Criticism over Scientologist ties forces Ruth Eckerd to cancel show

WTSP 10 News, Florida/December 1, 2011

Clearwater, Florida -- Ruth Eckerd Hall announced Thursday afternoon it has canceled an upcoming fundraiser after negative reaction poured in due to its ties to the Church of Scientology.

It started with a mass email sent out by the non-profit music venue Wednesday morning. The email was an invitation to a January event at the Church, featuring David Pomeranz, a known Scientologist.

But it went to Ruth Eckerd's entire mailing list -- from anyone who has attended one show there to major donors -- leaving some furious about being asked to go to a Scientology function.

Some who received the email questioned if it was a violation of privacy and want to know who has their personal information.

On the Hall's Facebook fan page, one person wrote "I find it degrading and beyond insulting."

Another took it a step further, posting it "actually makes me want to stop being a member. If you continue to partner with Scientology, I will be unable to associate myself with you."

Ruth Eckerd and the Scientologists were partnering on the event to raise money to help restore downtown Clearwater's Capitol Theater.

But perhaps realizing the mistake, a few hours after the original mass email, Ruth Eckerd CEO Robert Freedman sent another email, clarifying the fundraiser and putting in bold type "the Church does not have access to any of your personal information."

10 News tried to reach Freedman for an interview throughout the day Thursday, but a spokesperson told us he was not available.

Then, late in the afternoon, the spokesperson sent an email saying the event had been cancelled due to a "significant number of negative responses."

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