OSA Press Release (January 24, 1984)

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
judge.

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.

Notes