after running Scientology from aboard a ship in International
waters for the better part of a decade, L. Ron Hubbard established
a land base in a small town in Florida.
was chosen in part because of its name; Clear
being an important concept in Scientology.
the Ft. Harrison Hotel and a former bank building in the downtown
area under the name United Churches of Florida to hide Scientology's
connection and set into motion a plan to take over the city; a plan
Hubbard labeled Project
Guardian's Office (since renamed the Office of Special Affairs)
set about infiltrating the government, the media and any other group
they felt might stand in the way of Scientology's goal. Their goal
simply was to make Clearwater the first Scientology City.
was only after the FBI raided Scientology's headquarters in Los
Angeles and Washington, DC in 1979 that the citizens of Clearwater
discovered just how far Scientology would go to eliminate their
"enemies." Good men such as Mayor Gabe
Cazares were targeted with vicious campaigns meant, as Hubbard
would put it, to ruin them utterly.
1982, the city held a week's worth of hearings on Scientology. The
people of Clearwater were shocked to hear the testimony from people
who had been in Scientology or attacked by Scientology including
author Paulette Cooper and L. Ron Hubbard's own son. Those hearings
can now be seen in their entirety
on our website.
the city found themselves unable to fight Scientology's mounting
lawsuits and over the years have resigned themselves to the fact
that Scientology is there to stay. Even the Clearwater Police Department,
which once spent decades investigating complaints about the cult,
its officer to work for them. The police
report directly to the Office of Special Affairs.
now dominates the otherwise dormant downtown and seems to set much
of the agenda, directly or indirectly. The streets of downtown Clearwater
are filled with uniformed Sea Org members trooping from building
to building, earning poverty wages while servicing Scientology's
wealthy public members who travel to Clearwater from around the
world upper level courses unavailable anywhere else.
downtown is peppered with Scientology video cameras. Some
are hidden, some in the open.
Jacobsen photographed several of the cameras he saw in the
open but even he was shocked when a Scientology security guard
testified in court that they have over 100 cameras situated
around the city.
Jeff Jacobsen's photos