes us through the personal histories of these four men: How Campbell became the arbiter of a successful new art form at its most formative time, and how each of the writers came into his orbit. Campbell himself was a massively fascinating figure, and was given to crackpot ideas that he seemed to fall for, one after the other. But his taste in literature was supreme, and writers of the time dreamed of winning his approval and showing up in his publications.
Well, the details got changed around a bit, but this is what was published yesterday on a Hungarian news site...
A Contract For One Billion Years
In September, the story of a deserter Scientologist from Hungary, Péter Nyíri, came to the Internet. Nyíri became a member of one of the most infamous organizations in the Church, the so-called Sea Org. This is a sort of religious order of Scientologists, members work on church owned ships. They need to sign a contract that they undertake to serve the Church for the next one billion years (i. e. after their death in their next incarnations). Members who left reported that the Sea Org has a half-military, totalitarian atmosphere, the disciplinary department of the Church strictly punishes all kinds of offenses, while Org members are working 12 to 16 hours a day.
2017-10-20, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
In this live stream, I discuss the changes in perspective that my recent trip to Australia provided me, why this trip was important and what it has to do with my views on family, Scientology disconnection and my future. Plus, I got to do some Q&A with viewers about Australia and other things Scientology.
A live stream to discuss some perspective I gained during my recent trip to Australia and to talk about how Scientology disconnects everyone who becomes part of it.
Josh's YouTube channel: https://goo.gl/eFPT56
SHOP FOR CRITICAL MERCHANDISE
December 5 will mark the 22nd anniversary of the death of Lisa McPherson. Two years ago, for the 20th anniversary, we produced a lengthy series re-reporting her final days in real time, to get a sense of how her terrible experience played out over several weeks.
One of the reasons we did that was not only to look for new details in her sad case, but also, frankly, to put it to rest. A part of us winces whenever we see people bring up McPherson's death to criticize the Church of Scientology. We can't help thinking, almost as a reflex, it was one death more than 20 years ago, move on already.
But this is Scientology, and somehow, these idiots just made the Lisa McPherson story totally relevant all over again.
A year ago, we were fortunate enough to be in the audience for the worldwide premiere of Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie at the London Film Festival. We thought it was hilarious. Louis has such an amazing sense of timing, and his comedic talents are otherworldly.
Denied access to Scientology officials or church facilities, Theroux and his director, John Dower, came up with some pretty clever ways to dig into Scientology's ideas. We think they did a great job, and we also applaud the former Scientologists who appear in the movie, including Jefferson Hawkins, Marc Headley, Steve Mango, and Marty Rathbun. (Yes, we think Marty did just fine, and if he lost his cool a couple of times on camera, it just made for a better movie.)
We also had a few criticisms, which we spelled out in our story about the film last year. Theroux gets a lot of mileage out of proving that you can get the church to point a camera at you if you point a camera at it, but that didn't seem as important to us as other Scientology subjects that didn't get examined — the way it rips apart families, for example.
2016-10-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Biggest since the Portland Crusade. Er, by the way, the IAS had NOTHING to do with Portland. There was no "IAS event" about Portland as IAS events didn't exist then.
Wait — what about THE Turning Point event? The War Is Over!!! Wonder if she is going to survive this monumental assault on the COB's ego that she forgot about his greatest accomplishment?
Take a look inside the Church of Scientology's 'spiritual headquarters' in Florida after detailed photographs have emerged of the $145million behemoth.
The Flag Building, also known as the Super Powers building, is a massive seven-story, 377,000-square-foot complex which was the tallest building in Clearwater when it opened in November 2013.
Now new pictures have emerged which give an insight into the notoriously secretive organization and their headquarters which is regularly frequented by Scientologist celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
2015-10-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
They put up the monumental, epic news about the opening of the "ideal" St Hill on the scientology.org website.
And what a doozie it is.
The headline is typical shermanspeak overhype, and the text that follows is every bit as laughable.
