In the world of celebrity endorsements companies try to find a good fit for their products with a likely face and/or popular personality to use as a spokesperson. No doubt Neutrogena skin care products thought Kelly Preston was a good match for their new line called “Visibly Firm.”

Kelly Preston Neutrogena adThe 43-year-old actress is the wife of John Travolta, she is attractive and perhaps most importantly fits the demographic of a middle aged woman interested in ”firmer, smoother, younger-looking skin,” as advertised by the company.

However, one aspect of Ms. Preston’s personal and public persona makes her involvement with Neutrogena seem strange.

Preston, like her husband Travolta, is a Scientologist and Neutrogena is an operating company controlled by the corporate conglomerate Johnson & Johnson.

Here is the rub.

Johnson & Johnson also owns Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, which produces the psychotropic drug Haldol and likewise owns Janssen, which produces Risperdal and Concerta (methylphenidate) for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 

These are the very types of drugs so frequently and fervently denounced by Scientologists like Tom Cruise and also Kelly Preston.

Janssen says it “is focused solely on mental health and helps patients achieve healthy minds and mental wellness.”

But according to Scientology its teachings and programs are the way to “achieve healthy minds” and Kelly Preston not only believes that, she is an outspoken activist and critic of “psychotropic drugs.”

Just last year the actress and her Scientologist crony sitcom star Kirstie Alley pleaded with Florida lawmakers to prohibit schools from denying services to students who won’t take prescribed medicines to treat mental disorders.

They both supported what was reported as a “Scientology bill,” which would have effectively made their beliefs law.

Preston told legislators  that “psychiatric labelings are not actually medical disorders…[and] parents are intimidated by schools into getting psychotropic drugs for their children” She said, “Parents need to be aware of the potential dangers of these drugs.”

Preston with husband TravoltaMrs. Travolta doesn’t exactly sound like a booster for Janssen’s product line now does she?

How is it possible that this celebrity could be paid by a company to sell one product, after she bashed another for free?

The Scientology-linked legislation died after Governor Jeb Bush vetoed it.

“Ultimately, this bill could lead to a chilling effect on the evaluation and treatment of children with legitimate mental health needs, resulting in serious long-term consequences such as suicide or Baker Act intervention,” Bush wrote.

“The governor and lieutenant governor side with science,” Bush’s spokesman told the press.

Tom Cruise’s rants about psychiatry and Preston’s lobbying are consistent with the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Hubbard once called psychiatrists “terrorists” and the religion he created has been at war with mental health professionals virtually since its inception.

It seems odd that somehow Kelly Preston is posing for Neutrogena ads, while Johnson & Johnson is supplying drugs to Scientology’s avowed enemy of targeted “terrorists.”

Didn’t anyone at Johnson & Johnson research the selection of Preston?

Meanwhile Scientology certainly seems to have “dropped the ball” on this one.

The organization is known for its special handling and protection of church celebrities. The partnering between Preston and a Johnson & Johnson appears to be a potential embarrassment for both the actress and the church.

Certainly the wife of John Travolta, the star that once made $20 million per picture, doesn’t really need the residual income from Neutrogena commercials that badly.

And aren’t there plenty of other middle-aged actresses willing to do ads for Johnson & Johnson’s wrinkle cream?

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says, “When people like what I have, I give it to them.” And what Scientology likes about Baca is his title, which the sheriff seems to lend the controversial church whenever it wants.

Sheriff Baca, Scientology's best friend?Baca even videotaped a birthday message for the dead founder of Scientology L. Ron Hubbard and wrote a letter to support a controversial Scientology-linked program outside Leona Valley in California.

The Whittier Daily reports that Baca has ”a $1 million campaign war chest – more than twice as much as his four challengers combined.”

The Sheriff is expected to easily win reelection.

“It’s tough to unseat an incumbent, but when you have challengers with little resources, it’s an enormous task,” a political consultant told the local newspaper.

How much of the money in Baca’s “war chest” comes from Scientologists?

It seems likely that Hubbardites grateful to Baca for promoting their interests have responded with hard cash.

Of course there is nothing new about contributing to a politician generously when he or she has helped you out.

Baca says, “A law enforcement agency that does not have strong relationships with the religious community is basically exempting one of the great tools of public safety, and I just think public safety needs all the help it can get.”

