By Todd Leopold, CNN
(CNN) - To Scientologists and their supporters, L. Ron Hubbard is a voice of wisdom and the church is the way to enlightenment. To antagonists and skeptics, Hubbard is a con artist and fraud, and the church is a mishmash of Freudian psychology and science fiction, a celebrity-laden scam.
Lawrence Wright doesn’t buy either generalization.
In his new book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Looming Tower” delves into the life of Hubbard, the writer-turned-prophet, and the church he created – one which, he says, arose out of an atmosphere of spiritual ferment in post-World War II Los Angeles. Hubbard, he says, was “a very interesting man and a man who had certain disturbing influences in his personality” – but not a con man: “If he really was just in it for money, somewhere along the line he would have taken his money and gone to Monte Carlo. He never did that.” FULL POST
Montreal, Quebec (CNN) – For the secretive Church of Scientology, "there was no bigger recruit than Tom Cruise."
The top Hollywood actor's membership in the Church beginning in 1986 "was huge," says Karen Pressley - a former Commanding Officer of the Church's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood from 1987 to 1989.
"My job was to ensure that celebrities were recruited, that celebrities were well serviced within our organization, and also to open up new celebrity centers around the world," she told CNN.
The high-profile marriage split between Cruise and actress Katie Holmes, who was raised Catholic, has re-ignited media interest in Scientology's influence in Hollywood.
Related story: What is Scientology?
A joint statement released Monday to announce their divorce settlement said, "We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other's roles as parents." It's not known if Holmes joined the Church of Scientology.
Cruise is just one of many celebrity members of the church, including John Travolta, Jenna Elfman and Kirstie Alley.
See photos of other Scientology celebs
But Cruise was among Scientology's biggest fish, says Pressley. "Is there a bigger name than Tom? We called him TC."
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - News of Tom Cruise's split with Katie Holmes and questions about any role that Cruise's status as a Scientologist may be playing in the divorce have a lot of people wondering: What is Scientology, anyway?
In a series of tweets on Sunday, News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch called the religion "a very weird cult" and said that Cruise is the "number two or three" man in the church's hierarchy.
Here are the basics about the religion. What other questions do you have?
The Church of Scientology opened its newest facility. KOVR reports.
By Stephen M. Silverman, PEOPLE.com
(PEOPLE.com) – While her husband, accomplished pilot John Travolta, may fly through the air with the greatest of ease, Kelly Preston apparently has found a formula for staying grounded.
Asked how she coped with the death of 16-year-old son Jett from a fatal seizure in 2009, Preston, 48, tells Health magazine for its September issue: "To be honest, [it was] the Scientology Center. I don't know if I would have made it through without it."
She adds about life's lessons she's learned, "Don't sweat the small things. Love your kids like it could be the last moment."
Mother to daughter Ella Bleu, 11, and son Benjamin, born last November, Preston says: "I've always wanted to be a mother, ever since I was 11."
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.