5 Messed Up Things About Scientology

South Park Tom Cruise 5 Messed Up Things About Scientology

Scientology has become a bit of a punching bag over the last decade, thanks largely to lampooners like the South Park guys and numerous damning accounts of defectors from the church, including Academy Award-winning writer-director Paul Haggis. It has become one of those eccentric communities people assume Hollywood is full of, with some high-profile celebrity involvement and the assumption that most movie stars have at least dabbled in the self-help religion Scientology promotes itself as. It’s understandable that in a world plagued by epistemic closure like Hollywood is, it’s as if there’s a bubble around Los Angeles that surprisingly few celebrities venture outside of, something that seems bizarre to the rest of us would seem normal and enticing. Even hearing stars in interviews talk about Scientology, a sizeable number will treat it as if it was something they considered but ultimately had no use for, rather than speaking of it as a harmful cult.

That’s not to say that either of those two positions is conclusively correct. One of the most famous features of Scientology is how secretive its church organization tries to keep its inner workings. Then again, we live in an age where information is more difficult to keep under wraps than ever before, and so far more gets leaked about the Church of Scientology than its administrators would like to have widely known. It’s hard to know what to believe, but the volume and consistency of certain charges against the organization are becoming more and more difficult to simply dismiss. I’m sure it has plenty of great things going for it and really positive outcomes for many of its adherents, but there are some things about Scientology that have risen to the surface that seem creepy at best and deeply troubling at worst.

Here are 5 things you may not have previously known about how the Church of Scientology allegedly operates.

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1) Tom Cruise is literally one of its highest ranking members

Tom Cruise Scientology 5 Messed Up Things About Scientology

Yeah, Tom Cruise. It would seem to the casual observer that Cruise is just a movie star who is merely more open than probably any other celebrity about belonging to the Church of Scientology. We see him jumping on couches and flaunting presumed sham relationships and even being featured in secret promotional videos, and the assumption is that he’s just an ardent devotee, more fervent as a follower of the religion than most.

But in fact, he’s much more than that. First of all, that promotional video that was circulated starting back in 2008 was more than just a promotional video. You know those videos they show of people before they give them a lifetime achievement trophy at big awards shows? Or the clips they showed of Hansel before he won model of the year in Zoolander? This was one of those, with the Church of Scientology bestowing upon Cruise their first ever Freedom Medal of Valor which I assume is an award for outstanding achievement in the field of excellence. He’s also said to literally be the third most important figure in the entire religion, behind founder L. Ron Hubbard and current leader David Miscavige. Then again, Ronald Reagan went from movies to being the President of the United States so perhaps an actor becoming the figurehead of a church isn’t that much of a stretch. It certainly brings new meaning to “star worship.”

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2) Its recruitment of celebrities is not new

%name 5 Messed Up Things About Scientology

It may seem like the Church only relatively recently gained a significant presence among many in the Hollywood elite, not only Tom Cruise but also the likes of John Travolta, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Lee, and others who seem like their best days were in the 90s. With the exception of Moss, who is seeing her career at its highest point yet it would seem, the majority of the stars with public knowledge of their membership in the church came up in the 80s and flowered in the 90s.

That seems to be when the religion started to take hold in the industry, but efforts to nab a major celebrity in hopes of using their influence to expand the church dates back as early as the 1950s, with L. Ron Hubbard himself creating an effort titled “Project Celebrity,” where the goal was to woo the likes of Marlon Brando, Greta Garbo, Groucho Marx, even folks like Walt Disney and Ernest Hemingway reportedly listed among those targeted by the Church. It’s unclear why this mission did not come to fruition until decades later, but it has now become one of the religion’s defining features, even if its membership lists are starting to seem rather dated. One has to wonder what current recruitment efforts must be like if the Church has any interest in updating its demographics in the future.

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3) It’s super litigious, like seriously lawyered up

Tom Cruise The Firm 5 Messed Up Things About Scientology

Some of the claims of Scientology make sense. They want to be recognized as a religion, which is their right so long as they can demonstrate that they function according to the legal classifications of an organized religion. The matter of whether they are a “cult” or not seems too subjective for the law to decide; what seems to be of greater importance is whether they function as a church or as a private club that is driven by profit motivation rather than churches which are considered not-for-profit institutions. I’m sure there’s a lot of legal stuff I don’t understand, but this aspect seems somewhat legit.