The church claims that "more than 2000″ were in attendance. If you can find close to 1000 people in the photo above it would be a miracle. More like 500. And you know this was the BEST shot they could come up with.
The Telegraph yesterday posted a number of photos from inside the "new" Scientology Flag Building in Clearwater, which actually opened a couple of years ago. (This isn't even the first time we've seen actual photos from inside the building, which we brought you in 2013.) The occasion, the newspaper said, was that the photos had been released by "Vantage News," which is a PR firm in England. So, in other words, this was the latest "look upon our works, and despair" moment from Scientology leader David Miscavige.
But the release of these photos from inside the "Super Power" building only reminded us of how we kept a close eye on this overblown funhouse years before it actually opened. And it also gave us an opportunity to reflect on what little impact the place has had after such a long buildup. Super Power, in fact, turned out to be a Super Dud. And with so much bad news happening for the church, it's interesting to see Miscavige try to get some publicity out of a place the public can never enter.
If you're not sure what we're talking about, we're referring to a massive, city-block sized building in Clearwater that Scientology finally opened in November 2013 after first breaking ground fifteen years earlier, in 1998. The building cost something like $80 million to construct, but Mike Rinder and other former church officials say the project raised as much as $200 million or more as it became another cash cow, one of many different initiatives church members were pressured to donate to over the years.
2014-10-20, Sam Satchell, East Grinstead Courier & Observer
AY CARAMBA! Bart Simpson is coming to town – along with thousands of Scientologists.
Actress Nancy Cartwright, who provides the voice for the world- renowned cartoon character, is set to host the 17th annual Saint Hill Gala Charity Concert.
The appointment has been heralded as a "major coup" by organisers of the event, held at the UK headquarters for the Church of Scientology, Saint Hill Manor.
Hello and welcome to Curbed LA's Cults Week. For the next five days, we'll be exploring Los Angeles's fruitful and sordid relationship with cults, which by all accounts began around 1840 with a Scotsman named-no shit-William Money, who claimed to be a healer, hated San Francisco, and personally designed the earthquake-resistant octagonal buildings at his Moneyan Institute in San Gabriel.
2014-10-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
These people are SO unreal. Why would a "management org" in a new building be the turning point of anything? There is no contact with the public? It matters not at all whether they have old desks or new custom-built ones, concrete floors or silk persian rugs, bare light bulbs or crystal chandeliers.
This is simply the "fad" of scientology. What I now call the ideal syndrome.
And why no mention of the ribbon yanking being graced by the presence of Captain Miscavige? Has he reverted to He Who Must Not Be Named again?
Well, Mike Rinder called it, and on Friday night, Scientology leader David Miscavige confirmed it: After purchasing the hilltop Ojai estate of Larry Hagman from the actor's widow last year, the church will be turning the place into a drug rehab clinic for celebrities who need to dry out.
That was one of several announcements made by Miscavige as he held forth on Friday night's annual International Association of Scientologists gala in a big tent on the grounds of Saint Hill Manor, the church's UK headquarters and L. Ron Hubbard's home from 1959 to 1966.
The church claimed that 7,500 of its members attended Friday night's event, which we're pretty sure is larger than the tent's actual occupancy, but we'll just have to take Scientology's word for it. On Saturday night, the annual Patron's Ball was held to honor the organization's biggest donors, and we have reason to believe that Tom Cruise attended and showed off his Freedom Medal of Valor.
Watch the extended version of Scientology's Super Bowl2015 commercial. Discover how to find yourself. Scientology provides answers in your search for truth, self-discovery and self-knowledge. To learn more about yourself, take this free online personality test:
Welcome to the Age of Answers...find a Church of Scientology near you to learn more about Scientology and spiritual counseling:
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2013-10-20, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
With Voldemort still playing hide the ball on the "Grand Opening"/GAG II/Super Power/IAS events, the damage control scrambling is full force.
This email is an attempt to make everything seem "normal" (or at least as normal as it can be inside a bubble of babble).
