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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 15:38 GMT
Cruise lobbies over Scientology
Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruise
Cruise and Cruz have been on a whistlestop tour of Europe
Actor Tom Cruise has been lobbying officials in Germany over the country's strong stance against Scientology.

Cruise has long been an outspoken advocate of the religion and wanted to lend his weight to seeing it recognised in Germany.

He met with US ambassador Dan Coats while in the country promoting his new movie Vanilla Sky with co-star and girlfriend Penelope Cruz.

Germany refuses to recognise Scientology as a legitimate church, claiming it is a fake religion based on making money from its followers.

Scientology was put under official scrutiny in Germany in 1997.

John Travolta
John Travolta is also vocal about his belief in Scientology
US Scientologists believe Germany's stance is an infringement of human rights.

Among celebrity followers are John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Isaac Hayes.

In the January edition of Vanity Fair magazine, Cruise spoke of his devotion to the Church of Scientology, crediting it with easing family problems and persistent rumours that he is gay.

He became involved with the religion in 1990 through his first wife Mimi Rogers.

Following Cruise's hour-long meeting with Mr Coats the star signed autographs and chatted to embassy staff, who remarked on how friendly and patient he was.

Mr Coats later attended the German première of Vanilla Sky, but would not comment on the meeting.

The Church of Scientology was set up in the United States in 1954 and claims eight million members worldwide.

The church offers self-improvement on the basis of the writings of the late science-fiction author L Ron Hubbard, who spelled out principles that he called Scientology and Dianetics.

See also:

13 Jul 99 | e-cyclopedia
Cult or religion: What's the difference?
06 Nov 97 | Europe
What Is Scientology?
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