With divorce proceedings pending for celebrity couple, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, the Intramuralist has noticed one thing the media is not very skilled at. (If you immediately mumbled “objectivity,” you would be correct — although such shall be saved for another day.) The media — in all of its immediacy and intrusiveness — is not good at reporting on religion. “How do we say this? How do we slant this? What exactly should we say? Do we even know what it is?”
As many star watchers are aware, Cruise (although he once desired to become a Catholic priest) has been involved with the Church of Scientology for over 20 years. Holmes, raised Catholic, converted to Scientology shortly after the couple began dating. One roundtable reporters’ discussion I observed recently was rather amusing, opining on how their church may impact their divorce…
“Scientology? What is it? Is it a cult?”
There was a slight pause, until the discussion leader awkwardly suggested it’s definitively not a cult because the federal government has declared it appropriate by allowing tax-exempt status. Sorry, I’m tempted to jump on a drippingly sarcastic tangent, noting how the government makes a plethora of declarations; I was also unaware that the government trumps God as the discerner of pure religion.
Avoiding the tangent, no less, the media stumbles when reporting on religion. Do they not wish to offend anyone? In addition to the colloquial “TomKat,” known scientologists include John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and Greta Van Susteren. Will Smith has often advocated their cause. And both Sonny Bono and Al Jarreau experimented with an alliance. These are seemingly ethical people.
The question, however, is not whether or not Scientology is ethical; the question is if it’s true. Allow me to share a brief factual explanation in regard to what the Church of Scientology teaches…
Created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in the mid 20th century, scientology is a self-seeking religion, teaching that each of us are “immortal beings” who have forgotten our “true nature.” Scientology is “knowing yourself, life, family, the universe, friends, the spirit, the world, and God.” Sounds fairly wise. Let’s continue with more facts…
Hubbard called himself a “celestial mediator,” claiming to have been an enlightened person who had acquired knowledge that no other person has ever possessed. He then used the acronym MEST to represent the material, energy, space, and time of our universe. He argued that MEST is the product or projection of a vast number of spirit creatures called “thetans” who became bored with a non-material existence and decided to emanate a universe to play in. Over a long period of time, these “thetans” forgot that this reality, this universe, is a product of their own design, and they began to perceive it as being real. According to Hubbard, this “agreed upon” reality is not the product of a self-existing creator God who exists outside of the cosmos as the Judeo-Christian worldview teaches, but is instead an illusion and a barrier to overcome in order to advance as an individual.
And one more fact…
People who have left Scientology (reportedly now Katie Holmes) claim that it teaches a “back-story” to the current human condition, but only those who have attained the highest levels within the organization are given access to the information.
Hubbard’s story goes something like this… 75 million years ago an evil leader called Xenu decided to eliminate the excess population from a galactic confederacy consisting of 26 stars and 76 planets (p.s. where’s Han Solo?). With the help of psychiatrists, he tricked billions of people into submission and exported them to the planet Teegeeack or Earth. The paralyzed victims were stacked around active volcanoes in which hydrogen bombs were placed. According to the story, the bombs were detonated and the disembodied souls or “thetans” were captured and brainwashed into believing in the existence of a God and the devil. Hubbard blamed the evil Xenu for planting the ideas of Catholicism and the image of crucifixion into the minds of the hapless “thetans.” This process also deprived the “thetans” of their own sense of identity, resulting in their clinging to the few physical bodies that remained after the explosions.
Hence, back to the media’s questions: “How do we say this? How do we slant this? What exactly should we say? Do we even know what it is?”
[Note: Information from Wikipedia, Probe, and the Church of Scientology International was combined and quoted in this posting.]