What is weirder is the history the church has of launching lawsuits against psychiatric organizations that are perceived as being in competition with Scientology. Tom Cruise famously spoke out against psychiatric medications and methods during his dark days before Les Grossman rejuvenated his public image in Tropic Thunder, and the church has gone on the record condemning all perceived opponents and in many recorded instances filing frivolous lawsuits in hopes of silencing such critics. Their list of court cases relating to freedom of religion, defamation, and copyright issues is extensive, with the number of lawsuits they have filed against others seeming to be nearly on par with the number of suits filed against them. It’s understandable, then, why they would require extensive legal defense, and why they might want to go on the legal offensive when they feel most threatened. Anyone else steeped in such constant controversy with the resources the Church has would surely do the same.

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4) There are weird allegations of a disturbing amount of violence among the leadership

Tom Cruise2 5 Messed Up Things About Scientology

If accounts are true, and there are so many varied stories from defectors chronicling a seriously messed up culture of violence all the way up the church’s hierarchy, this is one of the most disturbing details of an organization still largely shrouded in mystery. There have been numerous reports featured on CNN and other media outlets reporting on the troubling allegations that leaders in the Church of Scientology use physical violence as a form of punishment. These allegations extend all the way to David Miscavige himself, whom most point to as the source of this strange culture of seemingly random violence towards subordinates.

It’s one area where for all the open-mindedness one can show towards the Church’s methods for self-improvement and general teachings, keeping members in line with the organization’s authoritative structure through the use of physical enforcement is just wrong. If it were operating the same way as a really intense, lifelong self-help course, liberating people from their neuroses as well as their cash, it would be one thing, but efforts to control and intimidate through threats against a person’s body crosses the line between ordinary financial villainy and gruesome sociopathic supervillainy. Ethan Hunt would have no part of such a corrupt institution.

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5) It seems to operate more like a for-profit business than a non-profit church

Jerry Maguire1 5 Messed Up Things About Scientology

Religious scholars are somewhat divided over how to classify the Church of Scientology. It seems to wish to be classified as among the number of emerging religious movements that have sprung up in the United States since the 1960s and beyond, movements that often get slapped with the label of “cult” which can be problematic as it makes no distinction between a movement that legitimately brainwashes its members into doing physical harm to themselves and others and one that is bizarre and seemingly crazy but does no significant harm to its members or anyone else. A key area in which to determine whether an organization ought to be classified as a church is whether it operates as a non-profit entity or more like a for-profit business. Many make the case that Scientology functions in the latter fashion, given its extraordinary membership fees and expensive treatments and programming. Advancing in the religion is reported as being incredibly costly.

With such reports freely available to the public about a Church that functions largely in secret, it’s easy to see why people would be skeptical, even fearful about such an organization. Its role in Hollywood politics is even more curious. Tom Cruise has claimed his adherence to the religion is responsible for his career success, and has attributed career downturns of others to a kind of spiritual corruption due to factors such as psychiatric treatment. It’s hard to tell for certain whether the creepy sensation most of us get when considering Scientology comes from just a prejudicial disposition based on false perceptions of a world we know little about, or whether the rumors and reporting point to seriously troubling features of an organization that wants to be both publicly accepted but privately hidden. What I’m most curious about is what the future holds for the Church, whether its celebrity involvement can persist or whether it will fade away when a new generation of skeptical stars find a new trending path towards fulfillment.

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  • http://www.scientologymyths.info/ Louanne

    Sigh. Tom Cruise has no rank whats-o-ever in the Church of Scientology and never had one. Writing crap about Scientology won’t help you with declining readership.

    • DuckBenway

      You’re the best example of a decline around here, Dear Louanne, leading the devolution crusade for your stinking cult.

      If you gotta have a cult, FFS please make sure the cult leader isn’t a height challenged, rat brained moron with an IQ the square root of its shoe size.

      Thank you!

      The cult of scientology is doomed. Expect it!

      • http://www.scientologymyths.info/ Louanne

        Yawn. Sorry, you must live in a bubble or something.

        • media_lush

          Hey Louanne, your freeloader debt must be in the hundreds of thousands – you do realise you don’t actually owe it at all and that if you decide to blow you could make a fortune in the wog world, especially if you manage to track down that rumoured Miscavige/Cruise intimate tape.

  • Real Balls

    A little bit of minor research could have done good to this article. Here is what I mean:

    Tom Cruise is a Scientology parishioner and has never held any official or unofficial position in the Church hierarchy. No planning strategy or policy of the Church is or has ever been cleared through Mr. Cruise. No planning strategy or policy of Mr. Cruise’s movie career is or has ever been cleared through the Church.

    The Church has many well-known parishioners who are known to be
    Scientologists. None of them holds any position within the Church itself.

    And here is another fact:

    “Project Celebrity” was not authored or authorized by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. “Project Celebrity” is not now, nor has it ever been, a Church policy. “Project Celebrity” was an idea written up in an issue of Ability magazine, in March 1955. The issue was bylined to William Burke Belknap Jr., an early Dianeticist who had been president of the Freudian Foundation.

