The Boston Globe ~ Curiously, an outpost of Scientology

August 16, 2005 under Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise aside, church satellite passes 1 quiet year

A walk through Codman Square past the shoulder-to-shoulder houses of worship can put you in a spiritual state of mind: Greater Life Baptist Church, The Temple of Restoration, Global Ministries Christian Church.

But one storefront in particular, with its eight-pointed cross, has piqued local curiosity.

“Dorchester Scientology, Something Can Be Done About It,” a poster on its window declares.

Amid the 35 churches and temples in the Codman Square area, Dorchester Scientology opened a year ago as a satellite of the Church of Scientology of Boston’s main office in the Back Bay.

How has the church of Tom Cruise and high-profile controversy fared in its Dorchester digs?

“As far as I know, they have not been particularly visible in our neighborhood,” said Vicki Rugo, of the Ashmont Hill Civic Association, near Codman Square. “There hasn’t been any leafletting. You think of them being more Back Bay or Cambridge type. Not Codman Square.”.

In fact, for the past 12 months, the Dorchester ministry has quietly tutored local children and adults with free reading programs, and held anti-violence discussions with community leaders and residents. And it has garnered some positive reviews — including one from its landlord there.

Some members of the business community “had problems” with it, said Joe Onujiogu, owner of the Codman Square Pharmacy, which rents space to the ministry.

“They had doubts it was a good organization,” he said. “They have done a tremendous job for the community. Children have improved in their learning and in their school work.”

The Rev. Robert Castagna, who heads the Dorchester operation and was ordained by the Church of Scientology, said he doesn’t pay much attention to the controversy that has touched on the religion and its stance against antidepressant drugs.

He said he just wants to help a community that he believes needs help, as part of the Church of Scientology’s outreach.

“There’s not much of a need in Back Bay,” said Castagna, dressed casually in slacks and a loose-fitting gray shirt, as he sits inside the Dorchester Scientology Volunteer Ministry. “A key component in Scientology is the ability to study. I feel like I can do something in the community here. The area could definitely use a hand.

“Scientology is an applied religion that provides tools for a person to handle everyday problems in life. I am trying to have our church do something for the community regardless of race, color, or creed.”

Castagna’s volunteers currently tutors 15 youngsters and young adults one-on-one in reading, and have tutored about 200 residents over the past year, he said.

He also reached out to area ministers and local community policing officers for occasional discussions on combating drug use and street crime.

“I am trying to provide alternatives for people to improve their lives that [they] may not see out there,” adds Castagna, sitting in a study room filled with colorful student chairs and posters that encourage reading. “What they may see out there are ads to take antidepressant drugs.”

Celebrities like Cruise and Kirstie Alley say Scientology can cure addiction and depression without the use of drugs. Cruise publicly criticized actor Brooke Shields for taking antidepressants for postpartum depression, and he challenged the psychiatric profession during a June interview with NBC’s “Today” co-host Matt Lauer.

The debate has helped stir interest locally in Scientology as well as spread the church’s message, Castagna said. On the Fourth of July, two banners blasting the use of psychiatric drugs on children were draped outside the church’s Beacon Street headquarters, according to media reports.

Castagna said the church in Boston had received about 20 inquiries a week on average before the publicity, from people curious about the religion, and the number went to 200 inquiries a week on Beacon Street after Cruise’s statements. Castagna has also noticed more people stopping by the Dorchester site with questions about the religion.

Dorchester resident Shandrina Burns said she heard Cruise talk about the religion on TV and it made her wonder what the big fuss about Scientology has been all about.

“He was on ‘Extra,’ ” the syndicated TV show, “but I don’t know what the beliefs are,” said Burns, a lifelong Methodist, as she waited for a doctor’s appointment at the Codman Square Health Center across the street from the Dorchester ministry. “I may drop by and see what they are all about, since I know where they are now.”

Scientology was founded on the principles in L. Ron Hubbard’s best-selling self-help book, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health,” first published in 1950.

Four years later, he founded the Church of Scientology in Los Angeles, and began promoting “Dianetics” as part of a religious movement.

Followers don’t pray. They believe they are immortal spirits inhibited by mental blocks, called engrams, which must be cleared in order to achieve spiritual awakening. Scientologists attest that once cleared, a person can lead a happier life, free of addictions.

The ridding of engrams is done in a process called “auditing,” a two-person question-and-answer counseling session that involves dealing with painful memories.

By reviewing past traumatic emotional events, the person being “audited” can reach “a state of clear,” according to the book “What is Scientology?” based on Hubbard’s works. But Castagna said none of this happens at the Codman Square site, which is open three days a week from 3 to 7 p.m.

“This is a reading and study skills program,” he said of the site, which resembles more of an after-school community program. “If someone asks about Scientology, I tell them to go down to the church on Beacon Street and check it out.”

Northeastern University religion professor Susan Setta said Scientology has always had its skeptics and critics. Some have described the religion as a cult that exploits its members for money.

Opening a tutoring program in an urban neighborhood like Dorchester is part of the religion’s community outreach work, she said, and is also a way to eventually enlist new members.