However, when that help is from a so-called “cult” like Scientology, an organization with a record of lawsuits filed by former members regarding personal injuries, not to mention criminal prosecutions around the world, should a law enforcement official embrace it in the name of “public safety” so readily without reservations?

And should the sheriff be engaged in Scientology-linked fund raisers?

Baca is paid his $249,603 per year in salary by all the taxpayers of Los Angeles County, which includes many different religious groups, not just Scientologists.

Tom Cruise supposedly is living in a ”haunted” house reports Life Style Extra.

Does Tom Cruise need 'ghostbusters'?Apparently previous occupants have ”experienced spooky sensations there.”

Caleigh Peters, daughter of producer Jon Peters, says that she “heard noises” while living there and claims the house was “creepy.”

Well, if it wasn’t “creepy” before it certainly seems like it is now.

Cruise has reportedly created a kind of “cult compound” there surrounded by his faithful staff of Scientologists and his girlfriend Katie Holmes is cocooned within that controlled environment.

That would be ”spooky” wouldn’t it?

Meanwhile Scientology’s ”Top Gun” is reportedly planning an expanded compound on what he hopes will become his very own hilltop overlooking the San Fernando Valley.

It seems the star doesn’t like having neighbors too close so he is trying to buy them out.

“Tom plans to spend up to $25 million on the project after agreeing to knock down one existing property and buying a second one next door” a source told Hollywood.com.

Katie Holmes may find herself an isolated mom secured within Cruise’s new hilltop compound with baby Suri surrounded by Scientologists.

And the Holmes family may be shut out through ”Cruise control.”

Peters claims Cruise’s current rental home is “full of ghosts,” which may have hurried along his home building plans.

Scientologists do believe in ghosts of a sort. 

According to L. Ron Hubbard’s writings the planet earth is plagued by what he called “Body Thetans” or “BTs.” The spiritual residue of beings from outer space brought here millions years ago on spaceships.

Scientologists are delivered from these spirits through what they call “auditing.”

Could it be that Tom Cruise’s detached “BTs” have come to haunt his Beverly Hills house?

If so, perhaps he can call in some ”Ghostbusters” from Scientology to clear them out. 

An 84-year-old Australian “cult leader” named Ken Dyers is facing trial in a Sydney court on 21 charges of sexually assaulting two 12-year-old girls reports ABC News.

Ken Dyers, declared mentally unstableDyers and his partner Jan Hamilton formed a group called “Kenja Communications” in 1982, claiming they were offering participants “greater spiritual understanding”.

That “understanding” was at times apparently predicated upon private one-on-one sessions, which Dyers labeled “processing” or “energy conversion.”

It seems that during just such a session one of the 12-year-old girls alleges she was told to strip naked and then Dyers inappropriately touched her.

Later the child reportedly told her mother, “I don’t feel that what is happening in the sessions is OK” reported The Daily Telegraph. 

Ken Dyers likes to refer to himself as a “war veteran.” On his Web site he states, “I served my country in World War II.”

And at times the media has reported that he is a “WWII veteran.”

But what the purported “cult leader” doesn’t say is that his military service record was far less than distinguished.

Apparently not tested by combat Dyers highest rank was corporal and he was a transport driver. In 1944 after being found “guilty of AWL” (absent without leave) the future founder of Kenja was busted back to private. 

Here is a 1941 official photo of Dyers during wartime.

Finally, the Australian Military Forces decided to dump Dyers, stating that the cause was “mental instability.” 

Not exactly the type of war record most men would want to brag about or even draw attention to, but maybe Mr. Dyers thought no one would check it out. 

Kenneth Dyers went on to become “a highly respected public speaker…presenting national public lectures on increasing personal effectiveness through positive communication.”

Well, that’s what his official Web site claims.

However, to those not so easily swayed by Mr. Dyer’s rhetoric and his self-proclaimed speaker status, the man now charged with sexually abusing children seems to have continued his youthful “mental instability” well into old age.

It seems that Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has taken on Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard as a cause to crusade over, using both his title and office to add weight to the claims of both.

Baca parading for ScientologyCultNews has reported before how the Sheriff seems to have become a shill for Scientology promoting its various programs and attending its fund-raising events.

This month Baca was featured within the magazine International Scientology News (Issue number 33) gushing about how wonderful the founder of Scientology was and his supposed precepts remain.

The following statement is seemingly attributed to Sheriff Baca complete with photo within the Scientology publication. A copy of the quote as it appears is posted a Web site administered by David Touretzsky, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and critic of Scientology.

