"We instinctively revere the great artist, painter or musician, and society as a whole looks upon them as not quite ordinary beings. And they are not. They are a cut above man. . . . He who can truly communicate to others is a higher being who builds new worlds."
—L. Ron Hubbard
Increasingly, Cruise is as eager to spread the word on his religion as he is to promote his movie projects. For all his proselytizing, it’s getting harder to distinguish the Superstar from the Scientologist. So when, in anticipation of an interview, the actor extends an invitation through his publicist (and sister), Lee Anne De Vette, to take a Scientology tour, it is an intriguing and curious enticement. Would Mel Gibson’s publicist take you through the Vatican? Would Madonna invite you to a bris?
"There’s so much interest," Cruise explains when asked why he invites not only journalists but also studio executives and co-stars to go on tours. "People want to know—how did I do what I’ve done? I don’t believe in hiding things. A lot of people want to hide things and not let people know the truth because they feel that there’s a kind of control or power in that. See, I believe the opposite. If I’ve done something and it’s helped me I’ll turn to anyone and say, ‘Look, I’ve gone this way.’"
The crash course spans six hours and three facilities and includes lectures and exhibits on the evils of psychiatry, drug abuse, and illiteracy ("crimes against humanity," Cruise calls them); a swing through the church’s Celebrity Centre International; and "a gift from Tom"—a pricey black nylon computer bag with a card embossed with TOM CRUISE on one side and your name on the other. Inside are various Scientology materials and DVDs, including This is Scientology and How to Use Dianetics, plus a bright-orange pamphlet titled The Way to Happiness, whose cover features in large letters the sentiment YOUR HAPPINESS MEANS THE WORLD TO ME, with Cruise’s name printed beneath it. There’s also a wrapped and ribboned box containing a plasticized Code of Honor—Scientology’s equivalent of the Ten Commandments, only they have 15. It is the same plaque Cruise sent to industry executives for the holidays. Among the precepts:
3. Never desert a group to which you owe your support.
5. Never need praise, approval or sympathy.
6. Never compromise with your own reality.
8. Do not give or receive communication unless you yourself desire it.
12. Never fear to hurt another in a just cause.
13. Don’t desire to be liked or admired.
Cruise’s amped-up openness about his beliefs and willingness to spread Hubbard-brand happiness were very much in evidence during the filming of War of the Worlds, where he pitched a Scientology tent staffed by "volunteer ministers"—well-groomed men in suits offering "assists" to anyone on the cast and crew. Justin Chatwin, who plays Cruise’s son in the movie, jokingly called them Men in Black, but was not above exploring what they had to offer.