Let me start off by saying that there are many Tom Cruise movies that I have enjoyed quite a bit in my lifetime. I think the man is a very talented actor (except when he’s not), and he’s not hard to look at (if he’s your type). So, when Dear Husband asked me if I wanted to see Cruise’s latest film, Top Gun: Maverick, which I’ve heard a lot of good things about, and which is also doing obscenely well at the box office, I inwardly cringed.
Because I can’t. I just can’t do it. Yes, the movie would probably be freakin’ fantastic. Yes, my little boycott isn’t going to make the least bit of difference to Tom Cruise. It’s just that morally, with what I know about what this man represents, I can’t give him a penny, let alone a portion of a ticket sale. I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror afterward. So I sent DH off to the movie with his best friends. Here’s why.
I’m not one who is particularly obsessed with celebrity, but I’ve written about Tom Cruise before. I have focused on him quite a bit, but not because he is who (or what) he is. It’s because he does what he does, and I’m forever attempting to understand it.
Tom Cruise is the poster child for Scientology. And Scientology is one of the longest running, most destructive cults in the world. (The only two American cults that have lasted longer are the Ku Klux Klan and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.)
I have to admit that I’m obsessed with cults. No, I don’t want to be in a cult. In fact, when I was in my 20’s, a friend of mine got sucked into a now defunct cult called Lifespring, and tried to pull me in as well. It was a very scary time, and it took me a while before I could trust strangers again, for fear they were recruiters. I wrote about this experience here. If you want to know one of my biggest regrets, if you want to know how it was possible for me to ruin someone’s life even though I had the very best of intentions, then check out that post. My friend disappeared off the face of the earth after I did that. I have been unable to find her to this day, and 35 years have passed. She has left no internet footprint whatsoever. I fear the worst.
I read and watch everything I possibly can about cults now, in an effort to understand how people get trapped within them. I want to know how cults work, and I have noticed that they all use a similar playbook. (Even Trump uses it, which makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up.) I also want to know what it takes for someone to leave a cult, and how/if they’re able to rebuild their lives in the aftermath.
I find anything that causes one to alter one’s thinking to be quite fascinating. Since 2016, it has become increasingly clear to me that a lot more Americans are susceptible to these alterations than I had previously thought. And maybe learning all I can about cults is a form of atonement as well, for the debacle with my friend. It’s complicated.
Speaking of having the very best of intentions, let’s circle back to Tom Cruise. My working theory used to be that that he hasn’t intentionally become such a detrimental force in the world. I genuinely believe that he himself is buying what he’s selling when it comes to Scientology. He has become so isolated from the real world, so sheltered and coddled by Scientology and its many lies that it’s easy to think that he has no idea what an evil organization he is propping up. He was a celebrity before he became involved in Scientology, so he has never seen its dark side like its non-celebrity members do (until he did.)
The truth is (and you can find this anywhere on the web if you take just a moment to look), Scientology’s only purpose is to separate you from your money. And they will do anything and everything to reach that goal. As in, they will take every penny you have ever had, and help you to defraud credit card companies to get more money from them, leaving you under a mountain of debt, and even then, they’ll continue to pressure you for money.
You may love your family very much, but if you join this cult and they do not, it’s very likely that you’ll never get to see or talk to them again. Anyone not in Scientology, and anyone who speaks out against them, is considered a Supressive Person, and they must be shunned, although the actual term for shunning in Scientology is “disconnection.” In fact, if you were born into this cult, or managed to talk your family into joining with you, then you will all be taught to spy on one another, and report any deviations from what Scientology deems acceptable.
One thing that Scientologists find to be unacceptable is anyone questioning Scientology. So if your twin sister starts asking questions, you will be expected to report her, and you will then be expected to shun her. She will be put out on the street with no money, no work references, and if she was young enough when she joined, no education to speak of. She will be all alone, and thrown away like garbage.
And heaven forbid you join the Sea Org, which is purported to be comprised of followers so dedicated to Scientology that they sign a billion year contract to become
employees slaves. They are then given room and board, and something along the lines of $75 dollars a week as an allowance. And the living conditions have been reported to be as horrible as a prison cell in a third world country. The food you get will be disgusting, unhealthy, and in quantities that keep you on the verge of starvation.
In exchange for these “perks,” you will work about 20 hours a day, seven days a week, and will be beaten and/or punished if you don’t follow the multi-volume, very detailed rules of Scientology. And one of those rules is that you have to obey every whim of those who have a higher rank than you do, which will be pretty much everybody. If someone asks you to scrub a septic tank with a toothbrush, then that is what you will be expected to do, without question.
