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But They Can Never Taint You in My Eyes: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology

By Cindy Davis | Think Pieces | July 5, 2012 |

By Cindy Davis | Think Pieces | July 5, 2012 |

Is Scientology really that different from other religions? While there are those who might answer with a resounding “No,” the fact of the matter is that there is a major component to Scientology which affects our opinions and makes it stand out: Celebrity. In truth, famous people are likely the reason any of us know about Scientology at all; while most of us have personal knowledge of Christianity or Judaism, how many can claim to know a Scientologist? The majority of our knowledge is gained through mass media and Wikipedia. Beyond that, what would we know if not for the shenanigans of a couple of its most famous members, Tom Cruise and John Travolta? Big names are rather a double-edged sword for the church, which employs so-called Celebrity Centers to herd and/or lure in “artists.” And Tom Cruise is Scientology’s prize bull; recruited by its current leader David Miscavige, who allegedly referred to Cruise as “The most important recruit ever…(who) will change the face of Scientology forever.”

Scientology was infamously brought about by L. Ron Hubbard, a fiction writer who had success with his self-help system and book, Dianetics. Some of those principles later made their way into the tenets of Scientology. Though Hubbard was not a doctor (despite having procured a bogus doctorate) and did not study psychiatry, he did possibly suffer mental illness (in his own words, “long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations”) from which he claimed to have saved himself. But Hubbard also made many other unsubstantiated claims, about his military service, his life experiences, his conditions and health, his techniques and his theories. His ideas were rejected by medical journals and professionals. Still, Hubbard was nothing if not persistant, and people were willing to pay (for Dianetics). Experiments were conducted and Hubbard proclaimed the Dianetics program a success, but even his own public demonstration proved otherwise. During the decline of Dianetics, Hubbard’s second marriage also collapsed and the writer was accused of all forms of abuse by his wife, however, in the process of securing custody of their daughter the wife recanted all her statements and proclaimed Hubbard a “fine and brilliant man.” The man certainly was brilliant in his own way and despite his failures, always found a way to turn things around and “rebrand;” for what is Scientology but a rebranded, improved (twisted?) version of Dianetics. Since the system and its support had waned, Hubbard began developing his new project and around this time, famously said “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.” Having previously written science fiction, been relieved of command while in the military, made strange claims to the FBI (who had a file on him and noted that he “appears mental”) dabbled in the occult and “sex magic,” made false claims about his life and his works, reinvented himself time and again, what difficulty would there be in creating a new religion? L. Ron Hubbard was indeed a master. He did what he set out to do. And though Scientology was questioned at every turn and is not recognized as a religion in several countries, it continues on to this day and counts as its celebrity members Beck, Giovanni Ribisi, Leah Remini, Kirstie Alley, Bodhi and Jenna Elfman, Erika Christensen, Elizabeth Moss and Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley (although word has it, Lisa Marie is on her way out).

Scientology and its two most famous members, Tom Cruise and John Travolta spend a lot of time denying things. Cruise and Travolta deny they are gay; Scientology denies they are gay too. They all deny the rumored Scientology arranged marriage contracts. Scientology denies the religion employs hypnosis, brainwashing, spying, threats (legal and otherwise), deprivation, military boot camp style training by Sea Org, dissociation or violence (but of course there are those who say all these things happen, including ex-Scientologists). The Travoltas denied their late son, Jett was autistic (until the trial following his death). The mega-men, the mega-religion and their mega-powers also deny psychiatry in general, the existence of chemical imbalances and the use of psychiatric drugs to treat them. Presumably, Scientology has given its members vast medical knowledge that we, regular humans, can’t possibly comprehend. Interestingly though, Hubbard reportedly used drugs and alcohol to help him come up with the whole Scientology backstory (which, if you haven’t read, you simply must.) As incomprehensible as most religions are to non-believers, one cannot imagine a sane person believing the ridiculous tale Hubbard concocted, which posits that an alien ruler beset by evil psychiatrists, kidnapped and froze a large portion of his populace, transported them to Earth, bombed them and brainwashed the surviving “souls,” who attached themselves like leeches to bodies that had survived the bombing. Nowadays, people like Travolta (and his wife, Kelly Preston) and Cruise have purportedly educated themselves through costly Scientology courses, learning how to get rid of those leeches and attain higher levels of understanding—measured by something called an E-meter. And whenever some nasty sub-human comes forward with a story that Cruise or Travolta is gay, or has been involved in some sort of sexual tryst with another man (interestingly, neither star seems to have been accused of “traditional” affairs), the Scientology machine sets into motion a practice of attacking the attackers, which usually results in the accuser disappearing from the public eye, and/or changing his story. But as the Catholic church abuse scandals have demonstrated, where there’s smoke, there is fire. Certain gossip sites have become quite accurate at predicting events in the Travolta/Cruise worlds and even Scientology can’t stop the rumors. The latest rumblings are that Cruise’s about-to-be-ex-wife, Katie Holmes is not afraid to expose Tom’s alleged romp with unsuccessful recruit, David Beckham, along with the nasty bits of Scientology to which she’s been exposed. Presumably, that will never happen, because unlike a certain famous wizard, Cruise, Scientology and Travolta will never allow the curtain to be drawn back. They will protect their stories, and like mentor/creator L. Ron Hubbard, continue their charlatanism until the day they die. In the end, Scientology and its celebrities seem to have evolved into an exclusive and mutual self-preservation society, each existing only to the other’s benefit. But just as with rumblings of the Catholic church coverups extending back to the 50s and 60s, secrets always manage find their way out…no matter how much money, power and intergalactic knowledge one has gained.

This is only the opinion of Cindy Davis. Please don’t send the white SUV after Dustin.

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