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July 11th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

Ex-Scientologist: Cruise was top church recruit

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."

Church founder L. Ron Hubbard realized celebrities were key to his mission, according to the Scientology website.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

"The world is carried on the backs of a desperate few," Hubbard is quoted as saying on the site. By "the few," Hubbard was referring to leaders in the realm of art, politics, industry, and sports. To cater to these people specifically, the church formed a special branch of Church of Scientology called the Celebrity Centre International. With locations around the world, Hollywood's celebrity center was established in 1969.

Its aim: to provide celebrities "… with a practical technology for improving one's happiness and creativity," the website says.

The church opens the Celebrity Centres for public tours. The Hollywood center offers classes and even a Sunday brunch, according to the website.

According to Pressley, celebrities get special perks including private entrances and course rooms, along with access to a VIP lounge.

She says Hubbard targeted celebrities specifically to add credibility to the Church's beliefs and to encourage more people to join.

Pressley, who was a Scientologist for 16 years, described internal wish lists and strategies discussed among church leaders in the 1980s to recruit other celebrities - including Brad Pitt and Demi Moore. Those discussions about how to bring Moore and Pitt into the fold never bore fruit, Pressley said.

The church would work to win over celebrity recruits, Pressley said, by giving them individual attention and by explaining how Scientology could help them achieve their highest goals as artists.

In exchange for tailored treatment, Pressley says Scientology leaders expected celebrities to stay committed to the church's teachings and speak glowingly of its benefits.

Many of them do exactly that. Travolta's spouse, Kelly Preston, credited Scientology with helping the couple cope with the death of their son, Jett.  Alley said the Church helped her overcome a drug addiction.

As for Cruise, he has publicly touted the benefits of church teachings, famously debating NBC's Matt Lauer about the church's stand against psychiatric drugs. More recently, Cruise told Playboy magazine that Scientology offers him a "search for how I can do things better, whether it's being a better man or a better father or finding ways for myself to improve."

"Individuals have to decide what is true and real for them," Cruise said.

Watch Cruise talk about Scientology

Like many faiths, Scientology prides itself on providing couples with communication tools to succeed at marriage. "It works," the church website says. "Whether applied to marital or personal relationships, to one's family or career or simply one's personal peace of mind – Scientology changes conditions for the better."

But Pressley says, as Scientology's celebrity poster child divorces for a third time, it hurts the church and Cruise.

"What does that say about .. a senior level Scientologist like Tom - TC?" Pressley asks. "What does that say about his ability to succeed in relationships? I think it's a huge statement."

The church has only said the divorce is "a private family matter " between Holmes and Cruise and said it "will continue to respect their privacy."

In response to CNN's questions about the relationship between the Church and celebrities, Church spokeswoman Karin Pouw said in a statement, “The Church does not speak about the beliefs and practices of parishioners.”

“Scientology appeals to men and women in all walks of life, as do other major religions," the statement continued. "The perception that it uniquely appeals to those in the arts is a misperception conveyed by the media. There are as many reasons individuals turn to Scientology as there are parishioners, but generally Scientology offers answers to age-old questions, spiritual awareness and greater ability because it provides tools they can use in life.” (Read Pouw's entire statement below.)

In an earlier statement, Pouw commented about Pressley and other members speaking out against Scientology. "...the Church regrets that excommunicated self-serving apostates are sadly exploiting private family matters to further their hate-filled agendas against their former faith. Having left the Church many years ago, these sources have no current knowledge about the Church and their recollections are distorted by their animosity."

Pressley left the Church in 1998, after she "became so disillusioned by what I had earlier believed in, I couldn't live with myself and I no longer chose to allow the Church to control my life."

Splitting with Scientology, she says, is not an easy task - especially for high level officials.

"You don't have the freedom to make a choice like that just to walk out. You have to get permission," she says. "But in order to get permission you have to go through an intensive security check, interrogation procedure before you can be approved to leave."

Now that she's speaking out, Pressley says she's concerned about her safety.

"But," she says, "I can't remain silent about things that matter and I deal with it as it happens."