“Scientology conjures up such negative images that it looks suspicious,” said Setta, who appeared on National Public Radio’s “On Point” program on WBUR last month to talk about the religion. “If the Episcopal Church had a tutoring program in Dorchester, no one would worry about it. The assumption is that they [Scientologists] are doing something for an ulterior motive, that there is something sinister. That’s a problem for them.”

She called the Dorchester location a “face-based ministry.”

“They want to show by example what they have to offer,” she said. “They really are interested in social outreach, and they think they can change people’s lives.”

Corrine Desseau knew very little of Scientology before becoming a volunteer. The retired housekeeper and grandmother of two, who was looking for a way to stay active in the community, heard about the ministry and its search for tutoring volunteers.

Now she stops by several times a month to help her two grandchildren and other kids with their reading and coloring.

“It gives some of the kids something to do to get out of the streets,” said Desseau, 72, who said she is also brushing up on her Scientology with literature Castagna gave her. “They read and draw and get a lot out of it.”

Castagna hopes to grow out of his 1,500-square-foot storefront ministry, and doesn’t rule out establishing a bigger Scientology anchor in the neighborhood one day.

“The Church of Scientology can have its name on the marquee,” he said, “and we can help the community.”

Johnny Diaz can be reached at jodiaz@globe.com.

comments: Closed

CNN – Larry King Interview with Tom Cruise

November 28, 2003 under Tom Cruise

Larry King Show on CNN Tom Cruise Denies He’s Dyslexic

Tom Cruise, who earlier had claimed that Scientology cured his dyslexia (raising the ire of the International Dyslexia Association), now denies that he was ever dyslexic at all! In an interview with CNN’s Larry King on November 28, 2003, Cruise says that he was “diagnosed” as dyslexic, but has never been dyslexic.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

KING: We’re back with Tom Cruise at the Warner Brothers Museum in advance of the opening of “The Last Samurai,” which could get him his fourth Oscar nomination. He’s terrific in it, and it’s a heck of a movie. And you can trust me when I tell you this. And if you didn’t like it, there’s something wrong with you.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I don’t know, what else can I say?

I learned something about you I never knew, that you were dyslexic and are dyslexic.

CRUISE: No, I’m not.

KING: What are you?

CRUISE: I’m not dyslexic.

KING: What — do you have a problem with reading or writing?

CRUISE: No. No, I don’t.

KING: And where did that come from?

CRUISE: Well, I was labeled with it when I was 7 years old and kind of lived with it my whole life. And you know, when I became a Scientologist in ’86, ’87, later on discovered also L. Ron Hubbard developed study technology that actually — to help me realize that that — you know, that the false labels that are out there…

KING: You were never dyslexic?

CRUISE: No. No, I wasn’t.

KING: Why did they label you?

CRUISE: Because that’s what they do.

KING: Were you having trouble reading?

CRUISE: That’s what they do. No. And later on — I mean, now we have, you know, this technology that he developed that actually helps people to learn how to learn and discover that — you know, these — I’ve actually helped people that have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD. And it’s extraordinary, what happens with this technology. We have centers all over the world now that help people get this technology, and it’s also in various schools and educated millions and millions and millions of people in it.

KING: I interviewed him once.

CRUISE: I know! You told me that.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: … science fiction writer…

(CROSSTALK)

CRUISE: Oh, my God!

KING: What drew you to Scientology?

CRUISE: Well…

KING: Did you grow up in a faith?

CRUISE: Different faiths. Different faiths. And what drew me to it — it was so practical and it just made sense to me, and things that I wanted to figure out in my life. And I always — what I discovered were the tools that helped me. You know, Scientology, the word means knowing how to know. And there are tools that I use every day as an artist, as a businessman — you know, you look at it just this way. I was diagnosed being dyslexic. I came in, learned these tools, and now I — you know, I mean, my literacy is — it is where it is, and it’ll go where I want it to go with these tools. It just kind of melts barriers, breaks them down. It helps you to recognize and understand the barriers and then overcome them. And it’s just…

KING: So you use it in every facet of your life.

CRUISE: Yes because it is — there’s areas — you know, you look at what we do with education, with, you know, helping people, getting them these tools — if they’re Christian, you know, they can read their Bible. If they’re — you know, it doesn’t matter, whatever faith, atheists (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: Why is it so controversial?

CRUISE: It’s not that controversial.

KING: I mean, the FBI looks at it…

CRUISE: No, it doesn’t.

KING: … investigate it. Remember that…

CRUISE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: They wanted to raid their books. They tried to get…

CRUISE: Oh, that was — you’re talking decades…

KING: Yes, I know.

CRUISE: … decades ago.

KING: I mean, they tried to get them not get — get a religious deduction.

CRUISE: Well, that’s all gone now.

KING: I know.

CRUISE: I mean, it — definitely, now it does have its…

KING: Oh, I know.

CRUISE: … religious…

(CROSSTALK)

KING: But it went through that…

CRUISE: … recognized as a religion. Well, it’s new. It was a new religion. It’s also — there’s things that we do — you know, you have to look at — you look at the services and the things that we help. Narcanon is something that LRH developed that helps people get off drugs. And once you’re off the drugs, you don’t ever need those drugs again. And it’s the largest drug rehabilitation center in the world. You look at Crimanon that he developed and found, which actually helps to rehabilitate criminals and used in you know — in some of the toughest prisons in South Africa, and those prisoners have never gone back to the prisons. You look at his — the moral — secular moral code that he wrote, called “The Way to Happiness,” that’s used by, you know, communities in the world all over.

