All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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When L. Ron Hubbard penned his ground-breaking book, Dianetics, a shot rang out in Hollywood. The book, now available in more than 32 languages, has sold over 16 million copies since 1950. It has also attracted legions of famous followers to its Church of Scientology in Hollywood and its castle-like Celebrity Centre located in the heart of Tinseltown. During John Travolta's Golden Globe acceptance speech, for example, the church member — long rumored to be gay — thanked L. Ron Hubbard rather than his wife, Kelly Preston. "Dianetics put me into the big time," said Travolta. "Dianetics freed me up to the point where something really big could happen without interference." With the prevalence in the entertainment industry of "single-parent" adoptions and "beard" marriages, some are wondering if L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology is helping to keep Hollywood straight.
Considering its explicitly antigay philosophy, Scientology may be the perfect beard religion. "The sexual pervert," Hubbard writes in Dianetics, "and by this term Dianetics, to be brief, includes any and all forms of deviation such as homosexuality, lesbianism, sexual sadism etc., ... is actually quite ill physically." Hubbard goes on to state that "perverts" display "overdevelopment of sexual organs, underdevelopment, [and] seminal inhibition or magnification," and are "extremely dangerous to society."
The issue of gays in the church makes even more sense when it is framed in Scientology's overall quest for social morality and species survival. Scientology's World Wide Web site offers a multitude of study guides, including a booklet called The Way to Happiness. The book is part of a campaign to "combat moral decline in our society." Nancy Cartwright, actress and the voice behind Bart Simpson, appears on the site laughing in the middle of a hand-picked group ol multi-ethnic children. Cartwright (member of Scientology's The Way to Happiness Foundation headquartered in — you guessed it — Los Angeles, gives a heartfelt plea on behalf of Scientology, encouraging the community to "help friends and colleagues increase their level of morality, and thus their survival."
Jeff Quiros, Director of Special Affairs at the San Francisco Church, concurs. "If every homosapien [sic] became gay, Homo sapiens would be in danger. This isn't a value judgment; it's just that procreation would suffer."
With this kind of pressure to live an ethical life and to produce offspring, it is no wonder that queer Scientologists remain closeted. It may also account for the high incidence of adoption in some rumored-to-be "arranged" marriages. Kirstie Alley and her husband, Parker Stevenson, both Scientologists, have adopted two children since joining the church. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are also among the league of Scientologist parents with their two adopted kids. "Adoption is a natural outgrowth of Scientology," states Quiros, "because it promotes survival through sex and family."
Scientology offers "Life Improvement Courses" that promise to help members reach their full potential in everything from work to marriage. Well, what was I waiting for? I decided to call the San Francisco-based church and enroll in their course titled "How to Improve Your Marriage." The slick pamphlet informed me that a prerequisite to the course was marriage counseling with a Scientology chaplain. It did not tell me that the course and the counseling were available only to straight couples.
"The courses are designed for people who have taken marriage vows. It doesn't mean that we discriminate, it's just that we aren't up with the times," explains Quiros. Interestingly, Quiros was unable to think of even one gay church member with whom I could speak — a curious fact in a gay mecca where I live.
Critics allege that Scientology is nothing more than a vicious cult that seeks to control its members and benefit financially. Former "members who associate with anyone that appears to be a 'potential trouble source' are ordered to 'disconnect' from that person immediately." Similar to "shunning rituals" prevalent among certain extreme fundamentalists, if the member refuses, he or she is often ostracized by other Scientologists. According to its critics, the Church controls its members' relationships on the most intimate levels — including, potentially, their marriages.
Not so, say Church officials. They insist that Scientology welcomes all members with open arms. They do, however, credit Scientology as the reason for their celebrity members' stardom.
"Before these people were actors they were Scientologists," says Quiros. Scientology made them so vivacious, outgoing and talented that they just became superstars."