Editor's note: Below is the complete July 10 statement from Church of Scientology International spokeswoman Karin Pouw to CNN responding to questions surrounding its report about celebrities and the Church.

"The Church does not speak about the beliefs and practices of parishioners. I have never seen CNN ask the Roman Catholic Church to discuss an individual parishioner by name and it points out the insensitivity of your questions.

Scientology appeals to men and women in all walks of life, as do other major religions. The perception that it uniquely appeals to those in the arts is a misperception conveyed by the media. There are as many reasons individuals turn to Scientology as there are parishioners, but generally Scientology offers answers to age‐old questions, spiritual awareness and greater ability because it provides tools they can use in life.

The Scientology religion is enjoying a period of tremendous growth with new Churches opening throughout the world. Each has a Public Information Center providing hundreds of videos about the religion and our social and humanitarian programs in the fields of drug education and rehabilitation, education, criminal reform, morals and human rights. Anyone desiring correct information about the Church can find it at one of these churches or on our website, www.scientology,org."

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Celebrity • Scientology • TV-Anderson Cooper 360

soundoff (1,662 Responses)
  1. caroline doherty

    how could they stop any one from just taking off?

    July 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Caroline,

      they track them down and forcibly bring them back.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  2. Robert

    People here are so intolerant.
    Religion n. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.
    Scientology has its roots in Buddhism and literally means the study of knowledge.
    There can be no doubt that it fits the above definition.
    I know Scientologists, (ex- and non-)Scientologists who don't like the practice, (ex- and non-) ex-Scientologists who do like the practice, I have never heard, from a Scientology perspective, about aliens, life on other planets, or much of the crazy media stuff you read about.
    I have known many that have left, including me, and it's not hard, they do try to convince you to stay and they try to figure out why you want to leave, but it's not that hard. There's a standard form.
    When you put in perspective some of their practices they are as "religious" as other religions.
    Yes, L Ron Hubbard was a fiction writer, but the vision of hell that most Christians accept came from another fiction writer Dante Alighieri, hell only appears in the Bible once, and not like the Divine Comedy.
    Paul's Letters to the Romans was not supposed to be a religious text, you just can't tell what will be seen as divine inspiration from a fiction writer or the Apostle following a carpenter.
    And for the Atheists out there, belief in something is better than a belief in nothing.
    An using celebrity to further a cause... oh no group religious or otherwise does that. [that was sarcastic for those who missed it], Christianity was a cult in Rome until Constantine the Great converted.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • John 9

      well written.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Robert,

      yes, people here are intolerant.

      There is a special brand of invective reserved (not for the rank and file adherents, who are essentially victims) but for the inst,tution of the "Church" of Scientology.

      It is a predator. It preys on the lonely and weak minded. It drains them of critical thought (and their bank account). This is why you see a particular level of vitriol for this corporation.

      Mind you, many posters here are pretty harsh on any belief (or non-belief) as the case may be.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Robert,

      and yes, Christianity was a cult until Constantine converted. Many would say it is one still.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • John 9

      I wonder if Scientologists abuse the altar boys like good Christians?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Robert

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV. I was not lonely nor would anyone who knows me call me weak minded. I volunteered insted of paying, I may have spent $1000 in my entire life on Scientology, less than I have given the Roman Catholic Church. Not zapped of critical thought, infact they try to teach you to think critically. If you don't follow blindly and actually read the texts it is just as Tom Cruise said in the atricle, it has to be real for you, They do not tell you what to believe. It's a quest to know yourself. I am not actively in the org, now 20 years, I was never hounded by them, never ostricized. I really don't know where this stuff comes from.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Religion is the #1 problem in this world by far

      "belief in something is better than a belief in nothing"
      If this is all you can come up with to justify your belief, that is sad. Atheists don't believe in "nothing", we just don't believe in god. It's not that hard to figure out. We were born from our parents, who were born from their parents, and so on. No god required.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Robert,

