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"Crossing Cultures - Connecting People"

Vol. 10:1February 28, 2017
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bob sitting
What is going on with Scientology these days?

While this may not be a question you have given much thought to, there are enough people interested that when, cable network, AMC recently aired a seven-part documentary about it, over two million people tuned in to watch the first episode.

It is widely accepted that Scientology is decreasing in numbers. However, it is even more certain that they continue to actively recruit and are still able to gain converts.

As such, we thought this would be a good time to revisit Scientology and look at its early history and some of its beliefs. The article also includes a review of what you might expect to learn from the seven-part documentary that aired on AMC.

As a bonus, we are including an article I wrote in 2005 about the outlandish behavior of Tom Cruise during the promotion of his, then newly released, film War of the Worlds. His actions were particularly concerning for Steven Spielberg, the film's director. In the article, "Tom Cruise Phone Home", we consider what was at the root of his "bad" behavior with such other celebrities as Brooke Shields and Matt Lauer of the Today Show and caused others, such as Rosie O'donnell and Tom Arnold, to speak out against him.

We appreciate so many of you who regularly ask about our ministry to veterans and family members who may be experiencing PTS or Moral Injury. We continue to see this effort expanding - primarily due to the tremendous need of our veterans for this information. We are currently making plans that will allow us to provide even more services to our warriors and will share more about it in the upcoming months.

We will also be announcing some very exciting news about our next film project by the summer. I cannot wait to share it with you.

As always, we are ever mindful that to continue to expand our reach and impact we need you as part of our team. We recognize that none of what we accomplish could be done without those who support us.

With that in mind, will you join our team this month by making a donation to show your support. We pledge to use your investment wisely and in/for the service of others.

To learn more about our outreach to warriors visit The Invisible Scars Project website. 


Serving Together,

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Bob Waldrep

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ScientologyChurch of Scientology's Critics More Vocal
by Bob Waldrep



What do Tom Cruise and John Travolta have in common other than being well-known actors? Most might correctly guess they are also well-known Scientologists. In fact, Scientology is probably best known due to the high public profile of these and other celebrity members, such as former Cheers star Kirstie Alley and MSNBC news host Greta Van Susteren. In fact, Scientology probably markets itself through its celebrity members more than any other religious group.
 
In a 2005 interview with Salon.com, Stephen Kent, a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta, said he believes, "America increasingly blends entertainment with news, to the neglect of important news items involving Scientology." Suggesting that Scientology uses its celebrities as ambassadors and to soften its image, Kent who has extensively studied and written about Scientology, went on to say, "They increasingly use their celebrities in a newsmaking fashion...They are public relations officers for Scientology, and part of their mission is to represent Scientology to the outside world and other governments." 1
 
Probably the best example of how these celebrities can promote and defend the teachings of Scientology is Tom Cruise's highly publicized attack on Psychiatry - which Scientology ridicules as having no validity - while promoting his film War of the Worlds in 2005. This even led to a "war of words" with he and Today Show host Matt Lauer (Read the whole story in my article, "Tom Cruise Phone Home") 2
 
This begs the question, does the information provided by these celebrities accurately portray the teachings and practices of Scientology? Many who have left the group would say no, especially when it comes to its more controversial teachings. Even Cruise, though having accurately stated the teachings of Scientology about psychiatry during his debate with Lauer, did not reveal the truth when asked about other teachings of Scientology such as its involving space aliens.
 
In recent years, a number of books have been written by former members exposing the inner workings, beliefs and practices of Scientology. However, probably none of them were as well known to the general public (due to her "celebrity" stature) as Leah Remini who had been raised in Scientology from the age of nine and left in 2013. Remini had the credentials. She had starred in the hit network comedy King of Queens. She had been a host on the first season of The Talk and she had appeared on the highly popular, Dancing With the Stars.
 
She could speak, not only from her experiences in Scientology but, as a successful actress who had once used her celebrity to promote and defend Scientology. After leaving the group she wrote Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology a revealing look at her involvement in Scientology and what finally led her to leave.
 
Books by former members were nothing new nor were they the only means being used to bring Scientology under public scrutiny. Increasingly, producers and media outlets were developing documentaries about Scientology that were quite compelling. Knowing the power of film, Remini produced her own documentary, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which was broadcast on cable's AMC network as a seven-week series.
 
The first episode aired on November 29, 2016 and 2.1 million viewers tuned in to watch it. And, while those numbers might be considered small for a major network program, they are quite astounding for a program on cable - particularly a documentary. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that over half of those viewers, some 1.1 million, were in the highly sought 25-54 age demographic. 3
 
If nothing else, these numbers indicate there is still an interest in Scientology and a lack of awareness about what these celebrities and other Scientologists actually believe. Remini had found an audience.
 
