I've been anti-fascinated and an anti-fan of Scientology for a number of years, ever since I began putting together the fact that so many closeted homos seem to gravitate to it and get married and have (adopt) children. The story behind Scientology is too bizarre to be anything but reality, and the beliefs are almost as whacky as Evangelical Christianity.
My personal experience with Scientology is limited to the cheerful boys who attempt to hand me informational cards every single solitary day outside my offices when they're not on a cigarette break, and also a series of phone calls I received from the cult's New York offices.
I had edited a one-shot magazine called Hollywood's Hottest Hunks about 10 years ago, and Tom Cruise was one of the natural selections. In my bio of the man, I referred to Scientology. I was fairly even-handed about it, pointing out Germany's recognition of it as a cult and both sides of the argument. But I guess I was a tad too dismissive, because a small-voiced lady from the center called to ask me about my writing, why I'd taken that tone and if I'd like to print a retraction.
I told her the story spoke for itself, was entirely factual and that a retraction was as likely as a sequel to Far And Away. She persisted, and called me I believe about three times. By the third call, she was asking me to come have lunch at the Celebrity Center and take an informational tour. I had to firmly tell her that if she called me again I'd consider it harassment and that this was "case closed" for me. She stopped.
No Evangelical Christian would have done that; pestered me personally like that on the phone. National boycott? Yes. Phone tag? No.
Surfing, I once stumbled onto this very thorough and apparently accurate listing of all the famous or once-famous folks involved in Scientology. Some are born into it (Giovanni Ribisi), some dabble in it to please datemates (Katharine McPhee), others are lifers who sing its praises as loud and proud as the Kool-Aid man (John Travolta).
I don't think it should be banned and I wouldn't drag a Scientologist through the streets attached to the muffler of my pickup. But there is something very wrong with a group that preaches self-actualization when, in all actuality, one's actual self is the last thing one could expect to discover through its teachings. If anything, it seems like proof that desperate people (it seems to be very popular among lost souls and former addicts, like Kirstie Alley) can convince themselves that just about anything is a positive alternative to despair and self-destruction. Even "worshiping" in a faith made up from scratch by a sci-fi writer not that long ago, paying obscene amounts of money to find enlightenment, being hooked up to a machine to discover personality defects and spending inordinate amounts of time defaming psychologists and helpful drugs.
I'll defer to Xenu.net:
"Celebrities are under a great deal of stress and public pressure, and often have a good deal of money to hand. Scientology may be to them what gangs are to poor inner-city youths: a way to find someone that cares about them."
Yes, Scientology seems tailor-made for emotional crips.
(Tom Cruise images from StopScientology.com.)