According to Alex Gibney’s Going Clear, which airs on HBO Sunday night, the Church of Scientology is a vindictive, repressive cult responsible for decades of criminal harassment and abuse. But, as numerous Church members will tell you, that’s just half of the story. The other half is the testimony of Scientology’s devoted celebrity members, who credit the religion with extraordinary healing powers. Their stories are literally incredible!
According to its adherents, Scientology can …
Tom Cruise struggled with dyslexia throughout his childhood, and says he was “functionally illiterate” when he graduated high school. That changed in 1986, when Cruise discovered Study Tech, L. Ron Hubbard’s educational method that emphasizes learning through physical representations of subjects. (Educators have called it “moronic,” but “fairly harmless.”) Cruise credits Study Tech with curing his dyslexia, and has since started the Hollywood Education Literacy Project to recruit others to the cause — of literacy! “It is definitely the most satisfying feeling ever,” Cruise told Access Hollywood in 2009.
Cure drug addiction.
According to Beck, Scientology’s Narconon program has a “90-something percent” success rate in curing hard-core drug addiction. (The church’s official sources use a slightly more modest 75 percent.) Whatever the real number, one of its success stories is Kirstie Alley, who swears that Narconon rescued her from a dangerous cocaine addiction. “Without Scientology,” she’s said, “I would be dead.” The medical community has largely dismissed Narconon as “quackery,” particularly its use of sauna sessions to help patients “sweat out” drugs.
Heal Marlon Brando.
In Lawrence’s Wright’s New Yorker story on Scientology, Josh Brolin recalls attending a Hollywood party with John Travolta and Marlon Brando, who had arrived with an injury. Travolta had apparently just leveled up in Scientology, and offered his services. “I watched this process going on — it was very physical,” Brolin told Wright. “I was thinking, this is really fucking bizarre! Then, after ten minutes, Brando opens his eyes and says, ‘That really helped. I actually feel different!’” (Travolta’s lawyer denies this incident ever happened.)
Provide an inherent mastery of Olympic gymnastics.
In the late ‘80s, Charles Lakes, America’s first black Olympic gymnast, drew the ire of teammates for his abbreviated workout routines. In a cover story for the Church’s Celebrity magazine, Lakes explained that he didn’t need to practice as hard because he had Scientology on his side. “I am by far the healthiest person on the team,” he said. “[My teammates] are actually resentful of me because I don’t have to train as long as they do.” Lakes placed 19th in all-around gymnastics in Seoul, after which he took a controversial year off, touring the country to promote Scientology.
Rearrange the bones in a person’s skull.
One of Scientology’s official books includes the testimony of an anonymous Church member who claims they suffered from a mysterious case of sinusitis — until their first auditing session set things right, literally. “Suddenly I felt a crunch — I could physically sense the bones in the left part of my face changing,” they wrote. “Right afterwards my face felt as if it had woken up after being asleep … The huge pressure build-up from my sinuses had completely disappeared — gone … [It was] a miracle.”
Bestow super-senses, telekinesis, and mind-control.
The writings of L. Ron Hubbard are full of elaborate descriptions of the superhuman abilities promised to higher-level Scientologists. Low-level members should expect any vision or hearing problems to vanish after a few auditing sessions, and Hubbard assures readers that their senses will eventually surpass those of normal “homo sapiens.” Once they reach higher levels, Scientologists become indistinguishable from superheroes, with the power to read (and eventually control) others’ thoughts, perform complex mechanical tasks with their minds, and “always know who’s calling on the phone before it rings.” Eventually, Hubbard promises in Scientology 8-8008 that the fully-realized Scientologist will become a “godlike” being able to “create his own universe.” It is unclear if anyone alive has reached this level.