How a Retired Florida Woman Became Head of Anonymous' Anti-Scientology Protest in Clearwater - 2014-05-02
Laura Flynn remembers the first time she met a Scientologist. Living in Clearwater -- also known as Flag Land Base or Mecca by L. Ron Hubbard's acolytes -- she had unknowingly come into contact with them countless times. The 58-year-old, who describes herself as "good country people," didn't ask questions, though. It didn't matter to her or her husband what people did when they walked into the Super Power building downtown. It was like the don't-ask, don't-tell policy of cult membership.
But after 1993, she couldn't ignore the church's influence on her fellow Clearwater residents any longer. Although she's retired now, Flynn used to work as a floral designer. One day she saw her then-boss huddled in the corner, drinking a Coca-Cola she'd pilfered from a coworker.
"She was shaking like a leaf, just trying to get some nourishment in there," Flynn remembers. "She begged me not to tell anyone."
Flynn later learned that the fast was part of a Scientology-related cleanse called the Purification Rundown. She thought it was strange, sure, but she still felt distanced from whatever happened within the four walls of Scientology headquarters.