      I'm glad your experience with Scientology was a positive one. That is good to hear. It is not always the case, but people have negative experiences with every religion.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @Robert – to say, "And for the Atheists out there, belief in something is better than a belief in nothing." Most atheists believe in themselves. It's better than investing time and brain power into something they cannot validate.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Shane

      @Robert – This stuff comes from people who have experienced it. There are plenty of videos online of people that have been speaking out against Scientology and are being harassed by Scientology enforcers.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "And for the Atheists out there, belief in something is better than a belief in nothing." Another moron who does not understand that atheists do not want a belief, they want to know, so until we can know there is a higher power, we won't spend our time imagining what might be. There are limitless theories and ideas for how it all started and how it will all end, not a single one "knows" what happened or will happen, so stop trying to convince others your version is right just to feel better about your choice in life. I feel genuinely sorry for people who need to invent spirits and souls and an afterlife all while ignoring the actual life and time on this planet they have been given. Scientology is just another pimp in a long line of religious prostltution selling "feel good" snake oil to easily duped customers.

      July 11, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @Mass Debater – It's like murky water. Religion. You can't see much if you remain immersed in it, but once you pop your head above water, you can see better and take a deep breath. It's too much to bear with. I would've committed to a faith if it made sense to me. But none have made sense, when they ask you to believe, and offer nothing but a single text to back it up.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """I feel genuinely sorry for people who need to invent spirits and souls and an afterlife"""

      Sadly, these people didn't even invent this stuff. Inventing typically involves thinking. This tripe was fed to them and they ate it with relish, without questioning.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  3. gimmeabreak

    The grand poo-pahs of Scientology are probably ticked off because Cruise can't seem to "control his women..."

    July 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  4. CdnJim

    Hey CNN – want to start publishing some real news rather than infotrainment claptrap. How about publishing facts about what scientiologists really believe. Why do news organizations protect these looney religions. You'll see. Once you're done with Scientology and Mormonism, you'll be well-poised to do the same about the ridiculous beliefs of Isalm, Judaism and Christianity. The religions that really pose a serious threat to the survival of the human species, let alone democracy and human freedom.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bugmenot

      It's nearly impossible to convince a narcissistic ass such as yourself of anything. No true faith is blind.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @CdnJim,

      they did just that: Tom Cruise Divorce Raises Question: What is Scientology Anyway>/a> on July 3.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      With the link: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/03/tom-cruise-divorce-raises-question-what-is-scientology-anyway/

      July 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      One more time:

      Tom Cruise Divorce Raises Question: What is Scientology Anyway

      July 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  5. independentlyowned

    Since when has celebrity participation EVER validated something?? If anything, things celebrities do are inaccessible to everyday Americans. Sure a lot of celebrities do normal stuff, too, but that's not what makes it normal.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      And yet companies pay them huge sums of money to validate their products because they know the level of average intelligence of their consumers and are betting that Joe Public will want to buy anything and everything that John Superstar wears, eats, drinks, reads or prays to...

      July 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  6. Mike

    Another cult religion. How sick.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Closet Atheist

      As a non-believer, I welcome more new religions to the arena.... it actually helps our cause.....

      July 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  7. Tim

    Wow, after reading what Scientologists have said in this article, it's quite clear, it's religion is the worship of celebrities. Tom Cruise is their current God until a new, young struggling actor rises, battling the paparazzi to take over the father's throne.

    I suppose when Tom dies they will have reliquaries with bits of his Hollywood awards in them.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  8. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Time to load up the DC-8s with the H-bombs ... got a volcano to nuke!

    Followed by an OT after party on the Lido Deck of the Freewinds.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  9. ur kidding

    Nothing but a cult. Brainwashing and trying to legitimize itself with celebrities that don't live in reality anyway.

    July 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Closet Atheist

      How is this different than any other religion...?? The brainswashing and indoctination part, at least.

      The celebrity-focus was a nice touch though. I'm betting the big wigs in the other religious camps are kicking themselves for missing the boat on that clever marketing ploy....!!

      July 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Closet Atheist,

      it is different from other religions in their methods and the emphasis on control.

