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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. JT

    Like there aren't any marriage break ups with Christians or other religions, people are just being hypocrites as usual.

    July 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Correction

      You're never a hypocrit then ? You're always and continually perfect and consistent?

      July 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  2. farsider

    The scientologists in your story claim "The perception that it uniquely appeals to those in the arts is a misperception conveyed by the media." Yet they acknowledge they've aggressively courted movie stars and other celebrities. It's pathetic to play the "blame the media" game when they've created this perception themselves.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  3. farsider

    Scientologists in your story claim "The perception that it uniquely appeals to those in the arts is a misperception conveyed by the media." Yet they acknowledge they've aggressively courted movie stars and other celebrities. It's pathetic to play the "blame the media" game when they've created this perception themselves.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  4. Sussay

    That one has to ask permission, be interrogated and get a security check to leave a "religion" is messed up!

    July 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • tardpatrol

      How can they call themselves a church if there is no "god" to this religion? It sounds more like just another boys club that makes sure its minions needs are met, provided you sign your soul over in advance...

      July 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • iknowrock

      you can check out anytime you like...

      July 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  5. Mom of Three

    I love how the believers in the Easter Bunny are arguing with the believers in Santa Claus.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Huebert

      And they are both wrong. Everyone knows that the Great Pumpkin is the one true holiday spirit.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • hate on hater

      Ha! Love it. My delusion is not as bad as your delusion. Lol

      July 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      hats because MY delusion is real...yours is just silly...

      July 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • nap3null

      The believers of the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus are following the "Secular Movement" made up by 99.9999% of us. Easy to get sidetrack by the distractions of the world.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • dk76

      you stoled the words out of my mouth....they're all a scam.....untaxed money making terds.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  6. jake

    A cult by any other name is still a cult. They may think highly of themselves, but their methods and manner is just creepy. No way around it.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Are you referring to the catholics???

      July 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • jake

      Yes Catholics. What else can be compared to a cult?

      July 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  7. debbie

    It isn't that suprising to me that scientolgoy would really try to cater to hollywood or those in hollywood. Some actors and creative people living in Hollywood today truly believe in their own hype. They don't realize that acting or being a musician or artist of any kind is really just a job a way to make money to live. Too many now in Hollywood in the industry have taken themselves way too seriously and believe themselves as does people like Tom Cruise that they are more special than the rest of the world. That they have some insight or knowledge that the rest of us don't possess. This is just so sad that in this day and age of knowledge and progression in my fields we still have some that are dumb enough to believe in scientology. All it is is a cult of those at the top controlling and making money off of the others below them. The statement that that the "church' doesn't comment on the beliefs of its parishoners" that is so telling about who and what they are and believe. That makes absolutely no sense at all, as does many of what they beileve in and aspire to. I think if they just opened a Bible and read the teachings of the True God Jehovah and get a real sense of what makes sense and is real, they might get a glijmpse of what they are doing that isn't real or true. I just hope they come to their senses and get out of that mindbending and controlling establishment. It certainily isn't a religion at all.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • hate on hater

      God isn't real Debbie, your just as delusional as scientologists are.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • tiny bubbles

      I followed you until
      "I think if they just opened a Bible and read the teachings of the True God Jehovah"

      then I dropped off.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Common Sense

      What if you're delusional hater??

      July 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      It certainly is a religion, much like yours in fact. They too believe that beings from the sky came down to help us and give us wisdom.

      God, angels, Jesus, etc., are all "not of this Earth." Therefore, by definition, they are extraterrestrials. Sounds bizarre, doesn't it? Yes, but true.

      Many ancient religions (especially Christianity) describe dramatic visitations from beings from the sky. We called them "gods", "God", etc. They were gods to us; they were extraterrestrial beings from another world with technology far beyond even our own imaginations today. Certainly, they would seem to be gods to our ancestors.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • *sigh*

      You're right. We're all better off following the shining example of Mel Gibson.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Correction

      So, planeswalker, Jesus never lived on Earth then???

      July 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • just sayin

      Debbie, the manufactured God of the OT is as real as the Tooth Fairy. You are just as delusional as those you point the finger at.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • chirpieguy

      The irony is thick here.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • just sayin

      Correction

      So, planeswalker, Jesus never lived on Earth then???

      .
      If he did he was delusional and borderline insane..which is perfect for creating a cult.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Mom of Three

      Xenu or God or Jehovah. Pick your poison. They're all opiates for the masses.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Correction

      @ Just Saying: And how do you know objectively that Jesus was insane???

      July 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • just me

      speaking from experience, jehovah's witnesses are just as culty/crazy as scientologists.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @just saying,

      The God of the OT? Xenu?