“The story of L. Ron Hubbard can be found in the time to understand the information that he provides, the wisdom that it brings to dealing with life’s needs and therein the real story can be told. And the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people, who have been exposed to what his ideas are — it’s all about goodness, it’s all about improving yourself, it’s all about finding a way to empower other human beings. It’s reverence for life. Those are important things.”

Can Baca be so ignorant and poorly read that he doesn’t know about the actual teachings of L. Ron Hubbard and only understands what Scientology’s public relations department churns out?

Does he think that Tom Cruise going “crazy” is proof of “improving yourself” through Scientology?

Or is it that the sheriff has somehow benefited through his association with the controversial church many call a “cult”?

Perhaps Scientology’s rich patrons have contributed to his political campaign fund?

Maybe the sheriff should do a little more reading about Scientology before he agrees again to stand up for its programs and lend his name and the weight of his elected office to its schemes.

The “real story” behind Scientology can be easily understood by reading the seminal cover story run by Time Magazine back in 1991 titled “Scientology: The Cult of Greed.” Rather than being “about goodness” Time reported, “In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner.”

Suggested reading for BacaA more recent article published by Rolling Stone magazine titled “Inside Scientology” published this year offers examples of former Scientologists fearful about retribution from the church Baca says is “about goodness.”

“I’m terrified” one tells Rolling Stone, while another says, “The church is a big, scary deal.”

Does this sound like the result of an effort to “empower other human beings”?

Baca claims there is a “reverence for life” evident within the teachings of Hubbard through Scientology.

But how can this be seen through the way the church handled Lisa McPherson? A devoted Scientologist in distress who was taken to a Scientology facility in Florida for treatment and ended up DOA at a hospital 17 days later?

Lisa McPherson’s family didn’t think Scientology demonstrated a “reverence for life” so the sued the church for wrongful death. After years of legal wrangling the church paid the family off rather than take its chances before a jury.

What about the “story of L. Ron Hubbard”?

At best his biography appears to be a bit muddled. One judge declared that Hubbard was “virtually a pathological liar when it [came] to his history, background and achievements.” And according to one report the “Scientology’s founder’s family [was] far from what he preached.”

A recent article in Slate and another in Salon that describes Hubbard’s writings as a “crackpot rant” hardly portrays a man known for his “wisdom” as Baca describes him.

So what “information” does the sheriff rely upon before lending his name to promotional efforts?

Apparently not the information provided through the mainstream media such as the Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine or reputable wire services like Associated Press or Reuters.

Instead, it seems that Baca prefers to believe whatever his Scientology handlers tell him or provide as reference material.

Los Angeles County voters might well want to consider whose interests Sheriff Baca is serving before casting their ballots in the next election.

Is the sheriff becoming a shill for Scientology or is he consistently representing the best interests of his broader constituency?

Mel Gibson has gone a bit ”Mad Max” over the “Da Vinci Code.” The director of “The Passion of the Christ” says that the latest hit movie based upon religion “weaves facts with maverick theories” reports a Web site citing Hollywood.com as its source.

'Maverick' Mel GibsonHowever, Gibson of all people should be the last person to criticize any film for taking dramatic license by positing specious theories and/or spinning some imagined history.

After all, the former Maverick had more than a few “maverick” moments in his own Jesus movie.

CultNews previous reported that Gibson portrayed Mary Magdalene pleading with the Romans to save Jesus after he is taken away to be tried by Jewish authorities.

Then he had Jesus tell Roman Governor Pontius Pilate that it’s the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas that will bear the “greater sin” for his execution.

And Mrs. Pilate even got into the act, tearfully bringing Mary the mother of Jesus, some towels and crying with her.

However, not one of these scripted moments is recorded specifically within the New Testament.

Mel Gibson made them up by weaving his “maverick theories” with Christian scriptures. 

Gibson reportedly said that what “worries” him “is that people will take ['The Davinci Code'] as fact.”

But that’s exactly what worried many critics about his Jesus movie even before it was released.

Specifically, critics said repeatedly before and after the film was released that Gibson’s audience would “take…as fact” his “theories,” which amounted to an implicit indictment of the Jews for deicide, which would contribute to anti-Semitism.

Unlike those associated with “The Da Vinci Code” such as Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, best-selling author Dan Brown, or two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks, Gibson, who received an Oscar for directing “Braveheart,” takes his Jesus movie very seriously rather than seeing it as simply entertainment.

