What is Scientology? The 9 weird facts you need to know.

Scientology. It’s religion, with a little dash of celebrity and a lot of intrigue.

The celebrity captain of the Church is undoubtedly Tom Cruise who is said to be one of the church’s highest ranking members. His first wife Mimi Rogers got him into it. Second wife Nicole reportedly dabbled but stayed true to her Catholic roots. And despite converting in the first few weeks of their relationship, scientology is said to be one of the main factors in Katie Holmes deciding to file for divorce this week.

The more you read about the ‘religion’ (which enjoys tax-free status as a religious organisation) the easier it is to understand why Katie might want to get herself and her 6 year old daughter Suri as far away from it as fast as possible.

Watch Leah Remini discuss her fractured relationship with the church below (post continues after video).

Here are a few weird facts about Scientology:

1. Scientology was founded by a science fiction and self-help writer.

In the 1950s L. Ron Hubbard, who originally made a living as a novelist, moved into self-help books and then took the next logical step and founded a religion. Scientology is pitched as a way for people to improve themselves and their lives. The religion allows adherents to progress through various “levels” – which they must pay for. The levels involve course-work, counselling, and tasks, for which Scientologists pay a lot of money.

2. The innermost secrets of Scientology centre around an evil being named Xenu., a website penned by children who were born and raised in the religion, reveals that: “75 million years ago, an evil being named Xenu decided to solve a population problem on his galactic colony by exiling a bunch of people to Earth. When the souls started leaving the bodies, he captured the souls and forced them into a huge implant station and made them watch movies that ‘implanted’ them with false pictures of Christ, and other historical events that Hubbard says didn’t actually happen.”

3. Scientology was responsible for the largest case of domestic espionage in US history.

Starting in 1973, “Operation Snow White” planted operatives inside the IRS, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the American Medical Association among many others, stealing and copying tens of thousands of documents that might be useful in threatening or silencing Church opponents. It was not uncovered until four years later.

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Tom Cruise plays a strong role in promoting Scientology (image via Getty).

4. Scientology used to be run from a boat.

In the 1960s a ship called The Apollo sailed the Mediterranean and later the Caribbean and that’s where all the religion’s followers hung out. Hubbard was “commodore” and his followers, known as the Sea Organization, served as a private navy. His most trusted aides were teenage girls who wore a uniform of hot pants and platform shoes. There was also a special Scientology band called the “Apollo All-Stars.” Rocking.

5. The most fervent followers of Scientology (the ‘Sea Org’) sign billion year contracts.

Members of the Sea Org, which was founded out of those people who used to chill with Hubbard on the Scientology boat, must sign a billion-year contract dedicating their life to Scientology and are paid about $50 a week. Critics believe that the Sea Organization is one of the most abusive groups in the world.

6. Some Scientologists aren’t allowed to have children or get sick.

Sea Org members are not permitted to have children while working for the organization. Women who get pregnant are either pressured to abort the baby, or they must leave. Sea Org members are not provided health insurance, are not given sick days, and the Sea Org will not purchase their medicine for them. Sickness is also treated as the fault of the sick person.

7. You’re not allowed to complain.

Letters that Sea Org members write to their families are screened before they are passed on to make sure they do not contain any negativity or messages of unhappiness. The Sea Org management reserves the right to ship different family members off to work in other countries or areas without any approval from the spouse. If the family complains, they are punished.

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It’s thought Katie Holmes left Cruise because of her disapproval of the church (image via Getty).

8. The church is being investigated by the FBI.

The investigation began in December 2009, with a focus on “human trafficking” within the Sea Org at the Gold Base in California. The investigation remains open.

9. The birth and upbringing of children is strictly controlled.

There are strict rules surrounding their upbringing, including strict diets and no contact with anyone outside of the religion. When it’s time to be audited, children are encouraged to “spy” on their parents and tell the church everything that is going on in their household. Scientologists also believe in silent births, which basically means there are to be no spoken words by anyone attending. Hubbard believed that words spoken during times of pain and unconciousness can have an adverse effect on one later in life.

Rupert Murdoch has also attracted the attention of the church after slamming it on Twitter over the weekend to his 270,000 followers.

We asked Clinical Psychologist Jo Lamble for her view on how one person’s religious beliefs can affect a relationship:

“If you come from two different faiths or cultures, the relationship can come unstuck when important decisions need to be made. If children come along for example, tension can arise when deciding how to raise them – within what faith or as part of which strong culture. Two people can be madly in love and 100% committed, but the relationship can still be torn apart by the differences. Even if couples make joint decisions in the early days, one person may change their mind down the track. When this happens, there can be a lot of resentment, which is erosive within a relationship. Many couples not only survive the differences, but thrive on them if they have very open expectations and are willing to revisit past decisions.”  – Jo Lamble

Katie Holmes converted to Scientology before marrying Tom Cruise, do you think religion was a factor in their break up? Why do you think so many celebrities are attracted to Scientology?