Clearwater, Church of Scientology at odds over symbols, art work on temporary tent

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The church of scientology and the city of Clearwater are at odds over this latest addition to a temporary tent the church has erected in downtown.

The issue has to do with the words and art-work on the large cover over the tent.

The huge new addition to the downtown Clearwater landscape it's the latest update to a Church of Scientology temporary modular building that looks like a tent. 

"Back in August, the Church of Scientology asked for a temporary building permit; and we were in the process of issuing them that permit," said Joelle Castelli from the City of Clearwater.   

Then yesterday, this enormous mural was draped over the entire east and west sides of the roof that is nearly five-stories tall. That mural, and the words on it are at the center of a debate between the city and the church.

"This was not on their original application. So yesterday when we found out about it, we made a call to the church.  They indicated their stance that this was a religious symbol. We indicated that we have concerns that it is a sign," Castelli said.

By including the words, 'The Golden Age of Tech' and the large letters KSW, an acronym the church uses for 'Keep Scientology Working', the city considers the murals as signs.

"There's a maximum size that you are allowed to have for a sign.  According to our sign code, it's based upon the size of the building.  That definitely exceeds the sign size allowed for that type of structure," Castelli said.

Initial reports were that the tent was being erected for a November gathering of the International Association of Scientologists;  but the church has been silent on what event the structure may be used for or when.  Until the mural issue is worked out with the city, no certificate of occupancy can be issued.

Calls and e-mails seeking comment from the Church of Scientology were not returned.


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