The star turnout led by Tom Cruise at the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre's 33rd Anniversary Gala in Hollywood over the weekend was a vivid demonstration of why some call Scientology the "power religion of Hollywood," reports Hollywood Star News. The religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard less than half a century ago now has almost nine million adherents in 150 countries. It remains a controversial presence in many of those countries, including Germany where there has been a long-running battle over the church's very right to exist.
John Travolta is one of the Scientologists who has spoken out about the situation in Germany. He is one of a number of actors in the Hollywood movie and TV industries who are members of that church. Besides Cruise, highly visible show business Scientologists include Jenna Elfman, Lisa Marie Presley, Kirstie Alley, Ann Archer, Mimi Rogers, Chick Corea, Karen Black, Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson) and Travolta's wife, actress Kelly Preston.
Among the 1,200 guests at the plush party held on the country club like grounds under a tent on a warm night in Southern California were Leah Remini ("The King of Queens"), Jason Lee ("Almost Famous," "Vanilla Sky"), Erika Christensen ("Traffic," "Swimfan"), Giovanni Ribisi ("Saving Private Ryan," "Gone in 60 Seconds") Christopher Masterson ("Malcolm in the Middle"), Lynsey Bartilson ("Grounded for Life"), Michelle Stafford ("Phyllis"-"The Young and the Restless"), Marisol Nichols ("Resurrection Blvd"), Pablo Santos ("Greetings From Tucson"), Catherine Bell ("JAG") and actress Juliette Lewis ("Natural Born Killers")
The annual event, which brings together top Scientologists from around the world celebrates the anniversary of the Celebrity Centre, which is there specifically to tap into the interest in Hollywood and the arts. It is one of eleven such centers worldwide including New York, Paris, Nashville, Las Vegas, Vienna and London.
From the beginning of Scientology in the mid-1950s, Hubbard made the recruitment of celebrities a high priority, because they could help in recruiting the public and gave credibility to his teachings. The use of celebrities to endorse the church is a marketing tool, especially for reaching young people (another Scientology target group), in a world where celebrity is a very powerful commodity.