New Delhi: In the centre of the public debate on the breakdown of actor Tom Cruise's marriage with Katie Holmes is a powerful organisation that has quietly extended its clout among the rich and the famous of Hollywood.
"Scientology back in news. Very weird cult, but big, big money involved with Tom Cruise either number two or three in (hierarchy)," News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch tweeted, sparking outrage among the substantial numbers of the followers of Scientology.
Murdoch said there was "something creepy, maybe even evil, about these people." The cult is being cited as the reason behind the meltdown of the Cruise-Holmes marriage of five years. According to reports, Holmes was convinced that the 49-year-old actor would send their daughter Suri away to the Scientology organization known as Sea Organization.
Sea Org, as it is known, is where the highest levels of Scientology are taught and kids as young as five can be sent to live there without their parents. The Sea Org has been often compared to a boot camp and several ex-Scientologists (including Oscar winner Paul Haggis) have been outspoken against its military-like conditions.
Holmes herself has first-hand knowledge of the Sea Org. When she and Cruise first hooked up in 2005, Jessica Feshbach, a prominent Scientologist, who had been with the Sea Org since 1994, was transferred and became the actress' assistant.
What is Scientology?
On its website, the description of Scientology says the cult "follows a long tradition of religious practice. Its roots lie in the deepest beliefs and aspirations of all great religions, thus encompassing a religious heritage as old and as varied as Man himself."
"Though it draws on the wisdom of some 50,000 years, Scientology is a new religion, one that has isolated fundamental laws of life and, for the first time, developed a workable technology that can be applied to help people achieve a happier and more spiritual existence in the here and now," the description read.
Scientology constitutes Man's first real application of scientific methodology to spiritual questions. The experts of the cult say Scientology is something one does, not something one believes in.
Who was L Ron Hubbard?
Developed by L Ron Hubbard, Scientology is a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one's true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being, according to the http://www.scientology.org.
"Scientology is not a dogmatic religion in which one is asked to accept anything on faith alone. On the contrary, one discovers for oneself that the principles of Scientology are true by applying its principles and observing or experiencing the results. The ultimate goal of Scientology is true spiritual enlightenment and freedom for all," it said.
Hubbard was an American science fiction writer who developed a self-help system called Dianetics. The Church of Scientology was founded on a set of doctrines and rituals he developed as part of a new religious movement.