Scientology gives members the chance to redeem themselvesLetters to the Editor
Published July 2, 2006
Re: The Unperson, June 25.
I am a Scientologist and I love it. I was once declared a suppressive person but I did not become an unperson, and I did not go out and become a "victim." Instead, I took responsibility for my actions.
I had done some destructive things that caused harm to the church and my friends. These actions would have been considered of great harm to any group one gave his trust and love to, including a family, a team of players, or a community that really counted on you to be there to do your part.
The church is all about improving lives to the utmost degree, and destructive actions by others cannot be tolerated. Some religions kick their members out completely with no chance of coming clean. Scientology gives you the chance to make up the damage and become an ethical member of the group once again so you can continue on the path to greater spiritual survival.
Tom Beattie, Clearwater
'Unperson' story was fiction
Re: The Unperson, June 25.
With all due respect, I think all that was really proven with this article was that every single person featured made it abundantly clear that they had every opportunity to simply walk away from Scientology and the consequences were of their own making.
The story my mother (Caroline Brown) painted may have sounded very sad, tormenting and heartbreaking, but it was fiction.
I'm sorry to pop the bubble, but your article belongs alongside the "bat babies" and the "500-pound attack doughnut-eating aliens" in the tabloids. Frankly, I think if this is what you call front-page news, your newspaper is headed for disaster.
Darby Zoccali, Clearwater
A matter of choice and responsibility
Re: The Unperson.
One thing this story proved is that for bad or worse, these people made their own decision about their membership status.
The fact is, no one cares about them more than the church, their friends and family members. In every case it was the individual who chose to disconnect with their actions. These former members did not just stop practicing Scientology, they committed acts to harm people.
If they should wish to recant, there are specific steps to return to the good graces of the church. The matter is handled in a fair and clear manner and as is consistent with the teachings of the church that the individual is responsible for their own actions and decisions. The first thing they have to do is take responsibility for their own actions - something those you quoted cannot bring themselves to do.
Pat Luefan, Clearwater
The other side of Scientology
The St. Petersburg Times has written hundreds and hundreds of articles on Scientology over the years. To my recollection, there has never been an accurate description of what Scientology is or what it is accomplishing for its parishioners and for millions of others through its outreach programs.
When you devote time and resources to an in-depth story, it isn't done to find out and inform the public of what Scientology is really all about. Instead, you single out those which are most likely to be misunderstood and which would cause the most distrust and disharmony in the community.
I have been in Scientology for over 30 years. I have often been stung by the unfair criticism in your pages because I could see the other side of Scientology at work. The greater (and largely untold) story is one of extremely dedicated and caring individuals working tirelessly to make the world a better place.
Progress in Scientology requires a high level of moral behavior from its staff and public. If one doesn't possess these attributes when entering Scientology, one develops them through the application of Scientology counseling and training. It is a wonderful thing that this is true and this is the hope of Scientology: Something can be done about it!
When certain individuals refuse to reform, we eventually lose interest in associating with them. However, every individual who is asked to leave the church for continuing unethical behavior is provided with a set of steps they can take to restore them to good standing. In other words, it is not a life sentence.
Scientology is the best thing that ever happened to me. Until you truly understand what it is, you're not likely to understand why it is of such great importance to a Scientologist.
Paris Morfopoulos, Clearwater
An antifamily cult
I can understand why Scientology does this because it is their major weapon to keep their victims in the cult for their financial base. It is the members I don't understand. How brainwashed do you have to be to disconnect from a loved one and never speak to mom, dad or child again because a cult tells you to?
St. Petersburg Times, keep up the good work to get the truth out about this dangerous, antifamily cult.
David Rodman, Dunedin
Telling it like it is
As director of a countercult ministry, Midwest Christian Outreach in Spring Hill, I was thrilled at the accuracy of the article showing the high price paid by Scientologists and Jehovah's Witnesses when they no longer want to conform or measure up to their man-made rules of control. You have done what many have not dared to do, you told it as it is! Please continue with articles such as these!
Diane Gholson, Spring Hill
Tell Scientology's success stories
I have been a Scientologist for over 33 years. Scientology got me off of drugs and gave me back my personal integrity. I have had the security checks (confessionals) mentioned in your article and have found them to be a way to help me understand why I have done less than optimal things in my life. I have never felt restricted as a Scientologist, either in what I say or what I do. You have taken the data from a few disgruntled people, but did not take the time to find out what the millions of people who have had success in Scientology have to say.
Bonnie Kittelson, Clearwater
'No knock' warrants keep police safe
Re: Court signals loosening of the last reins on police, by Robyn E. Blumner, June 25.
I am a retired law enforcement officer who during his 20 years of service enforced many "no knock" warrants. I am happy to say that I was never involved in any "wrong door" raids. However, understanding that police are human, it is possible that mistakes can be made.
Blumner's column referred to 200 "wrong door" raids in the past 15 years. This amounts to 13 each year! In light of the fact that thousands of such raids are conducted annually this is an extremely low number. There is no correlation between "wrong door" raids and "no knock" warrants. If the police were at the wrong door it would be because of faulty investigative techniques, not how the warrant is executed.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the police do not simply target a house, knock down the door and subject the inhabitants to abuse. A search warrant must be applied for, in which probable cause is established. Then a sitting judge must review the probable cause and then give a judicial okay. It is only then that the "no knock" endorsement is attached and it too is subject to judicial review.
As Blumner correctly mentioned, the "no knock" provision is to prevent the destruction of evidence and to protect the police executing the warrant. Having been involved in many warrant executions, I can personally say that it has saved many cops from injury or worse.
To portray the police as "playing soldier" is both demeaning and untrue. Most police officers are dedicated professionals. Blumner should think about that the next time she sees a cop running toward trouble when everyone else is running from it.
Gary Repetti, Palm Harbor