      I know, Xenu is not the Scientology "God".

      July 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • just sayin

      Correction

      @ Just Saying: And how do you know objectively that Jesus was insane???

      ----

      Of course it was a term used loosely. Lets take John Doe in 2012 walks into a hosptial and claims he is half human and half something not of the Earth. He claims he can float in the air. He claims he can raise animals from the dead. He claims he can turn rocks into gold. He claims he can hear somebody talking to him from the sky.

      What happens to John Doe

      July 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      If John Doe can actually do these things...
      He gets his own show on the Vegas strip, two shows a day, three on saturday., then years of partying and poor diet catch up with him, and eventually they find him with his pants missing in a side street gutter

      July 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • just sayin

      For anybody to believe John Doe they must have faith. John Doe isnt the first to have been able to do these things with "followers". Power of the mind and perception are quite powerful. Then you mix corruption/power and you have a new religion of Doeistians.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Varun

      You are worse than scientologists. Most scientologists do this for money and they truly do not believe there is a man in heaven unlike you.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      I'll restate the logic for those of you who seem to want more explanation:

      Jesus, like his father, is a divine being ("God in the flesh", as he is known). Therefore, he, like his father, is "not of this Earth", a term itself used by the ancients to describe the divine. Ergo, God, Jesus, indeed the whole lot, are by definition "extraterrestrials". Immortal or mortal, that does not change the logic. Whether you see the logic of this or not, God, Jesus, all of the "god" characters of the world's major religions....definitely ain't from around here!

      July 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @P Walker : that could be true, concerning the ETs, but I don't any of those aliens told Abraham to kill his son to test his faith.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      It just seems ironic to see God and Logic used in the same sentance....

      July 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Who invited me?

      More like highly contradictory.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      @Avg Joe,

      What about the story of Abraham and God telling him to kill his son? Sorry, part of your post seems to be missing.

      Are you asking if this actually happened, and it was ET who told him, why did they tell him this? I don't mean to sound glib, but I would say, I don't know. Ask ET. It certainly sounds like the kind of sick trick some humans might play on someone, though, I agree. That alone leads me to believe it may have been an "add-on" to the story; that is, made up by the human writers, as is the case of virtually all stories that have been passed down for thousands of years. The original story is probably either very different, or fiction from the start.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Margaret

      Follow the money! Hollywood stars have tons of it.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      @ Hawaii and Uninvited,

      I agree! It does feel uncomfortable using the word "logic" and "god" in the same sentence. However, I was trying to explain the simple logic behind the ancient astronaut hypothesis, which is, if gods are by definition not of this earth, then by definition they are extraterrestrials. Whether real or fiction is irrelevant to the logic.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  8. Planes Walker

    @ Doc (in response)

    Doc, who said they were in the same category?...,other than the fact they are ideas I strongly disagree with. There are over 1 billion Catholics in the world, most of them in under-developed nations. The number one cause of disease, famine, war and death in these regions is over-population. The number one cause of over-population in these nations is the belief that contraception is evil and forbidden by the Catholic church. I'd say that's pretty bad.

    As a psychologist, I understand quite well the dangers of not taking mental health medication when it is not only medically indicated, but absolutely essential to stabilize severe symptoms that untreated will result in death or serious injury of the patient and, in some cases, others around the individual. I'd say that's pretty bad too.

    But my point is that most all religions have some element that is very disagreeable to someone. That is the very nature of dogma: there is no room for differences of opinion.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Correction

      That's the thing about absolute truth and objective morality...there's no room for moral subjectivity.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Planes Walker,

      Catholicism and a high-birth rate in the devloping world are not causal. Any society with a high mortality also has a high birth-rate. (It is survival of the species in action – Darwinism if you like.)

      Only societies with low mortality will risk a low birth-rate. Religion has nothing to do with it.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • just sayin

      "absolute truth" more like "absolute assumption"

      July 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Correction

      @ Just saying:

      One culture believes its ok to kill your children for being an apostate.

      Another culture believes its wrong to kill their children for dissenting religious beliefs.

      Which culture is right??

      July 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • just sayin

      Their is not right or wrong...just their perception and rules they follow.

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

      @just sayin

      'right' and 'wrong' clearly exist within a moral context. Their precise definitions vary by culture and with time. You can argue that sin is a religious construct and is not always consistent with the morals of a given society but to say that 'right' and 'wrong' don't exist is to deny their reality.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Correction

      So you're saying its ok to kill children???

      July 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • just sayin

      Correction

      So you're saying its ok to kill children???

      .
      My view it is wrong..but my view does not matter in another country. Laws are different.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @just sayin
      In what country are there laws permitting the killing of children* ?

