A peek under the Scientology ecclesiastical robes. What's really happening when you quit gawking at the diversions provided by Tom Cruise and Scientology's various front groups.
In which Scientology takes over an entire town in Florida.
Religion and Politics:Occupied Territory
Most people remember, or have heard about how Antelope, Oregon nearly fell under the control of an Indian guru called the Baghwan Sri Rajneesh. His cult moved into a property near the small town, and began working to take it over by placing his people in local government. After his followers perpetrated the first domestic incidence of biological warfare in the U.S. it was learned that the motive was to make so many local voters sick, they wouldn't vote and the Rajneeshi candidate would take the day. The Bhagwan's compound was found to have a lab in which the strain of salmonella used to poison the people of Antelope was cultured. This was a spectacular finish to a community saga that got increasingly bizarre as it unfolded.
The insidious occupation of a sleepy Florida town began innocently enough. A group called 'United Churches of Florida' moved into Clearwater and began buying up properties, notably the Ft. Harrison Hotel where, long ago, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger wrote (I can't get no) Satisfaction in May of 1965.
When it came out that "United Churches" was actually only one marginally religious organization called Scientology, the mayor of Clearwater, Gabe Cazares, became concerned enough to do some research into the group. He learned that "United Churches of Florida" claimed to be renting the Ft. Harrison Hotel from the "Southern Land Development Leasing Corporation."
Further digging revealed that both entities were actually run by Scientologists. It was a typically dishonest sham from a group that believes in playing fast and loose with the truth. Cazares' fears that Scientology intended to take over his town were confirmed following FBI raids in 1997, when a document labeled "Top Secret" was uncovered. Called 'Operation Normandy," this document outlined precisely how the cult planned to infiltrate and control Clearwater.
There were several other noteworthy documents retrieved in the FBI raids. Besides thousands of government records and documents stolen from offices, there were plans outlining the destruction of an author, Paulette Cooper, who was writing a book called 'The Scandal of Scientology.' It was refered to as 'Operation Freakout,' and the intent was clearly to drive her mad, or land her in prison. Also recovered was 'Operation Snow White,' a written outline describing the infiltration of government offices and the theft of the very documents recovered by the FBI.
Operation Freakout and Operation Snow White are definately google-worthy topics, but not germane to the Clearwater issue. I recommend them as a fascinating look into the shadowy world of Scientology covert ops.
Gabe Cazares publicly stated the opinion that Scientology's plan to take control of Clearwater was "a paramilitary operation by a terrorist group." 1
He was immediately sued by the Scientology organization for questioning their civic virtues and intentions.
In March of 1976, Cazares was the target of a smear campaign involving sexual allegations, and was involved in a hit-and-run accident staged by the "church" of Scientology. This was revealed by internal memos found by the FBI. This incident ruined Cazares' chance at election to Congress. Cazares and his wife filed a $1.5 million dollar lawsuit, which was settled out of court.
Other memos related to control public opinion in Clearwater, and infiltrating civic organizations.
Back in the 1970s, it was painfully clear that Scientology's true intent was not what their representatives claimed. Scientology spokesmen claimed their only interest was in improving the community. They touted their involvement elsewhere with illiteracy, drug abuse problems, and other social ills. Scientology's multitentacled front group phenomenon is constantly morphing, spawning front groups of front groups as the various programs are exposed as nonsensical, or even dangerous frauds; useless at best.
The Operation Normandy documents are written like a military campaign, outlining targets, identifying enemies, and listing potential opinion leaders who might be open to exploitation. Here are a few examples of the Operation Normandy documents.2
"5 December 75 SECRET POWER PROJECT : 3 NORMANDY
Ref. GO Order 261175 LRH "POWER"
The major purpose of this project is to obtain enough data on the Clearwater area to be able to determine what groups and individuals B1 will need to penetrate and handle in order to establish area control."
To fully investigate the Clearwater city and county area so we can distinguish our friends from our enemies and handle as needed."
Locate all local medical societies, clinics, hospitals, etc.
Gather up the names of main officers and directors of each.
- Fully investigate each official and director using overt data
- Add to data from No. 3 above what is needed from covert collection."
"7. Locate all local intelligence agencies (eg. police, intelligence FBI
- Gather up the names of the heads of each
- Fully investigate each one
- Add to data from 9 above what is needed from covert collections."
Other targets were drug companies, intelligence agencies, (police, fire, etc) PR firms and government agencies, with similar instructions for each.
'Opinion leader' targets would be contacted by personable businessmen who "just happen" to be Scientologists. These friendly, likable folks are good at what they do. But, the friendliness doesn't go any deeper than the smile plastered on their faces; say anything critical and they vanish like smoke.
In this scenario, Scientologists quickly make themselves useful; volunteering for cleanup projects, community activities, offering to organize public events, etc.
Gradually, Scientology's creeping hold on Clearwater has tightened. It is now the largest property owner in downtown Clearwater, an unfortunate fact for the city as the cult pays no taxes. Did I say cult? I meant "religion."
