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The Tom CruiseKatie Holmes divorce has once again sparked interest amongst the public regarding the Scientology phenomenon.

STORY: The REAL Reason Katie Holmes Is Divorcing Tom Cruise!

Rumors are circulating that Katie Holmes should worried about her safety because of repercussions that may ensue after ditching the tight-knit Scientology community.

STORY: The 411 On Scientology

The Scientology community is regarded to be highly selective and secretive in nature. Furthermore, it has been said that the mysterious church is known for blackmailing members that want to leave.

Steve Hassan, an “exit counselor,” says he’s worked with countless people trying to leave the Church of Scientology. He says:

“The church has a history of blackmailing members into staying within the fold by threatening to divulge intimate details they’ve shared in “auditing sessions.” These are counseling sessions in which one member coaches another to “clear,” or rid him/herself, of any negative forces that interfere with devotion to the church.

Hassan says people he’s worked with have described the church as strong-arming “members to give up their children. Holmes has a right to be concerned about her daughter.”

If Hassan’s testimony is true, what does that say about Scientology? The organization is supposed to be a church, but research makes it sound much more like a vicious cult.

The cult reference seems much more fitting after reading personal accounts from current and former Scientology members. An example of a great piece that is a must-read for those curious about the secrecy and almost surreal persona of Scientology is The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. The Church of Scientology.

The piece was written by Lawrence Wright, and it was published by the New Yorker, February 14, 2011.

The article examines Paul Haggis’ lifelong relationship with the church.

Paul Haggis is the writer of Million Dollar Baby, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2004, and he wrote/directed Crash, which won Best Picture the following year. It is the only time that feat has been accomplished in Academy history.

Haggis resigned his membership to the church after the church put its name on a petition supporting Proposition 8, which affirmed their belief that gay and lesbian couples should not have the right to get married.

Haggis did not agree with the church’s anti-gay sentiment, which had been instilled by creator L. Ron Hubbard. He also felt that the group’s homophobia was contradictory to the beliefs, which the religion was founded upon, including living a highly moral and empathetic life.

Furthermore, Haggis explains what exactly attracted him and other high profile celebrities to the organization, despite common belief that it’s some freaky science-fiction cult.

He discusses how the church’s promises of self-betterment, enhanced abilities, higher IQ, taught discipline, etc. drew him in and actually worked to an extent.

He also explains the strange practices and beliefs of the groups that eventually drove him away. Some of the terms regarding these beliefs and practices, written in Hubbard’s book Dianetics, are:

Thetan- refers to a persons body and spirit. It is the individualized expression of life force. An intrinsically good, omniscient, non-material, core capable of unlimited creativity.

Reactive Mind- Absorbs all pain and trauma, meanwhile;

Analytical Mind- Rational mechanism responsible for human consciousness.

Engrams- Images which are not readily valuable to the human mind. They are supposed to be painful and debilitating, keeping a person away from their true identity.

ARC and KRC Triangles- Triangles which show the relationship between three concepts to form another concept. ARC represents Affinity, Reality, and Communication; and KRC represents Knowledge, Responsibility, and Control.

Auditing- Process of seeking a person’s hidden abilities. It’s believed that through auditing, people can rid themselves of Engrams.

E-Meter- A device used for Auditing, sort of like what Confession is in the Christian Church.

The device measure changes in electrical resistance in the body while the subject holds two metal cans while getting a small electric current passed through their body.

What threw Paul Haggis over the edge were the “O.T. III Materials.” These materials were only intended for “high-level” Scientologists. In fact, when presented with the documents, Haggis thought they were a joke.

These were documents kept away from public knowledge until 1985, when Lawrence Wollersheim sought $25 million from the church for “infliction of emotional injury.” Wollersheim claims to have been held captive by the organization during the learning process of O.T. III.