These things — you know, any time — where there’s ignorance about something or people don’t want to know about something, you know, it really gets back to gossip or, you know, just people don’t know something, there you have racism. There you have bigotry. And that’s where those things stem from. But when people come in and see what it is, people thank me for the things that I contribute to it and what we do. You look at our volunteer ministers and how they helped at the World Trade Center and…

KING: Is it faith?

CRUISE: Is it a faith? It’s an applied religious philosophy, is what it is. It’s a religion, but it’s something that you apply to yourself, you apply to life. There is — I mean, it’s such a wide range, from business technology to help someone run their business better, tools that you use in your life that help improve conditions. We improve conditions. And those are the things that we do. We educate people on — about the realities of drugs. And it’s — it’s an individual’s choice, you know, on things — on how you want you to live your life. What do you want from your life?

KING: Do you proselytize? Do you try to get others to come into the movement or into the…

CRUISE: Well, you know, I talk to people about it. I mean, if you know — if you know how to — I’ve actually personally educated people and helped them with the study technology, to help get them off, you know, these vicious drugs that psychiatrists so — you know, that they proselytize, you know, that they sell to people.

KING: Yes, it’s anti-psychiatric, right?

CRUISE: Oh, most definitely.

KING: Yes. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

CRUISE: No, I mean, psychiatry doesn’t work. You look at the things that psychiatry’s brought to society. We now are living in a time where we spend over $700 billion a year on education, psych- driven, and where are we? We have still a decline in illiteracy. We know that electroconvulsive shock therapy, you know, drugging people, OK, with these vicious drugs — when Prozac came out, it had the — you know, the biggest — I mean, in the first few months or a year, it had 14,000 complaints on that drug, yet it’s still out there. You look at Paxil, OK, that’s now banned in the United Kingdom for under 18 because of the vicious side effects of those drugs.

So here we talk about things that we know — OK, if someone can’t read, we know that we can give them these tools and help them to read. And it doesn’t matter what religion you are, these things work. If you’re on drugs, we can help get you off drugs. If you’re a criminal, we can give you — there’s technology that he developed to help you not be a criminal.

KING: Tom Cruise. Passion, as well. “The Last Samurai” opens a week from tonight. We’ll be right back.

[snip]

KING: OK. A couple of other things. You got involved in the toxic environment problem around ground zero, and you established the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project.

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: Which you fund?

CRUISE: Yes.

KING: It’s the project based on your own principles of Scientology, 175 people, firefighters and rescue workers, go through it? What does it do?

CRUISE: It’s great. It’s actually — it’s based on the research. It’s — Hubbard developed it. What happens is that Hubbard developed a thing that’s based on clear body, clear mind. He figured out how to eliminate toxins from the body. And it does just that.

Doctors do not know how to diagnose chemical exposures, because it can actually have mental ramifications. You know, people feeling depressed, up and down. You know, we’ve had people go through — you know, there’s one woman who doctors were going to put a steel bar in her chest because she was having trouble breathing.

The toxic effects of 9/11 — I remember the day that it happened. I realized, this is a disaster. You don’t have to be a, you know — I mean, you just look at — look at the towers. Look at the computers that are going to burn, you know. Look at the building, the dust, how that’s…

KING: Self-evident.

CRUISE: Self-evident. And how the toxics, you know, because I’ve done — I’ve gone through the detox myself, and it gets the toxins out of the body. So that these guys that have come on and they were on — I mean, that amount of drugs that some of these guys were on. And they essentially thought they were going to have to retire.

KING: Firefighters?

CRUISE: Firefighters and the, you know, the EMTs, the whole gang. We’ve been trying to, you know, get it out there so that this is available. Because it’s really — the miracles that have occurred there, it would — and if you were ever in New York, I’d love for you to see it.

KING: Oh?

CRUISE: Personally just go down and take a look at it.

KING: I was down at 9/11 two weeks ago (ph).

CRUISE: I know. But you go down and you see what these — you know, because people are saying afterwards, you know. I was looking and I was thinking, OK, what about the people who lived? What about — you know, what about them? What’s going to happen when you start talking about the, you know, leukemia, Parkinson like symptoms, M.S. that they’re going to have. Or the children now that have breathing problems as a result of this.

And this is something that handles it. It gets through, you know. They’re no longer on these drugs. And they get on this program.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CRUISE: No. It’s — It is a charity, so it’s not tax deductible. And there’s things where people come in and we’ve gotten donations from people to help them out. Nobody’s making any money off this. This is just to help people, to help them go — you know, to help them. It’s also something that we also use in Narcanon that helps get the drugs out of their system.

KING: So firemen on 9/11 came out not only with physical and toxic problems, but emotional problems from that, as well.

CRUISE: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s compounded that. You go to a doctor and now he’s going to put you on more and more drugs, steroids and things that are ineffective.

You know, you just look at the rescue workers, the people who lived down in those areas. What happens is those toxins go in, and they reside in the fat tissue, OK? And they just sit there. There’s no way of getting that out. So long-term, you’re talking about various cancers. It’s horrific.

And what this will really help them to get that out.

KING: I’d like to go see.

