Scientology is, I guess, a religion, if by religion you mean that you take its teachings on faith, and it involves some sort of unprovable mysticism. Scientology is also not much different from more mainstream religions in its irrational opposition to various kinds of science.
A few examples:
- The Catholic Church was ready to kill Galileo for not "admitting" that the Earth was the center of the universe.
- Creationists or (as they call themselves today) advocates of "intelligent design theory" continue to beat the drum for a 6,000-year-old Earth and an irrational, fearful hatred for Darwin's theory of evolution.
- Jehovah's witnesses have a problem with blood transfusions, I understand.
- Christian Scientists, for all their positive thinking -- one aspect of the religion I happen to like -- believe modern medicine should be shunned.
Cruise, who is otherwise very intelligent, is a zealot for a truly crazy set of beliefs. I noted his insistence that "I know the history of psychiatry," on the Today Show recently didn't include any statement that he actually understands the science and practice of psychiatry. Just the history. This doesn't make him an expert on therapies. As Matt Lauer did his best to stay cool and rational, Cruise came across as a jerk. A jerk with nutty ideas. To the extent that fans, enamored of his celebrity, buy in, he hurts people. People who would benefit from the kinds of treatments Cruise reviles.
Drum is right. The press needs to ask Cruise if he really, REALLY believes this crap about thetans and aliens. And then question him about his church's crusade against drug and other therapies for the mentally ill. According to Cruise's church, all you gotta do is clear out yer thetans. Perhaps trepanning (drilling a hole in the head) would help. It used to be the cure of choice for getting rid of evil spirits.
That the Church of Scientology has grown to the level it has, based on sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard's initial creation, is one more testament to the fact that a lot of people in the world somehow don't find meaning in their lives, and must look to mysticism and life-after-death promises for fulfillment.
Seeing Cruise go after Matt Lauer on national TV leaves no doubt in my mind why Nicole Kidman took her leave. She was living with a crazy man.