Since the 70s, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding Scientology. It is a bizarre religion: unabashed about its celebration of wealth and glamor, shamelessly determined to draw celebrities into its ranks, and based around a mythology that bears an uncanny resemblance to bad sci-fi. Among the celebs associated with the religion are John Travolta, Kristie Alley, Jason Lee, the Beckhams, Sarah Palin, and Will Smith. And of course, who could forget Tom Cruise, who has become a sort of figurehead and chief publicist for the religion.
Scientology––as is attested by their putative growth of 4.4 million members annually––has an undeniable appeal. It was originally conceived by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer and self-help guru, in 1952 New Jersey. The etymology of the name scientology reveals that the religion (the only major religion to emerge from the 20th century) is dedicated to the aim of ‘knowing how to know.’ One of the core beliefs of this meta-knowing spiritual movement is that an alien tyrant named Lord Xenu captured, froze, and brought billions of intergalactic beings to Earth 75 million years ago in spaceships resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners. Then Xenu stacked them around volcanoes and detonated hydrogen bombs inside the volcanoes, which eventually provoked the alien souls to inhabit human bodies.
Of course, these scriptural truths (made public during a trial against Scientology) are only revealed to adherents who reach the highest ‘Levels’ in the exclusive religion, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and only be achieved after revealing intimate personal secrets that are carefully recorded and kept on file in the church headquarters. The highest levels of the doctrine are only revealed at sea, aboard the church’s luxury cruise ship.
Tom Cruise’s girlfriend auditions
Vanity Fair recently featured an article revealing the latest Scientology scandal. Their article claims that the highest-ranking officials within the church held secret auditions for Tom Cruise’s next girlfriend after his divorce from Nicole Kidman. They wanted to ensure their leading man would wind up with a woman who was friendly to the church. So they told their young attractive female members that they needed to film a new recruitment video, and held auditions for the part, which entailed asking questions like ‘What do you think of Tom Cruise?” They eventually settled on Nazanin Boniadi, who they matched with Cruise; and the two dated for several months. But when things started to sour, they sent her away to a special church retreat where she was reportedly forced to scrub toilets with a toothbrush.
In its colorful history, Scientology has also been responsible for acts such as suing public libraries, organizing demonstrations against psychiatry, and can count Charles Manson among its former adherents (although he eventually renounced the church, deciding it was way too crazy).
Here to stay
But it would be unfair not to also point out that there tens of thousands of people who have nothing but good things to say about Scientology, and even Jerry Seinfeld has publicly stated that the courses he took with the church benefited him and were a positive experience. So regardless of what your opinions about this controversial religion are, there is no doubt that it will continue to make headlines and provoke derision and praise alike. Just like the celebrities it so eagerly brings into its folds, Scientology seems to be organized around the assumption that ‘any press is good press,’ as the Hollywood saying goes.
Author: Alfie Davenport works for Ladbrokes.com and has a keen interest in all the weird and interesting aspects of celebrity culture.
Editor’s note: BizarreBytes.com does not endorse Scientology and in fact, finds it quite absurd.