Ms. Meyers loves to follow celebrities and watch how their lives influence our culture.
Scientology: the Religion of Tom Cruise
- Some nations—such as Italy, South Africa, and Australia—consider it a religion.
- In France, they call it a cult.
- The German government perceives it as a threat to democracy.
- Other countries view it as nothing more than a money-making con.
No matter what you believe about the controversial church of Scientology, though, there's one thing that creates a consensus: namely, that actor Tom Cruise is its undisputed celebrity face around the world.
When he joined the religion over 30 years ago, he was its prized golden child. Church leaders were counting on his soaring star status to attract young followers who aspired to be rich and successful like him.
Today, Cruise is approaching his sixties. After several high-profile stumbles that damaged his career and tarnished his good-guy image, he now refrains from discussing his faith during interviews.
However, make no mistake, his devotion is stronger than ever. While many titillating rumors have circulated about his long history with Scientology, the following answers set the record straight.
7 Questions About Tom Cruise and Scientology
1. How did he first become involved with the religion?
2. What did he find appealing about it?
3. Why does he date and marry women who don't share his faith?
4. What's his relationship with Scientology honcho, David Miscavige?
5. Has his involvement in Scientology hurt his career?
6. What's his relationship with his daughter, Suri?
7. What does the future hold for him?
Each of these inquiries is answered below, providing context into Cruise's long history with Scientology and why he remains so devout.
Scientology: Pros and Cons
Scientologists claim that their religion helps them erase the reactive mind.
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As a result, they're liberated from their pains, problems, and unwanted emotions. They're free to pursue their dreams and live life to its fullest without being constrained by fear and worry.
Its adversaries, on the other hand, say Scientology tears families apart through disconnection. This practice requires members to cut ties with relatives who are antagonistic to the religion.
These critics further contend that it's just a convoluted money-making scam that garners fees for expensive courses, class materials, "auditing," and advancements to the next levels.
Moreover, they argue that its stance against psychiatry, prescription drugs, and modern medicine in favor of alternative remedies is both naive and dangerous.
1. How Did He First Become Involved With the Religion?
The actress, Mimi Rogers, introduced Tom Cruise to the religion when they started dating in 1986, and the two eventually married.
Mimi's father was a friend of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and helped build the church in the 1950s. Mimi was born into the religion and grow up with its practices. She has since left the faith.
Because Cruise's star was on the rise at the time of their meeting, it's possible that Mimi targeted the sexy, young actor. Cruise had skyrocketed to fame after starring in the teen blockbuster, Risky Business, and was a hot property in Hollywood.
L. Ron Hubbard's strategy to promote Scientology included bringing celebrities into the fold. He believed they would shine a light on the religion and make it highly appealing to potential members.
He even created Project Celebrity which offered rewards to those who recruited famous people. Scientology reportedly tried to recruit high-profile stars such as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Will and Jada Smith, U2's Bono, David and Victoria Beckham, and Brad Pitt.
Elvis reportedly said of the religion: "There's no way I'll ever get involved with that son-of-a-bitchin' group. All they want is my money."
Ironically, his ex-wife, Priscilla, and only child, Lisa Marie, were Scientologists for decades.
For those intrigued by the religion and his celebrity devotees, I highly recommend Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. It's a fascinating read that details Hubbard's early strategy to court the rich and famous. Lawrence Wright, its author, states:
"When L. Ron Hubbard created the Church of Scientology, he decided to make its headquarters in Hollywood, because he had a very perceptive notion that there is something that all Americans do worship and it's celebrity and the capital of celebrity is Hollywood. He set out very early to make it a Scientology town."
This Scientology-produced video was not meant to be seen by non-members but was leaked to the media. It reveals Cruise's intense devotion to his religion as he uses Scientology lingo such as KSW (Keeping Scientology Working) and SP's (Suppressed Persons). Critics say Cruise's arrogance is on full display here as he claims that he and his fellow Scientologists are best suited to make a difference and save the world.
2. What Did He Find Appealing About It?
In most religions, members get treated the same regardless of their economic and social status (or, at least, that's the goal).
Scientology sets itself apart by unabashedly giving preferential treatment to its celebrity followers. It even has set up Celebrity Centres for "artists, politicians, leaders of industry, sports figures and anyone with the power and vision to create a better world."
It's not surprising that aging stars such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley love this universe where they're placed high above everyone else despite their poor box office receipts, cancelled television shows, and panned performances.
