Published: Thursday, Dec. 16th, 2021
Headed to a star-studded Hollywood wedding? Have a friend or family member marrying into Scientology? Are you friends with Tom Cruise or John Travolta?
Or do you just want to learn more about the secrets behind a Scientologist wedding ceremony?
Like other organized religions and spiritual communities, Scientologists have several unique wedding traditions that set their ceremonies apart from others. But because the Church has found itself in constant controversy and scandal over the years, many of its followers keep their status as Scientologists out of the public eye, along with their private celebrations.
This means you won’t find many Scientologist weddings live-streamed on social media or featured in online wedding blogs and magazines. (Unless it happens to be a union between two Hollywood celebrities… You know the ones. We talk about them a little later, so keep reading.)
In the spirit of demystifying things for loved ones who find themselves on these celestial guest lists, here’s a quick breakdown of what we know about Scientologist weddings… from intergalactic spiritual beings to exchanging wedding rings.
It’s important to mention that we respect the beliefs held by members of The Church of Scientology, to the extent that they don’t inflict harm on others. This article is presented in the interest of education and ecumenism.
Scientology's concept of a Supreme Being is expressed as the Eighth Dynamic (or Infinity)
First things first: What is Scientology, and what do Scientologists believe? The answer to this isn't very straightforward, but it involves celestial travel, immortal life, alien beings, purification of the spirit, and release from the bonds of the material world.
Scientology is one of the world’s newer religions, founded in the early 1950s by the controversial American science fiction and fantasy author, L. Ron Hubbard. The Scientologist concept of God is expressed as the ‘Eighth Dynamic,’ which the Church defines as “the urge toward existence as infinity.” (Via Scientology.org)
Scientologists believe that man is an immortal spiritual being (thetan), living countless lifetimes, and that men and women (thetans in physical form) increase their spiritual awareness through auditing (questions and directions that help a follower achieve new ‘levels’ and locate the root of spiritual trauma from past lives) and training (routines that increase a follower’s ability to communicate clearly and control situations and reactions).
One of the most interesting aspects of Scientology to scholars is the belief that thetans may have originated as intergalactic alien beings that have lived not only on this planet (within the bodies of men and women), but in other physical and non-material forms on other planets.
According to some sources, these beings were brought to Earth by Xenu, a galactic ruler who served millions of years ago. (But there’s a lot of controversy around this story, and it’s not mentioned directly on the Church of Scientology website.)
Marriage is part of the Second Dynamic, or second urge (Creativity),
which encompasses sex, family life, and future survival.
Scientologists believe that marriage is a sacred and essential component of a “stable family life.” The Church doesn’t openly support same-sex marriage, and all literature published on the official website only refers to marriage as being between men and women.
Within the faith, marriage is part of the ‘Second Dynamic,’ and is grounded in the principles of the ARC triangle -- Affinity, Reality and Communication (A-R-C) -- which are believed to increase closeness and reduce conflict through specific ways of relating to your spouse.
Scientologist wedding ceremonies are officiated by an ordained Scientology minister.
Scientologist marriage ceremonies follow a traditional western style, similar to traditional Christian ceremonies, with the bride walking down the aisle in a white dress, and the couple joined by bridesmaids, groomsmen, a Best Man, and a Maid of Honor, as they take their vows. Weddings are usually followed by a reception dinner or party.
There are five types of ceremonies, each with its own ceremony script: Traditional, Informal, Single Ring, Double Ring and Concise Double Ring.
A Scientologist wedding ceremony held at The Church of Scientology in London,
with the Scientology Cross behind the marriage altar, via SkyNews (2015)
There aren’t many details available on how these 5 ceremony styles differ from each other, and some ceremony specifics are kept secret. However many sources claim that ceremonies openly discuss the downsides and difficult aspects of marriage, including arguments, aging, and a loss of romantic interest.
The Double Ring Ceremony script is published on the Church’s official website, and follows a similar structure to a traditional ceremony you might see on television.
For example, at the start of the ceremony, a minister asks:
“If there be any among you who know of any reason why this [joining of man and woman] should not be done, let them now speak, or forever remain silent.”
(from the Double Ring Ceremony script)
(Not so different from “speak now or forever hold your peace,” is it?)
Interfaith marriage is allowed, as long as the partner marrying a Scientologist doesn’t actively disagree with the faith (a Suppressive Person). Interfaith ceremonies often include readings from both faiths.
While much of the ceremony will be familiar to those outside the faith, the wedding vows are where Scientology ceremonies get really unique.
In the Double Ring ceremony, for example, the minister references the ARC triangle and future lives /lifetimes during the ring exchange:
“As long as these emblems remain with you, I want you to see that triangle in their center as a reminder that the reality of their symbolism of permanency will hold true only so long as that triangle remains unbroken.
I should like to see you make a pact between you that you will never close your eyes in sleep on a broken triangle. Heal any breach with the reality of your love through communication. If you will do this, these emblems of your greatest desire in present time will remain a reality throughout your future time track.”
(from the Double Ring Ceremony script)
During the Double Ring ceremony, the minister holds up the rings and asks the bride and groom to imagine the ARC triangle inside them, representing the permanence of marriage.
Scientology strongly discourages divorce and requires couples to complete a complicated process involving marital counseling and auditing before divorcing.
Ex-members tell the New York Times that auditing before a divorce requires couples to be hooked up to E-meters -- a sort of metaphysical polygraph test -- to determine if they’re being honest about themselves and their feelings. (Auditors must first become ordained Scientology ministers before taking on the role.)
This is definitely one of the most famous Scientology weddings. Although these two celebrities split back in 2012, their wedding remains one of the most well known examples of a Scientologist wedding.
The couple was married in Odescalchi Castle in Bracciano, Italy, by an American Scientology minister, in a ceremony that cost an estimated $3 million. The couple chose a Double Ring ceremony, and included Catholic readings in honor of Holmes’ family faith.
Because Scientology rites are not recognized in Italy (Scientology is not recognized as a real religion in several countries), the couple was required to complete additional paperwork to make their union legal.
One of the most recent celebrity Scientology weddings was between Alanna Masterson (of The Walking Dead fame) and New York restaurant owner Paul Longo, in March of 2021.
Did you know?
Other current and former celebrity Scientologists include Leah Remini (who left in 2013) ; Paul Haggis (who left in 2009); Elisabeth Moss (current member); and John Travolta (current member).
Many ex-members have spoken out against the Church. A recent highly-awarded documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (HBO, 2015), highlights and verifies many claims of abuse, coercion, harassment, exploitation, and emotional damage perpetrated by the Church.
Despite many high-profile members, it’s estimated that there are fewer than 55,000 practicing Scientologists worldwide. The Church itself has claimed a following in the millions in years past, but we can’t find any recently published official numbers.
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