Ms. Myers is fascinated by celebrities and their impact on culture. Whether it's politics, sexuality, or religion, stars influence society.
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.
Scientology proponents claim their religion helps erase the so-called "reactive mind," freeing believers of their pains, problems, and unwanted emotions. Its critics say it tears families apart through the practice of "disconnection" in which members must cut ties with relatives who are antagonistic to the faith. They contend it's a convoluted scam that garners fees for expensive courses, class materials, "auditing," and advancements to the next levels. They argue that its stance against psychiatry, prescription drugs, and modern medicine in favor of alternative remedies is naive and dangerous. No matter what you believe about the controversial church, though, there's one fact that creates a consensus: actor Tom Cruise is the undisputed celebrity face of Scientology around the world.
When he joined the faith over 30 years ago, Cruise was the "golden child" who could attract young members, wanting to be rich and successful like him. Today, Cruise is approaching his 60's and no longer talks about his religion in interviews but is more devoted to it than ever. While many titillating rumors have circulated about the actor's involvement with Scientology through the years, here are 7 questions and answers that set the record straight.
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.
— Leah Remini, actress, former long-time Scientologist, outspoken critic of the religion
1. How Did Tom Cruise Become Involved in Scientology?
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 1950's. 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 when 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 that offered rewards to those who recruited famous people. Through the decades, Scientology reportedly tried to recruit Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Will and Jada Smith, U2's Bono, David and Victoria Beckham, and Brad Pitt.
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 capitol of celebrity is Hollywood. He set out very early to make it a Scientology town.
— Lawrence Wright, author of "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief"
2. What Did Tom Cruise Find Appealing about Scientology?
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 super powers 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.
This Scientology-produced video was not meant to be seen by the public.
3. Why Does Tom Cruise Date and Marry Women Who Don't Share His Religion?
While Cruise's first wife, Mimi Rogers, was born into Scientology, wife number two, Nicole Kidman, and wife number three, Katie Holmes, were both raised Catholic. This begs the question: Why would someone as devout as Tom 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 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, vetting young actresses such as Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Alba for the job. Ultimately, Cruise and his matchmakers settled on Katie Holmes—an actress 16 years his junior—who could bring a younger, hipper crowd to the faith.
4. What Is Tom Cruise's Relationship With Scientology Honcho, David Miscavige?
Tom Cruise has battled gay rumors for decades so, not surprisingly, some have suggested his close relationship with Scientology honcho, David Miscavige, is something other than best buddies. Those acquainted with the men, however, say neither one of them is gay but rather fiercely heterosexual and ultra-macho. They love to spend time with one another in manly pursuits such as parachuting, riding motorcycles, working out, gambling, and smoking Cuban cigars.
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 in the know say it's Cruise who worships Miscavige.
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.
— Tom Cruise, extolling the virtues of Scientology's leader, David Miscavige
Cruise does a sales pitch for a Scientology product called "study technology," claiming it helped him overcome dyslexia.
5. Is Tom Cruise's Religion Hurting His Career?
While giving interviews to promote his movies, Tom Cruise was always the 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 use interviews to promote his religion and not 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—criticizing actress Brooke Shields for taking prescription medicine to treat her postpartum depression and proclaiming 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.
6. What's Tom Cruise's 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 excommunication.
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.
In this interview, Cruise spoke about Scientology's opposition to psychiatry and anti-depressants. Now he doesn't talk about his religion in public.
7. What Does the Future Hold for Tom Cruise?
Now in his late fifties, Tom Cruise's days as a sexy leading man are behind him. He doesn't get to eye the best scripts any more 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.
To admit that you were wrong it'd be a huge blowout. To admit you'd been hoaxed that'd be very hard to accept.
— Jamie DeWolf, L. Ron Hubbard's grandson, on why Tom Cruise will never leave Scientology
Thoroughly Fascinating Documentary
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.
Val Karas from Canada 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.