CRUISE: Yes. I’d love for you to see it.

KING: Where were you that morning, by the way?

CRUISE: I was here in L.A. I was here in L.A. And I went in and I saw that happening. And…

KING: Well.

CRUISE: But there’s a thing. That’s why I started this, because I looked at those men and women, you know. And the — friends of mine went, who were volunteer ministers. And they went down and they — volunteer ministers were working down in — at, you know, helping set up lines and giving different things in Scientology that we have, assists, setting up food to help these people. And that’s why I set up the detox, because I thought about them afterwards. And I started…

KING: You thought about it right away?

CRUISE: Right away. Right away. Right away. Because some people, it’s like we — there’s things that we can do to help. And…

KING: Obviously.

CRUISE: … Scientologists want to help people.

KING: When we come back with Tom Cruise, this table will no longer be here. And we’re going to have a samurai fight. Don’t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[snip]

comments: Closed

National Enquirer ~ Enquirer blasts Tom Cruise over dyslexia claim

August 7, 2003 under Tom Cruise

TOP GUN TOM UNDER FIRE! . . over claim church helped his dyslexia

Top Gun” star Tom Cruise is under intense fire for claiming that his problems with dyslexia disappeared thanks to the teachings of the controversial Church of Scientology.

The heartbreaking learning disability that afflicts as many as 40million Americans simply CANNOT be treated successfully with their method, say experts.

“I’m not aware of any research that supports the teaching of the Church of Scientology as a successful intervention for dyslexia,” J. Thomas Viall, executive director of the prestigious International Dyslexia Association, told The ENQUIRER.

And Philip Pasho, executive director of the National Dyslexic Foundation, agreed. “Dyslexia is a condition and conditions don’t get ‘cured’ — they get dealt with,” he said.

Dyslexia victims have difficulty translating spoken sounds into writing.

Cruise was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 7. “I’d try to concentrate on what I was reading, then I’d get to the end of the page and have very little memory of anything I’d read,” he told an interviewer. “I’d go blank, feel anxious, nervous, bored, frustrated, dumb.

“I would get angry. My legs would actually hurt when I was studying. My head ached. All through school and well into my career, I felt like I had a secret.

“When I’d go to a new school, I wouldn’t want the other kids to know about my learning disability, but then I’d be sent off to remedial reading.”

He still had the problem at age 22 while making “Top Gun” — the movie that made him an international superstar.
Asked about that film experience, the superstar goes on Cruise control. “I got the chance to make my dream come true — to become a pilot,” he revealed. “I thought, ‘This is the time to do it.’ So I had a couple of lessons. But then I just blew it off.

“When people asked what happened, I told them I was too busy. The truth is, I couldn’t learn how to do it.”
But in 1986 — the year “Top Gun” was released — he became a Scientologist and began using the religion’s “Study Technology.”

“I realized I could absolutely learn anything that I wanted to learn.”

Viall, of the International Dyslexia Association, said he’s concerned “when an individual of the prominence of Tom Cruise makes statements that are difficult to replicate in terms of what science tells us.”

Curiously, in 1992, Cruise denied to celebrity columnist Marilyn Beck that he had dyslexia!

He told Beck he’d started reading faster after studying a Scientology manual. “And that convinced me,” he said, “that I had never been dyslexic.”

Published on: August 7, 2003
URL: http://www.nationalenquirer.com/stories/feature.cfm?instanceid=58938

comments: Closed

People Magazine ~ Tom Cruise claims Study Tech cured his illiteracy

by Fannie Weinstein, John Hannah, and Lyndon Stambler

People Magazine
Tom Cruise : My Struggle to Read

7/21/2003

Graduating high school in 1980, “I was a functional illiterate,” says Tom Cruise, who hid his problem for years. Cruise, who showed signs of a learning disability beginning in grade school, says he finally learned to read as an adult through Study Technology, a learning method developed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the controversial Church of Scientology. Last month Cruise was honored by MENTOR/The National Mentoring Partnership for his work with the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.), a nonprofit organization whose volunteers offer free tutoring, using Hubbard’s system, in 26 communities around the world. Though H.E.L.P. has its detractors (see box), Cruise, a Scientologist, has provided financial and public-relations support for the program. “I don’t want people to go through what I went through,” says Cruise, who sat down with senior editor Jess Cagle to talk about his painful, private struggle as a child and his fight for literacy.

One of my dreams, as a child, was to be able to fly an airplane. My whole life we moved around a lot. As a young child, everywhere we went, these are the things that traveled with me: a stuffed animal for the first few years and pictures of planes–a Spitfire and a P-51. When I was 22, when I was making Top Gun, I got the chance to make my dream come true–to become a pilot. I thought, “This is the time to do it,” so I had a couple of lessons. But then I just blew it off.

When people asked what happened, I told them I was too busy preparing for the film, just didn’t have time. The truth is, I couldn’t learn how to do it. When I was about 7 years old, I had been labeled dyslexic. I’d try to concentrate on what I was reading, then I’d get to the end of the page and have very little memory of anything I’d read. I would go blank, feel anxious, nervous, bored, frustrated, dumb. I would get angry. My legs would actually hurt when I was studying. My head ached. All through school and well into my career, I felt like I had a secret. When I’d go to a new school, I wouldn’t want the other kids to know about my learning disability, but then I’d be sent off to remedial reading.

