A Cult, A Clambake and Tom Cruise

An argument could be made that every religion has a cult-like aspect to it.  Religion requires that we believe in something, and belief requires that we suspend logic and reason.   Scholarly writings don’t allow for the word “belief” when the author is defending his or her findings and arguments.  That’s probably why people tend to become emotional when they discuss religion.  What one does or doesn’t believe is emotional and it’s difficult to understand why someone else believes what they do without presenting hard facts and empirical evidence.  Scientology takes the argument to an entirely different level, however.  It not only requires belief, it demands that its members suspend rationale entirely – maybe even their sanity.   It is also, as many have pointed out, one of the most mysterious and controversial topics in the religion versus cult debate.

When L. Ron Hubbard founded The Church of Scientology, he had already become a hugely popular writer of pulp and science fiction.  He had also been a lackluster college student, a failure in his attempts at being a Naval officer and a polygamist.  The one thing he didn’t lack was an overblown ego and the belief that he was destined for greatness.   He claimed that his inspiration for Dianetics came in the form of the still-unpublished book “Excalibur”  – or THE BOOK as he referred to it.  The idea for “Excalibur” presented itself to him while he was dead for 8 minutes during a surgical procedure.  The surgical procedure was a tooth extraction, the “death” part was the result of hallucinations while under nitrous oxide.

THE BOOK, according to Hubbard, had special powers.  People who read it either went insane or died, maybe even both – those were his claims.  Others didn’t see it quite the same way.  Driven by his own views, not only of himself, but in what he had written, Hubbard knew that he had found the secret to helping mankind, comparing his revelations and research findings to the discovery of fire.   He was so impressed by own insight and intelligence that he tried to have his work published by “Scientific America”, the “Journal of the American Medical Association” and the “American Journal of Psychiatry”.   Their rejection did little to dissuade his beliefs, even fueling them, as he chalked it up to the fact that they simply didn’t understand him or his theories.

From this, together with a raging addiction to amphetamines, Hubbard began to market his Church of Scientology.  He offered franchises to new members who, in return, would pay 10% of their income to Hubbard.  As it grew in popularity, so did its founder’s sense of omniscience.  He wrote more books such as  “A  History of Man” which he described as  “a cold-blooded and factual account of the last sixty trillion years”.  He came up with the idea of the E-meter which could reveal a person’s innermost thoughts.

Within 10 years, membership was in the thousands, the Church’s wealth as well into the millions.  Hubbard was now able to command his own fleet of ship as “Commodore” of the Sea Organization, a very elite and very wealthy group of members of the Church.  He also managed to gain some attention from a few government agencies – the FBI, the IRS and the FDA which was particularly interested in Hubbard’s radiation curing pills.   This served to feed his already overactive state of paranoia and he began to require church members to disconnect from anyone who expressed doubts about his organization, even family members.  Scientologists were made to write “Knowledge Reports” about one another if there was an inkling that someone had violated Hubbard’s “crimes, high crimes and misdemeanors”, such as being disruptive or misapplying the tenets of the church.

Hubbard became more and more reclusive, often sailing around the world about his Sea Org fleet, attended to by the children of members.  As the legal threats from dozens of countries grew, the Commodore finally went into exile. From his various hiding places, he gave orders to his Guardian’s Office, under the name, the “Snow White Program”, to infiltrate and recover files regarding Scientology from government agencies worldwide.   During this time, and recognizing a weakness in their founder, Scientologists staged a takeover and, in 1980, named David Miscavige, then only 20 years old, as its new leader, a position he still holds today.

Miscavige’s official title is Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center, and, as such, he controls all of the trademarks, names and symbols related to both Dianetics and Scientology.   Some of that he may have taken from Hubbard through fraudulent means, but no one really seems to want to challenge him about it.   His family had belonged to the church since he was 11 years old, and he simply knew no other way of life.  He had been taught at the feet of the master, even serving as Hubbard’s “Commodore’s messenger”, and his tenure as the church’s leader has been rife with even more controversy than that of his mentor.

