THE END OF SCIENTOLOGY?
THROWS THE CHURCH INTO CHAOS
It’s the controversial religion which relies on A-list celebrities such as Tom Cruise to help navigate a tidal wave of bad publicity. But with coronavirus sweeping across the globe, Scientology appears to be caught in a ‘perfect storm’ which whistleblowers believe could bring it to its knees.
Scientology’s chairman of the board David Miscavige branded the COVID-19 crisis as “hysteria” while vowing business would go on as usual, according to the Daily Beast. But from its bizarre beliefs about illness and medicine to dwindling revenues, the pandemic appears to pose a real danger to the church founded by L. Ron Hubbard.
HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITY CENTRE
Founded in the heart of Tinseltown in 1969, the Celebrity Centre is where church aristocrats such as Tom, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley are given courses in
Scientology and take part in ‘auditing’ sessions to clear any negativity from their lives.
Coronavirus poses a different threat there than at Flag Base or the nearby Big Blue building, which is believed to house 1500 Sea Org (Scientology) members.
Former Celebrity Centre commanding officer Karen Pressley told New Idea: “It’s not a place where celebrities live, they just come and go.
“Auditing is done in private rooms in close contact with an auditor. The classrooms are not set up to observe social distancing. There are eight or 10 chairs to a table and people sit right smack next to each other and there is no space.
“I don’t think the leadership would make changes to that because if they did they would be following the guidelines of the government.
“Scientology is very much against government rules and regulations.
“They will defy the government in every way that they can just to maintain their distinction as an organisation that is not subject to government rules.”
Karen de la Carriere – who led the Celebrity Centre from 1982 to 1989 – explained how celebrities are so important to the church. She says: “They are mouthpieces for Scientology and the church has always relied on them to carry the party line.”
TOM CRUISE, ISABELLA AND CONNOR
Tom is viewed as the public face of Scientology above any other church member.
After joining in 1990 through his first wife Mimi Rogers, the superstar became best friends with David Miscavige.
Speculation that he could be in line to succeed the chairman of the board has been rejected by Scientology watchers, who believe Tom is merely a “brainwashed mouthpiece”.
After all, the 57-year-old is not a member of the Sea Org and does not take part in managing the cult – although he has been accused of administering punishment on a high-ranking member.
Karen Pressley said: “Tom Cruise is a personal friend of David Miscavige so there is an allegiance there and a loyalty that will never be broken. I think he is brainwashed, lock, stock and barrel and will probably never leave.”
Tom brought up the children he adopted alongside Nicole Kidman – Connor and Isabella – as Scientologists.
The pair were “heavily indoctrinated” in the Scientology system and Nicole, who left the church after divorcing Tom, has even suggested that this is why she has comparatively little to do with them.
Isabella – who lives with IT consultant husband Max Parker in the London suburb of Croydon – did not invite her mother to her wedding in September 2015.
It was widely reported this was because Isabella, 27, and her father’s religion see Nicole as a “suppressive person” – in
other words, an enemy of Scientology.
Meanwhile, Connor, 25, lives at the church’s mecca of Clearwater, where he recently moved into Scientology’s religious retreat The Sandcastle.
Experts have downplayed claims Connor or Isabella could be future cult leaders, even though she has been involved as a recruiter in London.
Karen de la Carriere says: “These kids were born with a silver spoon in their mouths. But to have a prominent role in the church you have to have unbelievable commitment.”
Among the big-name Scientology celebrities, Kirstie is the only one who has been outspoken over the current coronavirus outbreak.
The actress has taken to Twitter to suggest people should “collectively” postulate “this virus to disappear”.
She also spread a conspiracy theory about how the virus has been developed to scare the public and praised US President Donald Trump’s leadership during the crisis.
Addressing the president, she wrote: “You’re taking charge and leading in a manner needed and wanted for this country.”
The 69-year-old is deeply involved with the religion, having reached Operating Thetan VIII and living in a mansion close to Flag HQ in Clearwater. Karen Pressley says the former Celebrity Big Brother UK star was playing the role expected of celebrities.
She adds: “There’s a lot of celebrities who I think are under the radar who don’t talk to the media. They don’t want to deal with the repercussions.”
The Hollywood star is believed to be hunkering down with his family at their Florida home – which includes an airstrip if they need to get out quickly during the pandemic.
John, 66, his wife Kelly Preston, 57, and their children Ella Bleu, 19, and Benjamin, 9, use the property near the town of Ocala as their main base but they also have homes in Maine and California.
Scientology experts have noted that the keen pilot has been relatively quiet since the coronavirus crisis began to gather steam a few weeks ago.
But even if he is a little less vocal, John still appears to be quietly devoted to Scientology – and his Florida home is only a two-hour drive from Flag Base, Clearwater.