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Scientologists' pamphlet material called misleading

Title: Scientologists' pamphlet material called misleading
Date: Wednesday, 12 May 1982
Publisher: Clearwater Times (Florida)
Author: Laurie Hollman
Main source:
Alternate and/or complementary:, link (194 KiB)

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CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology promised Monday to give citizens of Clearwater "adequate information" about itself, but some people already are accusing the group of distributing misleading material.

Others say the church's new policy of openness is merely an old policy to appear to be open and above-board.

The skirmishing came as the Clearwater City Commission wrapped up five days of public hearings on Scientology and the church launched a media blitz intended to win over the public.

The information that some say is misleading appears in a pamphlet, "The Church of Scientology — What Is It?" The 21-page booklet, produced by the church's ministry of public affairs, was distributed to reporters Monday.

In the pamphlet are several letters commending the church for providing a community service or thanking Scientologists for offering a donation.

THE PAMPHLET says the church "is working to help those individuals in need and areas of society that need guidance," and the "attached documents" offer examples of "the charitable activities of the church."

One is a letter dated Jan. 27, 1981, from Clearwater Police Chief Sid Klein. In it, he thanks church members for contributing to the 1980 Christmas Cheer Program to help needy and elderly households.

Another is a letter of March 25, 1981, from Steve Santa Cruz, volunteer services center coordinator for the local division of the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services. In it he thanks a church member for donating 58 tickets so that abused and homeless children could see the Egypt Shrine Circus.

Still another is a letter dated Jan. 13, 1982, from Claretha Mendez, activity director at Padgett's Nursing Home. She thanks two Scientologists for working at the Tampa facility.

Of the six letter-writers contacted Monday, none said they authorized the church to use their letters for publicity. Some said they were angry that the letters were used this way.

KLEIN SAID THE Clearwater Police Department stopped taking donations from the church after learning that his letter could be used to drum up favorable publicity for the church. "I explained to them that this was unfair, and they were taking advantage of the police department," Klein said, "and we would refuse to accept any further donations."

Santa Cruz said HRS had made a similar decision. "I wasn't expecting to have my letter plastered all over the place," he said.

Mrs. Mendez said Scientology volunteers stopped coming to the nursing home several months ago.

A spokesman for another letter-writer — Frank Goble, president of a nonprofit educational clearinghouse called the Thomas Jefferson Research Center — wondered how the church obtained Goble's letter, since it was not addressed to the church. The letter notes that some people praise Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's ideas about teaching.

"The letter has absolutely nothing to do with the church," said Morton Jackson, chairman of the center's board of directors. "I really don't even know how they came to get a copy of it. We take no position on the Church of Scientology."

ASKED ABOUT the letters, Wilhere said: "I think you put them (the letter writers) on the spot. At the time they wrote the letters, they were sincere."

Meanwhile, City Manager Tony Shoemaker and Mayor Charles LeCher said the church public relations blitz and openness campaign were predictable responses to the public hearings.

If the church were really open, they said, tours through the former Fort Harrison Hotel would not have to be guided. Church spokesman Hugh Wilhere said the tours have to be guided to protect members' privacy and to keep people from interrupting church counseling sessions.

He refused to talk about the hearings, referring all questions to Paul Johnson, the Tampa attorney representing the church.

The Scientology cameramen who recorded the hearings for Johnson again refused to talk on the record about their personal feelings. They told a reporter to check with Wilhere first, and he refused to give permission.