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"Inside Scientology" is a multi-part investigative series by the Tampa Bay Times. Dating back to 2009, the reports shed unprecedented light on the inner workings of the secretive church, which has its spiritual headquarters in Clearwater.

The multimedia presentations feature first-hand accounts from Scientologists, former Scientologists and many others, as well as documents, recordings and video interviews.

Click here for the Times' previous reports

Inside Scientology

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  1. Clearwater City Council to vote today on land swap with Church of Scientology

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The City Council will vote today on whether to swap land with the Church of Scientology, the first negotiation to emerge since the church in April lost to the city on buying a crucial downtown property it needed for its campus.

    A rendering of the proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall, a 3,600-seat auditorium that the Church of Scientology is talking about building along Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater. Photo: Freedom Magazine.
  2. Clearwater in negotiations with Scientology for land swap

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — Two months after the Church of Scientology lost out to the city on buying a crucial downtown property it needed for its campus, church leaders are now negotiating a land swap to fulfill both parties' redevelopment needs.

    A rendering of L. Ron Hubbard Hall, a 3,600-seat auditorium the Church of Scientology wants to build on Fort Harrison Avenue.
  3. Scientology's uniformed Sea Org staff clearly absent from downtown Clearwater

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — There's been a glaring shift in the everyday image that has defined the city's downtown for decades.

    The uniformed Scientologists who typically bustle between church buildings were nowhere in sight Thursday morning.
  4. Documents detail FBI investigation of Scientology that never resulted in charges

    Special Topics

    The FBI conducted a criminal investigation of the Church of Scientology in 2009 and 2010 that focused on allegations of human trafficking, according to documents released Wednesday.

    An aerial look at the Church of Scientology's international headquarters near Hemet, Calif. In 2009 and 2010, FBI agents conducting a human trafficking investigation focused on the treatment of church workers at the facility, according to witnesses who talked to the agents and newly released FBI documents. [MAURICE RIVENBARK | Times]
  5. Church of Scientology takes aim at Clearwater Marine Aquarium after being denied land

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology has launched a statewide campaign blasting the ethics and financial practices of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a move that follows the aquarium's recent decision not to sell the church a prized downtown property.

    The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is asking the Pinellas County Commissionfor for $26 million in tourist tax dollars, but the Church of Scientology says the facility doesn't deserve it. The church sent a complaint to local and state officials, alleging the aquarium has a number of financial problems and should be denied the money. Aquarium director David Yates says the church's allegations are unfounded. The aquarium last week sold a prime piece of downtown land to the city, against the church's wishes. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  6. Clearwater City Council votes 5-0 to buy downtown parcel coveted by the Church of Scientology

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The City Council on Thursday voted unanimously to buy a vacant but high-profile downtown lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, intercepting a crucial piece of land the Church of Scientology said it needed for its campus.

    Iracema Drysdale of Clearwater addresses the city council at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017. "They take over the city," she said.   Clearwater City Council voted Thursday on whether to buy the aquarium's 1.4 acre lot that the Church of Scientology also wants. The aquarium rejected the church's $15 million offer earlier this month in favor of selling it to the city for $4.25m.
  7. Clearwater City Council votes tonight on buying land eyed by Church of Scientology

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The City Council will vote today on whether to purchase a 1.4 acre vacant lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which the Church of Scientology is also lobbying to buy.

    A view looking east along Pierce Street on Clearwater's downtown bluff. At right is a grassy parcel owned by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and coveted by both the city of Clearwater and the Church of Scientology. The City Council will vote Thursday on whether to purchase the land from the aquarium for $4.25 million. The aquarium has rejected the church's $15 million offer. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  8. Scientologists and others step up the pressure as Clearwater nears vote on prized parcel

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The $19 million Skyview condo being built downtown with a penthouse for actor Tom Cruise could be the last investment developer Cleman Agami ever makes in the city.

    Should the Clearwater City Council vote this week to buy a prized piece of downtown land from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium? Or should it decline and allow the Church of Scientology to buy it? Opinions are strong on both sides as the Thursday vote approaches. The vacant parcel in question is between City Hall in the foreground and the multi-story building to the south, which is the church's Oak Cove retreat. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
  9. Scientology leader David Miscavige presents Clearwater retail plan to downtown stakeholders

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The evening began with appetizers and drinks on the rooftop patio of the Fort Harrison Hotel overlooking downtown.

    The Church of Scientology wants to acquire the lot between its Oak Cove religious retreat, top, and Clearwater City Hall, bottom. The city has a chance to buy the 1.4-acre lot next week.
  10. Church of Scientology ups bid for Clearwater Marine Aquarium land to $15 million

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology has offered the Clearwater Marine Aquarium nearly four times what the city is preparing to pay for a vacant downtown property.

    The Church of Scientology has offered the Clearwater Marine Aquarium $15 million for this piece of land.
  11. In downtown Clearwater, Scientology's bid for an expanded role is a matter of scripture

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology's proposal to bring retail and entertainment downtown is a novel development, but the recent rollout of its plans has a tone that goes back decades.

    This is a westbound view of Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater, where the Church of Scientology is planning to develop a retail and entertainment district.
  12. Scientology leader David Miscavige ups offer for aquarium property before Clearwater vote on land deal

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The city may be poised to vote next month on whether to buy a vacant downtown lot from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, but that hasn't stopped the Church of Scientology from trying to acquire the property.

    The Clearwater Marine Aquarium owns the vacant downtown lot between City Hall (bottom) and the Church of Scientology's Oak Cove religious retreat (above.) The church really wants that lot.
  13. Scientology retail plan is rare, as few churches back non-religious businesses

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — Scientology has long set its practices apart from other tax-exempt religions by charging members for auditing sessions and courses required to advance through the faith.

    Churches creating retail districts, like  Scientology plans to do on Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater, are unusual but not unique.
  14. Scientology's David Miscavige talks about Cleveland Street redevelopment and entertainment center backed by Tom Cruise

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — Scientology leader David Miscavige on Tuesday revealed privately to City Council members the church's downtown redevelopment strategy, which focuses on recruiting businesses to Cleveland Street and bankrolling a facade overhaul for the main thoroughfare rather than controlling the entire downtown …

    Tom Cruise attends the Tokyo Premiere of the Paramount Pictures "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" on Nov. 9, 2016. [Photo by Ken Ishii | Getty Images for Paramount Pictures]
  15. Legal glitch delays Clearwater vote on property Church of Scientology covets

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The City Council's vote scheduled for Thursday on whether to buy a 1.4-acre downtown lot coveted by the Church of Scientology has been delayed a month because it wasn't properly advertised.

    Clearwater and the Church of Scientology both want the Clearwater Marine Aquarium-owned lot across from City Hall.