And while the celebrities in Scientology may believe their membership is like that of any other member, the treatment and attention given them is far different than that of the rank and file Scientologist. Like most celebrity members, Remini obviously did not understand this while part of the group or else she turned a blind eye to it.
 
It is not simply the length of her documentary (seven episodes) that sets it apart from most other documentaries about Scientology - it is its emphasis. Rather than focus on what might be considered the outlandish beliefs of Scientology, Remini chose to put the spotlight on the abuses of its leadership, especially David Miscavige, its COB (Chairman of the Board), who took over the leadership when Hubbard died in 1986.
 
The story is told through interviews with other former members - all of whom had been involved in Scientology for twenty years or more before leaving and had risen to places of leadership within the organization. Through first-hand experiences, they were much more knowledgeable about the abuses of Scientology than Remini who had led a more sheltered life due to her celebrity status. They also knew the "abuse" could follow them even after their departure. In fact, many had told their story before and already suffered for it.
 
Scientology has aggressively sued those who make public statements against the Church or make public its secret beliefs, or "Tech" (technology) as it is often called. They also harass and try to discredit their detractors. This is a practice called "Fair Game" which Hubbard began as a means to control enemies or detractors.
 
Ex-members who speak out against Scientology are labeled SPs, "suppressive persons," and are also subject to this policy and cut off from family members who are still part of the group. Imagine a Mother leaves Scientology and her children remain in the group. If she speaks out and is labeled an SP, she will no longer be able to have contact with her children and grandchildren. This can be particularly devastating and controlling as evidenced by some of those interviewed by Remini.
 
Scientology's official stance on the "fair game" policy is that it was canceled in 1968. There are many reporters and ex-members that would say differently based upon their experiences. For example, Mike Rinder, a high ranking ex-member who served as a consultant for Remini's documentary was subjected to this policy or its practice and offers film footage in the documentary to substantiate it. Remini and her film crew also offer footage of their being followed during the filming of Scientology and the Aftermath.
 
The Scientology response to the AMC documentary is typical of how they handle critics and offers further evidence supporting the assertion that they continue to use "fair game" type practices. In their "official" response, Remini is depicted as a bitter failure who is simply trying to profit from her departure:
 
"Leah Remini has become what she once declared she never wanted to be known as: 'this bitter ex-Scientologist.' As USA Today wrote, Ms. Remini is 'as famous for being an ex-Scientologist as she is as an actress.' She needs to move on with her life instead of pathetically exploiting her former religion, her former friends and other celebrities for money and attention to appear relevant again." 4
 
The response further claims the real reason Remini left the group was due to her stalking Scientology leadership and knowing she was about to be expelled from the group. The response even includes the claim that Scientology continues to thrive, as if to say, "Take that Leah Remini":
 
"Scientology is the only major religion to be founded in the 20th century and emerge as a major religion in the 21st century. The Church has grown more in the past decade than in its first 50 years combined under the ecclesiastical leadership of Mr. Miscavige, a visionary parishioners and Church staff hold in the highest regard for carrying out the legacy of the Scientology Founder through the renaissance the religion is now experiencing." 5
 
Remini's documentary portrays Miscavige much differently. Some interviewed share personal stories of being physically abused by him. Though inappropriate under any circumstance, these physical attacks were said to be brought on for such things as simply not being able to complete an assigned task - a task that was in many cases impossible to accomplish.
 
These are not new allegations. An article in the June 21, 2009 edition of the Tampa Bay News describes the scene at a meeting of some thirty Scientology leaders in which, "Miscavige gathered the group and out of nowhere slapped a manager named Tom De Vocht, threw him to the ground and delivered more blows. De Vocht took the beating and the humiliation in silence - the way other executives always took the leader's attacks." 6
 
Former members also disagree with Scientology on its growth claims, including it is the fastest growing religion today. When asked, many believe the church is actually declining in membership. One of those interviewed by Remini had a different take on this due to the position he held while in Scientology requiring him to visit a number of the Church's locations. He explained that there is some truth to the claim if one interprets it to mean an increase in the number of property/buildings rather than membership.
 