Miscavige is known as an exceptionally cruel, cold and calculating individual, bent more on growing profits by any means necessary than carrying on the message of the church.   A decision, long sought by Scientology, by the IRS to grant the church a tax-free status further emboldened the new leader, giving him a feeling of power and invincibility.   He established an “Enemies of Scientology” list that includes the names of hundreds of groups and individuals who have, in some way, offended the cult and its leader.  Recruitment tactics, particularly towards targeted celebrities, became relentless and ruthless examples of pure harassment.  The actor Mike Farrell’s experiences with the group were described this way:

“To this day, people who tangle with Scientology find themselves subject to aggressive efforts at intimidation. Mike Farrell, who played B.J. on the television series M*A*S*H, crossed paths with the church when he contacted the Cult Awareness Network for information on a film project about child abuse. After gaining great respect for their work, he attended a fund-raising event at a private home in Beverly Hills, where he was confronted by angry picketers. ‘There were people taking photographs, being very obvious, getting video footage of the guests as they went in and out – obvious harassment,’ he says. Farrell says he asked one of the pickets if he was a Scientologist, and the man said yes. In an effort to be fair, Farrell had lunch with Reverend Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International, and investigated Scientology’s charges against CAN. The actor says he found them to be based on ‘sham, invective, and distortion.’ Later, at a CAN convention near the L.A. airport, Farrell encountered more angry Scientologists. ‘Not only did they picket, but they sort of get in your face and give you this loud and incessant spiel that doesn’t allow for dialogue – it’s just a kind of attempt to intimidate.’ In the last few months Farrell has gotten numerous strange phone calls, one telling him (falsely, as it turned out) that an old friend had died. There have been so many that now when he gets calls after midnight at his home, he answers, ‘Hubbard was crazy.’ Sometimes, he says, there’s a long silence before the caller hangs up.” – Premiere, Sept. 1993, “Catch a rising star”.

Others in Hollywood became members for reasons known only to them and the church.  Probably the two most notable and visible stars to embrace Scientology are John Travolta and Tom Cruise.  It is the latter who has brought Scientology back into the headlines with the news that his wife, actress Katie Holmes, filed for divorce.   Miscavige and Cruise make no secret of just how close their personal and professional lives are.  The cult leader was the best man at the couples’ wedding in 2006.   Cruise has made appearances, often looking slightly mad, on behalf of Scientology.  He has given Scientology-based statements regarding the benefits of following the church’s teachings while dismissing and insulting the fields of Psychiatry and Psychology, and the use of psychotropic drugs.   One video shows Cruise on a manic rant espousing the virtues of living a better life through Scientology.  I’ll let you watch it, and you can decide for yourself as to his mental state and the merits of such a philosophy.  I know this much, that crazy couch jumping scene on the Oprah Winfrey Show looks benign compared to this.


Katie Holmes’ decision to file for divorce may very well be based on what this group represents, as well as a healthy and reasonable fear of them.   She fled her home, with her daughter, while her husband was out of the United States, filming a movie in Iceland.  When she arrived in New York, she, along with her parents and divorce attorneys, arranged to fire any staff that had been hired by Cruise or the church.  Reports have it that she is under the watchful eye of no less than nine newly hired bodyguards.   This is a woman who, from all appearances, is afraid  of losing everything, especially her daughter. None of her actions were impulsive, but seemed to be well planned and perfectly orchestrated.

There are writers and owners of websites who have spent years gathering information about Scientology.  They have been harassed, threatened with lawsuits and warned that they would be shut down for their efforts.  They’re still out there and they haven’t surrendered yet.  One that I have visited on occasion is called Operation Clambake*.  I came across the site when I was looking for information about Lisa McPherson, a member who had died while in the care of Scientology’s Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, Florida.  This website has compiled lists of members, stories regarding the teachings and tactics of Scientology and some background on its origins.  The clambake refers to one of Hubbard’s theories that somewhere along the line we, as humans, evolved from clams, as well as jellyfish, seaweed, sloths and a whole host of other entities – or engrams, in Scientology lingo.  The engram it seems, through its evolution, has left us with a permanent recording of the pain and trauma of the past, something which can be eliminated through Scientology, making us better people.  Reaching the level of Operating Thetan III is what you should aspire to if you really want to achieve personal and spiritual oneness.

A second source of Scientology information comes by way of the Editor in Chief of The Village Voice, Tony Ortega**.  Mr. Ortega has devoted years to investigating Scientology and interviewing those who managed to break from it.  He’s written dozens of pieces, trying to pierce the veil under which the church shrouds itself.   He’s managed to bring to light the fact that David Miscavige’s own wife hasn’t been seen in nearly five years, leading many to believe that she is being held somewhere by the cult leader, after violating one of those crimes for which they accuse, convict and punish members.   A lot of strange and inexplicable things have happened inside this cult, including beatings, kidnappings and death.  People who have escaped from its hold seldom want to talk about it, with good reason.  Maybe this divorce can shed some light on what has been going on.  Ms. Holmes and her team of attorneys have their work cut out for them – I wish them, and Suri,  a safe and happy ending.

