Source “PR Newswire”
Author Kathy Gorgon
Date January 24th, 19841
CLEARWATER, Fla., Jan. 24/PRN – The Church of Scientology – joining other
prominent national religious groups – announced here today it has filed a federal lawsuit
asking that a charitable solicitation ordinance enacted by the city of Clearwater against
what the church termed “all religious and charitable organizations” to be declared
unconstitutional, and that the city be enjoined from enforcing it.
The action by the Church of Scientology’s Flag Service Organization, headquartered in
Clearwater, came only days after an initial constitutional challenge to the ordinance –
potentially of landmark significance – was launched by a coalition of major religious
groups, including the National Council of Churches, the American Jewish Committee, the
American Baptist Church, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In its suit filed in U.S. District Court, Tampa, the Church of Scientology charged that the
Clearwater ordinance – which seeks to control fund-raising by churches and other
nonprofit charitable organizations in the Florida city – violates the U.S. Constitution’s
First Amendment freedoms of religion, press, speech and assembly, and other guarantees
under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and 14th amendments to the Constitution.
The church asserted that the constitutionally untenable ordinance – adopted by the
Clearwater City Commission last October after urging by a Boston lawyer, Michael J.
Flynn – was specifically designed to single out the church for “harassment and
persecution” and ultimately to drive it out of the city, overtly violating the church’s
constitutional rights of free establishment and exercise, due process and equal protection
under the law.
Church attorney Paul B. Johnson, commenting on the legal action, pointed out that Flynn,
paradoxically, was the same lawyer who last year claimed – abortively – that L. Ron
Hubbard, founder of Dianetics and Scientology religious technology, was a “missing
person.” Flynn was subsequently fined for contempt of court by a California district
Citing the church’s lawsuit, Johnson also emphasized that while the Clearwater ordinance
may have explicitly targeted the Church of Scientology, its unconstitutionality has
“unfortunately also directly – and profoundly – affected the main-line religions. They have
perceived this and that is why, apparently, they filed their suit last week.”
Charging abridgment of freedoms and guarantees under both the United States and
Florida State constitutions, the church said the ordinance would “foster massive
entanglement between church and state” by – among other things – unfairly and
discriminatively hampering religious organizations of all kinds in their efforts to raise
funds; imposing destructively heavy regulatory procedures and punishments; and
conferring on the city of Clearwater both “extraordinary powers of censorship” and “vast
discretion” in interpreting and enforcing the vaguely worded ordinance.
Contact – Kathy Gorgon of the Church of Scientology at 213-662-9431.
- Retrieved on September 22, 2014 from www.xenufrance.net/osa-so-called-press-releases-year-1984.pdf ↩