The Church has invested much funding in acquiring and building new properties over the years. However, he found that it was not unusual for one to sit basically empty. Investigating Scientology for Rolling Stone, reporter Janet Reitman seems to have come to a similar conclusion after visiting the Church's facility in Manhattan:
 
"The New York Org claims to receive more than 500 phone calls per day, and nearly as many visitors in a week. But aside from its staff, I find the place to be almost entirely empty. Seated alone in a small auditorium, I watch the film, which turns out to be an infomercial featuring a cast of "real" people talking about how Dianetics changed their lives, curing them of ailments ranging from cancer to depression." 7
 
In addition to the allegations of physical abuse (some of which are claimed to have resulted in death - google "Lisa Mcpherson" or visit www.lisamcpherson.org/) another abuse claimed by Remini and those she interviewed is the financial loss or ruin that comes from spending tens, and even hundreds, of thousands of dollars on Scientology coursework and auditing sessions that are essential for advancing to higher levels. (In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Remini claimed she gave three million dollars to the Church. 8 Remini and other ex-members have said members are encouraged to do whatever it takes to get the funds, even running up huge credit card debt or taking out loans or mortgages to pay for these materials.
 
Such allegations are not new. In fact, Time magazine reported similar claims over twenty-five years ago in its ground-breaking May 06, 1991 cover story, "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power" by Richard Behar. In the opening section of the article, Behar - whom the very title indicates found the organization to be money-centered - states, "The Church of Scientology, started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to 'clear' people of unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion. In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner." At the end of the article, he concludes, "But in the end, money is what Scientology is all about. As long as the organization's opponents and victims are successfully squelched, Scientology's managers and lawyers will keep pocketing millions of dollars by helping it achieve its ends." 9
 
Concerning the litigious nature of Scientology, Behar wrote, "Scientology devotes vast resources to squelching its critics...One of Hubbard's policies was that all perceived enemies are "fair game" and subject to being "tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed." Those who criticize the church - journalists, doctors, lawyers and even judges - often find themselves engulfed in litigation, stalked by private eyes, framed for fictional crimes, beaten up or threatened with death." 10 On this point, Behar concludes, "One legal goal of Scientology is to bankrupt the opposition or bury it under paper." 11
 
One might wonder how Time and Behar escaped the attacks and litigation others had been subjected to for speaking out against Scientology or revealing its secrets. They didn't. However, unlike others sued by Scientology, Time had the funds and the will to stay the course, spending millions of dollars defending the lawsuit. After several years and appeals by Scientology lawyers, the suit was finally dismissed in Time's favor. The decision can be read online. 12 It is probably due to Time's success that many other newspapers and periodicals have been emboldened to write about the organization's secrets.
 
Other than its abusive practices and inflated numbers alleged in the film, what is it Scientology doesn't want you to know about the Church? What are their secret practices that are only learned once one advances through the ranks of the Church? Perhaps, chief among them is found in its "alien" origin.
 
Scientology was founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. It finds its basis in one of his books, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. In this book, Hubbard describes the basic problem of mankind is, what he calls, the reactive mind, or engrams:
 
"The entire physical pain and painful emotion of a lifetime, whether the individual 'knows' about it or not, is contained, recorded, in the engram bank...The engram and only the engram causes aberration and psycho-somatic illness." 13 Hubbard claimed that the only cure is through Dianetic therapy which he said, "deletes all the pain from a lifetime." 14
 
Concerning the need for this therapy he writes, "...all physical pain and painful emotion, no matter how the individual may think he has handled it, is capable of re-inflicting itself upon him from this hidden level, unless that pain is removed by dianetic therapy." 15
 
Are there any exceptions to this? Not according to Hubbard who states, "Not one single exception has been found. In 'normal people,' in the neurotic and insane, the removal of these engrams wholly or in part, without other therapy, has uniformly brought about a state greatly superior to the current norm." 16
 
Basically this means, whether sane or insane, the problem is the same for everyone, as is the solution. This is done through Scientology's own version of "follow the yellow brick road" only their road is a bridge - "The Bridge to Total Freedom" - and instead of a Wizard, at the end waits a science fiction writer. And it is not a friendly scarecrow, lion and tin man that will accompany you but "auditors". Sound inviting?
 
Getting on this bridge requires following the teachings of Scientology and Dianetic Therapy. On this "road" one is promised they can become "Clear" and rid themselves of engrams, which is the ultimate goal and promise of Scientology.
 
Addressing this Hubbard wrote, "In a clear, psycho-somatic illness has become non-existent and will not return since its actual source is nullified permanently...The dianetic clear is to a current normal individual as the current normal is to the severely insane." 17
 
Were you to go through the auditing process, a trained auditor would have you hold what is basically a tin can in each hand. The cans are attached to a device called an E-Meter that can supposedly determine if you are telling the truth. You are then asked a number of personal questions and only the auditor can determine if you are answering truthfully. Naturally, answers you know to be true will be determined false as proof that you are being deceived by engrams.
 
