Tampa Bay Times: Scientology ties prompt some to back away from Tampa human rights summit

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by COS and NOI News, Jul 21, 2021.

  1. Tampa Bay Times: Scientology ties prompt some to back away from Tampa human rights summit

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen said he would not have agreed to speak at the event had he known a Scientology group was co-hosting.

    By Tracey McManus
    Published 1 hour ago


    * * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * * *

    When Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen received an invitation to present at Thursday’s Tampa Bay Summit on Human Rights, he accepted, thinking it would be a chance to talk about justice for migrant workers.

    He had never heard of the Miel y Canela Foundation, which first contacted his aides in June. But he trusted it since it was being held at the local government-run Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

    Then United for Human Rights emerged as a co-host and spread online flyers for the summit with Cohen’s photo. It wasn’t until citizens contacted his office last weekend that he learned United for Human Rights is sponsored by the Church of Scientology.

    “This isn’t what I thought it was,” Cohen said on Tuesday, confirming he dropped out of the event. “Scientology and a human rights summit, I don’t know they are compatible with one another.”

    Scientology has faced decades of allegations of human rights abuses, from the trafficking of religious workers to the use of private investigators to harass and intimidate perceived enemies. United for Human Rights serves as one of its social activism groups that attempt to flip that reputation, often by positioning itself alongside politicians, community leaders and secular nonprofits like Miel y Canela Foundation.

    Public outreach falls under a 1982 policy written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard called “The Safe Point,” where parishioners insert themselves in social circles with the motive of building credibility and goodwill for the church.

    The policy does not focus on explicitly proselytizing Scientology. Instead, it’s about making allies of decision makers and “the top dogs in the area,” as Hubbard put it, so Scientology is easier to defend later if under attack.

    “Viability depends on having all areas and persons who could affect or influence the operation under (public relations) control,” the founder wrote.

    * * * * * END EXCERPT * * * * *

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