May 9, 2008 Leave a comment
The Church of Scientology has lost its grip on James Packer.
The billionaire’s closest friends have revealed that he has quietly distanced himself from Scientology, labelled a cult by some former members, as it faces international controversy about its anti-psychiatry stance.
Members of Mr Packer’s inner circle have confirmed that the billionaire, who had ranked as 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”.
His office did not respond to the Herald’s calls yesterday.
Mr Packer was introduced to Scientology by his friend Tom Cruise in 2002. Friends say they remain close. They were most recently photographed dining together with their wives in Germany.
The religion entered Mr Packer’s realm at one of the lowest points in his personal and business life. He was overweight and depressed, his marriage to his first wife, Jodhi Meares, had ended and he was reeling from the humiliating and very public collapse of One.Tel, losing $350 million from the family business on the way.
He has spoken publicly of his involvement in the religion only once, telling The Australian Financial Review Magazine in 2006 that he spent an hour or so “every couple of days” practising Scientology. “I think it has been very good for me,” he said. “It has been helpful. I have some friends in Scientology that have been very supportive. But I think it’s just helped me have a better outlook on life.”
Thanks to his Hollywood confidant Cruise, Mr Packer and his fortune were embraced at Scientology’s highest levels.
James Packer is Australia wealthiest man and was ranked 142 on the World’s Billionaires 2007 list with a net worth of $5.5b. Forbes.com
Source – Sdyney Morning Herald