Time described auditing as, "...a crude psychotherapeutic technique [for which Hubbard] also created a simplified lie detector (called an 'E-meter') that was designed to measure electrical changes in the skin while subjects discussed intimate details of their past. Hubbard argued that unhappiness sprang from mental aberrations (or "engrams") caused by early traumas. Counseling sessions with the E-meter, he claimed, could knock out the engrams, cure blindness and even improve a person's intelligence and appearance." 18 When the Time article was published in 1991, it reported that a one hour auditing session could cost as much as $1,000.
 
Once a state of clear is reached, the person is identified as an "Operating Thetan" which begins a whole new series of levels, classified as OTs. In a 2009 series on Scientology, the Tampa Bay Times provided a simple explanation of these levels:  
 
"At the top of the bridge [to freedom] are the 'Operating Thetan' or OT levels. In Scientology, an OT is a being who no longer is dependent on his body or the physical world around him and is fully aware of his immortality as he passes through an endless succession of lifetimes in other bodies. Reaching the highest level -OT VIII- usually requires a Scientologist to spend years and tens of thousands of dollars on courses, counseling, books, lectures and other materials."19
 
Upon reaching the OT VIII level, a Scientologist is so powerful that they can manipulate MEST (Matter, Energy, Space, and Time). Tony Ortega of the Village Voice has covered Scientology for years and regarding this level wrote, "Ron Hubbard enticed followers with promises that by the time they had reached OT VIII - and all of the disembodied alien souls that are attached to the rest of us had finally been removed from the OT VIII through years of auditing - the now unencumbered subject should have amazing powers: telekinesis, total recall, and basically the ability to make anything in the physical universe happen just with the use of your mind. 20
 
And as wild as that may seem, it is in the OT material (OT III) that one also learns what Time revealed, as perhaps the most bizarre secret teaching introduced by Hubbard - an alien connection:
 
"In the 1960s the guru decreed that humans are made of clusters of spirits (or "thetans") who were banished to earth some 75 million years ago by a cruel galactic ruler named Xenu. Naturally, those thetans had to be audited." 21 Yes, Hubbard had incorporated aliens for another planet into the origin of Scientology.
 
In her article for Rolling Stone Reitman provides further insight regarding Xenu:
 
[Scientology] assert that 75 million years ago, an evil galactic warlord named Xenu controlled seventy-six planets in this corner of the galaxy, each of which was severely overpopulated. To solve this problem, Xenu rounded up 13.5 trillion beings and then flew them to Earth, where they were dumped into volcanoes around the globe and vaporized with bombs. This scattered their radioactive souls, or thetans, until they were caught in electronic traps set up around the atmosphere and "implanted" with a number of false ideas - including the concepts of God, Christ and organized religion. Scientologists later learn that many of these entities attached themselves to human beings, where they remain to this day, creating not just the root of all of our emotional and physical problems but the root of all problems of the modern world." 22
 
Interestingly, when Reitman was working on her article, Mike Rinder, an ex-member who served as a consultant for Remini's documentary, was over Scientology's Office of Special Affairs - the so-called public relations arm of the Church. According to Reitman, when asked about Xenu Rinder almost went into a tirade claiming, "'It is not a story, it is an auditing level,' he says, neither confirming nor denying that this theology exists." 23
 
Even the animated sitcom South Park found the story of Xenu worthy of lampooning and produced an episode in which one of their characters, Stan, tries to join Scientology. During the auditing process Stan attains a higher reading than anyone other than Hubbard. Learning of it the Scientology leadership quickly proclaim Stan to be the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard. As such, they decide to tell him of this "alien" secret. For the next few minutes, the viewer is treated to an animated representation of the beliefs held regarding Xenu.

Click Image to Watch


 
Do the creators of South Park fear retribution by Scientology? Apparently not. At the end of the episode Stan rejects Scientology concluding, like Time, it is, "Just a big-fat global scam." To which various Scientologists crowded around him (including Tom Cruise) begin shouting, "We are going to sue you." At this, Stan (actually, the creators of the show speaking through Stan) replies, "Okay, good, do it. I'm not scared of you. Sue Me!" 24
 
What has so emboldened the critics of Scientology? Last year HBO aired "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief", a documentary by Alex Gibney based on Lawrence Wright's book, Going Clear. Like Remini's series, this film documents many of the abusive practices alleged against Scientology. Prior to its broadcast Joe Nocera wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times based on discussions he had with Gibney and Wright particularly as regards its treatment of the press and those who had left the Church.
 
According to Nocera, Gibney did not deny experiencing some harassment but noted "...the people who are really harassed these days aren't journalists but those who have left the church." But Marty Rathburn, a former high-ranking member believes even former members are getting less harassment explaining to Nocera that, "with more people leaving and talking about the church, it no longer has the resources to sic private eyes on all its critics [and that he] thinks the Internet has hurt the church, because it is far easier to find out information about it - and many of its supposed secrets are posted online for all to see." 25 (To see just how much can be found online, Google the phrase "fishman affidavit" and you can read all the secret OT documents of Scientology.)
 
