#1 Why Scientology Has a Cruise Ship?
The 5th Cruise Ship in the Scientology denomination, Freewinds.Described by Scientology.org as a religious retreat service on water, the first retreat on Freewinds commenced in 1988. The official website of The Church of Scientology describes their 5th and largest motor vessel:
“The 440-foot motor vessel provided a distraction-free environment for parishioners to study and experience the highest level of spiritual counseling available in the Scientology religion.”
Based in the Caribbean with a home port based in Curaçao, the ship homes The Flag Ship Service Organization (FSSO), a minister-like congregation of Scientology-trained spiritual leaders within the religion.
“Thus, while the Flag Service Organization in Clearwater ministers the highest levels of training and auditing from the bottom of the Bridge to New OT VII, the most advanced OT level (New OT VIII) is exclusively entrusted to the FSSO.”
Even hosting jazz concerts, movie nights, and other events throughout Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, Freewinds often supports charitable causes around the islands of their port’s home. The ship is not solely made for spirituality, but also great enjoyment, featuring a restaurant, cabaret, movie theater, swimming pool, lounge, and beauty salon.
Self-identified by Scientology leaders as ‘a very special place,’ Freewinds comes after the launch of the religion’s first four vessels:
- Royal Scotsman (later, Apollo)
- Enchanter (later, Diana)
- Avon River (later, Athena)
Each of these models have been ‘scrapped,’ deemed as obsolete.
Freewinds is presently the only Scientology cruise ship in operation.
In recent news, Freewinds made headlines due to a measles outbreak on-board Freewinds in May of 2019. The ship was quarantined for a few days before returning to its main port in Curaçao, but it certainly drew more attention to the ‘religious spiritual retreat’ and practices of The Church of Scientology, causing outsiders to produce more questions than ever about the highly-private religion.
Many have reported the tradition of joining the Scientology group, Sea Org, which requires a ‘one-billion-year contract,’ which has been stated on multiple occasions by dozens of members. As a contract that binds you far beyond this lifetime, Freewinds and Sea Org have each cultivated countless statements claiming ‘unfair working environments’ and ‘malpractice.’
In this same CNN piece, reports:
“In 2011, an Australian woman said she was taken aboard the ship for what she thought was a two-week vacation. But it turned into a 12-year-long form of indentured servitude, the woman alleged.”
Outspoken former member of Scientology, Leah Rimini, writes about Freewinds on her Twitter:
“This is just the tip of the iceberg for what staff members of The Freewinds, Scientology’s ship of horrors, have to endure while serving people like Tom Cruise & David Miscavige.”
With all of this information, there is undoubtedly some controversy surrounding the validity and on-board practices of Freewinds.
- Inside Scientology – The Freewinds Cruise Ship Religious Retreat – Scientology.org, published October 10th, 2018.
#2 Can Scientology Make You Famous?
No, being a member of The Church of Scientology does not make you spontaneously famous. This is a misconception due to the high prices of membership and spiritual development to be an established member of the religion.
The religion is open to anyone that can afford membership and pass all levels of spiritual enlightenment, but some would argue that Scientology differs from other Christian religions that open their doors to all, simply due to the fact that not everyone can afford membership fees, such as the $800 per hour auditing fees, (auditing being the Scientology term for a therapy-like meeting).
Although Scientology does not inherently make you famous, there are indeed many famous Scientology members. This could be due to large-scale Hollywood paychecks that lead them to be more capable of affording the privately-kept fees and charges of admission that will accumulate as one vertically moves through the various levels of the religion.
Hollywood and Los Angeles are also the highest population-density for Scientology members, with the largest establishment of the Church being located in the Hollywood district.
Just some of the celebrities that have been affiliated with Scientology are:
- Tom Cruise
- John Travolta
- Kelly Preston (Travolta’s wife, deceased)
- Elizabeth Moss
- Jenna Elfman
- Leah Remini
- Juliette Lewis
- Kristie Alley
- Giovanni Ribisi
- Erika Christensen
- Catherine Bell
- Danny Masterson
- Laura Prepon
- Jason Lee
- Beck (singer)
- Greta Van Susteren
- Doug E. Fresh (rapper)
- Catherine Bell
- Jerry Seinfeld (active member for 30-years, no longer practicing)
Erika Christensen told the Reserve Channel in a 2013 interview:
“If I had to sum it all up, like, the goal of Scientology is giving the person back to themselves, like your own power of choice.