*   http://www.xenu.net/

** http://www.villagevoice.com/authors/tony-ortega/

References:   Time Magazine, the St. Petersburg Times, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, the Today Show, CNN, The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Orlando Sentinel, Fox Business News, The Los Angeles Times and the BBC


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42 Responses to A Cult, A Clambake and Tom Cruise

  1. nohausfrau says:

    Good morning Empress!
    Interesting blog. I’m not that familiar with Scientology so I learned quite a bit.

    I watched the video and although Tom seems pretty intense and fanatical, I’ m not seeing anything insane. I’ve had fundamentalist Christians witness to me with the same intensity. I’m not a big fan of any type of organized religion as I’ve personally witnessed the abuse within it.

    • Morning nohausfrau,
      What I found interesting – ok, unsettling – about Cruise in this video is his absolute and unwavering belief that only Scientologists know what is right and true, and that they can save the rest of us if we only listen and follow. I agree that that mindset occurs in almost every extreme or radical religious sect, but it still scares me a little.

    • sweetnessnbubba says:

      When Tom says that in an accident that only a scientologist like him can help, do you know what he means by that?

      He doesnt have medical knowledge, what he would do in that situation, is give a “touch assist”, touching in various spots and saying “Can you feel my finger” , with the power of his Mind! you are going to feel better, because your pain, comes not from broken bones, but from ‘engrams’ (psycic scars from other accidents)…

      When he talks about putting in ethics? He means ratting you out to church officials if you do something not entheta , like read something negative on the internet. Then the church brings you in, and makes you do a security check, where they hook you up to an emeter (a bogus truth detector) and have you, confess your crimes against the church… and for that little joyful trip, you get to pay 30k for the pleasure..

      Then if they feel that you are Suppressive (something that Tom mentions), maybe for questioning why you have to pay 30k for being grilled. They declare you suppressive, kick you out of the church (usually your broke by this time, from giving them all your money) and if you have any family in the cult, they dissconnect from you… Now you can get back in the churches good graces (sometimes), if you pay 100s of thousands of dollars to do it…

      This is a cult , and its nuttier than I can even explain in a few paragraphs.

      • sweetnessnbubba says:

        oh and when tom laughs maniacly and says that one day there will be no suppressive people, he is referring to LRH saying that if it were up to him, Supressives should and would be “disposed of”… ie killed…. Supressive is anyone who disagrees with the church..

      • Thank you for bringing a little more information over. I barely scratched the surface when it comes to the subject, in part because, as you so aptly put it, it’s nuttier than can be explained without writing volumes.

        • sweetnessnbubba says:

          I had a friend die, because of Scientology. When people ask me about it, I ask if they have a few hours to get the full picture.. Even now, over a decade later, I find even more scum that this “church” does… Its gotten easier with the internet to get a full picture of just how twisted this cult is.

      • codystl says:

        As Mel says below, sounds a little like Jim Jones.

        • sweetnessnbubba says:

          I, and others, often wonder if this cult will go in that direction, but Scientology is sitting on billions of dollars, more likely Miscavige will dissapear with the money and go live on an island somewhere.

        • That’s a reasonable comparison. I’m just confused as to why, in this day and age, some people can still buy into such a poor premise for a religion. The information on Scientology is readily available, and plentiful. Doesn’t sound like some members paid much attention to what cults are capable of doing. SMH

          • sweetnessnbubba says:

            the good thing is the internet has cut off the supply of “fresh meat”, people are more aware with the info out there.. The cult has lost over half their members in the last 10 years (and possibly more) there are less than 40k scientologists worldwide.. It had the stature and exposure because LRH went after celebs and so its a “star cult” a lot of them, Paul Haggis, and even LIsa Marie Presley have left the church in recent years

  2. melthehound says:

    Welcome To The Hotel California. All that’s missing here is the Jonestown Koolaid. I only made through about a minute and a half of that video. Cruise made my asshole list many many years ago.

  3. Donna says:

    I was curious about Nicole Kidman, she is a practicing Catholic. I also learned that at one time Tom Cruise wanted to be a Catholic Priest. Katie Holmes is also Catholic. humm John Travolta was also a Catholic.