The documents include this passage:

“A major cause of mankind’s problems began 75 million years ago,” the Times wrote, when the planet Earth, then called Teegeeack, was part of a confederation of ninety planets under the leadership of a despotic ruler named Xenu. “Then, as now, the materials state, the chief problem was overpopulation.” Xenu decided “to take radical measures.”

The documents explained that surplus beings were transported to volcanoes on Earth. “The documents state that H-bombs far more powerful than any in existence today were dropped on these volcanoes, destroying the people but freeing their spirits—called thetans—which attached themselves to one another in clusters.”

Those spirits were “trapped in a compound of frozen alcohol and glycol,” then “implanted” with “the seed of aberrant behavior.” The Times account concluded, “When people die, these clusters attach to other humans and keep perpetuating themselves.”

An outsider to Scientology cannot help but find these beliefs to be insane, or farfetched at the least.

So how in the hell has this organization been able to recruit some of the most powerful Hollywood personalities to endorse, raise money for, and defend such an unorthodox set of beliefs?

In 1973, L. Ron Hubbard, launched “Project Celebrity,” which offered rewards for Scientologists that recruited celebrities. Hubbard said that converting celebrities just approaching or just beyond their prime would ensure the rapid spread of the religion.

Hubbard was largely successful in recruiting celebrities while using political and legal advantages to keep most of his theories secret from the public.

Hubbard’s cleverness to ensure secrecy and recruit celebrities still doesn’t explain celebs’ inherent appeal to the organization.

Hugh B. Urban, professor of religious studies in the Department of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University, studied the celebrity appeal to Scientology and concluded that he thinks the reason celebrities would be interested is because it’s a religion that fits pretty well with a celebrity kind of personality:

It’s very individualistic. It celebrates a person’s individual identity as ultimately divine. It claims to give you ultimate power over your own mind, self, destiny, so I think it fits well with an actor personality.

And the fact that they have wealth increases their interest. These obviously aren’t people who need more wealth, but what they do need, or often want at least, is some kind of spiritual validation for their wealth and lifestyle.

And Scientology is a religion that says it’s OK to be wealthy and to be famous, they look at it as a sign of one’s spiritual development. So it kind of is a spiritual validation for a celebrity-kind of lifestyle.

So according to studies, celebrities are interested because it pertains to their individualistic self-interest, and prospering. Furthermore it validates their elite levels in society.

Paul Haggis mentions in the New Yorker piece that Scientology takes on an overtly elitist persona, supporting Urban’s claims.

Also, practicing Scientology is extremely expensive and time-consuming. In order to rise up in “levels” of Scientology, one must pay to take several courses and truly let their lives revolve around the religion.

The rich and famous celebrity types are some of the few people able to afford being a full member, while having the time to rise to the top of the religion’s social structure.

This may be why A-List celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta have been able to become coveted leaders and endorsers of the religion.

Even with studies providing explanation for Hollywood’s major presence in Scientology, it still seems quite curious as to how in 49 years, a brand new religion has been able to become so wealthy, prominent in the media, and been able to recruit some of the most powerful people on Earth.

After all, it is based upon the writings of a science-fiction author.

Additionally, it seems like there’s still plenty that the public doesn’t know about Scientology. More so, it seems like there’s plenty that’s being hidden from the public.

Why else would there be rumblings that Katie Holmes should fear for her child because she’s decided to leave a “church?”

The fact that these questions are even being asked is a clear indicator that this organization appears to be mysterious, secretive, elitist, frightening, and a movie-like cult that could only form in a place like Hollywood.

That’s exactly what it seems like, a celebrity-cult.

In all honesty, that’s what people seem to want to believe. We would all love to hear about a secret society of the world’s rich and powerful operating in secrecy to brainwash followers and use their recourses to take down all that fight against them.

It’s a movie script within itself.

For now, we’ll all have to wait and see if any new information comes forth during the Cruise-Holmes divorce.

And once again, please read The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. The Church of Scientology, it’s a long piece, but well worth your time if you’re interested in hearing about Scientology from an insider.

-Anthony Armao