March 13, 2021 was an exceptional day in downtown Clearwater, Florida.
Almost one hundred people arrived, some from as far away as Texas, in order to spend two hours on a walking tour of Scientology properties with some of the most respected former members to ever speak out against the cult. On top of those physically present, over a thousand interested, excited fans participated in the free call in, listening to the tour via phone.
Proceeds from this special Cult City Tour netted The Aftermath Foundation a solid donation in order to continue their work of helping members who want to leave Scientology.
All in all it was an amazing, informative day marred only by what would turn out to be a negative shadow cast by Cult City Tour leader Ted Reinhard.
According to The Tampa Bay Times, “In the days before Saturday’s event, while Cult City Tours was trying to book a venue for an after-party, a Scientology representative contacted multiple business owners. After Reinhard said two businesses then declined to host the party, he lashed out by writing one-star reviews on Google and Tripadvisor that falsely accused them of catering only to Scientologists — a label that can be toxic given the community’s suspicion of the church.”
Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus joined the tour and those who recognized her looked forward in anticipation to the upcoming article.
Several incidents occurred, from a suspicious increase in vehicles gunning loud engines, drivers laying on their horns as they drove past the tour group to one SUV circling the block as the driver recorded the participants on his cell phone.
Most notable was the presence of Mike Rinder, Christie Collbran-Rinder, Marc and Claire Headley, Mat Pesch, David Kahn and Mark Bunker. All well known former members who have been outspoken against the abuses of Scientology.
This event was billed as a Super Fan Benefit Tour and everyone who participated was thrilled to be a part of it.
Excitement and the prospect of reliving the day through the TBT article all came crashing down when the antics and poor choices of Ted Reinhard were featured instead.
As Aaron Smith-Levin organized the tour he searched for a downtown venue to host the Meet & Greet to be held afterwards. Initially some restaurants agreed but as the hours ticked down to the wire, Scientology’s Amber Skjelset and other members took to the streets spreading disinformation about the tour amongst the business owners until very few of them were willing to host the event. Compounding the issue, the fact that some of these business owners have Scientologists as landlords thus they found themselves in a difficult position with little room for choice.
In retaliation, Reinhard left false reviews against several of the businesses.
After the TBT article was published the disappointment was real.
Reinhard chimed in on one social media account where the piece was being discussed showing no qualms of conscience over his dishonest reviews. Of the article he posted “Love it! Cult City, the scourge of Clearwater! Hated by Scientology, their supporters and a weak kneed City Council! Couldn’t have asked for better!”
One person responded to him, saying the article was less than flattering to which he replied, “After having them turn away a group of 80 (after hosting a group of 100 the week before?) You get bad service you write a bad review. Silence never brings change.”
At this point we posted the following comment to Reinhard:
After some back and forth, we realized that Reinhard stubbornly refused to consider the ramifications of his actions. We tried to explain to him that as Smith-Levin was the one organizing the tour it should have been left to him to react or not to the situation.
Ted Reinhard not only stuck to his dishonest actions he then took them further when he sent us a private message.
It’s obvious that Reinhard has no concept of the complicated situation that exists in downtown Clearwater between the businesses and Scientology. Equally obvious is the fact that this man has utterly no understanding of the scope of the lengths Scientology is willing to go in order to Fair Game, abuse and otherwise discredit every former member who gave their time to make this tour a success.
It would appear that Ted Reinhard has more in common with Scientology than he’d like to admit. Both have a skewed set of ethics, neither cares for the truth or for what their choices may do to those around them and what drives them is the almighty dollar.
Given that Reinhard has shown his ability to employ dishonesty in order to cause harm, one cannot help but wonder whether Scientology may reach out to him in the near future. After all the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Perhaps a partnership would prove lucrative for both.
Leaving false one star reviews for the businesses that chose not to host the Meet & Greet was in no way appropriate or excusable. Subsequently offering to change these damning reviews to five stars in exchange for a photo op smacks of Hubbard policy and Volunteer Ministers antics to this writer.
Frankly, this tour could be an exceptional vehicle for bringing more business to downtown Clearwater. The potential for positive impact exists, but for it to succeed he needs to remember that his future depends upon the goodwill of the City.
As one participant noted, “Aaron’s tour was smart, factual, informative. Ted’s tours are really unsophisticated and silly.”
Given Reinhard’s sketchy, absurd approach and the hostility he fosters, time is ticking towards the demise of Cult City Tours.