Tom Cruise is one of the world’s best actors, there’s no question about that. But is Tom Cruise in a cult? Is the three-time Oscar nominee’s mind controlled by Scientology and its strange practices and beliefs? Is Tom Cruise leading others down a dark path of auditing and E-Meters in order to achieve a state of clear, only to find utter chaos, confusion, loneliness, and despair? Tom Cruise is well-known for his iconic roles in films such as Magnolia, Jerry Maguire, Born on the Fourth of July, A Few Good Men, Risky Business, and the Mission Impossible movies, but he is equally well known for his religious views. Some have found them to be bizarre and strange at times, but still find that his overwhelming talent as an actor far surpasses any type of peculiar behavior, whether it is jumping over sofas on the Oprah Winfrey show or lecturing people about psychological illnesses. Tom Cruise is a superb actor, and many question whether that is because of or in spite of Scientology. Has Scientology helped Tom Cruise become the best actor he can be, or is he simply a phenomenal actor who is also in a cult?
— IndieScientologyNews (@IndieScieNews) January 2, 2016
— O The Oprah Magazine (@O_Magazine) November 30, 2015
Tom Cruise was born on July 3, 1962, and was raised Catholic. In an interview with Parade magazine, Tom Cruise stated his father was abusive and described a chaotic and tumultuous upbringing. His early childhood influences may have led to his commitment to Scientology. According to the Parade interview, Tom Cruise’s childhood was a painful one. Not only did he suffer abuse at the hands of an alcoholic father, but he didn’t fit in with his peers. He moved repeatedly, was diagnosed with dyslexia at 7-years-old, and was in remedial classes and was bullied. He describes a lonely childhood where he didn’t fit in. By the time he was a teenager, he had clung to his Catholicism so tightly, he spent one year in a seminary preparing for the priesthood. It is clear that not only was Cruise dealing with childhood issues, he was very open to religion and spirituality.
“I had no really close friend, someone who understands you… I was always the new kid with the wrong shoes, the wrong accent. I didn’t have the friend to share things with and confide in.”
Cruise, born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, grew up in near poverty in a Catholic family dominated by an abusive father he described as “a merchant of chaos.” His father was an electrical engineer who could never hold down a job, and kept the family on the move in a restless search for work. His mother, Mary Lee Mapother South, now 69, struggled to support the family.
“He was a bully and a coward,” Cruise said of the father who beat him. “He was the kind of person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you. It was a great lesson in my life—how he’d lull you in, make you feel safe and then, bang! For me, it was like, ‘There’s something wrong with this guy. Don’t trust him. Be careful around him.’ There’s that anxiety.”
The abuse Tom Cruise suffered as a child could set him up to join a cult. There is a misconception that people who join cults are unintelligent or without a strong will of their own. In reality, many people join cults or abusive spiritual groups because they are looking for a sense of family, strong community, and love. While Scientology beliefs vary greatly from worldwide religions such as Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, most groups (cults included) practice something called “love bombing.” Love bombing is when someone visits a church, cult, or spiritual group, and the members surround them with so much love, they believe they have found their home. The problem is that after time, the love bombing wears off, and there is control in its place. The love is not genuine, and it does not last. Cults do not exhibit true, unconditional love. In fact, if someone goes against the leader of the cult, or speaks against the pastor or challenges the authority, not only does the love quickly leave, but the group will turn against the person who challenged the authority. The love quickly fades and abuse will take its place.
Love bombing is one of the tools used by religious groups to grow membership and attract new believers and converts. Those who come from backgrounds that were devoid of love, a strong family unit, or felt isolated or alone are extremely vulnerable to love bombing and the practices the group uses to reassure the person they are loved, welcomed, and accepted.
This is not to say that Tom Cruise is a cult member or that Scientology practiced love bombing on him. It is only to state that many cults and new religious movements use love bombing to attract new members.
Listen to a Scientology ex-member talk about her experiences as well as Scientology and the practice of love bombing.
The Parade interview continued with Tom Cruise discussing his experiences with bullies during his childhood.
“As a boy, Cruise said, he was unable to read. Being in remedial classes away from ‘normal’ kids caused him intense frustration. He felt excluded. Small for his age, he was lonely and eager to be liked. Instead, he was bullied regularly in the 15 different schools he attended in 12 years.
” ‘So many times the big bully comes up, pushes me,’ he said. ‘Your heart’s pounding, you sweat, and you feel like you’re going to vomit. I’m not the biggest guy, I never liked hitting someone, but I know if I don’t hit that guy hard he’s going to pick on me all year. I go, “You better fight.” I just laid it down. I don’t like bullies.’ “
One thing to note from the interview is that though Tom Cruise was victimized, so to speak, he certainly wasn’t a victim. He fought back at bullies and as a child learned how to see through his father. These characteristics may have contributed to his early success as an actor. According to the interview, Tom Cruise left seminary and set off on a career as an actor. Within one year, he landed his first film role. Is Tom Cruise’s success due to his own strength and determination to succeed, or is it due to Scientology?
You can learn more about Scientology’s beliefs and practices in the HBO video documentary below: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.
Scientology has not been declared an official cult, as there is no governing board that determines whether a group is a religion, new religious movement, or cult. Most of these decisions are based upon tax status and personal opinions by members and former members. Tom Cruise has been an active lobbyist to fight for Scientology’s recognition as a worldwide religious group, and has praised its good work. He credits Scientology with helping him overcome Dyslexia. But those who challenge the group state that the practices used to bring the mind to a state of clear are actually tools used to weaken the mind and make it vulnerable towards mind control.
— Read123Dyslexia (@Read123Dyslexia) July 19, 2015
Has Tom Cruise become a stronger, more empowered person through Scientology, or have the practices resulted in his mind becoming easily manipulated and controlled by Scientology and its practices?
— Elli Fordyce (@ElliFordyce) January 2, 2016
The Church of Scientology emphatically denies claims that they practice mind control. They believe their practices are the reverse of mind control, and help bring a person to a full and complete state of perfection. They also credit Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, with exposing government-operated mind control experiments.
“Factually, Mr. Hubbard was one of the first to discover and expose actual mind control and brainwashing experimentation as conducted by United States military and intelligence agencies during and after World War II. Moreover, he also discovered the technology he had developed, Dianetics, could undo the effects of an insidious form of hypnotism called ‘pain-drug-hypnosis.’
“Years after Mr. Hubbard wrote about these government-sponsored psychiatric mind-control experiments, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act detailed the extent to which these techniques had been used. Over the years, the Church of Scientology has exposed numerous instances of brainwashing or mind-control practices, such as those involved in so-called ‘deprogramming.’ Such practices are diametrically opposed to Scientology, which is intended to free Man and restore his ability to control his own life.”
This belief is in stark contrast to those of ex-members who state they lost all personal freedom while in Scientology.
— NowJersey (@Now_Jersey) April 1, 2015
— scientologyforreal (@jamie_and_xenu) January 1, 2016
The site Xenu.net, or Operation Clambake, may be the most extensive online resource for those critical or skeptical of Scientology and its beliefs and practices. Xenu makes no qualms about calling Scientology a cult that engages in blatant mind control practices.
What do you think? Do you think Tom Cruise is in a cult? Do you think Scientology is safe and harmless or a dangerous form of mind control?
[Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for CinemaCon]