      Most religions emphasize free will. Not so much Scientologists.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Religion is the #1 problem in this world by far

      It's hard to say a religion promotes "free will" if they condemn you to eternal hell for not believing.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  10. Annie

    There is no comparing Scientology to other religions because it is not a religion. It is a cult as a majority of people have come to realize. No true religion recruits celebrities and then promotes them to leadership positions. Nor do they require members to ask permission to leave the church, or demand that members cut out of their lives family and friends who do not join. They do not make videos talking about SP's or Suppressive Persons. They do not have a military-like sea organization. Scientology is a cult that has conveniently gained status and protection as a religion but it is far from one. To those bloggers lumping it in with other religions and disparaging all religions – you are missing the point entirely. I am not a religious person but I would never try to convince those who are that they shouldn't be. I would however encourage everyone to disparage and expose a sinister, harmful cult like Scientology. If you don't think they are dangerous, do some research and watch the clips of a psychotic-looking Tom Cruise talking about SP's. Scientology is a group of Nazi-like lunatics at the top and, below them, a bunch of clueless, easily manipulated sheep who have no idea what they're getting into. I hope someday they will be completely exposed and shut down for good.

    July 11, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Ting

      "below them, a bunch of clueless, easily manipulated sheep who have no idea what they're getting into. I hope someday they will be completely exposed and shut down for good."

      That makes a good Jeopardy question. Answer: What is a Cleric?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • JB

      You say you "respect" others beliefs but put the exception there that you do not respect ones choice if that choice is Scientology. 1) I am a Scientologist. 2) TC is a member, he does not work for the church. He speaks out on behalf of the church because he wants to. 3) You do not need "permission" to leave the church, but just like with any church they do want to find out if there are upsets/disagreements that could be cleared up before one leaves. 4) Scientology is recognized as a religion by over 150 countries, has over 10,000 churches missions and groups and has over 6,000,000 members. It deals with man as a spiritual being in relation to God and the universe. That is what a religion is.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Zeus

      That's what I said about Christianity 2,000 years ago!

      -Zeus

      July 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Elphaba

      I'm a little confused. Are you talking about Scientology or Christianity? Six of one, half dozen of the other as far as I'm concerned.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Necrosis

      From the Tenth Edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: cult (n) 2. a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also: its body of adherents

      This means Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all cults, just like you claim Scientology to be. And personally, I feel that Christianity is a far more sinister and harmful cult than Scientology (although I do agree that Scientology is also dangerous).

      July 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Annie

      I didn't say I respected beliefs, I said I wouldn't try to talk anyone out of theirs – unless what they believe is dangerous in the eyes of the majority. For years I've read all kinds of accounts from people who all say they 'escaped' from Scientology. A friend of mine worked for them two decades ago and said the same. Something is not right there. Why all the secrecy? Why all the talk about SP's?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • John 9

      All religions are cults, at least no wars have been fought in the name of Scientology.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Annie

      Not yet, John. From the looks of those TC videos they may be planning it – need to silence all us SP's for good.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • ScienceSoma

      Every religion fits the definition of a cult. Scientology is smaller, but the idea of Thetans and their origin story has just as much validity as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. They are all equally ridiculous. Scientology has nowhere near the money of the Catholic or Mormon churches who also have a heavy influence upon their members. Scientology is set apart because it is "weird" to our Judeo-Christian sensibilities, but it really is not any more or less weird than any other myth-based way of life.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ScienceSoma,

      how does the Catholic church have a 'heavy influence on its members'? There's a lot of proscribed behavior (essentially dharma) but I don't get your meaning here?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  11. Selfish

    Everytime I hear about Scientology it seems like the focus is on me, me, me? Of course if all you think about is yourself and your career how are you ever going to make another person happy? The world would be alot better if you thought of others first and yourself second. The thing that saddens me the most is a marriage is over and a child will now have to live two seperate lives, a life with mom and a life with dad.

    July 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  12. Brian

    "Permission to leave" = cult.

