Florida spa owner’s business sign saying he is not a Scientologist grabs national attention
Clearwater, FL, United States (4E) – A local business owner from Florida who wanted to let the public know that he is a devoted Southern Baptist and not a member of the Church of Scientology as most people assume because the shop is very near downtown Clearwater, has posted a sign last month saying just that.
The notice, which is emblazoned in red letters on a white background and located in front of Travis Wilkinson’s Berry Beautiful Salon and Spa says: “this is one of the only spas in downtown Clearwater not owned by a Scientologist.”
There are estimated to be around 10,000 town residents who are members of the group.
Wilkinson said that “it’s important for people to understand it’s not discrimination; it’s a statement of fact.”
He says, “people may not consider this politically correct, but there’s nothing illegal about it.”
A devoted Southern Baptist, he admitted that for people to think that he is a Scientologist is very hurtful personally.
Wilkinson claimed that since the sign was posted last month, his business has doubled and now he’s encouraging other business owners to do the same.
The salon owners moved his business to downtown Clearwater from Largo less than a year ago and suffered a slowdown in business. One day, he discovered that the Church of Scientology may have influenced people’s reaction because of a book he sells.
His uncle published a ‘Diabetes Handbook’ which very much looks like the ‘Dianetics Handbook’ and that made people associate them to the group.
He decide to put up the sign to emphasize that “we’re not Scientologists. In fact, we’re Southern Baptist Christian based.”
Wilkinson also created the Clearwater Small Business Coalition, it offers 30 businesses who display the sign free membership, but not one business owner has signed.
He explained that most businesses said they are scared and afraid of repercussions, although there are 15 businesses interested to sign in. He is waiting to have 30 members before going public.
Clearwater Chamber of Commerce’s President Bob Clifford said that the sign “is totally inappropriate in downtown Clearwater or any place else, it’s totally negative.”
Clifford added that the reason some businesses on Cleveland Street are vacant is not because of the Church of Scientology’s presence, but because property owners are charging too much per square-foot, and can afford to wait for the right tenant.
WTSP reportedly tried a few times to get a response from the Church of Scientology, but the group’s public relations spokesperson Pat Harney’s final answer was “no comment.”