Tom Cruise is back in theaters this week with the new "War of the Worlds." Most of the buzz lately isn't about the movie, but the star's controversial behavior -- including his belief in Scientology. News 3's Steve Crupi digs deeper into the religion.
The organization claims to have thousands of members here in Las Vegas.
The Church of Scientology on Flamingo and Decatur has built what it calls a "Celebrity Centre" catering to the rich and famous. If Tom Cruise were in town and needed some spiritual counseling this is where he'd come.
In addition to the Celebrity Centre, the Church of Scientology has another location on east Sahara.
Church officials declined our request for interviews, but they did tell us that Scientology has roughly five-thousand members in southern Nevada; many of whom have paid the church thousands of dollars in a quest to improve their lives. A process which involves this so-called "religious artifact" -- the electropsychometer, or e-meter, a device that gets hooked up to church members during counseling sessions with the ultimate goal of achieving personal well-being. But critics say the whole religion is a bunch of hooey, invented by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. More than a decade ago, Time magazine exposed Scientology as a --quote-- "ruthless global scam" and a "thriving cult of greed."
NBC's Matt Lauer talked with Tom Cruise about Scientology's anti-drug position with regard to mental disorders. Scientology has been criticized for charging big bucks to attain the various levels of achievement within the church. We were informed that the beginner information packet here in Las Vegas costs 30-dollars. The head of Scientology's Celebrity Centre in Las Vegas wouldn't say what local celebrities are members of the church, but she did say the list includes a number of well known business leaders and entertainers.