Published: March 12, 2008
CLEARWATER -- The Church of Scientology has made the rare move in court of trying to stop protesters from returning to its headquarters starting Thursday, even though that would mean the protesters couldn't be on public sidewalks.
In a petition filed Tuesday, the church claims the group Anonymous wants to do harm to the church and its leaders – in particular the Rev. Heber Jentzsch, the president of the Church of Scientology International – and says the group has tried to harm the church in the past.
The church's move in court comes a month after about 180 members of Anonymous gathered outside Scientology's headquarters Feb. 10 and conducted a peaceful protest. Members of the group vowed to return.
In court lingo, the church is asking for an injunction for protection against repeat violence, which is more typically filed by women who say they are getting beaten by their husband or boyfriend. A Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge denied Scientology's motion today, but said the church could file another one if it liked.
The church did so within hours. A copy was not available for public view.
In the 21-page petition filed Tuesday, which is accompanied by dozens of exhibits, including a DVD, the church says members of Anonymous have threatened to commit acts of violence on the church and its members tomorrow, which is the birthday of church founder L. Ron Hubbard.
"Parishioners, officials, and leaders come to Clearwater and gather in large numbers at numerous events and services for this purpose," the petition states. "It is at this event that Anonymous has declared that it is their plan to assassinate or execute the Rev. Heber Jentzsch."
The celebration is expected to continue Friday and Saturday.
To support its request that protesters be kept 500 feet from Scientology buildings and Jentzsch, the church notes that Anonymous has posted detailed plans online for its protest on Saturday, which includes breaking its members up into "red, yellow and blue teams," maps of Scientology buildings and roads, and instructions that protesters use sunglasses, bandanas, hats and scarves to cover their faces, rather than masks.