Women, if you are pretty, you may be told by the higher ups that you have to be someone’s girlfriend, with all that that implies, and you will have no other choice. If you become pregnant while in the Sea Org, you will be forced to have an abortion. If you already have children when you join, you will leave them with total strangers in the organization, and might get to see them for an hour every few months, if you’ve behaved.
If you become problematic in any way, if you have violated any expectations, you will be sent to what is called the Rehabilitation Project Force, which is reported to be no better than a prison camp. You will do hard labor in the hot sun while wearing solid black boiler suits. You will attend a re-indoctrination program. You will be locked up, often in hot trailers, and deprived of food and water for long periods. You and your cellmates will be encouraged to beat each other up. You will be “audited,” which is another word for interrogated, 5 hours a day. You will not be allowed to see or talk to even those family members who are fellow Scientologists.
You will want to leave, but you won’t be able to. You’re locked up when you’re not working. The windows have bars on them. When you’re outside, you’re surrounded by a razor wire fence that points inward as well as outward. If you are even allowed to make a phone call, someone will be listening in. There will be guards everywhere. Most of these
facilities prison camps are located in the middle of nowhere, so running is quite a challenge.
It’s safe to say that Cruise was never subjected to that side of Scientology, but by promoting it, he causes others to enjoy those many pleasures. If you’re famous and popular and you promote a movement, for example, Naziism, it doesn’t matter at all if you’ve never seen a concentration camp, never fired a gun, or never invaded another country. You’re still a Nazi.
What caused him to get sucked in? He claims he has been a Scientologist since 1986, and his first wife, Mimi Rogers, encouraged him to join, saying that it would help with his rampant promiscuity. (She denies this, by the way.) But given the matching set of blondes I saw on his arms when he walked right past me in Las Vegas while he was filming Rain Man the same year he married her, I’m guessing he hadn’t been cured yet. Not by a long shot.
But he is the perfect target for a cult. He practically had “Welcome” tattooed on his forehead. Obviously, I don’t know the man personally, but from what I’m reading, he came from a broken home and his father was physically abusive. He attended 15 schools in 14 years. He planned to be a priest but got kicked out of seminary for drinking. He had dyslexia. And he’s 5’7”, which is never fun for a guy. I suspect that all this made for a major cocktail of insecurity and a desperate need for love. Cults feed off of people like that.
He was already famous before Scientology. Risky Business and All the Right Moves had made him a household name. And Scientology loves its celebrities. They give them the royal treatment and they love-bomb them for the rest of their lives, because these people are their best advertisements for new recruits. So you might say that Scientology does work for them, although it sucks as much money as possible from them in the process.
Despite his previous fame, Cruise believes that he’s gotten where he is because of Scientology. He even says that Scientology “cured” his dyslexia. Poor man.
In 1990, the current leader of Scientology, David Miscavige, was laser focused on Cruise. He didn’t like the fact that Cruise was married to Mimi Rogers, because Rogers was not keen on Miscavige. So Miscavige decided the couple needed to be broken up. According to this article, Miscavige moved heaven and earth to throw Nicole Kidman into the mix. Sure enough, Cruise and Kidman had an affair, and he divorced Rogers and married Kidman in the same year, 1990.
Miscavige’s plan worked a little too well, though. He thought Kidman would be a homewrecker, but he wasn’t planning on her turning into a wife. Her father was a Supressive Person, having already left Scientology himself. So this union made him nervous, as well it should have. In 1993, Kidman had finally convinced Cruise to leave Scientology. I’m sure the fact that once you reach one of the higher levels of the cult, you are told about Xenu was a big help, too. It’s quite a story.
According to Wikipedia, “Xenu, also called Xemu, was the dictator of the ‘Galactic Confederacy’ who brought billions of his people to Earth (then known as ‘Teegeeack’) in DC-8-like spacecraft 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology scriptures hold that the thetans (immortal spirits) of these aliens adhere to humans, causing spiritual harm.”
You can’t make this stuff up. Unless you’re L. Ron Hubbard.
Anyway, Tom and Nicole backed way, way, way off the cult from 1993 to 2000, but the leader of Scientology wasn’t about to let go of his cash cow without a fight. By 2000, Cruise was sucked back in, but Kidman wasn’t. They divorced in 2001. Their two children, now adults, are still Scientologists, and therefore most likely have no contact with Kidman. This is the point when I really, really lost respect for Cruise.
