Billionaire businessman Kerry Packer secretly investigated his son James‘ links to the Church of Scientology in the months before his death.
The Herald Sun can reveal the late Mr Packer arranged a private meeting with a high-ranking Australian religious official in mid-2005.
Scientology and the basis of the cult-like Hollywood religion dominated discussions.
The media mogul died on Boxing Day that year — handing full control of his $7 billion empire to James.
“He was worried about Scientology — I don’t think he believed in it at all,” a source with intimate knowledge of the meeting told the Herald Sun.
“He was wanting to know whether it was sound and what it was all about.”
Close friend and prominent Scientology follower Tom Cruise was among hundreds of high-profile guests at James’ lavish wedding to model Erica Baxter on the French Riviera overnight.
James Packer was introduced to Scientology by Cruise during the actor’s ill-fated marriage to Nicole Kidman in the late 1990s.
The gaming tycoon is believed to have found spiritual solace in the movement after the $1 billion One.Tel collapse in 2001 and after his split from wife Jodhi Meares 13 months later.
Cruise has recently been promoted to the top ranks of the Scientology church.
Scientologists believe humans possess an inner spirit from an exiled race of aliens that lived in outer space 75 million years ago.
Their aim is to free that spirit and find eternal happiness via a series of complex studies — often at a cost of more than $100,000.
Mr Packer has never spoken publicly about his association with the organisation but has regularly attended sessions at its Sydney headquarters.
His bride, catwalk model Erica Baxter, has also flirted with the faith, established in the 1950s by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
It has forged a stronghold in Hollywood where it boasts high-profile followers including Cruise, Kirstie Alley, Priscilla Presley, Lisa-Marie Presley and Mimi Rogers.
Australian singer Kate Ceberano is also a believer.
The organisation claims to minister about eight million people worldwide.
About 1500 Australians admitted to being members during the most recent census.
The religion was banned in Victoria in 1965 on the recommendation of a government inquiry but its legal status was restored in the 1980s.
Another actor Scientologist who has close links with Australia, John Travolta, this week defended the religion.
– Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, quoted atWhat judges have to say about Scientology
He said his thinking was in line with that of Tom Cruise, who has publicly defended the religion’s stance against psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry.
Cruise, during a heated debate on NBC’s Today show in 2005, criticised Brooke Shields for taking anti-depression drugs and berated host Matt Lauer for suggesting that psychiatric treatment might help some patients.
“I don’t disagree with anything Tom says,” Travolta says in the July issue of W magazine, out tomorrow.
“How would I have presented it? Maybe differently than how he did, but it doesn’t matter. I still think that if you analyse most of the school shootings, it is not gun control. It is (psychotropic) drugs at the bottom of it.
“I don’t want to create controversy; I just have an opinion on things, and there is nothing wrong with stating your opinion if you are asked,” he continues.
“Everyone wants that right, and because you are famous doesn’t mean you have less of a right.”