At least some shoppers don't realize the connection with Scientology. Muriel Bryant, an Orlando resident who visited University Mall on Friday, said a kiosk worker never mentioned the church during a 10-minute discussion about Dianetics and stress. Had she known Scientology was involved, Bryant probably wouldn't have stopped at the kiosk, said Bryant, who described herself as a nondenominational Christian.
"I'm not happy they are here," said Tennyson, who lives adjacent to the church. "I think they bring down the value of our homes because they have a cult type of stigma. I moved here because it's a family neighborhood, and that has been taken away." Earl Haugabook, president of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, said he is concerned if the church plans to grow in West Tampa. "We want a diversified community with businesses who are going to come in and offer jobs and keep the West Tampa mystique. We don't want West Tampa known as the Scientology capital."
Geared toward introducing newcomers to Scientology, five Florida missions mark the first time in the church's 27 years in Clearwater that Scientology overtly will try to recruit Tampa Bay area residents.