The Church of Scientology claims it can’t get a fair trial in Pinellas County due to “community prejudice,” which they say is prevalent in that area of Florida.

This claim comes shortly before the scheduled trial for the wrongful death lawsuit against Scientology filed by the family of Lisa McPherson, who died under the church’s care some years ago in 1995.

Church lawyers have filed a motion for a change of venue, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Before filing the motion Scientologists did a study to see just how local residents who are their neighbors perceive them.

Scientology has thousands of members and numerous facilities in the Clearwater, Florida area, which is in Pinellas County.

But apparently the neighbors who know them best in Florida consider the church a “cult” and a “scam.”

One focus group told researchers they thought the words that best describe Scientology and/or its members are “despicable, lost souls evil and mind controlling.”

The question is where can Scientology go and expect to find a potential jury pool that thinks much different?

What about an isolated Alaskan fishing village near the Arctic Circle or out in the tundra?

After all, Time Magazine once ran a cover story calling Scientology the “Cult of Greed” and describing it somewhat less flatteringly as a “global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner.”

Maybe the church’s legal team thinks the best “pool” to recruit a “fair” jury from is amongst celebrities lounging around the pool at one of Scientology’s “Celebrity Centers.”

Perhaps Tom Cruise or John Travolta might act as a foreman? And then they might hand pick alternates that aren’t so busy these days like Scientologists Kirstie Alley or Ann Archer?

No doubt these folks would not be considered “prejudiced” and the church would regard their verdict as “fair.”

However, the lawyer for the McPherson family seemed to summarize the situation more accurately.

He said, “They are blaming everyone but themselves for their bad public relations image.”


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