Two weeks in a row the promise of "we are announcing the date at the next graduation" has passed with no announcement. But continued dead silence only aggravates the problem. So yesterday Lauri Webster sends out an email trying to take everyone's attention off the elephant in the room and get them thinking instead about what clothes they will have to pack for the Events That Cannot Be Announced Yet (But Will Be Really Soon).
Judge James D. Whittemore On Friday, federal Judge James D. Whittemore issued an order in Luis and Rocio Garcia's fraud lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. Whittemore has given Scientology until Thursday to produce a 5-page memo explaining its arbitration system as this case approaches its next hurdle.
On October 3, Whittemore dispensed with Scientology's attempt to disqualify the Garcia legal team. That failed church motion had put the lawsuit on hold for some six months and was, for the most part, a non-starter. (Here's our report from the courtroom.) But even before it moved to disqualify Garcia attorneys Ted Babbitt and Ronald Weil, Scientology had filed a motion that would have the effect of dismissing the lawsuit.
In that motion, Scientology asked Whittemore to find that based on agreements the Garcias signed when they were members of the church, they should be using Scientology's own internal arbitration system to settle any disputes about donations they've made. The dispute the Garcias have with them is a religious one, Scientology argues, and there's no place for a civil law court in such a dispute — the church's First Amendment religious freedom rights would be violated if such a lawsuit continued.
We talked this week with yet another longtime Scientologist who is quitting the church, 35-year member Steve Poore.
On September 30, Poore became the latest veteran church member to declare his defection at the website of former high-ranking Scientology executiveMarty Rathbun. Since 2009, Rathbun's blog has become the place where more and more Scientologists are publicly declaring that they're fed up with church leader David Miscavige and are going "independent" — still adhering to the philosophies of L. Ron Hubbard, but ditching the official, corporate church.
One of the first to use Rathbun's site for that purpose was a British man named Martin Padfield, who in 2009 declared, "I recognise that there is every likelihood contents of my ethics or PC folders will be used to nullify and denigrate me now, and I will take that risk."
Well, it's official. Chatting with staff at Scientology UK HQ is now a "suppressive act". Although apparently beating and torturing juniors in the Sea Org isn't. This guard I believe is Jordan Laveau, son of Janet who is OSA staff at the cult.
2012-10-20, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Yesterday, right in time to prepare for some high-class visitors to Casablanca, none other than the fearsome Headley family, David Miscavige had a make over done of the surveillance outpost he operated on my block for the past two years. Here is the story on the outpost for those who missed it, Casablanca Surveillance Outpost.
Now, the back window facing my house, from which the three high-powered Scientology Inc cameras trained on our home are positioned, was just done over. By cover of darkness a team of Scientology Inc. plumbers took the tape blocking the camera holes off, resurfaced the window with one way reflective film, and posted a 'no trespassing' sign ON THE WINDOW to prevent any more tampering with their view:
2011-10-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Jesse is back! There's been a lot of disturbing news for Scientology watchers to sift through lately -- what with mothers separated from their sons, and a woman stalked because she's trying to design a better ice-maker, it's been a weird and depressing week.
But last night, we were stunned by a rare helping of unadulterated joy: Jesse Prince announced that he's kicked cancer's ass!
After the jump, we'll see what Jesse had to say about it as we round up today's "Thursday 2pm Stats," when Scientology's orgs do their weekly accounting: just how did this week stack up for the church?
2011-10-20, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We just can't seem to get enough of Grant Cardone, the wealthy Scientologist who starred in his own National Geographic Channel reality show, donated millions of dollars to Scientology's war chest, and did Scientology's dirty work to slime fellow church member Milton Katselas, a well known Hollywood acting coach.
Now, he has timely advice for all you crusties hanging around down at Wall Street: quit yer bitchin' and stop hassling the 1 percent!
2011-10-20, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
As we approach a tipping point of sorts inspired in part by recent societal events, Tony Ortega at the Village Voice provides us with graphic reminders of the wisdom of what we are doing.
