Berlin - Nearly half of Germans consider Hollywood film star Tom Cruise to be "dangerous" due to his affiliation with the Church of Scientology, according to a poll published on Sunday.
Forty-seven percent of those surveyed answered "yes" when asked by the TNS Emnid polling institute: "Do you consider the avowed Scientologist Tom Cruise to be dangerous?". Forty-two percent said "no".
Founded in the United States in 1954 by science-fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology was officially recognised as a religion there nearly 20 years later.
But it is often accused in Germany and other European countries, including Belgium, France and Greece, of exploiting its members financially.
Cruise is one of the most high-profile members of the Los Angeles-based movement.
His role in the Church of Scientology is examined in an explosive unauthorised biography of the actor by British writer Andrew Morton which hit shelves in the United States earlier this month.
The book, which describes Cruise as the second-in-command of the organisation and paints him as a calculating control freak, has been given wide coverage in German media.
'Replete with lies'
It was described by the Church of Scientology as "replete with lies".
Meanwhile German historian Guido Knopp caused controversy this month by comparing a speech by Cruise to the Church of Scientology with a call to war by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
The movement dismissed the remarks as a "disgraceful attack" by "German anti-religionists".
Germans baulked last year when Cruise came to Berlin to play Nazi resistance hero Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, an aristocrat who led a failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944, because of the actor's links to Scientology.
Authorities initially banned the cast of the Hollywood production Valkyrie from filming at historical locations in Berlin but later relented.