I made new friends in each new school, but I was always closest to my three sisters and my mom. As a kid I used to do ad-lib skits and imitations for my family. I always enjoyed making them laugh. My mom kept saying, “You’ve got so much potential. Don’t give up.” She worked three jobs and took care of my sisters and me, but with everything she had on her plate, she would also work with me. If I had to write an assignment for school, I would dictate it to her first, then she would write it down, and I would copy it very carefully. I went to three different high schools, so I was always given the benefit of the doubt for being the new kid. And I had different techniques for getting by in class. I raised my hand a lot. I knew that if I participated, I’d get extra points and could pass. If I had a test in the afternoon, I’d find kids at lunchtime who’d taken the test that morning and find out what it was like.

I went out for athletics–baseball, wrestling, soccer, football, hockey, you name it–and really blew off a lot of steam there. My senior year in New Jersey, I got the part of Nathan Detroit in the school’s production of Guys and Dolls.

I graduated high school in 1980 but didn’t even go to my graduation. I was a functional illiterate. I loved learning, I wanted to learn, but I knew I had failed in the system. Like a lot of people, though, I had figured out how to get through it. I did the same thing when I moved to New York City, and then Los Angeles, to become an actor. When I auditioned for parts and was given a script to read cold, I’d get the director and producer to talk about the characters and the film. I’d glean information from them and I’d use that. I got pretty good at ad-libbing. In 1981 the door cracked open for me with Taps. Risky Business came out in 1983 and my career took off. I wanted to produce movies. I wanted to know more about my craft. I wanted to work with writers. I had stories I wanted to tell. But when I backed out of the flying lessons while making Top Gun, I thought to myself, “What the hell am I going to do now?”

I’d gotten to where I was operating on the force of sheer will. But I knew I was flying by the seat of my pants. I knew that if I didn’t solve this problem, the trapdoor was going to open up and that would be it.

In 1986, the year Top Gun came out, I became a Scientologist. A friend gave me a picture book on Scientology, and through this I was introduced to the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, who had founded the religion. Mr. Hubbard was also an educator who had been researching the field for decades. He had found that literacy and comprehension levels were declining worldwide, so in the 1960s he had developed “Study Technology.” It pinpoints three barriers to learning: Lack of mass (you can’t learn to fly a plane by just reading about it–you have to sit in the cockpit or at least have a picture of a plane); skipped gradients (trying to master skills or information without mastering or understanding that which comes before them); and misunderstood words (the most important one and a cause for stupidity).

Once I started focusing on those problems, everything fell into place. I had a lot of catching up to do, but that was it. I had run the gamut, hiring specialists for myself privately, bringing in tutors and hearing why I would just have to “learn to deal” with being dyslexic. Many people had tried to teach me, but no one had taught me how to learn or how to study; I had been told I had all the symptoms of dyslexia, but no one had given me a solution.

I realized I could absolutely learn anything that I wanted to learn. In 1989 I learned to race cars while preparing for Days of Thunder. And about 10 years ago I learned to fly. When I was studying for my pilot’s license, I kept a model airplane nearby as reference and pictures of a cockpit in front of me so I could study the instruments. I would often go over to a shop where mechanics were working on planes. Finally I took off on my own from the Santa Monica Airport. After the flight I called my mom, and she started crying. My family is very close and they were so happy for me.

I’m now a founding board member of the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.), which opened its doors in 1997. H.E.L.P. is a non-profit program that uses the Study Technology in a totally secular setting to provide free tutoring in communities all over the world. Before this, I was supporting Applied Scholastics, H.E.L.P.’s parent organization, which was started by teachers to make Study Technology available broadly. When you consider that schoolteachers are sometimes dealing with four or five different levels of literacy in one classroom, you can see what they have to contend with. I had so many different teachers and I really feel for them. I see how they struggled with me. They were rooting for me and cared about me and wanted to see me do well, but they didn’t have the tools to really help me.

I don’t want people to go through what I went through. I want kids to have the ability to read, to write, to understand what people are saying to them, to be able to solve life’s problems. If you’re flying a plane, and you are using all you know, and yet barely keeping it in the air, you’re not truly flying that plane. When the fuel gauge gets down to “E” and you haven’t paid attention, your engine is going to stop. When you know how to fly, you’re watching the instruments. You can properly prepare for landing. You can keep your view outside. That’s the view of life people should be able to have.

A Look at H.E.L.P.

Although Tom Cruise says that the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project is “totally secular,” some educators have complained about its ties to the Church of Scientology. For example, H.E.L.P.’s textbooks, which use Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Study Technology, contain words and concepts—-such as “mass” and “gradient”—-that are also found in Church doctrine.

H.E.L.P.’s president and cofounder Kinder Hunt is a Scientologist, but she says that most of the volunteer tutors in the program are not. Nor are students required to be Church members. The program does have proponents outside the Church. In addition to private donations, the nonprofit organization has received public funding. In 2001 Hunt was awarded the private Points of Light Foundation’s President’s Community Volunteer Award.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department, which has worked closely with the program, says “LAPD has endorsed what H.E.L.P. is trying to do with kids and their ultimate goal of trying to provide a more stable environment for kids to enrich them culturally.”

