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Lights, Camera, Scientology?

December 17th, 2007 11:50am EST
Tom CruiseWith a ban in Germany on the horizon, scientology has come under severe media scrutiny and public debate in recent years. Ever since Tom Cruise defamed Brooke Shields during post-partum-depression-gate '07, the quasi-religion has been a heated topic. It's been called an oppressive cult. A money-guzzler. A fraud. And it has something to do with an ancient alien named Xenu. So why do so many public faces flock to the Scientology church's doors?

John Travolta, Jenna Elfman, Katie Holmes, Kirstie Alley, Jason Lee and Isaac Hayes are all reported Scientologists. For most of them, their beliefs are broadcast; rarely do they act circumspect about their adherence to the church. For them, Scientology has been a self-proclaimed savior.

In a 2000 article in the Houston Chronicle, Scientology poster-boy Cruise demanded acknowledgment of his faith while filming "War of the Worlds." "Cruise a few weeks ago invited film executives involved in distributing his summer movie on a four-hour tour of three different Scientology facilities in Los Angeles," the article reads.

During the birth of his and fellow-Scientologist Katie Holmes' child, much was said about their "silent-birth" route. They applied the concept of "Dianetics," which subscribes that words - even loving ones - spoken during birth and other painful times are recorded by the "reactive mind," or subconscious. Those memories, adherents feel, can eventually trigger problems for mother and child.

Thousands of eyebrows were raised when word got out that Cruise and Holmes said nary a word during Suri's entrance into the world.

This past summer, Germany even tried to bar the makers of "Valkyrie," a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler, from filming at German military sites because its star is a Scientologist. The film's release date has been pushed back again and again, and is now slated to come to theaters in October 2008.

Set of Valkyrie

On the set of Valkyrie Berlin, Germany 09/08/2007
© Solarpix / PR Photos


With the help of Cruise, Scientology and celebrity have become intrinsically linked.

According to some sources, Scientology founder, fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, had an early fixation on recruiting Hollywood celebrities to his growing faith. As far back as 1955, Hubbard acknowledged the value of famous people to his group when he inaugurated "Project Celebrity."

Hubbard's alleged mission was for Scientologists to target prominent individuals as their "quarry" and bring them back to the faith. He listed the following people of that era as suitable prey: Edward R. Murrow, Marlene Dietrich, Ernest Hemingway, Howard Hughes, Greta Garbo, Walt Disney, Henry Luce, Billy Graham, Groucho Marx and others of similar stature. "If you bring one of them home you will get a small plaque as a reward," Hubbard wrote in a Scientology magazine more than three decades ago.

And although the original effort faded, it has been suggested that the idea of using celebrities to promote and defend Scientology survived and is now being expanded though Hubbard's successor David Miscavige.

In Miscavige's Hollywood, Scientology has assembled a star-studded roster of followers by aggressively recruiting and regally pampering them at the church's "Celebrity Centers," a chain of country club like clubhouses that offer expensive counseling and career guidance.

The result has been a highly-public relationship between A-listers and a disputed faith, one that has made myriad headlines and influenced countless conspiracy-theories.

As founder Hubbard put it in 1973, "Celebrities are very special people and have a very distinct line of dissemination. They have comm[unication] lines that others do not have and many medias [sic] to get their dissemination through."

Perhaps these public figures really have found peace in the Celebrity Center's doors. In a "religion" that celebrates individualism -that sees individual power as ultimately divine - who better than a celebrity to feel at home within its doctrine. Perhaps they find spiritual validation with a religion that says it's okay to be wealthy. It's ok to be famous. That says, in fact, that the aforementioned are signs of advanced spiritual development.

In Hollywood, the wealthier, the more famous, the better. In Scientoliwood, the same applies.

Story by Sarah Lavery
Starpulse.com contributing writer


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