Perhaps more than any other religion, Scientology has a tinge of fame about it. Because of the movie stars it attracts and because of the giant blue church on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, L. Ron Hubbard's belief system has always felt oddly famous in its own right, which is perhaps why it seems fitting that so many of the recent attacks on Scientology have played out on television. Those attacks continued this week as ex-member Leah Remini swung by Real Time with Bill Maher and made the bold claim that the entire religion could be brought down by one person.
It sounds ridiculous, but it actually makes a fair amount of sense. With all due respect to John Travolta, Beck and dozens of other celebrities, Tom Cruise is, without question, the face of Scientology to the outside world, and according to Leah Remini, he's the face of Scientology to the inside world too. Apparently, members are being taught some pretty bold claims about the Edge Of Tomorrow star, though not all of them allegedly believe it...
"...He is single-handedly clearing the planet, most Scientologists believe."
So, thanks to his lofty position within the organization, if he were to ever turn against Scientology, both Remini and Maher believe it could take down the entire religion. That's probably a bit of an exaggeration, given HBO's aggressive documentary Going Clear didn't upend the system, but it's likely that were he to ever turn against Scientology, it would likely produce a major crisis of confidence for a sizeable percentage of the members.
Leah Remini left Scientology several years ago, and in the time since, she's been on a one woman crusade to expose the evils she claims are rampant within leader David Miscavige's group, or as she would call it -- cult. She appeared on Dancing With The Stars. She's given countless numbers of interviews, and now, she has her own show on A&E entitled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. You can check out the interview in question with Bill Maher below...
Fair or unfair, members of the media have long treated Scientology different than other religions, at least in their willingness to openly chastise it. Were this interview about say Islam or The Catholic Church, audience reaction likely would have been a little more mixed, and certainly, more headlines would have been generated. Whether or not that's unfair or warranted obviously depends on who you talk to.
As Tom Cruise doesn't seem to be showing any signs of separating from Scientology, expect debates like this to continue for many years to come.