I hope for those who remain in Scientology as well as for those who have left and been declared SPs, that Lawrence Wright is correct when telling Nocera, "Part of the message here is that you don't need to fear Scientology anymore." 26 If the days when Scientology could hold on to disgruntled members by using fear and intimidation tactics are truly fading away, that is indeed good news. However, as long as any are still ensnared by Hubbard's teachings, the Christian Church has a responsibility to join with former members, like Remini, and share the truth with those have been deceived.
 
The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captiveby him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26
 
Sources Cited
 
2 Tom Cruise Phone Home
5 Ibid.
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid.
13 Dianetics, p. 11
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid. p. 67
17 Ibid. p. 12
18 Time, Ibid.
21 Time, Ibid.
23 Ibid
26 Ibid.
 
You can read the complete Time article at: www.apologeticsindex.org/Time%20Magazine%20Cult%20of%20Greed.pdf

CruiseTom Cruise Phone Home
By Bob Waldrep

While promoting his latest film, War of the Worlds (based on H.G. Well's novel about an alien invasion), Tom Cruise seems to be declaring his own war, a war against anyone who may disagree with the beliefs of his religion-Scientology-especially as it relates to the field of psychiatry. Scientologists do not believe psychiatry to be a valid science as Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, taught that all "aberrations...includes all deranged or irrational behavior...and psychosomatic ills are caused by engrams."1 "The only thing which could begin to shake these engrams was the technique [he] developed into Dianetic Therapy."2 This technique includes the auditing process, that "clears" one of these engrams, as described by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"In Scientology, people are considered immortal spiritual beings, known as thetans. Followers work through their past-life memories as a self-help technique to achieve perfect mental health. They eschew psychiatry and the use of drugs to treat psychiatric conditions." 3
"Scientology teaches that a human is made of three parts, the body, the mind, and the "thetan," which is a spiritual being that has lived through many past lives, the memories of which can cause problems to the human. While man is basically good, his past experiences have led him to commit evil deeds. These "mental image pictures" from past-life traumas, or "engrams," can inhibit human development...A Scientologist moves up the Bridge To Total Freedom to a state of 'Clear'...and beyond by taking therapy and training sessions, called auditing.4
In bringing the war to psychiatry, Cruise fired the opening salvo against actress Brooke Shields after she admitted to postpartum depression. In accordance with his Scientology views on psychiatry, Cruise used this as an opportunity to speak out against the use of medication, telling Access Hollywood host, Billy Bush, that "Shields was misguided when she took the anti-depressant Paxil to fight her depression after giving birth to daughter Rowan." 5
Other media outlets quickly picked up on the story and in the June 1 People Magazine Shields responded, "Tom should stick to saving the world from aliens and let women who are experiencing postpartum depression decide what treatment options are best for them." 6
This however was not to be the end of Cruise's war of words. He next turned his attention to the host of the Today Show, Matt Lauer. During an interview of Cruise, airing on June 24, 2005, Lauer brought up the Shields controversy prompting the following discussion about and insight into Cruise's views on psychiatry:
Cruise: ...you got to understand, I really care about Brooke Shields. I think, here's a wonderful and talented woman. And I want to see her do well. And I know that psychiatry is a pseudo science.
Lauer: But Tom, if she said that this particular thing helped her feel better, whether it was the antidepressants or going to a counselor or psychiatrist, isn't that enough?
Cruise: Matt, you have to understand this. Here we are today, where I talk out against drugs and psychiatric abuses of electric shocking people, okay, against their will, of drugging children with them not knowing the effects of these drugs. Do you know what Aderol is? Do you know Ritalin? Do you know now that Ritalin is a street drug? Do you understand that?
Lauer: But this wasn't against her will...Aren't there examples, and might not Brooke Shields be an example, of someone who benefited from one of those drugs?
Cruise: All it does is mask the problem, Matt. And if you understand the history of it, it masks the problem. That's what it does. That's all it does... There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance.
Lauer: So, postpartum depression to you is kind of a little psychological gobbledygook -
Cruise: No. I did not say that.
Lauer: I'm just asking what you, what would you call it? ...that's what she went on the antidepressant for.
Cruise: ...all it does is mask the problem. There's ways, [with] vitamins and through exercise and various things... I'm not saying that that isn't real. That's not what I'm saying. That's an alteration of what I'm saying. I'm saying that drugs aren't the answer, these drugs are very dangerous. They're mind-altering, antipsychotic drugs. And there are ways of doing it without that so that we don't end up in a brave new world. The thing that I'm saying about Brooke is that there's misinformation, okay. And she doesn't understand the history of psychiatry. She doesn't understand in the same way that you don't understand it, Matt.7
But it wasn't just Shield's and Lauer's lack of knowledge of the history of psychiatry that was a problem for Cruise as evidenced later in the interview when Lauer obviously attempted to calm the situation with a compliment:
Lauer: It's very impressive to listen to you. Because clearly, you've done the homework.
Cruise: ...And you should do that also. Because just knowing people who are on Ritalin isn't enough. You should be a little bit more responsible in knowing really -
Lauer: I'm not prescribing Ritalin, Tom. And I'm not asking anyone else to do it. I'm simply saying, I know some people who seem to have been helped by it.
Cruise: But you're saying this is a very important issue.
Lauer: I couldn't agree more.
Cruise: It's very - and you know what? You're here on the "Today" show...And to talk about it in a way of saying, "Well, isn't it okay," and being reasonable about it when you don't know and I do, I think that you should be a little bit more responsible in knowing what it is...Because you communicate to people.
Lauer:But you're now telling me that your experiences with the people I know, which are zero, are more important than my experiences...You're telling me what's worked for people I know or hasn't worked for people I know. I'm telling you, I've lived with these people and they're better.
Cruise: So, you're advocating it.
Lauer: I am not. I'm telling you in their case, in their individual case, it worked. I am not gonna go out and say, "Get your kids on Ritalin. It's the cure-all and the end-all." 8

