Recruiting Religiously in Ybor

They’re not panhandlers — but to some passersby they are no less annoying. They are the well-dressed and tressed Scientology recruiters who have been working Seventh Avenue. They are part of a higher profile, beefed-up presence that has been heralding The Scientology Life Improvement Center. The Center recently opened on Eighth Avenue across from Gameworks.

The issue is legally murky. Tampa already has an ordinance that prohibits people from repeatedly asking for money. The Scientologists aren’t doing that. They’re offering free personality tests — but often confuse “no” for “tell me more as I continue walking briskly.” As a “religious” organization it has protection, although not absolute.

It’s enough to get the city rummaging through its codes to see if anything currently on the books addresses “pain-in-the-ass geeks bothering people.”

In the meantime, this unsolicited, ad hoc advice:

For Scientologists:

*Equip your recruiters with two-for-one drink coupons redeemable at any neighboring bar.

*Defuse the complaints with rotating celebrity recruiters — starting with Tom Cruise.

For the city of Tampa:

*Ask Warren Sapp to sign up for a personality test.

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