“The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film,” Gibson once said.

But if that is true then why isn’t the questionable dialog within his movie somewhere in the bible?

One thing is without question and that is both “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Da Vinci Code” have the status of box office hits. And this was accomplished laregely through the controversy and ”cult-following” each film developed, which fueled ticket sales.

Mel Gibson has no plans to spin ”Passion” into a series, possibly offering a prequel regarding the ministry of Jesus or sequel, such as his version or vision of “The Resurrection.”

But it looks like Sony has decided that “The Da Vinci Code” will become a franchise and has already ordered up a movie script based upon another Dan Brown book.

A controversial fundamentalist Christian missionary organization called “Jews for Jesus“ (JFJ) apparently has compiled a list of likely ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish homes in New York and New Jersey and targeted them for unwanted mailings and possible future home visits.

Hasidic Jews have been targetedA Yiddish language DVD titled “Days of Moshiach” was received at about 80,000 homes on Saturday in primarily Hassidic and Hareidi neighborhoods. And it seems that the labeling and presentation was done deliberately to mislead its recipients.

Based upon the packaging a first impression might easily be that Jews rather than evangelical Christians sent the DVD.

The mailing targeted Jewish households in Kiryas Joel; the Monsey area of Rockland County; the Borough Park and Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn; and Lakewood, N.J. reports Arutz Sheva.

Reportedly missionaries are expected to follow-up the DVD delivered by making personal visits, dressed up to look like members of the ultra-Orthodox communities.

A spokesman for JFJ admitted that his organization was behind the campaign, but claimed its purpose was to address “distortions” and “misinformation” about ”Jesus.”

However, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said that JFJ is “deceptive because they are not Jewish and they are trying to create the impression that they are” reported the Times Herald-Record.  

JFJ seems to use such confrontation to garner attention and generate press, which the organization probably hopes will lead to more contributions from its evangelical supporters. JFJ is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (EFCA).

JFJ DVDIn Israel one Jew outraged about JFJ and its continued harassment of the Jewish community explained why he considers the organization “evil.”

Bradley Burston urged the group to “leave the Jews alone” and said that such “proselytizing is persecution.” His comments were published by Haaretz.

“Believe whatever you want. Practice whatever you preach. Just stay the hell away from us,” he concluded.

This appears to summarize the sentiments that most Jews have about groups like JFJ.

Of course many evangelicals seem to think they have marching orders from God to “share their faith” with Jews repeatedly over and over again. Apparently a general sense of religious triumphalism and hubris often prompts their proselytizing. 

Now JFJ may be going door-to-door much like Jehovah’s Witnesses, but unlike the Witnesses they intend to knock only on Jewish doors.

Not all born-again Christians endorse such repeated harassment of the Jewish community. Billy Graham has spoken out against targeting any group through a missionary effort.

Interestingly, many of the same fundamentalist Christians that support targeting Jews for conversion don’t appreciate Mormons or Witnesses attempting to convert them.

Perhaps JFJ and its supporters might consider that if such unwanted attention bothers them, it might just bother those that they push their religion on as well.

After all wasn’t it Jesus who said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Or is this somehow one of the “distortions” that the JFJ spokesman wants corrected under the heading of “misinformation”?

The popular HBO show “Big Love” features a polygamist family headed by actor Bill Paxton who has three wives living in the Salt Lake City suburbs. Each wife has her very own house nestled in a neat little row and joined together by a common yard with a pool.

Brigham Young, proud polygamistThis is the fantasized version of polygamy HBO-syle.

Paxton and his brood live secretly concocting cover stories to keep their nosy Mormon neighbors guessing.

But back in the bad old days when polygamy flourished in Salt Lake City there was no need to hide as Paxton’s paranoid character does on the television series. Polygamy was practiced and honored from the top down by church members.

Mormon “prophet” Brigham Young lived quite publicly with his many wives in downtown Salt Lake, virtually in the shadow of the Mormon Temple.

Young’s home named “The Beehive” was considered the official residence of the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). And right next door he housed his plural wives in what is known as the “Lion House” named for the stone lion placed above its porch.

The Mormon leader took pride in polygamy and regarded it far more seriously than the fictional character Paxton plays on HBO. Brigham Young reportedly married and/or was “sealed” to more than 50 women and had at least 57 known children.

Some researchers have concluded that Young had 27 wives.