Clearwater government is suffering from multiple personality disorder. While the city council and mayor have tried to accomodate Scientology's vision of downtown, they're also torn by the desire to make Clearwater a tourist destination. However, Clearwater's downtown, with its squads of scurrying, uniformed Scientologists, Scientology guards and hundreds of Scientology cameras, would only appeal to a certain type of tourist interested in seeing a full-blown cultic city dedicated to the maunderings of a dead science fiction writer.
Recently, a local put together a website featuring a photo tour of downtown Clearwater. There are blocks of closed, shuttered businesses, and not a soul in sight, save Scientologists being herded between Scientology buildings. At two o'clock in the afternoon, little health food stores, travel agencies and the like are closed up tight. Many storefronts are empty, or offered for lease.
Worse, part of Scientology's plan for Clearwater became a reality when the new causeway bridge to Clearwater Beach opened in 2005, effectively routing traffic around downtown. The traffic which used to cut through the blocks of Scientology owned properties is gone, leaving downtown Clearwater as a nearly private cult campus. A local reported that, the day the causeway opened, Scientology's paramilitary "Sea Organization" personnel changed back into their faux-Navy uniforms from the less disturbing pastel outfits they'd adopted to placate the residents of Clearwater, who found the paramilitary outfits frightening.
And yet, the city government still has that dream of tourist dollars. They also firmly clutch at the notion that Scientology and the city can coexist, that the bad times are behind them, that Scientology "doesn't do that any more."
Accounts from 2006 prove that Scientology doesn't do that any less, either. City officials are living in a strange fantasy world if they think that Scientology has any intention of mere coexistance.
Scientology's new Super Power building dominates downtown like a tarted up maximum security prison complete with guard towers. When it is completed, the Super Power building will be the largest commercial building in downtown Clearwater.
The Super Power building project was started in 1998 and was initially to be completed by 1992. Work was halted in 2003, leaving the building unfinished with a 15 foot gap in the walls.
It is felt that leaving the building incomplete benefits the Scientology organization in several ways.
If the building is completed, it will have to be staffed, heated, air conditioned and it will have to generate income. As it stands, despite Scientology claims that funding is not a problem, and that the project is fully funded, the organization is still urging members to contribute to it.
Also, once it's finished, the Super Power building is going to be selling the Super Power Rundown series, which claims to deliver, "A super fantastic, but confidential series of rundowns that can be done on anybody whether Dn [Dianetics] Clear or not that puts the person into fantastic shape unleashing Super Power of a thetan. This means that puts Scientologists into a new realm of ability enabling them to create a new world. It puts world Clearing within reach of the future. This is a parallel rundown to Power in Saint Hills which is taken by the Dn Clear. It consists of 12 separate high power rundowns which are brand new and enter realms of the tech never before approached. Power is still very much in use on the Grade Chart but is for those who didn't go Clear on Dn."3
Uhhh...yeah...I can see why they don't want to finish it.
In 2003, the cranes that had stood, unused, for months were finally removed from the building site.
Despite the lack of work on Scientology's flagship building, it has been busy elsewhere downtown.
It is building a 4 story parking garage, and has plans for a 13 story waterfront highrise. The 251 rooms would serve as lodging for visiting Scientologists attracted to the Super Power building. That is, if the city approves permits them to transfer development rights from another of their less desirable properties. Regarding the transfer, Mayor Hibbard says, "It's not real unusual, I don't think it's a big deal. I can't imagine it won't pass."
Well, it certainly is unusual, in that the Scientology organization is currently racking up hundreds of dollars a day in fines since abandoning work on the Super Power building. As a letter to the editor of the St. Petersburg Times put it, "This story states that the Church of Scientology has not met city code enforcement deadlines and that fines are accruing to the tune of $40,000 to date.
It also stated that the city and the church have agreed on a new timetable for completion, and if these new deadlines are met, the fines may be forgiven."
That, too is unusual. A city whose largest inhabitant pays no taxes must be pretty well off to be able to forgive these fines.
Still, that poke in the pocketbook was just what was needed to get the organization's attention. The seemingly abandoned project was increasingly becoming a blighted area, with litter collecting around the site and an air of forlorn, unfulfilled promise. Supposedly, the project is under way again, with a completion date of 2008. That is a whole decade under construction!
Clearwater is an example of Scientology's ability to infiltrate a community, insinuating its members into the political and social infrastructure, making contacts, pressing flesh and kissing babies and asses equally cheerfully. Scientology has stunted Clearwater development in much the same way its mental conditioning stunts the intellectual development of its followers. Clearwater can never realize its dreams of becoming a tourist destination as long as Scientology squats in its midst. It's a schizophrenic conundrum. The cult wants to keep the illusion that it's all for a vibrant downtown, with nightlife, tourists, and attractions. However, it has managed to render downtown into a ghost town with an ambience that would rival a tea party at the Heaven's Gate estate. Stone creepy.
Despite all the information about Scientology's less than sterling history available on the web, we still see politicians and other officials parroting Scientology propaganda, as if it is their sole source of information. We see them attending high-profile events; dinners, awards ceremonies, and campaign fundraisers.
