About 200 Protest Scientology

The Tampa Tribune/April 12, 2008

Clearwater - The Internet-based group Anonymous held its third protest in about three months Saturday outside the headquarters of the Church of Scientology.

Although it started with about 50 people at 3 p.m., the number swelled to about 200 an hour later. Joshua Nussbaum, 20, an organizer, said the point of Saturday's protest was to focus public attention on what he says is the church's practice of ostracizing loved ones perceived as a threat.

Elizabeth Daly-Watts, Clearwater public safety spokeswoman, said there were no problems and no arrests were made.

Church spokeswoman Pat Harney said Anonymous is a terrorist group that has harassed church members and staff daily with threatening phone calls.

"We have been enduring this for three months now," Harney said. "This is a religious hate campaign while their leaders hide behind masks of anonymity. It's not OK that they get all of this attention. We refuse to interact with them."

Harney said the latest protest twists the beliefs of Scientologists.

"The Church has no policy of disconnecting members from their family, as Anonymous is plainly aware," Harney said. "We believe family is the building block of society."

Nussbaum said another protest is being planned for May.

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