September 5, 2017

Tampa Bay Times Called on Carpet for Bigoted Reporting

What motivates an ex-Scientologist to spread hate and lies about my religion? She is well paid for the trash that she and others spew. If you actually knew her, you probably wouldn’t invite her into your home or to your own church. My guess is you wouldn’t want your children to be around her. Yet you willingly believe the hate and lies.

September 5, 2017

Tampa Bay Times
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701

Mr. Tash,

My name is Jen and I’m a Scientologist. And I’m not so different from you.

Maybe I’m that lady who thanked you for helping me to my car with my groceries. Or the one that made you smile while you were ringing up my purchases at the grocery store because you looked like you could use a lift. Or the one that helped you pick up the thing you dropped in the aisle.

Maybe I’m the one who told you how adorable your kid was as I remembered my own kids at that age.

Maybe I’m the one who talked to your mother in the parking lot for a half hour when she just moved here and let her tell me all about her family and how much she loved living in Florida.

Maybe I’m the one who stayed by your child in the store when he looked around and couldn’t find you. Or the one that made your kid smile while in the checkout line.

Maybe you took my order in a restaurant and at the end I thanked you for your excellent service and tipped you appropriately.

Maybe I said good morning to you when I got my morning coffee at the local Starbucks.

Maybe I’m the one that educated your neighbor kid on the harmful effects of drugs. Maybe I’m the one that helped educate others on their human rights—rights that were agreed upon and passed by the United Nations.

Maybe I’m the one that defended your right to your religion.

Maybe I’m the one that helped a relative of yours in New York after hurricane Sandy.

Maybe I’m the one that defended your right to vote, even if I didn’t agree with who you voted for.

If you knew I was a Scientologist, would you be any less accepting of these gestures? Would you tell your children that I am a monster and to run the other way?

Maybe I’m the one that commiserated with you when you told me that your beloved dog died just a few days ago.

Maybe I’m the one that adopted a dog or cat from your shelter and gave them a good and loving home.

Maybe I’m the one that picked up trash in your neighborhood to make it a better place for you, your kids, and your family.

Maybe I’m the one that gave you a bottle of water while you waited outside my office for the bus on a hot day.

Maybe I’m the one that taught your kid that he COULD do math.

Maybe I’m the one that helped your kid pass the ACT so he could get into college.

Maybe I’m the one that mowed your dad's lawn just because it needed to be done.

If you knew I was a Scientologist, would you be any less accepting of these gestures? Would you tell your children that I am a monster and to run the other way?

When I see you at a grocery store, I don’t ask you what religion you are before I accept your service or help. I don’t care what color your skin is. I don’t care if you were born here or not. I may ask you were you are from because I’m interested in people and where they came from. But I won’t judge you for your accent, the cross on the chain around your neck or the bumper sticker on your car that indicates who you probably voted for.

What motivates an ex-Scientologist to spread hate and lies about my religion? She is well paid for the trash that she and others spew. If you actually knew her, you probably wouldn’t invite her into your home or to your own church. My guess is you wouldn’t want your children to be around her. Yet you willingly believe the hate and lies.

I’ll defend your rights as a human being. I’ll defend your right to free speech even if I disagree with you. I’ll denounce acts that imperil us all. I’ll volunteer my time and efforts to make this world just a little bit better. I’ll do the best job that I can do every day that I go to work. I’ll pay my bills on time and my fair share of taxes. I’ll be a champion for my kids even now that they are adults and creating their own lives. I’ll do my part to make this world a little safer for your kids, too. I’ll appreciate your own efforts to make this world a better place. I’ll be happy for you when your kid gets married, or graduates, or goes to college.

What motivates an ex-Scientologist to spread hate and lies about my religion? She is well paid for the trash that she and others spew. If you actually knew her, you probably wouldn’t invite her into your home or to your own church. My guess is you wouldn’t want your children to be around her. Yet you willingly believe the hate and lies.

As a Scientologist, I have never seen anything that warrants the vitriol that is being spread. If the lies that are being told were true, I'd be running the other way. Instead, I've seen my church go out of its way to extend a helping hand to others—both Scientologists and non-Scientologist alike—all across the world, in countless meaningful ways.

This hate and bigotry is offensive. Those who spread religious intolerance—or any kind of hate—are offensive.

I’m a lot like you in many ways, I go to work, I buy groceries, I clean my house and do many mundane things that you also do. I attend the church of my choice and I try and help make things better for those around me. We really aren’t that different. So take a moment and ask yourself, who is the REAL enemy here?

Sincerely,
Jen Nickerson
Clearwater, Fla.

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