If you have any question how any rational public official could possibly support Scientology's many schemes, scams and front groups, here's a clue. "Campaign fundraisers." Some politicians deliberately choose to remain ignorant of Scientology abuses, but one day, this attitude will change. Increasingly, a comfortable association with Scientology is raising awkward questions for politicians. Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca hasn't explained why he supports a plan to establish a Narconon facility in the rural community of Leona Valley. He has been spotted at parties thrown by Scientologist celebrities, and has garnered awards at ceremonies thrown by front groups created to give out awards and wine and dine opinion leaders. Sadly, Baca is not an anomaly. This website:
profiles a number of lawmakers and officials who should know better, but apparently don't care.
Scientology influence is greatest at its two centers in Los Angeles, California and Clearwater, Florida. The cult has had a number of failures in trying to establish beach heads in towns where Scientology has little or no presence. However, give 'em a toe-hold and they'll take whatever isn't nailed down, and some stuff that is.
My favorite story about an attempted Scientology infestation is the saga of Tilden, Nebraska, L. Ron Hubbard's birthplace. Tilden wanted a nice park. A group named "Friends of Ron" came all the way out from the big city of Los Angeles with a $60,000 check. There were only a few insignificant demands and conditions.
From Scientology's Source magazine:
Source #104, page 38:
"And in Ron's birthplace, Tilden, Nebraska, city fathers have requested a park be created in LRH's name. With the help of the Friends of Ron, a 22 acre park is under construction, complete with baseball field, wildlife refuge and a biking path named The Way to Happiness Trail."
Those were the conditions. The Way to Happiness Trail would have plaques bearing the precepts of Scientology's Way to Happiness booklet. The town was divided. Should they take the money and make the concessions, or not?
People turned to the web for information. Ultimately, the offer was rejected, and the Scientologist's $60,000 was returned. Yet, Source Magazine claimed that the town requested a L. Ron Hubbard Park! Moreover, it was under construction already! This is an excellent example of Acceptable Truth.4
This is only the tip of the clamshell. Scientology has infiltrated the National Foundation of Women Legislators, some of whom wind up promoting Scientology programs and theories on mental health to their home states. Margarita Lopez, a councilwoman from Manhattan, received over $100,000 in campaign contributions from Scientology, and funneled over $600,000 in public money to the Scientology "New York Rescue Worker's Detoxification Project," another front group with Scientology's "Purification Rundown" at the core of it.
When word got out of the true nature of the Detox project, Margarita's campaign took a plummet toward obscurity. Her sweet association with the cult will follow her forever.
Oh, someday the sun will shine, and Scientology will be a blot on the record. It's by turn fascinating, disgusting, revolting, amusing, but always dangerous.
L. Ron Hubbard, to paraphrase, once said, "On the day we can trust each other, there will be peace on Earth."
But, he also said, "If you want to control people, lie to them. You can write that down in your book in great big letters."
Sounds nice, but Scientology is inherently devoted to
pulling the wool over people's eyes as they collect money hand over fist while their most devoted only earn a pittance. Human rights, drug addiction, illiteracy, Scientology has devised ways to profit from them all without contributing any real worth.
As long as "religious=good" in America, Scientology will continue to prosper from the lazy ignorance and willful self-interest of elected officials.
Typically, Scientology spokespeople will claim 8-10 million members world-wide, but the actual number is probably closer to 80,000, judging by Scientology's own internal magazines. And Scientology is tiny compared to the Unification Church and some fundamentalist groups, but that's another story.
Scientology is small enough to watch. It is, in microcosm, a model for other religious groups that operate on a much larger scale. They're worth watching, if only for entertainment value. This group is so terribly, irrevocably and deeply flawed, it will not survive in its current configuration much longer.
Its weird cosmology is now a topic of fun on late night television. But that's not what will bring them down.
What will bring them down are the thousands of lies, the myriad abuses, the fraudulent front groups and the slowly emerging body of victims who are beginning to complain en masse about their treatment.
Reining in Scientology is going to be a lot easier than curbing the fundamentalist Christians, for surely if you're against them, you're against Jesus Himself!
If you're against Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, that simply makes you a proponent of psychiatry, electroshock, and the drugging of school children.
And now a few words from the dead con man himself:
"Once the world is Clear - a nation, a state, a city
or a village - the Scientology-organization in the
area becomes its government! And once this has taken
place the only policy accepted as valid is Scientology
"You want to know what happens when you clear
everybody in that neighbourhood, the only thing that
[Scientology] center can become used for is a
political center. Because by the time you've done all
this, you are the government..."
"Future Org Trends" lecture given by
L. Ron Hubbard, January 9th 1962
"There are only two answers for the handling of people from 2.0 down on the tone scale, neither one of which has anything to do with reasoning with them or listening to their justification of their acts. The first is to raise them on the tone scale by un-enturbulating some of their theta by any one of the three valid processes. The other is to dispose of them quietly and without
- L. Ron Hubbard, The Science of Survival, Book One, p. 157
- Gabe Cazares video interview for a Clearwater historical society.
3.Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary, p. 413. Bridge Publications, 1989
4.http://www.holysmoke.org/cos/tilden-saga.htm (scroll down to Saga of Tilden, by Mike Wilson