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Skinheads, skateboards, Scientology prompt calls // Do you avoid downtown?

Title: Skinheads, skateboards, Scientology prompt calls // Do you avoid downtown?
Date: Thursday, 30 July 1987
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Bob Henderson
Main source:

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Another caller wanted to talk about our Sunday story regarding merchants in downtown Clearwater and how they appreciate the business of their Scientology customers.

How many local residents, the caller wondered, stay away from the downtown area only because they don't want to be seen with Scientologists and be considered one of them, or at least because they would feel uncomfortable with the many Scientologists scurrying back and forth on downtown sidewalks?

The caller believes there are many such people, and he suggested a coupon survey in the newspaper. I don't think we want to conduct a survey, but letters on the subject could prove interesting.

Meanwhile, the national office of the Cult Awareness Network reports that "a Scientology front group called the Concerned Businessmen's Association is sponsoring a Set a Good Example contest aimed at schools and youth groups, which centers around a booklet titled The Way to Happiness by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard." (Many Clearwater residents have been sent that booklet in the mail.)

When a similar contest was conducted in England, children were required to read the booklet and then carry out a project that sets a good example. The London Daily Mail reported that "several civic leaders who had initially endorsed the contest withdrew their support upon learning of the connection to Scientology."

Richard Haworth, a spokesman for the Scientology operation in Clearwater, said the Concerned Businessmen's Association "has nothing to do with Scientology, although there may be members in it who are Scientologists." He said he thought the group was based in California, but it recently "rented" the ballroom in the former Fort Harrison Hotel here for a program on drug abuse and rehabilitation.