Cruise has strongly denied that H.E.L.P. is a recruiting tool for Scientology. “People who want to know about Scientology, they can read books,” he said. “People may go in there and say, ‘Who is this guy?’ and start reading [Hubbard's] other books. Good for them. There are tools that he has that can improve their lives. But the purpose of H.E.L.P. is to help.”

Reported by Fannie Weinstein in New York City and John Hannah and Lyndon Stambler in Los Angeles

comments: Closed

IMDB Presswire ~ Cruise slammed for dyslexia revelations

July 18, 2003 under Tom Cruise

War of words over Cruise ‘dyslexia cure’

TOM CRUISE has upset members of the dyslexia community by claiming in an interview that Scientology had cured his dyslexia.

Cruise, who is a founder of the Scientology-based Hollywood Education and Literacy Project, told People magazine that after he read The Basic Study Manual by L Ron Hubbard, his dyslexia disappeared.

“There is not a lot of science to support the claims that the teachings of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard are appropriate to overcoming dyslexia,” said J Thomas Viall, executive director of the International Dyslexia Association.

“When an individual of the prominence of Tom Cruise makes statements that are difficult to replicate in terms of what science tells us, the issue becomes what other individuals who are dyslexic do in response to such a ‘success story.’”

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Bedford McIntosh ~ Educational Wisdom from the People Who Brought You Battlefield Earth

July 16, 2003 under Applied Scholastics, Tom Cruise

By Bedford McIntosh

Would you want your child’s schoolteacher to use teaching techniques invented by someone who had dropped out of college after two years of low grades? Probably not, but Tom Cruise would like to change your mind about that.

Lately Cruise has been in Washington touting the teaching methods created by a George Washington University dropout with exactly that background. The collegiate education of the person Cruise is promoting didn’t end there: he later obtained a “Ph.D.” from Sequoia University, an unaccredited, Los Angeles-based diploma mill.

That academic record of indistinction belongs to L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer who announced Dianetics to the world in the May 1950 issue of “Astounding Science Fiction.” According to its proponents, Dianetics and Hubbard’s next-step development, Scientology, can help you learn to be “at cause” over “MEST,” (that’s Matter, Energy, Space, and Time to us non-Scientologists, or “wogs” in Scientology parlance). That’s just a small part of what Scientologists hope to gain from this self-described “applied religious philosophy.” Furthermore, Scientologists believe L. Ron Hubbard was a man of extraordinary talents — whose legacy reaches far beyond Scientology — and they believe that with the intensity of, well, believers. In such circumstances, scrutiny has to come from others.

Most parents enthusiastically gravitate to promises of a better education for their children, and politicians may debate whether they should follow along as well. In this case, when they hear the connection to Scientology, they will naturally wonder if the teaching methods carry an underpinning of religion. They will be told quickly by the Scientologists that these methods are “secular works” by Hubbard, and have nothing to do with religion. Indeed, a cursory look into Hubbard’s teaching materials will offer no obvious religious message. But it is there, implicit in the methods themselves. To understand this, one must know something of the complicated history of Scientology and the unusual nature of Scientology beliefs. Beliefs that don’t appear religious to the typical person.

Even the IRS has been confused about this issue. For approximately thirty years the IRS scrutinized Scientology to determine whether it deserved the tax-exempt status normally accorded religions and concluded it did not. To the IRS, Scientology’s philosophy, acquired through a series of “fixed donations” for courses, looked more like a business than a religion. So it is hardly surprising that the teaching methods credited to Hubbard, invented as part of his development of Scientology, don’t appear “religious” to those first learning of them.

In an extraordinary move, the IRS reversed its Supreme Court-supported position and granted Scientology tax-exempt status in 1993. So now Scientologists obtain tax-deductible religious training that requires “word clearing,” warns against going past “misunderstood words” (look in the front of the book “Dianetics,” for example) and posits the concept of “mental mass.”

But wait a minute: these are also the key practices of the educational “technology” that Cruise is so excited about. Parents, politicians, and education officials need to realize they simply won’t find obvious religious flags when reviewing Hubbard’s materials, but the practices they demand are in effect part of the “faith” of Scientology followers.

Even if Hubbard’s proponents could surmount the religion question, there remains an even more important issue: whether Hubbard’s ideas on education are sound. If teaching and learning are ultimately about the search for truth, we must allow for the possibility that Hubbard may, in fact, have something to offer in the way of improving education. But the likelihood of that being the case is small. The myriad entities of the greater Scientology world (including their drug rehab program, Narconon, and their prisoner rehab program, Criminon) rely almost exclusively on the “success stories” of believers and have been subjected to little independent review.

If there is an independent review which demonstrates the effectiveness of Hubbard’s educational methods, it is carefully hidden; instead we have the enthusiasm of the Scientologists who are attempting to introduce them to our public education system. Having Tom Cruise’s endorsement — even if John Travolta, Lisa Marie Presley, and Kirstie Alley join in — isn’t enough when the issue is providing our children with a quality education.

