Tom Cruise Steps Up Scientology Activism

03/22/2005 at 08:00 AM EST

Tom Cruise Steps Up Scientology Activism
Tom Cruise
Splash News

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

Long famous for keeping his private life private, Tom Cruise recently has taken a very public stance as far as his religious beliefs are concerned, involving those who wish to familiarize themselves with his place of worship, the Church of Scientology, reports The New York Times.

About 20 managers from United International Pictures, which will distribute director Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds starring Cruise, were invited by the star in January to take a four-hour tour of three separate Scientology facilities in Los Angeles. "Genuinely, there is an interest level among our managers who have to field questions (about Cruise's religion), to understand and learn more about it," said United International president Andrew Cripps.

One unnamed member of the tour entourage, however, speaking for some of the others, labeled the visit an unwelcome business obligation.

Cruise, 41, has become increasingly vocal about his church. The star's spokeswoman, Lee Anne De Vette, who is also his sister (and, The Times reports, a Scientologist herself), acknowledges that on the War of the Worlds set her brother sponsored a "Scientology tent" with ministers and available literature inside.

In Germany, The Times notes, Scientology is perceived as a dangerous sect requiring government surveillance, and several European countries do not regard it as a religion. In America, Scientology has been described in the press as an exploitative cult, a notion generally dismissed by its adherents, who tend to be fiercely loyal.

"It's lack of understanding that breeds bigotry," says De Vette, adding that Cruise would like to offer tours to Hollywood executives. "He would like to do the same thing over here," she said. "A lot of it, frankly, is time. If we can find the time to do it, he would like to do it."

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