Ex-Scientologists Protest Goodwill Games Sponsor

CLEARWATER, Fla. - A group of ex-Scientologists is spearheading a protest campaign against the Olympic-style Goodwill Games over a corporate sponsor affiliated with the controversial Church of Scientology.

Complaints began after Turner Broadcasting System signed Bridge Publications as one of the 12 worldwide sponsors of the games, which will be July 20-Aug. 5 in Seattle and other Washington state cities, said Mike Mobley, an Atlanta spokesman for the Games.

Bridge joined such corporate giants as Pepsi-Cola, Miller Brewing Co., Frito-Lay, Gillette and Wendy's restaurants, Mobley said.

``We are aware of concerns which have arisen regarding Bridge Publications' sponsorship of the 1990 Goodwill Games and its effort to promote the book `Dianetics.' We are looking into the situation,'' Mobley said in a statement.

He said he did not know how many complaints had been received but that it was enough to catch the attention of game officials, especially since only a few people even knew who the corporate sponsors would be.

The Church of Scientology, which has its worldwide spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, claims to be a religion. Former members and critics, however, claim it is a cult that brainwashes its followers.

Former Scientologist Margery Wakefield of Tampa, an outspoken church critic, said she began contacting ex-members about a week ago urging them to call Games officials and complain.

Bridge ``was planning to distribute `Dianetics' books to all the athletes in the Games,'' she said. ``It was both the advertising and the giving out of the books that we objected to.''

Bridge holds publishing rights to all of church founder L. Ron Hubbard's works, including ``Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health.'' Hubbard, a science fiction writer, founded the church after publishing Dianetics in 1950.

Bridge plans to run commercials promoting Hubbard's book. Sharyn Runyon, spokeswoman for Bridge in Los Angeles, said the ads would focus on Dianetics, not Scientology.