In his later years, Hubbard returned to producing science fiction novels. Commenting on the prose of one of these works, The New York Times stated that it presented “…a disregard of conventional grammar so global as to suggest a satire on the possibility of communication through language.” According to The Los Angeles Times, another of these works “…read as if poorly translated from the Japanese. ‘The blastgun barrel was into my stomach with violence!’ goes one entire paragraph, characteristically substituting typographical stridence for the crisp prose and well-visualized action so conspicuously absent from the book.” Hardly recommendations of Hubbard as a source of excellence in education.

Most Scientologists are good, well-intentioned folks – and it is impossible to deny the sincerity of their belief. There is every reason to believe Tom Cruise is like that as well. That Scientologists may accept Hubbard’s ideas that we are immortal Thetans; the “OT-III” story that our bodies are crawling with the spirits of space aliens murdered 75,000,000 years ago by the galactic tyrant Xenu; that we visit a between-lives implant station on either Mars or Venus; that we have clams in our evolutionary history…well, that’s their business. Any religion can look odd to non-believers.

But when Hubbard’s followers try to extend into the public education system his unproven concepts — that a yawn from a student is an indication that he or she has misunderstood a word, for example — we need to tell them to keep those beliefs in their church and their Hubbard-inspired private schools.

Especially if the proponent’s primary qualification is that he or she is a Hollywood star. Remember, Tom Cruise only made it to Princeton in the movies.

[end]

The author grants permission to reprint article in its entirety providing proper attribution is displayed.

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Fox News ~ People lets Tom Cruise promote Scienotology

July 14, 2003 under Tom Cruise

by Roger Friedman

Ah, the sweet smell of justice by media. Fox News reporter Roger Friedman excoriates People Magazine for “shilling for a cult organization” in today’s column:The new issue of People magazine is out and contains a five-page spread endorsing a program affiliated with the Church of Scientology.The program is Hollywood Education Literacy Project, and in the feature story superstar actor Tom Cruise credits it with curing his illiteracy.But what is barely mentioned is that HELP, as it is known, has been roundly criticized by mainstream educators as a propaganda tool of Scientology.[ ... ] Was People magazine so desperate to get a Cruise interview that they didn’t mind shilling for a cult organization? The answer, it seems, is yes.

Read the full story here. [link dead]

Note: The article also gives an incorrect URL for www.studytech.org – if it hasn’t been corrected, drop Fox a line and let them know!

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CNN ~ Tom Cruise interview with Larry King

December 9, 2001 under Tom Cruise

December 9, 2001

Tom Cruise shmoozes with CNN anchor Larry King on the eve of the release of Minority Report, and manages to get in a few plugs for Scientology-based “education”:

KING: When John Travolta was on recently, he told us how Scientology helps him through things.

CRUISE: Yes, absolutely.

KING: Did it help you through this?

CRUISE: Yes. It actually…

KING: By using what?

CRUISE: Well, there’s — Scientology — you know, I’ve been in Scientology 14 years. And it is an applied religious philosophy. And so…

KING: So you can be any religion?

CRUISE: You can be any religion. But there are many tools that you can use to help to understand yourself more, understand the world, and things that you can do to help people. You know, there’s incredible study technology that L. Ron Hubbard developed.

For the full transcript, click here.

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New York Post ~ Tom, Nicole split a question of faith

February 12, 2001 under Tom Cruise

By PETER FEARON

SUPERSTARS Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, divorcing after 10 years, are getting ready for a potentially nasty legal battle over how their children will be raised, The Post has learned.

Battle lines are likely to be drawn over the religion of the children.

Cruise is so dedicated to the controversial Church of Scientology that he insisted the children were born according to a Scientology ritual.

Kidman, on the other hand, left the church nearly a year ago. Sources say she does not want the children, Isabella Jane, 8, and Connor, 6, raised according to the teachings and methods of the controversial religion.

Parents who have some experience with Scientology’s child-rearing practices say Kidman is right to be concerned. Teresa Summers, of Clearwater, Fla., who raised one child inside Scientology and one outside, told the Post: “I was a Scientologist for years and worked in the Sea Organization, Scientology’s religious order. We had a terrible experience.”

She said Scientologists are encouraged not to treat sick children with conventional medication, not to comfort and nurture children, and to cut or restrict ties with grandparents if they are not Scientologists.

“Mothers who have raised children in the Church of Scientology and come out have a terrible sense of guilt over what our children went through,” Summers told the Post. “They had children doing physical work, sometimes 40 to 60 hours a week. It could be anything – shoveling gravel, laying carpet, but mostly it was clerical work,” she said.

“I also worked in one of their schools, in Clearwater, Fla. Many of the children don’t do as well as they should academically.

“Teachers don’t have college degrees. They are trained in Scientology technology. They don’t explain. They don’t help. If some child doesn’t understand, it’s because they don’t understand a particular word, so kids are constantly being told to just look up a word.”

AFTER 20 years as a Scientologist, Summers now works for the Lisa McPherson Trust, an organization that act ively opposes the Church of Scientology.

The church runs a network of private schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oregon, Virginia, Florida and Vancouver.

Applied Scholastics, a Scientology subsidiary that runs the church’s school program, claims its students have higher SAT scores than the national average, higher math scores on the California Achievement Test and lower rates of violence.

But parents of some former students dispute that group’s figures. Stephanie Graham, of Orlando, Fla., who put two children through Church of Scientology schools, said her children had difficulty keeping up in state schools after she left the church.