      * post live birth

      (To the anti-abortionists, calm down, we're not talking about that!)

      July 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      @Not a GOP-er,

      Technically speaking, you are correct on the statement about causality and religion, but strictly from a statistical perspective. I haven't seen the statistical designs used in the studies that have looked at this. However, the WHO has determined religion (particularly those that have strong beliefs about reproduction) to be a factor that significantly correlates with population. Some sociologists believe it to be causal, which means they likely used discriminant analysis to find the causal factor that had only been previously known to correlate.

      Qualitative studies on the same subject that have personally interviewed many individuals in African nations have shown clearly that the society's cultural belief system is based on Catholicism, and that their society believes that contraception is indeed evil and forbidden...regardless of whether they take this belief directly from the Vatican or not, it does not change the fact that this is their belief.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      regarding "absolute truth"... Please do not put words into my post. I never mentioned the term, nor would I, as the term is by definition unknowable. Therefore, it is pointless to discuss it.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Planes Walker

      Let's take as an example Niger – the country with the highest birth rate in the world. Estimates vary but the distribution of religiousity is:
      Christians ....... 45.5% (some surveys have this as high as 52%)
      Muslims ........... 45%
      Other (ethnic) ... 9.1%

      Of the Christians, Catholics are no more than 66% (30% of the total population).

      Do you seriously believe the birthrate of the whole country is because of the religious tenents of <30% of the population?

      July 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Correction

      @ just sayin:

      Yes your views do matter. There is a right and a wrong. By saying that you think its wrong, you are establishing a moral boundary. You are asserting that your view is right AND the opposing view would then logically be wrong. They cannot both be right. One has to be morally right, and the other, morally wrong. That's simple logic. So in this case, which is morally wrong? Killing children is morally wrong on the basis of religious dissent.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I didn't proof read my numbers very well. These better reflect the source:
      Christians ........ 45.5% (some surveys have this as high as 55.2%)
      Muslims ............ 45.4%
      Other (ethnic) ... 9.1%

      It doesn't change my premise.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  9. Julie

    Silence of the lamb!

    July 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Julie

      I was my reply to Barry G.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  10. Anon.

    'tremendous growth' ??? LOL!!!!

    July 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  11. Steve

    The recap:
    1. There is a group of people that call themselves "scientologists", brought together by specific beliefs I know as little as possible to know about as I can.
    2. Primary scientology beliefs were generated by L. Ron Hubbard.
    3. Among their beliefs one tenets I have been told by members and is confirmed named herein by others;
    A. The individual who is a celebrity or rich, etc. is somehow "more important" than the non-celebrity (or less celebrity) than the less rich.
    B. Individuals belonging to this sect should pay a certain percentage of their income to be able to call themselves "followers" or "members" or something like this. In other words, individuals should pay to promote famous people, celebrities, etc. Well, I can see why some famous people belong to this "group", "organization", etc. They are held to be better than myself and others! 😉
    C. The Scientologists themselves say one should give more to the church so as that individual will become a high church officials and/or more "important" member.
    4. A pyramid scheme is precisely the same premise that the more one gives the more one receives.
    5. For those of you who subscribe to scientology, I have a terrific program for you all to get onto the ground floor of, it is called the "program of self improvement". This is how it works;

    You contribute to the church a "base sum". The earlier you get in on the ground floor, the better off you will be. The more you contribute to the church the more you will make. The more people you recruit to the church the more you will make. As the church income goes up, your income goes up proportionally based on the factors above at a proportional amount. For example, I, the church founder contributes $100 to the church, and I get paid $10 of this as the "founder". Ten people join the church, and they each contribute $100. Now, of each $100 that individual being at the "second tier" gets $9 of the $100, and I get $10 at the top tier. This gives me $110 income as the founder, and the ten others $9. Now, they get 20 people each to join the church with a similar result. They each contribute $100, of which I get $10 as the founder. The person above them in the tier gets $9 from each of their 20 recruits, and each of the 20 recruits gets $8. So, I now have $1910, the first ten recruits has $189, and each of the 20X 9 recruits has $8. You see how quickly the people at the second tier got their money back? And, how fast the money grows for those the pyramid? This is great! Soon we will all be millionaires and much better off! And, *even better* than Scientology, you do not have to be a celebrity to be at the "top" of the pyramid! 😉

    This is what Scientology is all about. What a grand religion this is!

    July 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Margaret

      L Ron Hubbard wrote science fiction, he is probably laughing if there is an afterlife.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  12. huh!

    The most funniest thing I read today has been about christians calling the beliefs of scientology bizarre and absurd.. pot calling kettle what?

