The recent divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes has once again brought to the forefront the subject of Scientology, an alternative religion with controversial practices. Cruise has been a fervent Scientologist for many years. It is believed he wanted to initiate his six-year-old daughter, Suri, into it. This worried the Catholic-bred Holmes, and she clashed with her husband over the issue.
Scientology was developed by L Ron Hubbard, originally a science fiction and fantasy writer. Scientology descended from an earlier self-help system created by Hubbard called Dianetics. Hubbard was a contentious figure, and, from accounts of contemporaries, desperate to earn big money.
Over the years, Scientology gained ill- repute due to some of its strange, even intimidating, practices. Scientologists are often notoriously intolerant towards any disparagement of the religion. The concept of ‘Disconnection’ advises them to break off links with anyone critical of Scientology, even if they are family members. The Church of Scientology also advocates an ‘Attack the Attacker’ strategy against criticism. The ‘attack’ could include anything from a court case against the ‘attacker’ to stories in the media that damage the attacker’s reputation.
‘Auditing’ is another controversial process, apparently used to restore one’s ‘beingness’ through sessions with the ‘auditor’. The subject picks his most traumatic experience and is made to overcome his mental barriers by visibly inflicting pain on himself.
Over the years, there have even been mysterious deaths of individuals, such as Scientologists Lisa McPherson and Noah Lottick, which were suspected to have been caused by some of the rituals.