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Once upon a time there was an actor named Tom Cruise. He was king of the box office; everyone wanted to work with him. Heck, even Rosie O’Donnell had a crush on him.

And then something odd happened.

He jumped on a couch. On national television.

Tom had been practicing a controversial religion for years without attracting much controversy himself. In fact, he’d credited said religion with helping him overcome dyslexia, and who could find that bad? But with escalating bizarre behavior, people began to wonder; wonder what exactly happened to everyone’s favorite All-American actor and what his belief system had to do with it. The once “Top Gun” star had become an anathema, total tabloid fodder.

And now it’s not just the gossip mags taking shots at the Scientologist. The NY Post reports that Mayor Bloomberg “blasted” city councilman Hiram Monserrate for drafting an official proclamation honoring Cruise for his founding and work with the controversial New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project–a free clinic providing services to 9/11 rescue workers using theories of “detoxification”–marathon sauna sessions and ingesting massive quantities of vitamins, mainly niacin–as prescribed by Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The late Hubbard is also, reportedly, honored in the proclamation.

The councilman claims that the proclamation “has zero to do with Scientology,” and everything to do with philanthropy. But Mayor Bloomberg emphatically disagreed, saying “I don’t think it’s appropriate to do that.”

I think that reputable scientists do not think Scientology has any basis in science. It may be a cult, it may be a religion, it may be beliefs. It’s other things, but it’s not science, and we should only fund those programs that reputable scientists believe will stand the light of day and the scientific method.”

In fact, many scientists fear that the treatments, far from being helpful, are potentially very harmful. The Post points out that Council Speaker Christine Quinn said that the program was not supported by “any legitimate upstanding scientist” and that she would put to the membership a proposal to examine that, in the future, proclamations would be split into two categories: “those signed by the speaker reflecting the view of the entire council and those issued by a single member reflecting just his or her view.”

Now, this is news: Tom Cruise is actually affecting the course of a governmental body.

But, not to worry. On the very same day that Tom and his “brainwashed” bride, actress Katie Holmes, were attending a $6,250-a-ticket fund-raiser for the program in Manhattan, they still managed to make it into Page Six territory.

Life & Style Magazine (via MSNBC’s Scoop) reports that Katie is “quietly reclaiming parts of her past”–reconnecting with family and friends in Ohio and even consulting a Catholic priest about “kiddie Catholicism” classes! If, as Scientologists claim, you can be any religion and still practice Scientology, should this tidbit about Katie reconnecting with Catholicism be grist for the gossip mill? It shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Precisely.

Tom Cruise used to be Scientology’s biggest and best salesman. Now, he seems like a cautionary tale. (How many people do you know who wouldn’t see “Mission Impossible III” thanks to Cruise’s wacky behavior and literally out-of-this-world beliefs?)

It’s too late for Cruise to become a stealth Scientologist like Beck and Jason Lee, who rarely discuss their beliefs in the media. Perhaps he could take it down to Kirstie Alley-esque levels: Sure she talks about it once in a while, but not with crazed evangelical zeal. Plus, she connects with the common people, working with Jenny Craig and shilling for Pier One.

Maybe he can’t recapture his “Born on the 4th of July” glory days, even with running his own studio. But, Tom, for the public’s sake, please give it a try. I’m tired of seeing Nicholas Cage and his bad hairpieces in roles you were meant to play.

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