    I’m Catholic, I have absolutely no idea why I wanted to find out their religion. Probably because Katie is practicing Catholic? {shaking head}

    I am a retired Church Secretary.

    • I don’t think Nicole Kidman was comfortable with the Scientology thing either. There were some stories in some of the articles by people who didn’t want to be identified who said that the cult had turned the adopted children of Cruise and Kidman against her. Both of those children see very little of their mother, having been told that she is a sociopath, a drug addict and other assorted insulting labels.
      The Village Voice writer reported that Katie Holmes was “chosen” to be Cruise’s wife by David Miscavige’s wife. I guess she was young and naive enough to fall for the Cruise “charm”.
      I’m still shaking my head about the Catholic to Scientology conversion. That’s a giant leap of faith.
      BTW, Cruise’s first wife, Mimi Rogers, was the one who first introduced him to Scientology.

    • I have to clarify something about Kidman and Holmes being Catholics. Scientology has a “you’re either with us or you’re against us” mentality, so there wouldn’t be a blending of spouses’ religious beliefs. If you leave, you’re on your own. A couple of their terms and definitions regarding this are:

      Disconnection – one of the most controversial practices of Scientology, in which converts are required to sever ties with all friends and family members believed to be unsupportive of their decision to join the church. Those hostile to the church—including members who become skeptical—may be labeled a “suppressive person,” forcing other Scientologists to shun them. (See Suppressive Person).

      Fair Game – Scientology’s policy of retaliating against perceived enemies, based on Hubbard’s writing that “suppressive persons” may be “deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist … May be tricked, sued, or lied to, or destroyed.” Hubbard later canceled this order because it created bad PR, but the church has continued to follow it, resulting in its reputation for litigation. The church has also carried out numerous harassment campaigns against ex-members and critics. In the most famous case, known as Operation Freakout, the FBI discovered that the church had harassed, threatened, and plotted against journalist Paulette Cooper with an elaborate scheme to have her imprisoned or placed in a mental institution. More recently, the church tried to destroy the business of a man who employed a high-ranking defector.

      Suppressive person – officially, a person with sociopathic tendencies or behaviors. In practice, the label is a catch-all term that church leadership uses for anyone at odds with Scientology, including internal critics. Since church teaching forbids members from associating with SPs, parents may be required to kick their kids out of the house or spouses to cease contact with each other. The term originates from Scientology’s growth in the 1960s, when Hubbard intensified his authoritarian control of the movement. Even he, however, expressed concern that the church was abusing the label with an overly elastic definition.

    • sweetnessnbubba says:

      when you first join Scientology they tell you that its compatible with other religions.. then you hit a level called OTIII (after a couple hundred thousand dollars) and they tell you that all religions and jesus, etc are just “alien implants” (ideas) and really we are infested with the spirits of dead aliens left here billions of years ago… If you accept this, you spend close to a million bucks trying to excorcise the dead aliens…

      • I can see that you have very good reasons for your anger and resentment towards the cult. In the articles I read, there were dozens of stories about families being paid off to keep the circumstances of the deaths of their loved ones a secret. They defrauded young people out of money resulting in suicides, along with the elderly, who lost their homes and savings as the cult demanded more and more money in exchange for the privilege of being “saved”. How the IRS found that they qualified as a church for purposes of tax exemptions is beyond me. The FBI should be shutting the whole deviant organization down and exploring criminal charges.
        Your mention of the money spent to reach OTIII is interesting. It’s been reported that Tom Cruise is an OTVII. I wonder how much that’s cost him, not only in dollars but all the way around.

        • sweetnessnbubba says:

          the way they got the IRS was they did what Scientology does best, they investigated the crap out the IRS officials making the decision and used that dirt and their Celebs (like John Travolta) to put pressure on the IRS and the Clinton administration.. I think as things fall more apart, your going to see those exemptions fall away..

          as for money, to get to OT 8 the highest level, you will spend at least a million dollars. thats just in fees, then there are the “donations” which have become a huge pressure point with the cult lately… They also rerelease the books every 5 years and expect people to buy a whole new set (and a few more to send to libraries who promptly throw them away) they are right now getting ready to release a new emeter (that cost less than 300 to make but is reported to cost over 3k, and they want you to buy 2)…

          They squeeze and squeeze, while discouraging you from spending money on things like education, or decent health care, and when they can squeeze no more, they cut you loose, if you havent dropped from the stress already..

  4. Kaereste says:

    Empress, Thank you for subjecting yourself to this nonsense for us.