While Tom Cruise has clout in the movie business, it's paltry compared to what he enjoys within Scientology. In that bubble, he's treated like a demigod who—after thirty years of practice, study, and huge amounts of fees—has achieved the status of Operating Thetan VII.
He now allegedly has superpowers that include moving inanimate objects with his mind, leaving his body at will, and controlling the behavior of both animals and humans.
It's also been reported that he now ranks high in the religion's leadership.
Hubbard, although deceased, is still considered number one as the faithful await his return. David Miscavige, the current leader, is number two, and Cruise is number three.
Actress Leah Remini, a former long-time Scientologist and now an outspoken critic, says Cruise is beyond reproach within the religion. She remarked: "Being critical of Tom Cruise is being critical of Scientology itself. You are a person who is anti the aims and goals of Scientology. You are evil."
3. Why Does He Date and Marry Women Who Don't Share His Faith?
Cruise's first wife, Mimi Rogers, was born into Scientology. However, wives number two and three, Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes, were both raised Catholic.
This begs the question: Why would someone as devout as Cruise choose to marry women outside his faith? Once again, the answer is found in L. Ron Hubbard's plan to expand Scientology by recruiting celebrities who, in turn, would attract new followers.
In the period between marriages two and three, Cruise dated actresses Penelope Cruz and Sophia Vergara.
If he had been able to recruit either of these women into his religion, it would have been a tremendous accomplishment as they were considered “trophies.” Cruz from Spain and Vergara from Columbia would have brought attention to Scientology in their homelands, two countries where the religion hoped to expand.
It's been widely reported that Scientology played a significant role in finding Cruise a third wife. His matchmakers vetted popular young actresses such as Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Alba for the job.
Ultimately, Cruise and his team settled on Katie Holmes, an actress 16 years his junior, who could bring a younger, hipper crowd to the faith.
4. What's His Relationship With Scientology Honcho, David Miscavige?
Like many superstars, Tom Cruise has battled gay rumors for decades.Therefore, it's hardly surprising that some have suggested his close relationship with Scientology honcho, David Miscavige, is something more than best buddies.
Those acquainted with the men, however, say that neither one of them is gay but rather fiercely heterosexual and ultra-macho. The two love to spend time with one another in manly pursuits such as parachuting, riding motorcycles, working out, gambling, and smoking Cuban cigars.
Moreover, Miscavige keeps a close eye on Cruise, knowing the actor is key to Scientology's success.
The duo worked together to open a new $50 million movie studio in Hollywood. They collaborated on Scientology Media Productions with the goal of controlling their religion's message and spreading it far and wide to followers.
While some speculate that Miscavige is in awe of Cruise's celebrity status, former Scientologists say it's the other way around with Cruise worshiping Miscavige and pouring on the praise. He said this about the church's leader:
"I have never met a more competent, a more intelligent, a more compassionate being outside of what I have experienced from (studying L. Ron Hubbard). And I've met the leaders of leaders. I've met them all."
In this video, Cruise does a sales pitch for a Scientology product called "study technology" and claims it helped him overcome dyslexia.
5. Has His Involvement in Scientology Hurt His Career?
While giving interviews to promote his movies, Tom Cruise had always been professional: talking about the dangerous stunts he performed, praising his co-stars, and discussing his character.
This began to change in 2004, however, when Cruise fired his long-time publicist and replaced her with his sister, a fellow Scientologist. With this move, he began to promote his religion during interviews instead of his movies.
In 2005 Cruise went on a publicity tour for War of the Worlds, a science fiction thriller directed by Steven Spielberg. He gave his now-infamous interview with Matt Lauer on Today. He criticized actress Brooke Shields for taking prescription medicine to treat her postpartum depression and proclaimed Ritalin a “street drug” that shouldn't get prescribed to treat ADHD in children.
While coming off pompous and preachy during that interview, he left an even worse impression during a visit with Oprah Winfrey. He jumped on her couch, fell to his knees, and acted like a blathering idiot while declaring his love for Katie Holmes. This all seemed rather disingenuous for a twice-divorced 42-year-old man who had been dating the actress for only a matter of weeks.
According to insiders, Spielberg was less than pleased at how Cruise presented himself on the publicity tour. The director felt his behavior hurt the film. The two have not worked together since, and Cruise has never lived down those unhinged moments that live forever on youtube.
In this infamous interview, Cruise spoke about Scientology's opposition to psychiatry and anti-depressants. Now he doesn't discuss his religion in public.
