Sunday, 23 September 2007

Tom Cruise Belief, Religion, Church, Cult - where's the difference?

The controversy in Germany over whether Tom Cruise should be allowed to play Claus von Stauffenberg one the key conspirators in 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler in his new film is an interesting twist on how we make distinctions between different types of belief.

The business of classification (as any biologist knows) relies on making judgements about similarities and differences the philosophical and logical nuts and bolts of which are explored by Bertrand_Russel and A.N.Whitehead and the Theory of Logical Types

The German authorities originally claimed that Cruise should be barred from filming the role in Germany because he was an adherent to Scientology which they described as..."a cult that masquerades as a church to make money" (yahoo news)

Now, how many of you reading this (regardless of your views pro/against) find the distinction interesting, as there seems to be an implied acceptance that if I categorise 'my belief system, religion' as OK and it collects money then 'that's fine' whereas if I classify 'your belief system, religion' to be not even a 'cult' (which would be bad enough) but a money making corporation then that is totally unacceptable.

All I can say is, it's a good job Mr Cruise doesn't work for a bank...which despite worshipping the cult of cash, they even worse, masquerade as 'service organisations' to make money...

This leaves me puzzling over where the difference lies between a Religion and a Cult, and Belief and Knowledge... perhaps it's all in our heads?


  1. Cruise is the biggest victim of this cult. I agree he is the martyr, as some smart press put it.
    He don't even earn a cent! he gives so much and so much of himself to it.
    I hope one day he will be out but I doubt, it's not better 'outside'. people are nasty and angry, everywhere all the time.

  2. As I said, regardless of your views 'for/against' the point for me is that it is interesting how we decide what should be regarded as a belief, religon, cult or business. So i'm interested in 'how' you have decided that Cruise belongs to a cult.

  3. How very matter what Cruise believes in and spouts about to anyone daft enough to listen, people seem to be missing the point - he is an ACTOR...not a world leader/destroyer! Somehow, with Mr Cruise's lack of credibility, I cannot see a mass rise of Nazism taking place because he is in the lead role.

  4. I don't think the German Government is worried about Tom influencing Germans into Scientology as Agnes mentioned but then again it could be an underlying fear as the Germans have been duped before.

    I guess you can't argue with Tomorrow. Religions have secured enough community influence through the belief in a better tomorrow that they have a power system in place that in some degree rivals
    the governing system. These religions have been around longer than the current political system and they have been granted certain tax breaks. Scientology is the new kid on the block. It hasn't paid its dues so to speak. It has yet to be granted the official "welcome to the club" status.

    Let's start with the definition of a cult. America right now could be classified as a cult in that it meets all the prerequisites.

    1. Leader claims divine guidance
    2. They believe their way is the only one valid way
    3. Use psychological methods to keep members loyal. Think media fear.
    4. Members required to give substantial financial donations. Think IRS.
    5. Control over private affairs. Think Patriot Act.
    6. Dissent is discouraged. Think riot police.
    7. Revealing anything embarrassing about the leader or group results in threats and confrontations. Think Dan Rather being forced to resign because of embarrassing 60 minutes episode on Bush military record.

    A religion is "the better tomorrow club" with benefits

    A belief is no more than a gamble for outcome.

    A business is an extra entity to be taxed in addition to the individual running the business.

  5. Interesting stuff. I wonder if fundamental 'religion's' might also be about a 'better now' too. So that a link in made between how you act today and 'what our faith says' you'll get tomorrow. A sort of religious retail loyalty programme.

    The institutionalisation of spirituo-philosophical beliefs turns a natural human endevour into a politico-commercial enterprise.