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Scientologist chooses beliefs over parents

Title: Scientologist chooses beliefs over parents
Date: Saturday, 17 May 1980
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Main source:

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CLEARWATER — Donald Haigler, a 23-year old Scientologist torn between love for his parent, and his religious sect, has reaffirmed his belief in Scientology.

In a telephone interview Friday afternoon, the young Haigler said he loves his parents and is willing to see them frequently but he will not forsake Scientology, and he will not get involved with alleged "deprogramers," such as Nan McLean.

Leon and Kathleen Haigler, who came to Clearwater with Mrs. McLean in hopes of convincing their son to leave Scientology, said his decision is discouraging. They said they thought they had been making progress in educating Donald to "the underside of Scientology."

But they vowed to continue their fight to free Donald from what they believe is the controlling influence of Scientology.

The Haiglers and their son appeared to be on the road to reunion Thursday when the young Haigler, at an emotion-packed press conference, reluctantly agreed to meet privately with his parents and Mrs. McLean, a nationally known Scientology critic.

After lunching at the Kapok Tree Inn, the four went to the Haiglers' Clearwater Beach motel room to relax, swim and talk. "He was warm," Leon Haigler recalled Friday. "He showed emotion . . ."

But then, at 5 p.m., the discussion was interrupted by a telephone call from a Church of Scientology member asking to speak with Donald.

After the phone conversation, Donald's "attitude changed just completely," the Haiglers said. He suddenly became antagonistic toward Mrs. McLean, they said. He became cooler to his parents. He demanded to leave.

But Donald says he decided to leave and return to the church because Nan McLean started criticizing his religion.