    July 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • OOO

      At least you can possibly get permission. With christianity, you leave, you go to hell. End of story.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  13. JB

    Pressley was kicked out of Scientology for her unethical behavior. Now she is trying to get her 15 minutes of fame. If Scientology wanted to "hurt" her than they could have told the media why she was kicked out in the first place, but they did not. People seem to have a lot of hate for something they know nothing about. Ones religion is their own personal choice. I am a Scientologist but I also respect others choices, including athiests, because in the end we are all human beings. I am sure some will come out and say I am weird or kooky for my beliefs, but if you look close, they can never actually name specifics, because they actually know nothing about it. Or they are going off what some blogger said on the internet who actually knows nothing about it.

    July 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Which God??

      And you know this how? Were you in the 'know' as to why she was 'kicked' out? TC is immoral, so are some of the other 'stars,' like Will Smith. Why hasn't he been kicked out, hmmm? There are others but I want to know why her. Is it because she is talking?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • teresa

      @jb: if people DONT know about Scientology, why is that? why all the secrecy? if Scientology is so great, why can't TOM make a marriage work with it? WHy does someone like TOM need a religion anyhow? isnt he a god unto himself? ALL you scientologists are riding on TOMS fame, Travolta's fame... where are the successful average joe's on the list? oh, theyre nobody's. all you peons kissing it and sucking up thinking you'll be like the celebs....

      being a fake psychic myself: I psyche this: in the next 10 yrs., you will see TOM denounce scientology. right before your eyes : ) You will see all top scientologists fall from grace. The die has been cast and set in motion.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Annie

      Scientology is not a religion. You are in a cult. Too many people have come out of Scientology with sinister stories. They can't all be wanting 15 minutes of fame. If you guys want to believe in some kind of science fiction/alien based stories, great, but why all the secrecy? Why not be open, share it with the rest of us and let us see it's awesomeness. True religions welcome all and put their beliefs out there for all to see and ponder. Why not Scientology?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • teresa

      she was kicked out for HER unethical behavior?? what, she wanted to be NormaL again? lol

      July 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • cowboybobby

      I'm not going to say your kooky or strange for being a Scientologist, it is your right to believe in what ever you choose as an American. But... You also have to remember that every American has the right to give there opinion openly, and if they do and it goes against what you believe does not make them hateful or ignorant towards your beliefs, it just means they choose not to believe as you do. I find, the ignorant individuals are the ones who are quick to judge because someone else has a different idea or belief. and unfortunately, you find that in all religions. I for one do not believe in Scientology but I am not the one to judge if its is right or wrong as long as Scientology does not try to enforce its beliefs on me. When it becomes wrong is when that happens and hate is created.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • JB

      Secret? Everything about Scientology is written in books, which are all available to the public. Starting with Dianetics. You want to know everythign about Scientology... it is all there.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • independentlyowned

      So what exactly was her "unethical" behavior? If you hear her story, she was sick of being overworked, having her life controlled (e.g. not allowed to have children or see family) and she wanted out. How is that unethical?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • vad

      I feel sorry for you and your brainwashed theories...sell it some where else okay? America is finally waking up to the lies and corruption and abuse Scientology is guilty of! I so hope that other poor souls who have been trapped by this cult can escape and find their way back.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Zeus

      Give me money and I'll tell you secrets.

      -Zeus

      July 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Is that why The Church of Scientology sued Wikileaks to remove the "Operating Thetan" manuals from their site?
      Ironically, in filing the suit they acknowleged the doc/ument's validity.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @JB,

      I don't expect anyone can name the specifics without first having paid the $thousands required to 'learn' the specifics.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Shane

      @JB I have read Dianetics, its complete nonsense. Also, the secrecy people keep referring to is how Scientology shrouds its actions and daily activities in secrecy, how everytime someone starts to speak out about Scientology they are attacked by Scientology enforcers who use intimidation and scare tatics. How about the fact that you have a media relation, disinformation spin-doctor who handles all the press on Scientology, if Scientology is so great why would you need someone to handle the press on Scientology in the first place?