By now there’s no possible way Cruise hadn’t heard some of the Scientology horror stories. He wouldn’t have been actively discouraged from looking at the internet during his 8 year “vacation” from the cult. Clearly, conversations must have taken place about it to get him to stay away that long. And yet he continues to promote this harmful belief system.
He also must know how different he is than the young man just starting out in Hollywood, before Scientology got its hooks into him. Check out this interview with Rona Barrett from 1984, when he was 22 years old. In it, he appears humble, family-oriented, intelligent, and quite articulate.
Now, contrast that with his interview with Peter Overton in 2005. That’s the Tom Cruise we know today. Arrogant. Full of himself. Defensive. Utterly sheltered/isolated by an entourage. Completely deluded (again) into thinking that everyone admires Scientology. Positive that he has all the answers and that we do not. Very adept at responding to questions without saying anything of substance.
And then, if you really want to see him out on the lunatic fringe, check out this video, which Scientology is desperate to quash. In it, he’s incoherently sure that the empty words he is spewing are real. He talks about helping the world. He talks about stopping to help when you see a car accident (but if someone that famous does such a thing, it hits the news. I looked. Nothing.) He talks about knowing, but doesn’t explain what he knows. (And I found that particularly sad, given that he seems to be oblivious to the world’s negative perception of his “religion.”) He talks about doing something, and getting it done, but doesn’t tell you what “something” or “it” is. I think he actually believes he can do all the things he does in his action films.
What I find most appalling about Cruise, what makes me not want to financially support him in any way, shape, or form, is that, by allowing himself to be coddled by Scientology, he participates in human trafficking. Check out this article and this one for more details, but suffice it to say that Scientology has used Sea Org members, those starving, 20 hour a day workers with the $75 dollar a week allowances that I mentioned above, to remodel motorcycles, sportscars, and even an airport hangar for Cruise. When Cruise was wooing Kidman, a group of Scientologists were made to till a field from midnight to dawn and plant it with wildflowers. And when it didn’t pass muster, they had to pull all that up and replace it with grass. One Scientologist was made to be his personal chef. And you don’t seriously think he does his own housework, do you? And you don’t seriously think Scientology would allow him to surround himself with a household staff that wasn’t comprised of Scientologists, do you? And if any of those people screw up in the slightest way, you don’t think David Miscavige doesn’t punish them physically and psychologically, do you?
Slavery is what that is. Pure and simple. I refuse to knowingly support slavery.
If you want to learn the truth about Scientology, straight from the mouths of people who have escaped it and are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after this cult reduced them to rubble, I highly recommend the series called Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. Even if you think Remini is biased, she interviews 3 seasons worth of devastated people, and it would be impossible to maintain a conspiracy that large. Impossible. Just as with the January 6th hearings, how many people have to step forward before you realize they are telling the truth?
With so many witnesses to the destructive power of Scientology, why is this organization allowed to maintain a tax exempt status, forcing taxpayers to support its antics while David Miscavige and Tom Cruise live luxurious lifestyles by standing on the necks of slavishly devoted cult members?
Because, when the IRS was investigating them, Scientology used its money and its mindless minions to bog the IRS down in 2000 frivolous lawsuits, and targeted individual IRS agents and made their lives a living hell. For years.
Scientology is not a religion. Legitimate religions don’t force you to give up your life savings and ruin you financially for their own gain. Religions don’t destroy families if they philosophically disagree. They don’t isolate you and tell you every single thing you should do and think. True religions don’t exist only to benefit the few at the top. Religions can tolerate questions, and don’t savagely attack those who ask them. Religions don’t jail, interrogate and torture their members. The wives of the leaders of a religion don’t mysteriously disappear for 15 years, like Shelly Miscavige has, probably because she knows too much.
But don’t underestimate Scientology’s power. Many people have taken the free personality tests that they offer, “just for fun,” and 500,000 dollars and many years later, they look up to see that it was all a harmful, life-ruining illusion. Tell everyone who will listen to avoid Scientology like the plague.
Also avoid Tom Cruise, Scientology’s main attraction. He is a slow-motion train wreck that I can’t seem to stop watching. In this internet age, when everyone can find out everything they want to know, social media is causing cults to circle the drain, for the most part. When Scientology finally dies out, and it will, I wonder what will happen to Tom Cruise, a man who has wasted his entire life in its promotion and pursuit.
When faced with all the lives he has ruined by being so visibly complicit, how will he handle that? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, please join me in resisting the temptation to watch Tom Cruise movies.
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