“Children raised in Scientology are often given only minimal basic education,” she said. “It’s not an education; it’s propaganda and pseudo-science.”

The sometimes bizarre application of Church of Scientology attitudes to children begins at birth.

When he adopted Isabella and Connor, Cruise insisted their biological mothers deliver the babies in near-silence, under conditions dictated by founder L. Ron Hubbard in his best-selling book “Dianetics.”

Kelly Preston, wife of leading Hollywood Scientologist John Travolta, had both of her children under similar conditions. After the birth of their second child, Ella Bleu, Travolta explained to reporters what the method means in practice.

“We do the traditional French Lamaze, but in Dianetics, you try and keep the delivery room quiet so there’s nothing recorded in the child’s mind that shouldn’t be there while there’s pain going on.

“Kelly is free to moan, because the sounds are not as detrimental. Any people saying any kind of negative verbiage may adversely affect the baby later on.”

SCIENTOLOGISTS believe pain and negative experiences imprint themselves on the mind as “engrams” and affect subsequent behavior. The silent birthing technique is supposed to prevent “engrams” being formed on the child’s mind.

The same pseudo-scientific beliefs continue to guide family relationships during early childhood.

Parents are encouraged not to comfort or nurture young children because Hubbard believed children are small adults, able to think and fend for themselves from a very early age.

For example, a child who falls and hurts himself is taken to the place where he was hurt and the injury is pressed against the object that caused it. It is believed the pain can be made to flow back into the object.

“That’s called a contact assist,” Teresa Summers said. “There is also a fever assist. We were discouraged from seeking medical help or giving medication, even Tylenol, to bring down a fever.

“Instead, you get the child to hold an object still. That’s supposed to bring down the fever. When it doesn’t work, it’s because you aren’t doing it right or didn’t repeat it often enough. I tried it on my child. Naturally, it didn’t work.”

Some parents who left Scientology also report they neglected their children because they were kept too busy with church programs, instruction and work. They had little time left for child care, they said.

Scientologists are actively encouraged to raise their children in the Church of Scientology and not among what are derisively called “wogs” – people outside Scientology – or as Hubbard defined them, “common, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety humanoids.”

A recruitment flier for Scientology schools warning against state education, says: “If you turn your kids over to the enemy all day for 12 to 15 years, which side do you think they will come out on?”

The schools use a dubious device called a “learning accelerator,” which is similar to the “E-meter” – a type of lie-detector device – used by adults.

The E-meter and “learning accelerator” detect small amounts of electronic resistance. The subject holds two electrodes and answers questions while trying to get the measuring needle to balance or “float” to indicate an honest answer.

A DOCUMENT obtained by the Post contains an insidious, guilt-inducing 60-question test designed by Hubbard for children as young as 6.

The questions include: “What has somebody told you not to tell,” “Have you ever spoiled things for people,” “Have you ever done anything you shouldn’t when you were supposed to be asleep,” and “Have you ever tried to make others believe that your parents or teachers were cruel to you?”

Teresa Summers also claimed that children are routinely asked to spy on one another and are subjected to grueling punishments.

“It’s called making amends, and it can be anything – my daughter was made to scrub poles, paint walls, report on her friends. I let her do all that,” she said.

If Cruise and Kidman face off over Scientology’s controversial practices, they won’t be the first celebrities to do so. Others include O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark and movie actor Tom Berenger.

Clark’s successful battle with her ex-husband, computer programmer Gordon Clark, coincided with the opening of the Simpson trial.

In 1997, “Platoon” star Berenger, 51, claimed in his divorce battle with ex-wife Lisa that she was brainwashed by Scientology and had become “so involved and mentally entrenched in Scientology that she abandoned me.”

Among his stipulations was that their children, Chelsea, now 13, Chloe, 12, and Shiloh, 5, should not be raised in Scientology.

Neither Berenger nor Clark returned calls.

The Church of Scientology International was reticent to discuss its child-care practices.

Janet Weiland, a minister who also acts as a spokeswoman, refused to discuss how child care in Scientology differed from that in the rest of society.

“You’re talking about something directly related to what is happening right now with two of our parishioners,” she said. “We won’t discuss it.”

Pat Kingsley, spokeswoman for Cruise, has downplayed the role Scientology played in the breakup. But friends of Cruise said Kidman’s decision to distance herself from the church did not sit well with him or Scientology’s leaders.

Cruise is a close friend of church president Heber Jantzsch.

“Tom takes his religion very seriously,” said a producer who worked on “Mission: Impossible.” “It could not have been easy for him to see Nicole treat Scientology like just one more dish in a religious smorgasbord.”

Further proof of Cruise’s dedication to his religion was provided by London’s Daily Mail. That paper reported Cruise became enraged when Kidman and actor Mel Gibson teased him about Scientology at a party in Sydney, Australia.

Cruise “lost his cool completely,” a witness told the Mail, but Gibson would not stop making fun of Cruise and giggling at his temper tantrum.

Hawaii-born, Australia-bred Kidman was raised a Catholic.

During the past few years, she has made several on-the-record statements indicating she still regards herself as a Catholic, despite having flirted with other denominations over the years.

Connor and Isabella Jane are enrolled in elite parochial schools in an affluent suburb of Sydney.

© New York Post

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