Tom Gets Cult Gong

Source: Sunday Mirror
Date: October 30, 2005

Movie star's pounds 2m gift makes him top donor to Scientology<

Tom Cruise flew into Britain yesterday... to receive an award for becoming the biggest-ever cash donor to Scientology.

The film star arrived in East Grinstead, Sussex, to collect the gong given to him last night for donating pounds 2million to the controversial sect.

Cruise and his pregnant fiancee Katie Holmes received a standing ovation from thousands of members during a three-day gala meeting of the group.

He was at the organisation's headquarters with Katie, 26, to celebrate its 21st anniversary.

Cruise, the biggest-ever donor to the International Association of Scientologists, was presented with the award as two other famous scientologists, John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston, looked on.

The Diamond Meritorious Award was specially created to reflect his donations of millions of dollars over the years.

Last year he was presented with the Platinum Meritorious Award for handing over $2.5million (pounds 1.4m) since joining the sect.

He and his wife-to-be joined 5,000 scientologists at the organisation's world headquarters in East Grinstead.

On Friday they were treated to a three-hour "extravaganza" of music and speeches.

Last night they attended a lavish ball where Cruise became one of 180 followers to receive an award.

People were bussed there in their hundreds from across the country, and dozens of others flew in from as far afield as the Ukraine and India.

Bulky security staff stopped ordinary members from getting too close to the stars. Tom and Katie sat in the VIP section at the front of the stage and held hands for much of the evening.

They listened as the crowd was told psychiatry was "evil" and had to be eradicated.

Scientologists believe that drugs like anti-depressants are wrong and "kill" children.

Cruise has previously spoken of his belief that psychiatry is a "pseudo-science".

At one point the actor received a standing ovation after a camera zoomed in on him and Katie.

Katie, who had no prior dealings with Scientology before she met Cruise, looked on bemused. She has put her career on hold while she has their baby.

One devotee said: "It has been an amazing event and it is even more amazing that Tom has brought Katie. It feels really good knowing that she is one of us now."

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