By their mere affiliation, celebrities do a lot to promote Scientology. Scientology critics are very inventive to try and explain the cognitive difference created by this fact and the image they wish to project of Scientologists. They leave out, however, the main reason: the spiritual appeal Scientology exert on the seeking soul.
Religion of the Stars
The impact a celebrity can have in promoting a New Religious Movement is tremendous. Remember the sudden wave of interest for Transcendental Meditation across the globe when the Beatles were seen walking with the likes of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; or when the clamors of George Harrison's "Bangladesh" echoed laconic "Hare Krishna" chants, known only to a few until then. The New Age movement, on the other hand, didn't really need the support of Shirley McLain, but she did give it a tremendous boost when her book, 'Out on a Limb', got published.
Likewise, the support of more than a few celebrities to Scientology gives to it an air of respectability. It also does wonder to counter critics' claims that Scientologists are mindless brainwashed zombies.
One even get the impression that Scientology counts more celebrities within its rank than other New Religious Movements. I once met on IRC a young guy whose interest in Scientology came about because, as he said, "Scientology is the religion of the Stars". Well, that was when Michael Jackson's collapse was suspected to be due to the Purification Rundown. At the time Jackson was married to the only child of American rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley. A Scientologist.
Lisa Marie Presley is indeed "one of them". So is Isaac Hayes, Chick Corea, Julia Migenes, Melanie, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Karen Black , Carl W. Roehrig, Jim Warren, Greta van Susteren, and a whole host of others.
More dabbled in Scientology but didn't stay. Leonar Cohen, Gloria Gaynor, Stanley Clarke, Al Jarreau, Brad Pitt, Mimi Rogers... to name only but a very few.
The exact number of celebrities active in Scientology is impossible to say, because many choose to pursue their interest anonymously. Scientology being a controversial religion, to say the least, with a network of critics listing anybody who dares come near a Scientology church and dedicating their life in virulent attacks against the movement, it take some courage to come out of the closet.
You will read dozens of "explanations" on critical web sites as to why celebrities hook up with Scientology. Some of these reasons are rather funny, like saying that donation to Scientology is a handy way to avoid paying taxes, that celebrities need someone to talk to, that artists are known to hang onto "small superstitions", or that their uncertainties about having another cast make them vulnerable (which of course explains it all for people like Tom Cruise who demands a premium of $20 millions per movie).
More typically you will read on these web sites that celebrities get a light version of Scientology, that they get special treatments and none of the "heavy ethics". That they are not aware of what happens "down there" among the common variety Scientologists because they are shielded from it. That Scientology has the "goods" on them celebrities too, just in case they contemplate the thought of leaving. But why would they leave, critics say? Scientology appeals to their ego-centric "me", they get plenty of attention, and being an actor is all about attention, and bla bla bla.
To me these far-fetched explanations are transparent rationalizations to justify why celebrities would choose such a "crap religion". Of course celebrities are treated better, like anywhere else. It still does not explain why they would choose a particular philosophy over another anymore than it alone explains why they would choose to patronize a particular restaurant over another.
More than anything, it leaves out what I consider to be one of the key attraction of Scientology - its spiritual attraction. This is particularly valid for high-level artists whose sensibility are such that it may sometimes be difficult to separate from spiritual highs. It really should not be surprising that people like Richard Gere or Tina Turner embrace Buddhism, the Beatles Transcendental Meditation, Demi Moore or Madona the Kabbalah, that Bob Dylan or Cliff Richard get into Evangelical Christianism, Cat Stevens into Islam, Shirley McLain into New Age... well, you get the idea.
This particularly got home to me when I learned that Jim Warren was a Scientologist. I had no idea till then, and he was one of my all-time favorite artist. He still is. That revelation had about the same impact as when I learned that the guy I admired for skillfully hauling out Charles Manson's "Family" members from his grip was a Scientologist too.
Elements like getting attention, etc, may play a part too, let's be real, but leaving out what is probably the main reason, the genuine spiritual pull, does not make sense. Getting back to the restaurant allegory, I believe that the quality of the food is the main motivation for people patronizing a particular establishment. Other elements like service. decor, etc, may play a part too but these are secondary reasons. Leaving out the very central elements of food quality and trying to explain the reason people frequent the venue through secondary reasons is what makes critics' arguments silly.
It isn't going to do anything to bring me back to Scientology. I am still of the opinion that Scientology is a cult. Basically. But this does not mean it is all bad and cannot be a conduit for genuine spiritual inspiration. I hold that it is essential to understand this spiritual appeal in order to understand the lure Scientology may have towards every seeking soul, and in particular towards artists and celebrities.
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