      I have done research and have seen first hand reports on Scientology from former members and current members. The only difference is that current members won't say anything bad about it, while former members have only bad things to say. If it truly were an organization that nothing bad could be said about it then it wouldn't have "former" members, no one is dumb enough to throw away something that helps them in life. The way I see it is that there are two options from that, 1 Scientology truly is all that and a barrel of monkeys, or 2 Scientology is brain washing its members and telling them what to think. Having seen what materials are available on the practices of Scientology I would say it is the second choice.

      Scientology is known for their disinformation, and making everything into an "us vs them" scenario. Quickly claiming that anyone that has something bad to say about Scientology is out to get them and has a hate-filled agenda. Always trying to divert attention away from any probing questions and attack the person(s) that is asking them.

      Scientology is a dangerous cult.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • sam

      JB is drinking the Kool Aid...

      Dude, it's fine if you spout whatever party line your church gave you. Just don't expect anyone to believe it.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bugmenot

      A lot of people know a lot more than you are willing to admit ToX (twit of xenu)

      July 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  14. Draxta

    To Pt8685:
    God creates Adam n Eve and puts them on the earth. God throws Adam n Eve out and tells them the rest of their life is going to suck because you ate an apple I put in front of you and told you not to eat it. They have kids. One is evil and kills the other. God tells Abraham to kill his son Isaac and then pulls the plug on the operation. God kills the entire planet in a flood. God helps the men of Judah kill 500,000 of their fellow Israelites. God slaughters all Egyptian firstborn. God kills 14,000 people for complaining that God keeps killing them. (Numbers 16:41-49) God has the Israelites kill everyone in Heshbon, including children. God kills 50,000 men for peeking into the ark of the covenant. God kills everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from the sky. God demands you kill your wife and children for worshiping other gods. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10) God kills a man for not impregnating his brother’s widow. (Genesis 38:9-10) God threatens to punish the Israelites by making them eat their own children. (Leviticus 26:27-29 and Jeremiah 19:9) Elijah gets God to burn 51 men with fire from heaven to prove he is God.
    Perhaps you can see why I have to laugh when you say: “The articles usually take skeptical tone, or use language that makes the beliefs they are reporting on seem alien and odd – even when discussing mainstream faiths like Christianity, Islam, or Judiasm.”

    July 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Chicago

      Could you please tell us about Xenu next?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      You left out Job where God was a co-conspirator with Satan in the mass murder of Job's entire family.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "when discussing mainstream faiths like Christianity, Islam, or Judiasm.”

      Main stream of urine in the eye...

      July 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • xyx25

      for the sins we commit, each and everyone of us should be burning in hell fire. It's because of God's Mercy, we are alive but we all have to face the eternal fire one day, unless someone took that punishment for you and that some one is Christ. So believe in him and be saved.
      Lamentations 3:22
      It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      xyx: your proxy threats only apply to those who accept the validity of your book

      July 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  15. jrzegirl

    The simple answer to all of this is.........he should marry someone in his own faith.

    July 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • cutedog2

      The simple thing after three failed marriages, is to remain single.

      July 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • LAVERNE

      I couldn't agree more and I don't understand why he has already gone through 3 marriages without that wake-up call. So sorry for Katie and Suri, but I do believe they are all better off. That Scientology stuff really sounds scary. It's sad that we women always feel that we have to convert or change our lives for our man. I often wonder how many men reciprocate. I think she had better keep the bodyguards gainfully employed until Suri is 18. I would hate to see anything happen to Katie or Suri. I wish them all the best and hope Tom will marry a fellow Scientologist next time so that he can stop making non-believers miserable and fearful. To Katie, I say, "Move on and be happy".

      July 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Hunter

      Precisely why this marriage failed, I would suspect. There is NO WAY a Scientologist can be in a relationship iwth a non-Scientologist. It simply won't work. Katie tried to get into it, but just couldn't I am betting. Hence the reference to "beliefs" in their statement to the public.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  16. Pam

    Creepy. All religions are scams as far as I'm concerned...but how this even claims to be a religion is weird. When you can't just up and leave a religion and take a different course, that's not a religion, it's called a CULT!

