Members of Mr Packer’s inner circle have confirmed that the billionaire, Scientology’s wealthiest member in the world, was no longer undertaking Scientology courses and had slowly moved away from the religion, telling his closest friends he no longer “needs it”.
Mr Packer’s office did not respond to reporters’ calls yesterday.
Mr Packer was introduced to Scientology by his close friend Tom Cruise in 2002. Friends say they remain close, most recently photographed dining together with their wives in Germany. Scientology entered Mr Packer’s realm at one of the lowest points in his personal and business life.
He was overweight and depressed, his first marriage, to Jodhi Meares, had ended and he was reeling from the collapse of One.Tel.
He has only spoken publicly of his involvement in Scientology once, telling The Australian Financial Review Magazine in 2006: “I think it has been very good for me. It has been helpful.”
But Scientology caused some discomfort within Mr Packer’s old circle of Sydney friends. Some suggest Mr Packer’s expanding casino empire has presented him with issues difficult to reconcile with Scientologist beliefs.