    There is no “L. Ron Hubbard” byline anywhere in the Ability issue that contains “Project Celebrity” and Hubbard is referred to in the third person throughout the issue.

    On Paul Haggis: http://whoispaulhaggis.com

    and so on.

    Oh, and on Scientology being a religion: http://bonafidescientology.org – written by those who should know.

    • noseinabk

      The above link for Paul Haggis is a perfect example of the cults fair game policy. Haggis blew (walked away) from the cult and publicly spoke out. What church does this to its former members?

      • http://www.scientologymyths.info/ Louanne

        If I remember right he was not a Scientologist anymore since something like 1987. Nobody missed him, that’s for sure. He tried to use Scientology for his publicity comeback, and failed with that as well.

    • http://www.scientologymyths.info/ Louanne

      @Real Balls Thanks for posting this. I had been looking for the author’s name a while ago. President of the Freudian Foundation of America, Inc., how ironic.

  • Guest

    RealBalls and Louanne are both Scientology Office of Special Affairs internet patrollers posting from a Scientology office building, it’s probably one person, note the timestamps.

  • media_lush

    The person who wrote this looks as though the only research they did was read old issues of People Magazine from dentists offices.

    Scientology is toxic and destroys families…. sheesh, do some proper research numb nuts.

  • Cult Victim

    There is a well known saying: Scientology is worse than you think.

    The Scientology corporation has been criminally convicted in Canada for breach of public trust because they infiltrated the police in order to subvert investigations into them. After this conviction they then lost the largest libel suit in Canadian history because after being criminally convicted, they made public and false accusations on the courthouse steps against the prosecutor in the criminal case.

    In 1991 TIME magazine published an excellent expose on its front page titled “The Cult of Greed and Power”. Other exposes have and won Pulitzer Prizes.

    The cult runs prison labor camps called the “Rehabilitation Project Force”, locking up members for years.

    The cult breaks up countless families with its so-called :disconnection” policy. This is part of the cult control-tactic to separate victims from loved ones who try to help them escape.

    The cult harasses ex-members and critics with its “fair game” policy whose explicit goal is to “destroy utterly” anyone who opposes them.

    All this abuse and more is exhaustively documented in books such as the one written by Jenna Miscavige, David Miscavige’s own niece, or the one by Lawrence Wright.

    • http://www.scientologymyths.info/ Louanne

      Cut and paste propaganda. Old, inaccurate and as false as it was 20 years ago.

      • L Ron Hubbard

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehabilitation_Project_ForceThe Rehabilitation Project Force, or RPF, is a controversial program set up by the Church of Scientology Sea Organization,
        intended to rehabilitate members of the Sea Organization (not everyday
        parishioners) who have not lived up to the Church expectations or have
        violated certain policies. As part of this program, and in addition to
        the application of Scientology procedures, members do manual labor tasks
        around Sea Org bases. There have been some reports of overwork and
        mistreatment at RPF facilities,[1] and the program can take years to complete.[2][3][4]

    • http://www.scientologymyths.info/ Louanne

      Talking about Lawrence Wright: http://lawrencewrightgoingclear.com

      Interesting reading.

      • Scientology is a cult

        Quoted from http://realitybasedcommunity.net/archive/2013/06/is-scientology-a-religion.php

        The inurement question gets even more lurid when considering how Miscavige’s best friend, Tom Cruise, also has personally benefited from labor performed by Scientology staff members. For example, Cruise’s elaborate wedding to Nicole Kidman was staffed by Scientology members at no cost to Cruise. Miscavige’s wedding gift to the couple was to arrange for a team of twenty Sea Org disciples to dig, hoe, and plant
        wheat grass and wildflower seed near the Cruises’ bungalow (on Scientology grounds) after Miscavige had learned of the couple’s fantasy of running through a meadow of wildflowers together. Miscavige threw a birthday party for Cruise aboard its cruise ship The Freewinds, estimated to cost $300,000. And Miscavige bestowed countless gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on Cruise, often necessitating cheap, uncompensated Sea Org/staff labor. Cruise, through his lawyers, has issued a blanket denial but such denials are outweighed by numerous corroborated accounts. See generally Andrew Morton, Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography (St. Martin’s Press, 2008).

  • Nice person.

    I’m glad you seem to notice it’s the church/corporation that’s gone nutso and that the subject itself may be of use. I have had great gains with the subject. I have been knocked about by the church/corporation management seemingly trying to prevent me getting the gains possible. Read the books. Stay away from the church.

  • S_StClaire

    Again? Wow. There is some strange sort of desperation around the celeb mag industry.

    • Guest

      Ironic, considering you OSA keep trying to flood googlenews with Scientology spam, like desperate people.