    July 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  17. Doc Vestibule

    Scientology runs Narcotics Anonymous groups as a part of their quest to capture minds and wallets.

    July 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Doc,

      Scientology runs Narcanon... it is not the same as Narcotics Anonymous.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narconon

      July 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You are correct.
      Sorry, I got my religious brainwashing programs confused.
      Narcotics Anonymous' 12 steps are Christian.
      Narconon is Scientological.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Doc,

      You're getting closer:
      "Narcotics Anonymous' 12 steps are Christian."
      No, NA and AA's 12 steps and their "higher power" deal are "spiritual", but not Christian.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Lessee:
      Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
      Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God
      Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
      Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
      Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
      Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out

      Somehow I don't think the Churches that host a lot of these meeting would be very pleased if the God to whom you gave yourself over was Baal, Quetzlcoatl or Ganesh.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Doc,

      AA and NA rent (pay for) rooms for their meetings. The churches, schools or other venues have nothing to do with their program.

      I have had several family members and friends in AA, and have even attended a couple of meetings - their "God" is delineated as, "God, as you perceive it" or the "higher power". I am not advocating for this - just telling you what they espouse... and it's not specifically Christian.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • The Writeswift Blog

      A friend of mine's son completed the Narconon program with fantastic results. They are not Scientologists. The stuff simply works.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • GetOffYourHighHorse

      Doc:
      the 12 steps you listed refer to God, not Jesus Christ, thus making it non-christian / non-denominational, but believing in a higher power.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Writeswift
      Narconon and Scientology teach several of the exact same courses.
      A few even share identical names, such as
      • Ups and Downs in Life Course
      • Personal Values and Integrity Course
      • How to Improve Conditions in Life Course
      • THE WAY TO HAPPINESS® Course

      There are other with different ti/tles, but identical content.

      Give yourself over to God or give yourself over to L. Ron Hubbard – those are the core messages of these courses.
      They are encouraging desperate people to replace one form of obsessive behaviour with another.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Thewriteswift,

      "Each Narconon center is independently owned and operated under a license from ABLE International, a Scientology-related ent'ity" –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narconon

      Glad about your friend's son, but are you sure that it was "Narconon" and not "Narcotics Anonymous"?

      July 11, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  18. Landon

    She had to get permission to leave. That shows the level of brainwashing these so called religious groups exercise over their members. That should be criminal!! I am so glad Katie got herself and Suri away from those people. I wonder how many more times Tom will repeat this scenario? Nicole did the same thing, got a homecoming back into the church of her choice. Open up your eyes, Tom!!

    July 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  19. Thuffrin Thuckitash!

    ZOLTAN

    July 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Mr Fresh

      All hail Zoltan!

      Check out the South Park episode on Scientology , its spot on, almost as funny as the Mormonism episode. "CHEF" a character voice actor on the show, a known Scientologist, left the show because of the episode!

      BTW Romney can take his policies and his CULT religion and stay the hell out of the Obama's House!

      July 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Maybe with the success of "The Book of Morman" Trey and Matt will come up with a Scientology musical for Broadway.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  20. docame

    It is hysterical that this "church" has done as well as it has. I mean, L. Ron Hubbard was a sci-fi write...of sorts – not a very good one, mind you. But, he once postulated that if one wished to get rich, all one had to do was invent a religion and become it's leader. Voila! Thus scientology was born! Totally invented by a failed science fiction writer!

    July 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • ME II

      "...failed science fiction writer"

      I've seen multiple comments with similar statements. Mind you I think the guy was a bit of a loon, too, but "failed" seems a bit much, with 29 publish books of fiction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard_bibliography), not to mention other writings.

      July 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • teresa

      @ME II: people love sci fi dont they? i mean just look at the movies that succeed these days ! imagine LIVING sci fi day in and day out like scientologists get to do !

      July 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      I think by "failed" he really just meant "lame"...

      July 11, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
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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.