Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Scientology's new mission: Seminole Heights outpost

I thought this story from the Tampa Tribune deserved a replay here:

The beige two-story house at 902 E. Louisiana Ave. in Seminole Heights has a cozy feel to it, with hearts carved into the window shutters and brick steps leading up to the black iron gate at the door. If it wasn't for the huge white banner announcing the "Church of Scientology Mission of Old Tampa Bay,'' one would think it was some family's home.

From this humble post, Scientologist Milton James plans to reach out to the African-American community.

The mission, opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday evening, will offer lectures and introductory courses on things such as Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's study and communication techniques.

"This technology can be used in the

African-American community,'' said James, the mission's executive director. "And as an African-American, I feel a responsibility to take the technology to African-Americans to help improve their conditions.''

The Seminole Heights facility is the third Scientology mission in Tampa Bay. The others are in Belleair Bluffs and Clearwater. Unlike church-run outreach centers, Scientology missions are run by parishioners.

In addition to basic Scientology courses, the mission also will offer Dianetics counseling, the core practice of Scientology. And in a couple of months, James plans to offer purification rundowns, a process that purports to remove harmful toxins through exercise followed by several hours in a sauna, while taking a regimen of vitamins, minerals and oils.

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