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Clearwater Baptist pastor reflects on his message about Scientology, stands by it

[Pastor Willy Rice, during his July 23 sermon]

Pastor Willy Rice of Calvary Church in Clearwater, Florida told his congregation that the church would host a “public forum” about Scientology on July 22 with Leah Remini and Mike Rinder which would be filmed as an episode of their A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath. But after the pastor sent out a message about the plan, the event was canceled. Rinder said something about it at his blog, and on July 23, Pastor Rice talked about it during his Sunday sermon. One of our readers, Glen Alpert, took the time to transcribe Pastor Rice’s message, and we thought you’d find it interesting. It’s a shame that the event didn’t happen, but Pastor Rice doesn’t appear to be giving up on his idea about educating people about Scientology.

We’re going to be talking today about a city full of idols, a city full of idols from the Book of Acts, Chapter 17 beginning at verse 16. As you turn there, I would like t take a few moments though to talk about things that happened over the last couple days, just if I can, just kind of pastoral prerogative here to make sure that you’re aware.

I think, by now, most people know or have heard a little bit about what has happened. Over the last several weeks, really over the last period of time, it’s been our privilege to get to know some of the people who are involved in the series entitled Scientology and the Aftermath which aired on the A&E network. And a couple of months back some of the people related to that show reached out to us and we told them, hey, if there is ever anything we can do to help, let us know. And they reached out to us to say would you be willing to host kind of a town hall, community forum event. That’s the way they described it, as a town hall event. And I said that we absolutely would. Obviously, it’s kind of an unusual kind of event and that happened really quick. We were talking about that early in the summer and then we didn’t hear anything. And then early in July they called us and it was really quick. And we said yes.

So that’s why all the the schedule I told you in early July about who was preaching when, who was going to be at what campus on what day…all of that got blown out of the water because they asked us if we would host a forum, which was to be held yesterday. And so we kind of shifted some things so that if that happened I could come back this week (further talks about scheduling). But anyway, all that jumbled and so we planned to do that and then it got pulled. They cancelled out. And it has something to do with the producers and the network and all that Hollywood stuff I don’t

understand. A lot of people can speculate as to why the network chose not to do that. But we’re not mad at anybody. That’s their business. It had nothing to do with us. We were willing to do it. No pressure was applied to us and if it had been, it wouldn’t have done any good. And I can tell you that the people involved, you know who they are, some of the famous people…I’ve been talking to them, over this weekend. They very much want to that in our own city. I encourage them to do that whether it’s here or somewhere else. I think that’s an important community event that needs
to be held. And so in any case, I expect they will do it. It may happen here and we’ll tell you about when it happens.

What happened though is that we wrote a blog and put it out because really I wanted to explain to you why we were doing this. And that kind of blew up. We kind of knew that there would be an interest but wow, was there an interest. Like, it went, literally my team said it went around the world, I guess. There were people telling us, you know, we’re writing us from other countries. Overwhelmingly positive, a few people not happy but overwhelmingly people encouraging us, Calvary. When it got cancelled people said go ahead and do it anyway. And we will but we’re going to do
it in our way and our time. And, in fact, one of the things we took away from that was extraordinary interest in our community and in our city on addressing this issue, particularly the church or the cult of Scientology. And I will do that.

In fact, I’m working on that now. We will do something for our church family which we will present and was kind of done before but it just made us aware that we haven’t talked about it enough and there’s huge interest both in the church and outside the church in being able to speak out and ask questions and learn more and all of the above. We’re not trying to be mean. I’m not a mean person. Somebody asked me why did you call them a dangerous cult? Well, that’s because they’re a cult and they’re dangerous. That’s why I use the words
“dangerous cult.” [laughter, applause]

I’m not trying to be unkind but sometimes, you know, you just want to speak straight and that was our intent. But we will probably do something in the near future. We’ll let you know about that and if other people do things, that’s up to them.

A couple things… somebody asked me, somebody said that one of the things that was accused is that I was encouraging violence because I talk about slingshots and rocks because I was referencing, there’s actually a story in the bible about that if you’ve heard it. You know, and it’s called a metaphor and I was talking about why we would host the event. A slingshot is truth, being willing to speak out and so I was talking about why we were going to host the event. But just for clarity sake, if any of you would think it was wise to take a slingshot and some rocks and throw them at somebody, that’s not a good idea. We’re not encouraging you to do that. OK, so if you go down because you’re mad at the church of Scientology and shoot rocks at a building, that’s a pretty stupid thing to do. OK, you should should not do that. If you do you will look silly and the rest of us will laugh at you. And secondly, you may damage somebody’s property but that’s wrong. You shouldn’t do that and you should never harm or threaten another person. I don’t think anybody honestly thought that. But in case you did, if you do that , if you go and were to damage somebody’s property with a slingshot or hurt somebody, you will get arrested and you should get arrested. And when the police call me I’m going to say that person is dumb as a box of rocks. Throw the book at them. All right, and then after you throw the book at them, enroll them in a remedial English course and teach them about metaphors and rhetorical devices. [laughter]

We don’t do that sort of thing. We don’t hire private detectives to tail people. We don’t sue people. We don’t attack people as persons. Other people do that…that is not what followers of Christ are supposed to do. And we’re not going to do that. So, there’s that, don’t take up a slingshot. And I just want to say one thing and then we’ll get to the scripture this morning. Scientologists, and by the way, there is almost certainly some of them here today, Scientologists are not our enemy. If you’re here today and you’re a Scientologist, I know I say some thought things. You know, sometimes friends can talk about things tough and straight. And we do want to be friends. Scientologists are not our enemy.

We don’t have an enemies list. We’re the church that doesn’t keep an enemies list. We don’t have an enemies list. Maybe we have an enemies list, we have one on it and by the way, you’re not on it. Our enemies list is one. We don’t war against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in high places. There’s a devil who blinds people and deceives people and seeks to destroy people. We have an enemies list of one and he’s on it. You’re not. We care about you. We want to be friends. We’re going to talk straight. We’re going to tell the truth but we’re not trying to be mean or unkind. I really don’t want to be. Well somebody said well they called you a bigot. Well, I’ve been called worse. Being called a bigot by the church of Scientology is like being called ugly by a one-eyed bullfrog. Just don’t worry about it, consider the source. We’re not worried about it.

[Later in the sermon] …It’s a common thing if you ever talk to Scientologists they will tell you sometimes if they come from a Christian background. ‘I’m a Christian and a Scientologist.’ I’ve heard it many times before. And you may be here today and you are watching this and you think that I can be a Christian and a Scientologist. And here’s what I said to the man, I wasn’t trying to be mean. I just said, ‘Sir, I want you to know that you deeply misunderstand. You either misunderstand Christianity or you misunderstand Scientology or maybe you misunderstand them both. You have a misunderstanding here. Because you can be a Christian or you can be a Scientologist or you could be neither, but you can’t be both.

— Pastor Willy Rice


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,829 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,586 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,932 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,426 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,466 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,178 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 704 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,793 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,933 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,253 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,228 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 584 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,886 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 993 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,395 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,268 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 849 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,354 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,598 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,707 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 1, 2017 at 07:00

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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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