This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 31, 2005, that re-aired on July 29 and has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, as you know, Scientology is a recognized religion in America, although it is certainly a controversial one. That organization is embraced by a number of famous people, including Tom Cruise, John Travolta (search), Kirstie Alley, and Jenna Elfman (search).
Recently Mr. Cruise criticized Brooke Shields (search ) for taking drugs to help [her recover from] postpartum depression. Shields took exception to that, and a controversy ensued.
Joining us now are two people who have followed the Scientology agenda. Pat Lalama is a correspondent for "Celebrity Justice (search)." She joins us from L.A. And here in the studio, Rick Ross, the founder of the Ross Institute, which studies American religious movements.
Mr. Ross, let's begin with you, because you have a long history with this organization. I know you don't like them very much. It's not our intent here to debate Scientology. I think that everybody knows what it is. And if you buy into it, you do. If you don't, fine. It's a free country.
But what do the — what does the organization want to get across to Americans? What's their primary goal?
RICK ROSS, FOUNDER, THE ROSS INSTITUTE: Well, their primary goal, Bill, is to recruit more people into Scientology who will pay for courses and auditing services, and as they would say it, move along the bridge, which can be an expensive process. So the bottom line is getting people involved.
O'REILLY: Right. But every church wants that. Every church wants converts; every church wants financial support. So they're no different than Catholicism or any kind of organized religion.
But they have a social message they seem to be wanting to get out there. What is that?
ROSS: Well, they have a number of technologies or course curriculums that address various issues, like Tom Cruise will talk about "applied scholastics" which he claims cured him of dyslexia (search ). And then there's Narcanon, the drug rehabilitation program, and others.
So what they would like people to think is that they are very humanitarian and very interested in helping society. But the bottom line is all of their help comes with a price. And unlike — unlike most churches, they...
O'REILLY: I'm not — go ahead.
ROSS: Unlike most churches, they have packages and suggested donations.
O'REILLY: OK, but again, it's a free country, and they had a menu of what you have to pay when you walk in there. You know that they're going to be charging you.
Now, Pat, from the Hollywood point of view, with Cruise now getting this Brooke Shields thing going and all, what is their primary agenda from your point of view?
PAT LALAMA, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Well, the primary agenda, I believe, as Rick said, is to get more followers. And L. Ron Hubbard (search ), the founder, has always said that the mouthpiece can be celebrities. People look up to celebrities. They're trendsetters. They have their own broken lives and fallen dreams from the past.
They have come to Scientology. John Travolta said it helps him communicate. Tom Cruise says it clears his mind, that they can focus, that they have a clean aspect of living. Kirstie Alley, no more drugs because of Narcanon.
So they feel that if these celebrities get out there and talk about the virtues, they can bring more in...
O'REILLY: Yes, but that's good. That's a good thing.
LALAMA: Yes, it is.
O'REILLY: Look, if Kirstie Alley kicked a drug habit because Scientology has got something that worked for her, more power to both of them.
And if — but see, I'm not getting why Tom Cruise — this is what I'm not getting, Pat. Tom Cruise, who for years — you didn't hear anything about Scientology.
O'REILLY: You knew that he was around it, but he didn't talk. Then he comes out.
O'REILLY: And here's poor Brooke Shields, right, writing a book, Brooke Shields, about postpartum depression, very serious. And Cruise goes — and I don't even think Cruise knows Brooke Shields. Hey, you shouldn't have used the drugs they prescribed for you. You should have used a vitamin or something. I don't even know what he said. But...
LALAMA: I think what really — I'm sorry, Bill, go ahead.
O'REILLY: No, no, go ahead.
LALAMA: I was just going to say, I think what really got to people this time around was that there seemed to be a level of almost viciousness in the terms such as what's happened to her career? Look where she is now, something like that, which was quite insulting.
We haven't seen Tom Cruise, A, be all that vocal about Scientology, and now, B, be so vocal that it may even hurt a little bit.
So perhaps the underlying thought is he's reached the "clear state," as they call it in Scientology. He doesn't feel he needs to rake in the millions from the box office anymore. Perhaps he's made this his focus of living. We are even told that he has Scientology tents set up on his projects where he's filming.
O'REILLY: Well, he's certainly — he's a committed guy. Go ahead.
ROSS: Bill, first of all, I think what's important is that Scientology is opposed to the entire mental health field.
O'REILLY: Right. They don't like psychiatrists. They don't like any of that.
ROSS: Psychologists, marriage and family counseling.
O'REILLY: Psychotropic drugs for kids, they're against it.
ROSS: Anti-depressants for firemen in the New York Fire Department that saw the atrocities of 9/11...
O'REILLY: They're against all of that.
ROSS: ... they were opposed to that through their downtown medical.
And Pat, you know, what you're pointing out is there has been a real shift in Tom Cruise and that since he let go of his old publicist, Pat Kingsley (search ), who I think kept him kind of toeing the line of not being overly preachy about his religion.
I mean, Mel Gibson (search ), as you said, Bill, he didn't pitch a tent, and he was doing a religious movie, you know, "The Last Temptation of Christ (sic)." But what Tom Cruise did really crossed the line...
O'REILLY: Not "The Last Temptation of Christ."
ROSS: Oh, excuse me.
O'REILLY: "The Passion of Christ."
ROSS: "The Passion of Christ." I'm sorry.
O'REILLY: If I let that go, Mel would come in here and kick my butt, so I've got to correct that!
ROSS: Thank you.
O'REILLY: All right.
ROSS: But — but his new publicist is his sister, who is also a Scientologist.
O'REILLY: Who's a Scientologist.
But look, if Cruise believes, Mr. Ross, that these drugs hurt people, all right, if he firmly believes it and that you can get better by using something else, isn't he looking out for Brooke Shields? I don't think it's any of his business myself, but he might be looking out for her.
ROSS: Well, let's put it this way. Narcanon has been asked to leave the California school system, because they were teaching children things that medical experts said were not true.
So I don't know what Tom Cruise thinks he's doing, but he seems to be ignoring the facts regarding what we know about Scientology and their programs, and they don't necessarily help people.
O'REILLY: I just want to run down — Pat, I'm going to give you the last word.
O'REILLY: But just for the record here, Scientologists basically want people to be self-reliant. As Mr. Ross pointed out, they don't believe in psychiatry. They don't believe in any drugs at all. And I like that. I mean, I don't think people should be taking drugs.
And you know, it's a very stand-up-on-your-own-two-feet, do-it-yourself, we're a support group, we'll help you, for money, of course.
What's the last word on it, Pat?
LALAMA: Well, I was just going to say that I think you have to be very careful. This is dangerous territory.
Absolutely, Tom Cruise has every right to embrace this tenet of Scientology if he so wishes. But to damn others — and believe me, there are millions who will come back and fight. And I think you're going to hear it now, who say, "Wait a minute. Psychiatry helps me. Who are you?"
I think this is probably...
O'REILLY: It's a good debate then. I mean, he has a right to say what he wants. Brooke Shields didn't like it. She let her thoughts be known. And there you go, that's America.
Thanks Mr. Ross. Pat, we appreciate it.
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