Church Of Scientology Eyes Bucks Co. Property

CBS News, Pennsylvania/September 16, 2008

Plumstead, Pennsylvania ? A religion with several famous members is hoping to turn a Bucks County building into its new home, but some people living nearby are becoming a little weary of their new neighbor.

When Plumstead resident Kim Coffman heard her new neighbors might be the church of Scientology, she was not happy.

"We were hoping a family would move in and my children would have some friends right out back would be the ideal situation," Coffman said.

However, Scientologist A. Rhodes Wilson, who owns the home, wants to turn it into "The Church of Scientology Mission of Bucks County."

"There's that void here in that central part of Bucks County, New Jersey, Montgomery County, that this would be able to service," Wilson explained.

Scientology was created by fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard as a self-help technique and philosophy which grew into a larger organization identifying itself as a religion.

Actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta are high profile members of the church which has struggled to gain credibility as a religion.

"There is a lot of negative PR that comes with it and there's a lot of hate groups that would like to bash anybody that's trying to do good. Our mission in Scientology is to provide people the ability to grow," Wilson said.

Wilson still needs a zoning variance to get approval to open the mission.

Those against Scientology coming to the area admit that they do not know much about the religion.

"I really don't know what it's about, but I would prefer not," resident Joyce Allen said.

However, Wilson said people are supportive.

"I've gotten encouraging words that say 'great, that would be an opportunity to have right here and bring some sanity to Bucks and Montgomery County,'" Wilson said.

If all goes as planned, the house will be transformed into a house of Scientology by November.

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