Danny Masterson adds an interesting take as a long-standing member of Scientology:
“In Scientology, there’s no belief system or anyone who’s worshipped or whatnot; it’s all sort of like college of the mind. And so I grew up not having to go and pray to anyone.”
- Which Members are Scientologists? – Video from Scientology.org through Metro – Published September 20th, 2020.
- President of Scientology, David Miscavige Launches Scientology Network – Published by Scientology on March 23rd, 2020.
#3 Can Scientologists Get Tattoos?
With no statements from Scientology.org regarding tattoos, this is one of the many matters that The Church of Scientology leaves up to the discretion of the individual.
In fact, Tom Cruise’s daughter with Nicole Kidman, Bella Cruise, expanded her tattoo collection by paying homage to the Scientology religion with a finger tattoo. Stating it is a symbol of her dedication to the religion, the 26-year old is following in her fathers’ footsteps (as he is considered the most influential celebrity member of the Church of Scientology).
Being that the religion is more of a spiritual philosophy than religion (according to many members) – It is less of an authoritative-power due to it not being led by an almighty-God. Contrarily, the theology is centered around becoming an improved version of self, separate from a higher power or God.
With these boundaries in mind, there is no regulation against adorning one’s body with art or decorating your exterior appearance.
The most important thing would be that the member remains undistracted by outer-embellishments and remains focused on doing the internal work to self-improve.
#4 Can Scientologists Have Pets?
Seeking to support mankind’s growth and the planet’s collective progression, animals are interconnected to this global mission.
Although the official website of Scientology mentions avoiding pets when sick to prevent the spread of illness to other humans, there are also various posts about Scientologists enjoying their ‘four-legged-friends,’ – proving that the Church of Scientology does not have any qualms against pet-ownership.
In fact, the Background behind the Scientology Cross Symbol also makes mention of animals:
“It is an eight-pointed cross representing the eight parts, or dynamics, of life through which each individual is striving to survive. These parts are: the urge toward existence as self, as an individual; the urge to survive through creativity, including the family unit and the rearing of children; the urge to survive through a group of individuals or as a group; the urge toward survival through all Mankind and as all Mankind; the urge to survive as life forms and with the help of life forms such as animals, birds, insects, fish and vegetation; the urge to survive of the physical universe, by the physical universe itself and with the help of the physical universe and each one of its component parts; the urge to survive as spiritual beings or the urge for life itself to survive; the urge toward existence as infinity, also identified as the Supreme Being. To be able to live in harmony with respect to each of these spheres of existence is symbolized by the Scientology cross.”
Referencing keeping animals and others safe from germs in their guide on How to Stay Well, Scientology.org writes:
“Do not have the ill person in contact with pets or other animals.
If an ill individual pets his cat or dog, for instance, he may leave germs on the pet’s fur that can be transmitted to others who pet the animal later.”
Additionally, there are multiple occasions upon which the website takes a casual opportunity to highlight ‘adorable’ pets and Scientologist youth engaging with wild-life or domesticated animals:
- Mila’s Merry Menagerie at Home – Scientology.org
- Yo-Ting Enjoys Time at Home With Four-Legged Friends – Sciengology.org
- Pride and Groom at Home with Rosana – Scientology.org
There have been reports of Scientologists poisoning former members’s pets or the animals of those that speak out against Scientology (Bobette Riales and Cedric Bixler-Zavala), but these are all alleged and unproven charges.
- Do You Love Animals? – Scientology Network Video – Published April 3rd, 2018.
#5 Can Scientologists Be Friends with Non-Scientologists?
Yes, Scientologists can be friends with anyone they desire to be friends with.
Nonetheless, it is common in any religion to gain friendships within your religious community, as is the case with Scientologist members. If a member sought to only correspond within the Church of Scientology (CoS), this would be up to that individual’s preferences, social constraints, and personal discretion, not due to any official regulation or rule.
