Sun, surf and Scientology? - 2006-11-18
Today, Scientologists own much of downtown Clearwater. They"ve given new life to an ailing waterfront. They draw tourists and celebs such as Cruise and John Travolta, and they serve in a host of civic organizations. In one study commissioned by the church, Scientologists' direct spending in the community in 1999 was estimated at $119 million.
But not everyone is pleased. Many residents complain the church, its controversial history and unique beliefs alienate residents from a downtown that, despite the development and prime location minutes from the beach, remains sleepy. Downtown may look better, they say, but unless you"re a Scientologist there's little reason to go there.