Tom Cruise may be a superstar in Hollywood, but in the Church of Scientology, he's positively supernatural.
The 50-year-old Rock of Ages actor's devotion to the controversial religion was one of the contributing factors in his just-settled divorce from Katie Holmes -- who bitterly objected to parenting their 6-year-old daughter Suri under the unusual guidelines of Scientology.
Founded in 1954 by the late L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology ("the study of truth") has 10 million followers worldwide in 159 countries, with more than 6,000 churches, missions and outreach groups, and with reportedly billions of dollars in holdings.
Cruise (with John Travolta landing a close second) is the most well-known followers of the faith -- and, according to "Inside Scientology," an in-depth Rolling Stone investigation from March 2006, the Oscar nominee is known as an "Operating Thetan," or an "OT."
Having practiced Scientology for 30 years, Cruise has traveled the so-called "Bridge to Total Freedom" to achieve, through intense "auditing" sessions and other practices, a rarefied sense of enlightenment.
Scientologists mark the path to the "Bridge" with ascending grades or stages, and, Janet Reitman's Rolling Stone story reports, Cruise is at the very advanced "OT VII" stage. Operative Thetans, Reitman says, have "have total 'control' over themselves and their environment. OTs can allegedly move inanimate objects with their minds, leave their bodies at will and telepathically communicate with, and control the behavior of, both animals and human beings."
The more advanced Cruise and other Operating Thetans become, Reitman reports, they reach a God-like state: "At the highest levels, they are allegedly liberated from the physical universe, to the point where they can psychically control what Scientologists call MEST: Matter, Energy, Space and Time."