Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive

Geri turns to 'bible' of Scientology for a new chapter in her life

Daily Mail, Monday, August 3, 1998. Page 28

by Paul Bracchi

[Picture: the cover of "The Scientology Handbook, based on the works of L Ron Hubbard". Caption: The handbook of the cult.]

[Picture: Geri Halliwell holding the above book. Caption: Spiritual Spice: Geri holding the book.]

Geri Halliwell has turned to Scientology - the cult branded 'corrupt, sinister and dangerous' - as she continues to reinvent herself.

Miss Halliwell, who as Ginger Spice was famed for her skimpy Union Jack dresses, warpaint and platform heels, hopes to find 'spiritual enlightenment' in the teachings of American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who founded the Church of Scientology nearly 50 years ago.

The cult has powerful and influential disciples in the world of showbiz, including Tom Cruise and his wife Nicole Kidman, John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley.

Now Miss Halliwell, 25, has been spotted in the smart cafes and restaurants of Beverley Hills studying the cult's 'bible'. The Scientology Handbook costs UKP125 and contains chapters on how to improve 'every aspect of your life'. One source close to Miss Halliwell said: 'Geri began to get interested in spirituality, eastern religion and philosophy and the search for the meaning of life during the final months of her time with the Spice Girls.

'A lot of it stemmed from her unhappiness at the time. She had fame and millions in the bank but she wasn't happy.

'She realised that there was more to life. Because of the incessant workload and pressure, she realised she was part of another rat race even if it was a very glamorous one.

'It distanced her from the other girls who thought the group was everything.

'That's why she wasn't scared to quit the group, even though it was a huge leap into the unknown. She was determined to lead a more fulfilling life - a life that would bring her happiness and peace of mind.'

Scientologists believe we are not merely minds and bodies but spiritual beings, temporary vessels for immortal souls called Thetans and can become 'operating Thetans' by examining painful memories and exorcising them.

This is done through intensive counselling or 'auditing' and mental pain is measured by an electropsychometer, a machine invented by the late L. Ron Hubbard.

Anti-cult campaigner Ian Howarth said: 'In 1984 Mr Justice Latey described the Church of Scientology as corrupt, sinister and dangerous. The concerns that existed then are the same concerns now.' In 1968 the Home Office banned a number of the church's senior members from Britain and it has been on object of concern ever since, amid claims that new members are manipulated and enticed into spending thousands of pounds on Scientology courses.

Four years ago the Californian Court of Appeal accepted that the techniques of Scientology constitute 'brainwashing' and 'thought reform'.

Several Hollywood celebrities - including Fatal Attraction star Anne Archer, Cheers actress Kirstie Alley and soul singer Isaac Hayes - are reputed to have given the sect millions.

In Britain, hard sell rather than Hollywood glitz is used to woo the gullible. The Church recently launched a TV recruitment campaign in Britain, where it claims to have more than 100,000 members.

An internal report in 1993 revealed how the sales team at the church's centre in Poole, Dorset, sold 300 books, enrolled 50 people on new courses and distributed 200,000 pieces of literature in just one week.

Once signed up, many recruits lead a life of drudgery. A 300-strong force in military-style uniforms at the cult's British headquarters in East Grinstead, West Sussex, fervently upholds the Scientologists' strict code.

Staff can end up having little or no life of their own. They work an average 15 hours a day, seven days a week.

The penalties for stepping out of line can be severe. Offenders may lose the right to sleep in a bed, be sentenced to physical labour or made to eat beans and rice for weeks.

The cult has also been accused of hiring private detectives to target opponents.

The cult's Hollywood disciples

[Pictures of the stars. Caption: From left, Scientologists Tom Cruise, his wife Nicole Kidman and John Travolta.]

Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive