by Leah Waldron
In 2012, California passed a law that prohibited the use of reparative, or “gay cure” therapy. When I think about the gay cure, I imagine Marcus Bachmann sitting across from a troubled teen and telling him that he can overcome his evil urges (and the gay teen thinking the same about Marcus Bachmann). But what about Scientology? Celebrities like John Travolta and Tom Cruise have been indoctrinated in Scientology, a religion with reparative, scientifically-based doctrine, for years. If reparative therapy (in the name of “science”) is occurring within the walls of the Church of Scientology, should that be regulated, too?
To understand Scientology and its affect on possible closeted homosexuals, let’s take a look two random Scientology celebrities: Tom Cruise and John Travolta (for those of you who avoid the tabloids, both men are rumored to be quite gay.)
In 1975, when he was just 21 years old, John Travolta was introduced to the world of Scientology. Within a year of joining the church, Travolta’s roles on “Welcome Back Kotter” and “Grease” catapulted him into stardom. In interviews during this time period, Travolta directly attributed his fame to Scientology. (Interestingly,14 years earlier in 1961, the infamous serial killer Charles Manson learned about Scientology while serving time in prison. He was 27 at the time. Manson went on to use the tenets of Scientology to create his own murderous cult in San Francisco. But that’s another story.)
Tom Cruise, another actor who was “helped” by Scientology, entered the church in September of 1987, when he 25 years old and coming off a high from his break-out film “Top Gun.” From 1988 to 2000, nearly every Tom Cruise film became a hit, and he, like Travolta, believed that Scientology was the cause. Cruise even claimed that Scientology helped cure his dyslexia.
Its easy to see why celebrities would want the Scientology bump. Other active members include actress Kirstie Alley (who publicly thanked the church for curing her drug addiction in 1979); actor Jason Lee (“My Name is Earl”); actress Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”); and CNN News Anchor Greta van Susteren. Other celebrities who have tried the church include Katherine McPhee, J.D. Salinger, Ricky Martin, Oliver Stone, Jenna Elfman, Priscilla Presley, Bernadette Peters, Sharon Stone, Shirley MacLaine, Sonny Bono, Candice Bergen, Demi Moore and hundreds more.
So we know that Scientology gives an alleged boost to a celebrity’s career, but what does Scientology say about a celebrity’s possible latent homosexuality? According to founder L. Ron Hubbard’s “Science of Survival: Prediction of Human Behavior,” which was published in 1951 (a year after “Dianetics,” the Scientology bible), homosexuality is a disease that spreads through the masses:
“The only answers would seem to be the permanent quarantine of such persons from society to avoid the contagion of their insanities and the general turbulence which they bring to any order, thus forcing it lower on the scale, or processing such persons until they have attained a level on the tone scale which gives them value.”
The “tone scale,” according to Hubbard, ranges from negative three (death) to positive four (perfection). On this scale, gay and lesbian behavior ranks at 1.1, which is somewhere between fear (1.0) and anger (1.5). Hubbard says that a 1.1 rating is a pretty bad place to find yourself:
“Here we have promiscuity, perversion, sadism and irregular practices…Such people should be taken from the society as rapidly as possible and uniformly institutionalized; for here is the level of the contagion of immorality, and the destruction of ethics…No social order which desires to survive dares overlook its stratum 1.1’s. No social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst.”
In 1967, L. Ron Hubbard did ambiguously re-frame his feelings toward homosexuals (not, it should be noticed, the practice of homosexuality), but this was 17 years after the 1950 publication of “Dianetics.” Hubbard even used the term “A.D.,” or “After Dianetics,” to measure the years since its publication. For example, 2012 would be 62 A.D. (Incidentally, in 1950, or 1 A.D., Nobel prize-winning physicist I.I. Rabi said that “Dianetics” offered “more promises and less evidence per page than has any publication since the invention of printing.”)
But that’s just Hubbard being Hubbard. What does the modern-day Church of Scientology say about homosexuality? On their website (Scientology.org), a page titled “Does Scientology Believe Man in Sinful?” is revealing. The answer is below. (For fun, the name “Travolta” has been inserted in place of “Man,” “he” and “one”):
“A fundamental tenet of Scientology is that Travolta is basically good; that Travolta is seeking to survive; and that Travolta’s survival depends upon himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe. However, Travolta’s experiences in the physical universe, through many lifetimes, have led him into evil, where he has committed harmful acts or sins, causing him to become aberrated (departing from rational thought or behavior). These harmful acts further reduce Travolta’s awareness and innate goodness as a spiritual being…Through Scientology, Travolta confronts these acts, erases the ignorance and aberration which surrounds them, and comes to know and experience truth again.”
So how does one rid himself of an abberation? According to Scientology, one of the methods is to locate and audit body thetans, which are alien souls trapped inside the person’s body.
But what if one of those alien souls is gay?
Even if all of this is laughable, and it sort of is, practicing Scientologists do not find it funny, and herein lies the problem. Should we let Scientologists believe anything they want as long as they leave the young, possibly closeted Scientologists alone? Does California’s anti-reparative therapy law apply to Scientology’s “auditing process”?
At this point, we can agree that there is a lot of wacky, wacky stuff going on in the Church of Scientology. The rituals are cloaked in mystery and hidden behind hefty membership fees, and that, even more than the doctrine itself, is the true issue. Maybe it’s time the whole auditing process came to light, so that we can better understand the true meaning of an “aberration.”
Or, to put it in terms a Scientologist will understand, the aliens win.