6. What's His Relationship With His Daughter, Suri?
According to supermarket tabloids, Cruise hasn't seen his daughter, Suri, in many years. This is impossible to verify, however, since the pair may get together in private, far away from photographer's lenses.
What seems pretty certain is that Katie Holmes got deemed a "suppressive person" by the church after divorcing Cruise. As is the religion's practice, all members had to disconnect from Holmes following her ex-communication.
Mike Rinder, a former high-ranking Scientologist until he left in 2007, believes Cruise received a special dispensation from the church that allows him time with Suri.
Rinder believes Cruise chooses not to use it, though, because he doesn't want to look weak in the eyes of his buddy, David Miscavige. Since Holmes blindsided her husband with the divorce, secretly plotting her escape for months, Cruise doesn't want to kowtow to any of her requirements to see Suri.
7. What Does the Future Hold for Him?
Now in his late fifites, his days as a sexy leading man are behind him.
He doesn't get to eye the best scripts anymore, and hot young directors no longer yearn to work with him. Therefore, he stays busy with safe projects such as the money-making series Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher.
Although rumors pop up from time to time that he's leaving Scientology, it seems extremely unlikely he ever will.
In his religion, Cruise enjoys tremendous power and privilege, and it would be difficult to walk away from that. With his involvement in their new Hollywood movie studio, it seems Cruise's commitment to his faith is stronger than ever.
What Do You Think?
Questions & Answers
Question: Does this "religion" believe in Jesus, the son of God?
Answer: Scientology doesn't specifically teach about Jesus and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, rejected Christ's deity and the belief in a Holy Trinity. In the Scientology literature, it reads: “Neither Lord Buddha nor Jesus Christ were Operating Thetans according to evidence. They were just a shade above clear.” In everyday parlance, that means that they view Jesus as being just average, having reached only the lower spiritual level.
Scientology claims to be non-denominational and welcoming of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and all faiths. Many former members, though, say that this proves to be false as one continues to study. They claim that members are eventually pressured to give up their other religious beliefs and commit fully to the teachings of Scientology. Some former Christian members say that Jesus is presented as a good man and teacher in early lessons but as a fraud in advanced ones.
Mike Rinder is an outspoken former Scientologist who was part of the church for 46 years and a high-ranking member. He says that L. Ron Hubbard was convinced that his teachings alone had the answers to help humankind, not those of Jesus, Moses, Mohammad, Buddha, or anyone else. Rinder unequivocally states that Scientologists do not believe in Christ.
In his blog, Rinder writes: “Scientology and Christianity are NOT compatible. At all. In scientology there is only one savior of mankind and the universe. L. Ron Hubbard. The savior of mankind is definitely NOT Jesus Christ.”
© 2016 McKenna Meyers
Jacqueline G Rozell on August 14, 2020:
Christianity works for Christians. Judiasm works for Jews. Scientology works for Tom Cruise. So what's the problem? I am Native American and my ancient beliefs work for me. Cruise is an excellent actor. I was reading the Jack Reacher novels long before he became a household name. And any short, black-haired actor that can make me believe he is the embodiment of a 6'5" and 250 pound character and carry it off, making it his own on film, is nothing less than a phenomenal actor. His religious beliefs are none of my business as he doesn't try to push them off on me.
ValKaras on January 08, 2020:
It may be said about any religion -- it ultimately doesn't matter how "true" or "misleading" it is, but what it does for a believer.
Since no one is forced at a gun point to believe in anything at all, criticism simply means that one is coming from a different belief system.
Believing is not knowing, it's a deliberate mind's construct, no matter how much it may be parading as knowing. And that's equally true whether it's been around for a millennium or for a couple decades.
So, Scientology, whether you choose to call it a religion, a cult, or a total nonsense, is either something that a person like Tom Cruise cherishes, or a disappointed person despises. On the face value, if you choose to call him a fanatic, he is no different from any fanatic of another religion.
Well, our belief gives us some moral and emotional boosts, but also some moments when we don't dare to question it despite a temptation -- and, like any believer, Tom Cruise must have had the taste of both, while interacting with folks of different beliefs.
In short, never blame someone for believing something different -- because in their eyes you are also one.
McKenna Meyers (author) on November 04, 2019:
Yes, and Tom Cruise talked about it long before politicians and the media started covering the opiod crisis. He was mocked and silenced then but made some good points. Medical professionals were raking in a lot of money by over-prescribing drugs rather than encouraging alternatives.
Sai on November 04, 2019:
He is absolutely right about drugs he mentioned... Big pharma is the biggest killer in this world.