Monday, 21 May 2012

Is Scientology an Election Issue in Florida?

The Church of Scientology has, over the past few years, developed a very strong presence in Clearwater, Florida. Early on residents weren't too happy about this; more recently people seem to have at least resigned themselves to the change or even grown to appreciate it. Still, Scientology is controversial enough that at least some think they can make a political issue out of them.
The St. Petersburg Times reports that Republican candidate Frank Farkas is mailing out a flier accusing Democrat Kim Berfield of being a “key ally” of the Church of Scientology:
Scientology has been a hot-button issue in Clearwater since late 1975 when the church arrived covertly and purchased a city landmark, the Fort Harrison Hotel. Two years later, church documents seized by the FBI revealed plans to “take control” of Clearwater and discredit its “enemies” - political leaders, local police, newspaper editors and reporters.

Strained relations between Scientology and the community began to thaw in recent years. A watershed moment occurred in 2002 at the church’s 75th anniversary party at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater. The guest list was a virtual who’s who of local political, civic and business leaders. Since then, politicians have grown comfortable attending church events and taking Scientologists’ political donations.

And in May Gov. Jeb Bush apologized for calling Scientology “some weird little group.”
Frankly, if the church documents described here were genuine then I think it would take a great deal for me to ever trust the Church of Scientology if I were a resident of Clearwater, Florida. It shouldn’t be surprising that a politician’s relationship with Scientology would be an issue if there are any reasons to think that the Church of Scientology has plans to “take control” of the city and discredit “enemies” who won’t play ball.
Granted, those document were seized 20 years ago, but have things changed? That’s the question residents should want to know the answer to if they are going to trust the Church of Scientology and any politician who works with them.
Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said some voters are swayed by perceptions that a candidate is friendly to Scientologists. On the other hand, there are a lot of Scientologists, and they vote.

Which camp is bigger?

“I’m sure everyone would like to know that,” Hibbard said.
Actually, isn’t not just a question of which group is bigger — it’s also a question of which group is most motivated. Those who are more likely to vote against a candidate because they are too friendly with Scientology might be smaller than the number of Scientologists, but if they are highly motivated to vote because of this issue, then they can make a big difference. Farkas is gambling, I suppose, but raising an issue like this can make just enough of a difference to eke out a win in a tight race.

What you have to ask yourself is this; Would you want this going on in your town? Would you want this going on in your city, your country? It has been for decades, wherever there is Scientology and there are Scientologists worldwide, be assured the end game is always the same.The end game is to make the world a Scientology one.

I don't think for one moment the city of Clearwater envisioned their town could really be taken over,but to a larger degree it has been. Don't let your town go the same way.

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