After Cruise's comments about Shields and subsequent meltdown on the Today Show, other celebrities apparently felt compelled to speak out. Rosie O'Donnell stated: "After watching Tom on O (Oprah) and then everywhere else in the free world, I think I may need to up my meds. Shout out to Brooke--stand tall girl. You saved a lot of women by telling your truth." 9 Also entering the fray was comedian Tom Arnold, who on the July 19 airing of The View, said, "I just think he's [Cruise] ignorant...I thought that Brooke Shields is very brave, because celebrities, we wanna look cool, and (admitting) you wanted to kill yourself and maybe your baby is a very vulnerable thing for her to do...I think Tom is a little out of touch.10
Naturally, other Scientology celebrities like Kelly Preston, the wife of John Travolta, came out in defense of Cruise's remarks. Concerning the Lauer interview, she stated it was, "very helpful because it's just raised awareness. People are talking about it now, and that's what they should be." 11
Shields took a different view in a July 1 op-ed piece for the New York Times writing, "I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression...[Cruises] comments are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general." She concluded, "If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease." 12
So, why does Cruise continue to fuel this debate? Being in the midst of a promotional tour for his latest movie, it may be as simple as the old adage, "any press is good press." However, some of his actions and the interviews he has given suggest it is about more than just getting publicity or attacking psychiatry, it is also an aggressive and intentional attempt to promote Scientology. He affirmed as much in the Today Show interview when Lauer asked, "Do you want more people to understand Scientology? Would that be a goal of yours?" To which Cruise responded, "You know what? Absolutely." 13
In their story on Scientology, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that Hubbard taught that, "Beyond the state of Clear, Scientologists move through several auditing steps called Operating Thetan levels, or OT levels, the most sacred religious activity. An operating thetan is able to control matter, energy, space and time rather than being controlled by these things. In other words, an OT is a state of spiritual awareness in which an individual is able to control himself and his environment." 14 It is, possibly, this belief that has led some to speculate Cruise's aggressive behavior and new found confidence in promoting his religion is due to his reaching a higher level in Scientology.
In a recent Salon article, James Verini noted, "the buzz in some Scientology circles is that Cruise may have reached one of the highest echelons of the Church of Scientology. While not a lot is known about this level, known cryptically as OT-VII, Scientology observers say that attaining it could explain Cruise's behavior in recent months." 15 The Sunday Paper reports that former Scientologist Karen Schless is another of those who, "concurs with media speculation that has pegged Tom Cruise as a recently confirmed OT VII." 16
So, is Cruise being completely up front about the teachings of Scientology? Certainly he is concerning the groups distaste for psychiatry, but is there more to the story concerning engrams, auditing, and thetans?
After the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran its story on Scientology, it ran a follow-up based on the Church's reaction stating, "never in our years of experience have we faced so much pressure, resistance and manipulation from an organization as we prepared our reports... we were surprised at their tenaciousness in trying to control our stories." 17
What was the big concern that the Church had with the articles? The Post-Gazette reported:
"Her [church spokeswoman Beth Akiyama] biggest sticking point was the mention of the purportedly secret knowledge given to Scientologists who reach advanced levels. According to widely published reports, they're taught that 75 million years ago the cosmic ruler Xenu paralyzed billions of people in our galaxy, stacked them in volcanoes and destroyed their bodies with H-bombs, though the traumatized souls survived. Those alien spirits invade human bodies today. In 1995, the church sued The Washington Post in an attempt to prevent the publication of such information, saying it was copyrighted. The church lost the suit, and the Xenu story since then has been widely disseminated on the Internet, in the print media and on broadcast networks." 18
While Cruise is reported to be at OT VII, according to published reports, OT documents as early as the OT III level contain references to evil alien life forms, space ships, and intergalactic travel. As the Pittsburgh paper noted, this has been confirmed by investigative reports published over the years. These include reports by a number of prominent news publications such as Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Herald who have persisted despite the Church of Scientology having taken draconian measures to block the publication of these materials, suing or threatening lawsuits against the media outlets, and making every effort to shut down the websites.19
Perhaps Brooke Shields was relying upon these media reports, when making an early response to Cruise's attacks on her use of Paxil, "saying she wouldn't take advice from someone who devotes his life to creatures from outer space." 20
At least one reporter also made this connection to Cruise during a recent press conference. Gary Susman, the film critic for the Boston Phoenix, inquired as to any comparisons there might be for Cruise with Scientology and his role in War of the Worlds stating, [since], "some of the tenants of Scientology deal with the past of aliens on this planet." Cruise interrupted the reporter at this point and said, "That's not true." 21
In reporting on the confrontation, the paper explained, "In both H.G. Wells's novel and the 1953 film, Earth is invaded by Martians, but in the Spielberg remake, the aliens are already here, lying dormant for eons before being awakened. Susman asked Cruise whether this major change in the story had been influenced by the tenets of Scientology, which has a similar 'storyline.'" 22
