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(St. Petersburg Times -- March 17, 1976)
By VERNON KIRBY
St. Petersburg Times Staff Writer
CLEARWATER -- The Church of Scientology Tuesday promised to hold the city legally blameless if Clearwater officials allow a church critic to use a city meeting room for a Scientology "expose."
A press release quoting church spokesman Fred Ulan says the Scientologists will give Clearwater city commissioners "a written guarantee" that the church will not hold the officials legally responsible "for any libel or slander uttered by Bob Snyder in his forthcoming lecture entitled 'The True Story of the Fort Harrison'."
The release, delivered to the St. Petersburg Times Tuesday by another church spokesman, goes on to level a strongly worded attack against Snyder, a former radio talk show host turned Scientology lecturer, and Times Editor and President Eugene Patterson.
Snyder, who lost his job with a Dunedin radio station after tangling with the Scientologists on the air, has asked city officials to lease a city meeting room to him for his lecture. His request was turned down by administrative officials, who feared that the city might be held liable for what Snyder might say. Snyder is appealing the decision to the City Commission.
The Times currently is publishing a series of stories on Scientology.
"It would appear that Eugene Patterson and Bob Snyder are of the same deplorable stamps when it comes to prejudice -- it is all one-sided," Ulan says in the release. "They would grant unto themselves all the freedoms of this country while denying those same freedoms to ourself. Deplorable, yes, but then Patterson has to sell papers and Snyder, presumably has to feed his babies."
Ulan said in a telephone interview that the reference to Snyder's "babies" echoes complaints made by Snyder that his ability to provide for his family was impaired when he lost his job.