    July 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You done gots more gooder grammar.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • malibu123

      Actually, what's funnier is the size of your brain.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Margaret

      what is funnier than Christian snake handlers and people who take poison to prove their love and trust in Jesus. Unless of course it is a Christian who beats the devil out of a child because God told him to. Yep religion is a funny thing.

      July 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  13. Planes Walker

    Silly or not, Hubbard had some great points and ideas that have helped a lot of people (read the first chapter of his book, Dianetics, and you'll see what I mean). However, I think creating a religion was maybe going too far. Maybe he should've stuck with writing more books.

    Sure, Scientology is strange. but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't agree with their views on medication; but then, I also don't agree with the Catholic church's views on contraception and abortion. Take your pick. No religion is without its controversial beliefs and dogmas.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Not taking birth control isn't in the same category as not taking anti-psychotic medication.
      Ever hear of a man stabbing his mother 77 times becuase he stopped buying Trojans?

      July 11, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Huebert

      I've read all of Dianetics. It's repackaged exposure therapy, a technique that psychologist have been using since the 1930's. It is effective for mild to moderate anxiety and depressive disorders.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      Doc, who said they were in the same category..., except they are ideas I strongly disagree with. There are over 1 billion Catholics in the world, most of them in under-developed nations. The number one cause of disease, famine, war and death in these regions is over-population. The number one cause of over-population in these nations is the belief that contraception is evil and forbidden by the Catholic church. I'd say that's pretty bad.

      As a psychologist, I understand quite well the dangers of not taking mental health medication when it is not only medically indicated, but absolutely essential to stabilize severe symptoms that untreated will result in death or serious injury of the patient and, in some cases, others around the individual. I'd say that's pretty bad too.

      But my point is that most all religions have some element that is very disagreeable to someone. That is the very nature of dogma: there is no room for differences of opinion.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • alpeaston

      The decision to make it a church was based on lawsuits by the medical profession and the psychiatirc association since it amounts to practicing therapy without a licence ( required in most states)!. As a church they do conseling without having to prove their qualified. Hubbard made it a church to get around the law! His aim was to get rich and he was pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars a month in it hey day. This "church" is nothing more the a "ponzi", "pyramid" screme where the leader get to make outrageous riches while the underlings pay and pay and pay! It a destructive group and shoud be investigated for illegal business practices!

      July 11, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  14. crownme

    Sounds about as crazy as any other religion..

    July 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  15. Chanie

    not being able to just leave a church is absurb.....**meant to spell – ABSURD

    July 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  16. Charley S McCue

    Any 'religion' that started out as a bar bet makes me worry.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  17. edvhou812

    Yowch. Need permission to leave? I bet this is why Katie said "adios." She was probably given the ultimatum to join, but turned tale out of there.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  18. Barry G.

    A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

    Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

    Revelation 14:9-13

    July 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Answer

      "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."

      Then get on with it and die for your lord today.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Wicked_Witch_of_ WV

      Please just STOP. I appreciate your beliefs and I applaud your need to preach but honestly all you are doing is making people scroll down faster to skip your comments. It doesn't serve anyone that you know how to look up biblical quotes and type them out. If you need some biblical quotes to help you, how about "don't cast pearls before the swine."

      July 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Revelation and Leviticus are neck and neck in the competi/tion for the most absurd book of the Bible.
      Swarms of locusts wearing tiny crowns that have the face of a man, the mouth of a lion, the hair of a woman and the tail of a scorpion? 7 headed dragons that spew torrents of water and snack on pregnant women?

      July 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Julie

      You hear voices, it's just that simple!

      July 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  19. Imminent

    The church of scientology is no different an any other fanatical man made religious sect or cult. They are not an "occult" but they are a "cult." They like to be interpreted as if they're the shadow of the illuminati or the skulls which of course, they definitely are not. No one needs permission to leave them. Any belief that removes your free will or choice to be an individual is not a good thing. I think this is being made out to be far more than it really is. The COS are nobodies. And, in the grand scheme of things, so are Tom and Katie.

    July 11, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  20. Barry G.

    Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

    Revelation 14:1-5

    July 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • ME II

      Is this about Xenu? 'Cause Scientology really sounds weird and this bizarre trip you're describing seems to fit right in.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Planes Walker

      Sounds like an ancient account of an encounter with alien beings. In fact, all ancient religions seem to describe encounters with alien beings. The old and new testaments of the Bible are certainly no exception.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • chirpieguy

      No ME II that's straight from the bible. I think Barry posted it to remind people that a lot of people have some pretty interesting words backing up their actions.

      July 11, 2012 at 4:48 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.