Only Cruise can answer whether he personally believes it to be true or not, but clearly there are many former Scientologists, reporters, academic researchers and others who are convinced that there is a connection with the teachings of Scientology and space aliens.
In commenting on this story, ABC News interviewed Stephen Kent, a sociology professor at Canada's University of Alberta, who though never having been a Scientologist "says he's studied church materials that are not widely circulated...the space invasion story bears some similarities to the Scientology teachings of the 'Marcab Confederacy,' which he says is described in a church document as a group of planets. It is a vast civilization that has spaceships, but is worse off than Earth in many ways." 23
Similar to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, ABC News reported, "Kent and others say that Scientologists also teach the story of Xenu, a galactic warlord from 75 million years ago, who buried billions of people from other planets in Earth's volcanoes. The souls of these space creatures constantly interfere with humans, and one of the missions of Scientology is to help shed these spirits, critics claim." 24
Time's investigative report also includes an interesting glimpse into this and Scientology's approach to ensuring good mental health, without psychiatry or medication:
"Hubbard wrote one of Scientology's sacred texts, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, in 1950. In it he introduced a crude psychotherapeutic technique he called "auditing." He also created a simplified lie detector (called an "E-meter") that was designed to measure electrical changes in the skin while subjects discussed intimate details of their past. Hubbard argued that unhappiness sprang from mental aberrations (or "engrams") caused by early traumas. Counseling sessions with the E-meter, he claimed, could knock out the engrams, cure blindness and even improve a person's intelligence and appearance.
Hubbard kept adding steps, each more costly, for his followers to climb. In the 1960s the guru decreed that humans are made of clusters of spirits (or "thetans") who were banished to earth some 75 million years ago by a cruel galactic ruler named Xenu. Naturally, those thetans had to be audited." 25
How long will this auditing process last? Based upon Scientology's view on reincarnation, it could be many lifetimes. In a rather strange twist, while Akiyama objected to the Post-Gazette publishing information about an alien connection to the Church of Scientology, another public affairs office, Sylvia Standard, told a reporter from one of Katie Holmes' (Cruise's fiancé) hometown papers, "We believe that man is an immortal spirit-ual being and that he has lived before and will live again innumerable times ...We do not believe there is a finality to this, which is why Scientologists work so hard on improving the societies, environment, and countries in which we live. After all, we believe we'll be coming back!" 26
Schless estimated that, "if he's [Cruise] paid for all his services [to reach the OT VII level], he's easily sunk $500,000 into the process. What's more, the Church of Scientology may have amassed voluminous records of everything he's ever done. 'Everything that he has disclosed in his counseling sessions [auditing], every personal detail in his life, every sin he's committed, is all documented in folders.'" 27 The Sunday Paper adds that, "when Schless became part of the staff [she worked at the Church of Scientology's desert compound outside L.A. training others in its doctrines, taking courses, and performing landscaping duties], she was shocked at the lack of confidentiality and the number of people who had access to the information in those files...'the financial embarrassment and the potential social embarrassment lurking in the files...made it difficult to get away' (become deterrents to leaving the group). 28 Obviously, these make for a strong hold on members and may also inhibit one from questioning the teachings of the group.
Peter Overton of 60 Minutes Australia reported that before being granted an interview with Cruise he was asked to, take a "four-hour crash course in Scientology." During the interview, he asked Cruise, "Why, then, was it a condition of me talking to you today that I had to spend quite an intense four-and-a-half hours in the Church of Scientology here in Los Angeles?" 29 After telling him he really didn't have to do it, Cruise responded, "People are interested in Scientology and I find that people wanted to know. They want to know about it...There's people out there that want help and that need help." 30
He is right about this. There are interested people, and there are certainly plenty of people who need help. As they seek this information and this help, it needs to come from a trustworthy source based on accurate information. Mr. Cruise would agree with that. In fact, as he was concluding the Today Show interview, he stated as much, saying, "I don't talk about things that I don't understand. I'll say, you know what? I'm not so sure about that. I'll go find more information about it so I can come to an opinion based on the information that I have." 31
Unfortunately, it appears, at least as regards Scientology, Mr. Cruise may only be considering the research provided by the Church. It would do him well to talk with some of the many former Scientologists, like Karen Schless, who have experienced the group from the non-celebrity side and to look at some of the documentation that is readily available and paints a much different picture of Scientology. All of us should take the time to research the facts before forming an opinion, however, we must also make sure that our research is honestly done.
Steven Spielberg, who directed War of the Worlds, did an earlier film about aliens, ET, the Extra-Terrestrial-the story of an alien stranded on Earth and befriended by a young boy. It gave us the classic and much quoted line, "ET, phone home," referring to ET's desire to contact those who could truly rescue him. Maybe it is time for someone else to follow ET's example-Tom Cruise, phone home.

