Scientology Leaders Court Clearwater City Council Privately in Church Headquarters
Stars Come Out to Celebrate Newly Renovated CS Headquarters
Tom Cruise to Help Push Scientology's Clearwater Expansions
Hollywood’s Messiah, Tom Cruise, and his Church of Scientology, are preparing to greatly expand operations in Clearwater, Florida and city officials are attending one-on-one, private meetings with Church leaders in their opulent headquarters. Scientology leader David Miscavige presented the church’s downtown redevelopment plan to city council members on Tuesday. The Clearwater-headquartered church founded by fiction author Lafayette (Ron) Hubbard also bought up two more blocks downtown along Myrtle Avenue between Cleveland and Drew Streets, according to Clearwater Vice Mayor Bill Jonson.
The Godless Church that is popular with Hollywood stars plans to recruit businesses to bankroll a façade overhaul in the heart of Clearwater. Critics contend Clearwater’s city government is in bed with church members at the former-hotel headquarters and are busy un-separating government from church, at least when it comes to Scientology. Hollywood icon Tom Cruise has decided to accept the mission to help church leaders develop an entertainment complex on the newly acquired properties, according to a Tampa Bay Times report.
Church of Scientology a Magnet for Controversy
The presentation by Micavige and his entourage took place in the 10th floor ballroom of the church's Fort Harrison Hotel, a historic property purchased Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc., a subsidiary of the Church of Scientology International. The church gave Clearwater council members one-on-one presentations of their strategy from the 11-story facility that features 220 rooms, three restaurants, a swimming pool and a ballroom.
Scientology has survived years of controversial news reports however some Hollywood stars, like Leah Rimini, have turned against the church in recent years. For Rimini, the final straw was when Church officials came to her house and verbally abused her. Remini had committed two major sins — reading criticism of the church and talking to ex-members, according to reports.
Notable incidents involving the controversial church’s Clearwater headquarters, according to Wikipedia, include:
- At least three suspicious deaths since 1975, most notably the death of Lisa McPherson, who died on December 5, 1995, after spending 17 days in room 174 of the building. The officially reported cause of death was a blood clot caused by dehydration and bedrest. The Church later challenged the findings of the autopsy in court. In 1997, a church spokesman acknowledged that McPherson died at the Fort Harrison, rather than on the way to the hospital. The church later retracted its spokesman's statement.
- In February 1980, prior to McPherson’s death, a Scientologist named Josephus A. Havenith was found dead at the Fort Harrison Hotel. He was discovered in a bathtub filled with water hot enough to have burned his skin off. The officially reported cause of death was drowning, although the coroner noted that, when he was found, Havenith's head was not submerged.
- In August 1988, Scientologist Heribert Pfaff died of a seizure in the Fort Harrison Hotel. He had recently stopped taking his seizure medication in favor of a vitamin program.
- In 1997, Clearwater police received over 160 emergency calls from the Fort Harrison Hotel, but they were denied entry into the hotel by Scientology security.
Scientology Foot Print in City Would Greatly Increase Under Plans
According to a Tampa Bay Times report, in January and February the church purchased more than $26 million of prime downtown real estate through shell companies. Those properties include the landmark-all glass Atrium office tower, the aforementioned two blocks of Myrtle Avenue, the Sage Venue on N Fort Harrison Avenue, an auto garage and the Trickels Jewelers building on Cleveland Street.
Many oppose Clearwater officials holding private meetings about public dealings with the church's leaders inside their headquarters. It is not clear whether public opposition will deter the government/church bond or impact the church’s potential for behind-the-scenes manipulation of city government.