Normally, I think that only Us Weekly readers care about a celebrity divorce. But yesterday’s shocking news that marriage just wasn’t working for Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise has shaken another community: Scientologists.
It’s been a tough few years for Scientology, which has been recruiting seekers at the same time it’s been constantly under attack by outsiders and former insiders. It looks like it’s about to get worse.
Slate explains why:
This whole summer will be bad for the Scientologists. Ever since the news that Katie Holmes’ marriage to Tom Cruise came with a Scientology conversion, public perception has been that he forced his religion onto this one-time good little Catholic girl, and that she wasn’t happy about it. Never mind that Holmes should be able to make her own mind about religious matters; tabloids and celebrity sites have relentlessly pushed the notion of Cruise as a creepy control freak bent on spreading his creepy religion. Maybe he forced her to convert, much like Jason Lee’s ex-wife has said she was forced. Maybe it was part of some contract—why else would any sane woman even consider a silent birth? Or maybe she was hypnotized by his pinwheel eyes.
Indeed, the speculations that irreconcilable differences came down to Scientology are in full force already. The tabloids certainly seem to think that’s the reason: Holmes wants to shield their girls from daddy’s religion.
And with it will come more exposure of Scientology’s closely held, and often odd, practices.
Among about two dozen posts, I’ve talked about Scientology’s Celebrity Centre, Germany’s move to ban the religion, and whether it is religion at all. Janet Reitman dug deep into the ultra-secretive religious organization in “Inside Scientology”; check out Lawrence Wright’s article too.
The Village Voice has a compact primer on Scientology’s auditing and security checking:
There are many things that set Scientology apart from other organizations. Its “auditing,” for example, was developed by founder L. Ron Hubbard when he published Dianetics in 1950. That summer, it became a brief fad in the United States to use Hubbard’s technique of counseling to help another person go into a kind of semi-trance and “remember” the experience of their birth. Within a couple of years, Hubbard was encouraging people to go back even farther and remember past lives, and the process was enhanced with the introduction of a device called an “e-meter” that measures skin galvanic reaction.
At the same time, Hubbard was building Scientology as a highly regimented, formal organization, and some of the techniques he had developed to counsel people were turning out to be very effective as measures of control.
In 1960, for example, Hubbard introduced a policy of “security checking,” called “sec checking” by Scientologists. It involves using the e-meter as an interrogation device, and Hubbard wrote lengthy lists of questions that a member should be asked by an “ethics officer” to make sure they weren’t hiding any covert hostilities to the organization. (Although Hubbard died in 1986, his thousands of policies are still iron-clad law in Scientology, and only those policies written by Hubbard himself—he’s still known as “Source”—can be considered legitimate.)
To this day, Scientologists submit to sec checking when they are suspected of being out of compliance with some policy or other.
Even if they’re only six years old.
Much, much more from the Village Voice, including a “Children’s Security Check, Ages 6-12.”