Sources Cited

1.      Dianetics, the Modern Science of Mental Health-L Ron Hubbard, 2nd Ed.1985 p 47

2.      Ibid., p. 69

3.      Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24,2005 ed., "Scientology Comes to Town"

4.      Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24,2005 ed., "Bridge to Total Freedom"

5.      http://celebritybabies.people.com/2005/05/25/tom_cruise_crit

6.      People, June 1, 2005 http://people.com/celebrity/brooke-shields-lashes-out-at-tom-cruise/

7.      http://www.today.com/popculture/im-passionate-about-life-wbna8343367

8.      Ibid.

9.      www.hollywood.com/general/rosie-o-donnell-supports-brooke-shields-over-tom-cruise-comments-59101440/

10.   www.contactmusic.net/tom-arnold/news/arnold-brands-cruise-ignorant-for-shields-attack

11.   www.today.com/popculture/brooke-shields-blasts-cruises-ridiculous-rant-wbna8427947

12.   abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=899040&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312

13.   www.today.com/popculture/im-passionate-about-life-wbna8343367

14.   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24,2005 ed., "Bridge to Total Freedom"

15.   Salon, June 27, 2005, "Missionary Man" www.salon.com/2005/06/27/cruise_8/

16.   The Sunday Paper, July 6, 2005 "Scientology in Atlanta" https://culteducation.com/group/1284-scientology/25589-it-stars-tom-cruise-but-this-is-no-movie.html

17.   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 30,2005 ed., "When Scientologists Aren't So Clear"

18.   Ibid.

19.   www.watchman.org/articles/scientology/scientologys-internet-wars/

20.   www.contactmusic.net/brooke-shields/news/shields-attacks-cruise-for-criticising-her-drug-use

21.   Inside Edition, 06-22-05

22.   Boston Phoenix, June 24,2005 ed.' www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/other_stories/documents/04786555.asp

23.   ABC News www.abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/story?id=876503&page=1

24.   Ibid

25.   Time May 6, 1991 http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972865,00.html

26.   The Toledo Blade, June 26, 2005 www.toledoblade.com/frontpage/2005/06/26/Cruise-Holmes-romance-puts-Scientology-in-spotlight.htmltoledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050626/NEWS10/506260348&SearchID=73215956651565

27.   The Sunday Paper, July 6, 2005 Ibid.

28.   Ibid.

29.   Sixty Minutes Australia, June 5, 2005 (watch at www.youtube.com/watch?v=DChVRGoQXIc)

30.   Ibid.

31.   http://www.today.com/popculture/im-passionate-about-life-wbna8343367


Tom Cruise Phone Home originally appeared in The WFIAL Update (2005) which is no longer in publication.

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