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Scientologists continue expansion in Florida town

Title: Scientologists continue expansion in Florida town
Date: Thursday, 10 August 1989
Publisher: Associated Press
Main source: link (102 KiB)

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CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — The City Commission here has approved a site plan for a three-story addition on Clearwater Harbor property owned by the Church of Scientology, now the city's fourth largest property owner.

The preliminary document was sent to city planners late Thursday after a testy public hearing involving proponents and opponents.

Scientologists moved their religious headquarters to Clearwater in 1975 when they bought the old For Harrison Hotel. The group has since bought 11 other Clearwater properties, bringing total property values to $21.5 million.

Proponents argued that Scientology helps people overcome drug and mental health problems. Opponents said it is a [brainwashing] cult that is taking over the city.

"It is the most honest and compassionate religion I've ever known," said Steve Littler, who has been a member for 25 years.

But former Scientologist Lisa Hyatt, 26, spoke of a religion that worked her 22 hours a day and took over her mind.

"I still have [nightmares]. It's what happens to your brain when they reach that deep into you," she said.