    I find the idea that some people “sign over” their children to be raised by this church to be abusive (suppposively they are trapped on a ship or in the desert). Otherwise, I could not care less what idiotic beliefs people hold. Some people just need to bossed around.
    Religion, politics and even science is not immune to group think and the need to crush heretics.

    I always found it odd that Cruise-Kidman adopted 2 kids which inflamed the “is he gay” speculation. However, when they parted it was reported she was pregnant and miscarried. What was that about?

    BTW: I was most disappointed to learn that Greta Van Sustern is a Scientologist.

    • Hey, K, I really don’t mind reading about this “nonsense”. It’s kind of fascinating in a weird sort of way.
      Re: Nicole’s miscarriage. She’s said over and over that she’s not ready to talk about the circumstances, but might spill the story at some later time. She had two miscarriages during her marriage to Cruise, which was (allegedly) the reason for the adoptions.
      Then again, some tabloids have reported that Suri is actually L. Ron Hubbard’s baby – I guess that the cult founder had left a little of himself on ice for future use. See what I mean – just weird.

  5. klmh says:

    Great post Empress. I’ve read some things about Scientology, but nothing this concise or easy to read. Scary stuff, financial religious fanaticism.

    • Thanks! Scientology was described by one writer as just a giant pyramid scheme. Makes sense to me – Hubbard himself said that if you want to get rich, start a religion. 😉

  6. FLG (Mr. Tigre's Butler) says:

    When I was in Prep school, I developed a friendship with a chum who’s father was a Reverend. The father died quite young and his child was fond of quoting two things their father said to his family on a regular basis at the dinner table before his death:
    1) “Hook them while they are young and you have them for life.”
    2) “Listen to what ministers preach against most passionately. That is what you will likely discover them doing themselves.”
    My chum also said that quite often the children of ministers who are the “pillars of society” and live scandal free, posses a tendency to be the wildest children growing up.
    That has stuck with me all these years and seems to occur fairly often in all denominations. Of course, there are always exceptions…
    Some things that make one go hmmm…… 😉

  7. majnon says:

    I’ve never commented here before, but I had to tell you empress, that was an extraordinary article you wrote about Scientology
    I think I will be paying more attention to them
    Thank you

  8. Jake From State Farm says:

    I just had a seance with my good buddy L. Ron. He was a little offended by “… a failure in his attempts at being a Naval officer and a polygamist.”.
    L. Ron asked me to conduct Knowledge Surveys, Audits and a Minnesota Mulitphasic Personality Inventory of the author and readers of this site. He also wants to know what your problem with Caroline Manzo is.

    • I’m working on reaching Operating Thetan Level I – that’s my excuse. Caroline Manzo is still stuck in the anguish of being an unhappy engram – it’s a damn clam casino.
      Hey, Jake, I’m glad that State Farm is there for Commodore Hubbard. You’re like a good neighbor. 😀

  9. Reports have it that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise have reached a settlement agreement regarding their divorce. He told her that it was “Mission Impossible”. She brought along her “Top Gun”s who warned him about the very real possibility of “Days of Thunder”. He quickly came to realize that there could be some “Risky Business” and signed whatever documents were presented. “A Few Good Men” saved the day, thereby avoiding any “Collateral” damage.

  10. codd says:

    I read that Suri isn’t to be exposed to Scientology as part of the divorce settlement (Radaronline article). Does Katie have something big on Tom to get that agreement?

    Empress – great blog!

    • I don’t think anyone, outside of the couple and their attorneys, is ever going to know all of the details. I feel pretty safe in saying that reaching a divorce settlement agreement in less than 2 weeks is almost unheard of. My own suspicions are, yes, she’s got something on him and his little church group. I really do think Suri was her priority. 🙂

  11. Kaereste says:

    This article by Cruises former confessor, essentially says that Katie won by filing in NY where she could publically argue (expose) that the church’s practices damaged her marriage and were a threat to her child. Cruise folded to shut that down.

    The internet has changed the playing field for the church. The speed and anonymity of the web trump the sneaky aggressiveness of the church.


    • Oh, I think Katie knew she was holding a royal flush and that there wasn’t a chance in hell that he or his cult could bluff their way out of it. New York was the right venue.
      BTW, divorce attorney Raoul Felder called this one a week ago.

  12. “Rock Center” with Brian Williams will be airing a story about Scientology , including an interview with former member, Marty Rathbun, tonight at 10:00 Eastern Time.

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