Being that a main goal of Scientology is to ‘save the world,’ as quoted by many former members, this must include non-Scientology members, proving they do not hold ill-will against non-members.
Even the popular wedding publication, The Knot, expands this point to marriage:
“You don’t have to convert to Scientology in order to marry.
One big caveat to this point: You’re allowed to marry someone who hasn’t joined Scientology just as long as they’re not a “Suppressive Person.“
That is, someone who actively doesn’t agree with Scientology.”
Within this framework of ‘suppressive’ context, friendships would likely be discouraged with those that have publicly spoken slanderous or harmful charges against the Church of Scientology, such as the various claims against CoS from former-member of 30-years, Leah Rimini. Rimini wrote a tell-all biographical book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.
When it comes to individuals that ardently speak out negatively against the Church, they have no issue commenting back. This is demonstrated by an entire statement about Remini on Scientologynew.org – which has addressed her tell-all.
“Her repeated ethical lapses and callous treatment of others led to an ecclesiastical review which resulted in her being expelled. She now regurgitates the tired myths the Church has repeatedly debunked, circulated by the same tiny clique of expelled former staffers bitter at having lost the positions they enjoyed before their malfeasance and unethical conduct were uncovered. Ms. Remini is now joined at the hip with this collection of deadbeats, admitted liars, self-admitted perjurers, wife beaters, and worse.
Ms. Remini because of her disgraceful behavior that was both abusive and unethical. Ms. Remini also outrageously touts that the LAPD failed to do its job when it investigated her phony report and within hours unambiguously declared it “unfounded,” causing her stunt to blow up in her face. Anyone knowingly making a false report to law enforcement is a bald-faced liar who should be held accountable for diverting police from protecting the public.”
Based on the inflammatory and heated-emotional terms used by the Official Church of Scientology – it can be concluded that anyone can be a friend of Scientology, until they are not.
If it is determined that an individual or non-Scientology member is ‘suppressive,’ they would no longer be a friend of the Church.
- What is Scientology? – Scientology.org – Published 2001.
#6 Can Scientologists Join the Military?
Although the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, was a decorated veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces and Marine Corps Reserve in the 1940s-50s, it is rare that you will hear about a member of Scientology joining the military.
It is more common that you will hear of a member joining the Scientology Organization, Sea Org, (an institution that some consider to be a ‘paramilitary Navy,’ or an attempt by The Church of Scientology to develop their own Navy).
Although difficult to find a public statement from Scientology on this, Growing Up in Scientology describes in their video, Why Scientologists Don’t Join the Military, that “Scientologists are explicitly told not to join the military.” The author, Aaron Smith-Levin, describes the reasons that the church would explain this are:
- Scientologists do not want to promote violence.
- L. Ron Hubbard was a military member, but he would claim this was long before he had developed the teachings behind Scientology.
- The theology behind Scientology is centered around pacifism, the absence of war.
- Joining the military is contributing to the ‘game of war’
- Being exposed to too many non-members and an ‘unconcious mind’
- Scientologists want to help people get rid of their reactive minds
- Solving the issue of a reactive mind is the solution and remedy to war
Wearing similar uniforms to a Navy seaman, the Sea Org uniform are undoubtedly modeled after Naval attire, but only given to those at a level of clergy or monastic-order.
Scientology.org describes of their The Sea Organization:
“The Sea Organization is a religious order for the Scientology religion and is composed of the singularly most dedicated Scientologists—individuals who have committed their lives to the volunteer service of their religion. The Sea Organization is a fraternal religious order and is not incorporated. Members of the Sea Organization are therefore wholly responsible to the Church of Scientology to which they are assigned and are responsible, as are all other staff, to officers and directors of that Church.
As volunteers and members of a religious order, Sea Organization members work long hours and live communally with housing, meals, uniforms, medical and dental care, transport and all expenses associated with their duties provided by the Church. They also receive an allowance to purchase personal items, as all of their other expenses are fully covered by the Church.
Today, some five thousand members of the Sea Organization hold staff positions in upper-level Scientology Church organizations around the world, ensuring the religion is available to the millions of Scientology parishioners who live and work outside the Church.”
- The Sea Organizations Motor Vessel, Freewinds – Scientology.org; Published June 15th, 2008.
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