The New York Post reported that actor Tom Cruise will move to Clearwater, the center of the Church of Scientology, to help expand the church’s following.
The church owns a swath of Clearwater that measures 10 square miles, with almost 70 buildings. One of every 10 residents of the city is a Scientologist.
Cruise, the best-known member of the church, will move to an upscale duplex penthouse in Clearwater, reportedly worth $3 million.
The 20,000-square-foot penthouse has a flight simulator the size of a room, a car elevator and nine parking spaces, a projection room and a private pool on the rooftop.
The penthouse is two blocks from the Church of Scientology’s so-called Flag Building, also known as the “Super Power Building,” a 350,000-square-foot structure where top-level Scientology courses are taught.
Journalist Tony Ortega, who runs a website critical of Scientology, told the Post that Cruise’s planned move to Clearwater is intended to stop a decline in the church’s worldwide membership, including 20,000 in the United States, a big decline from 10,000 in 1990.
“When Tom Cruise buys a place in the center of [Scientology’s] base, it looks like this is where their last stand will take place,” Ortega told the newspaper.
Cruise recently sold a Beverly Hills mansion for $40 million and a residence in Hollywood Hills for $11.4 million. Ortega told the Post that “Scientology is suffering in LA, and Clearwater is not only where the most money gets made, but it is also the spiritual capital.”
Other celebrities have bought homes in Clearwater. Kirstie Alley bought a mansion there from Lisa Marie Presley, who left the Church of Scientology in 2014, according to media reports. Jazz musician Chick Corea lives near the church’s headquarters in Clearwater. John Travolta reportedly flies into Clearwater periodically from a residence 118 miles away in Ocala, Florida, for high-level Scientology courses. [New York Post] — Mike Seemuth