Diana author Andrew Morton has done it again. An expert at catching the headlines to promote his books, his latest claims that Tom Cruise is the de-facto second in command of Scientology.
Whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but it is an interesting claim. I have, for years, had an interest in cults for research purposes, and Scientology is quite different to the majority of other ‘alternative religions’.
Initially, it was a form of psychotherapy.
But L Ron Hubbard advanced this approach into a spiritual philosophy with a specific science fictional interpretation. And I immediately realized that this perfectly echoed ideals of the times.
This is what makes a religion so successful – the ability to connect with the contemporary culture. And Scientology did it with style. But for this to continue, it had to also connect with a wider ‘mythology’.
As an American-based religion, that had to be Hollywood.
A mythology is a series of contemporary stories, and Hollywood satisfies this interpretation perfectly. And in echoing this mythology, it was inevitable it would recruit the stars.
So successful has Scientology been in this endeavour that we can no longer call it a ‘cult’. Neither, I think, can we call it an ‘alternative religion’. Love it or loathe it, Scientology is on the verge of being a new, ultra modern ‘world’ religion.
© Anthony North, January 2008
See my Cult Watch for more on cults