The 2 1/2 % who have seized control of the church of Scientology have sold out to the 1 % who are destroying the world's economy by turning Wall Street into their personal casino.
2010-10-20, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
Here's a fascinating talk by Steve Hassan, given two days ago at the New York Ethical Culture Society. It's about 40 minutes, well worth the time. He mentions Scientology a few times. Especially interesting for us is his advice on how to talk to someone who is in a cultic situation. He advises against directly attacking them or making them wrong, but instead offering them love and friendship and understanding, listening to them, asking them questions. He repeatedly refers to his BITE model, which is on his website here. He offers this as a way to see if a group is a cult, and it makes for interesting reading and analysis.
June 16: The former president of the Celebrity Centre is a scapegoat in a symbolic trial against Scientology, said her lawyer, citing a host of distinguished legal authorities on freedom of religion.
The lawyers for Marie-Anne Pasturel and Aline Fabre had presented very different arguments.
Pasturel was accused of the illegal practice of pharmacy for having acted as the intermediary for G&G, who sold the vitamins and minerals required for Scientology's Purification Rundown.
Wikinews has learned that the Church of Scientology has begun to falsely accuse the internet protest group Anonymous of a 2007 school shooting in Finland.
The Church, on October 18, 2008 accused Anonymous of being involved in the November 2007 shooting at Jokela High School, in which a man named Pekka-Eric Auvinen shot and killed nine people, including himself.
2007-10-20, Ron Harris, AP, San Diego Union-Tribune
But the band broke up in 1968 – not long after some members began experimenting with Scientology, a religion based on L. Ron Hubbard's best-selling book, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health."
The Levin brothers, drummer Dennis Fridkin and keyboardist Albert Ribisi became Scientologists, who believe spiritual enlightenment is possible by ridding one's mind and soul of the accumulated, unwanted effects of innumerable lifetimes.
"We were looking for something," Geoff Levin said. "We were very zealous about things."
But lead singers Norman and Gene Mason weren't interested and had no plans for a conversion. That led to friction that had a hand in the band's rapid unraveling.
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- The operator of a Tom Cruise parody site has bowed to legal threats from the Church of Scientology and changed his ScienTOMogy URL to PassionOfCruise.info.
New Zealander Glen Stollery came under fire from the Los Angeles-based Scientology legal department, which claimed his ScienTOMogy URL address infringed on its copyright.
Stollery has been quoted in New Zealand media as saying the church did not object to the content of his site, only the URL address, E! Online reported.
According to a report by Clearwater Detective Tom Miller, Perez-Morales complained that she had been threatened by a Scientology security guard, but she was initially afraid to speak to detectives because church members told her police worked "hand in hand" with them. The report's cover sheet indicated that Perez-Morales, who could not be reached Thursday, did not wish to prosecute.
Miller's report described her as shaken. She told detectives she was recruited as a church member by a friend in Mexico and that she moved to Clearwater, Scientology's international spiritual headquarters. But she said she had been harassed continuously since she broke what she called her "billion-year" contract with the church.
She told Miller that a Scientology security guard had said to her, "You're a suppressive, you denigrated the church. We're going to kill you! You will be dead!"
Church spokesman Brian Anderson said Thursday that the police report was inaccurate and illegally "leaked" to the media.
Scientology is tax-exempt. So the IRS says, at least. According to the IRS, Scientology is a religion. I would like to know what the IRS' criteria are to become a religion. If it's to make as much money as you can while preying on the needs of people, Scientology certainly qualifies.
Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo.) is making few campaign apearances as the trial of his niece, who is charged with trying to extort $220,000 from him, unfolds in federal court here.
Polls indicate that Eagleton, who is seeking a third term in the Nov. 4 election, holds a large lead over his Republican opponent, St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary, who is barn-storming around the state by helicopter. eBut, said one long-time state political observer, "That trial may be the story of the campaign."
The senator's niece, Elizabeth (Libby) (Eagleton Weigand, and her former attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, are accused of trying to extort the money from Eagleton by threatening to release unspecified damaging material about him.