tampabay.com

Four key Scientologists

By Times Staff Writer
Published July 19, 2004


Ben Shaw, 53, is the church's lead spokesman in Clearwater. The son of a career Army officer, Shaw graduated from high school in India, where he played in a rock band and studied Indian religions. After reading Dianetics while working on a shrimp boat in Key West in 1971, he joined the church staff. He became a minister in 1978 and has held church positions throughout Europe and in Miami, Boston and Los Angeles. He has directed external affairs in Clearwater since 1996. His wife, Mary Shaw, is the president of the church's Flag Service Organization.

Bennetta Slaughter, 48, was among the first Scientologists to win acceptance among Clearwater civic leaders. Soon after she and her husband, David, moved their marketing and publications firm, AMC Publishing, from Dallas to Clearwater in 1994, Ms. Slaughter became active in civic and social groups. The inroads she made at the Chamber of Commerce and the Jazz Holiday opened doors for other Scientologists. Slaughter now splits time between Clearwater and St. Louis, where she is chief executive of Applied Scholastics International, a learning program that uses teaching methods espoused by L. Ron Hubbard.

Mary Story, 54, a native of New Zealand, is perhaps the most recognized church staffer in Clearwater. A board member of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Clearwater, she also serves on the city's Main Street Design and Promotions Committee, the Homeless Task Force, and the Economic Development Task Force for the Clearwater Arts Foundation.

Elias Jafif, 50, is a private-sector Scientologist who heads an investment group planning a high-rise residential and retail project on 3 acres of prime downtown property purchased last year. Jafif, a native of Mexico, now has homes in Clearwater and Mexico City. A developer for 25 years, he and his partners have built numerous residential, hotel and retail projects in Mexico.