“Lion House” caretakers say that the building was “designed with a communal family in mind.” And though the property had no swimming pool like Paxton’s, it included twenty bedrooms. Lion House has been lovingly preserved by Young’s faithful religious progeny and its 150th anniversary is being celebrated this year reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.

Mormon historians say the home housed 75 people, including 40 children under the age of 13.

The second Mormon “prophet” used to summon his wives by ringing a big bell three times every evening. Young died in one of the bedrooms within “Lion House” during 1877.

'Lion House'Today the house is used as a public place and is booked for parties, dinners and special events, even once for a bar mitzvah.

“If Brigham Young were around, he would be happy to see it used that way,” said its executive chef.

Well, maybe not about a bar mitzvah, given his view that Mormons have effectively replaced the Jews with their own “restored priesthood” according to the revelation given to their original “prophet” Joseph Smith.

Some say that the Lion House is haunted. Perhaps by the spirits of Young’s deceased wives still responding to ringing bells.

Mormons themselves seem to be haunted by the practice of polygamy, which was ended by the Mormon Church officially in 1890.

However, Utah still has quite a few diehard polygamists and remains populated with many descendants of polygamists, including many that claim Brigham Young as an ancestor.

The preservation of places like “Lion House” demonstrates the often conflicted and ambivalent feelings Mormons have about polygamy and polygamists, which is an important part of their history.

Mormons denounce present-day polygamists, but at the same time honor historic ones such as Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith and his immediate successor and Utah pioneer Brigham Young.

To say the least, polygamy remains something of a Mormon conundrum.

What does an aging pop star do, when she’s almost 50 and her halcyon days are long gone? Well, first try some retro-disco and then grab some free press through an outrageous act.

Madonna on her crossWell, at least that’s been Madonna’s “tried and true” formula that worked before. And now it’s being stirred and poured out again for her new concert tour “Confessions on a Dance Floor.”

Of course there is the usual S&M styled accessories with a riding crop, but added to the mix this time is a giant cross to hang on. Madonna crucified with a crown of thorns on a glittering disco cross.

This is the diva version of “Shock and Awe.”

And as no doubt carefully calculated “religious groups have reacted furiously” reports London’s Daily Mail.

A Church of England spokesman responded, “Is Madonna prepared to take on everything else that goes with wearing a crown of thorns?”

No.

Madonna isn’t thinking of any religious commitment somehow connected to this symbol of Christianity. After all she rejected Catholicism long ago to eventually become the apparent celebrity high priestess of the “Kabbalah Centre.”

The symbol this “Material Girl” is most concerned with is the dollar sign through ticket sales, CD purchases and whatever paraphernalia is laid out for tour ticket holders to snap up.

The 47-year-old singer’s fans are not so thirsty for the so-called “Kabbalah Water” hawked by her spiritual mentors, nor do they swarming to buy the “red string” amulet the Kabbalah Centre sells. So the diva/businesswoman has decided to cash in on what she sees as a more marketable focus of religious devotion.

CultNews reported last month about how Madonna planned to be crucified, on what variously was rumored to be a “disco ball,” or “cross-like disco ball” or ”disco-fied crucifix” used for some sort of dramatic effect.

It seems that the star decided to use both a disco ball for her entrance and disco cross for some added drama.

But no matter how many times Madonna hangs on her cross, there won’t be any resurrection.

Gone are the Eighties icon’s glory days. And as she has moved on through her brand of spirituality and the supposed lifestyle of English gentry, so have many of her fans.

And there just isn’t any miracle that’s going to change that, though promoters still hope to grab $200 million through this Madonna tour, accomplished by charging as much as $380 for a seat including Ticketmaster fees. 

Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” reportedly netted him more than $70 million dollars, largely because of the cult-like devotion the savvy director/producer cultivated for his film amongst evangelical Christians and its timely release for Easter. Is it possible that “The Da Vinci Code” could experience the same phenomenon only somewhat reversed?

Hanks gets big box officeThe film based upon the Dan Brown book that sold more than 50 million copies to become something of a cultural and publishing phenomenon is based largely upon the “Gnostic Gospels,” which are considered “heretical to evangelicals and many other Christians. And thus the “Da Vinci Code” relates something less than the supernatural Christ depicted in Gibson’s film.

But it seems that the controversy surrounding this unorthodox religious movie may have built interest in the film much like the controversy that preceded Mel’s Gibson’s Jesus movie. According to Sony Pictures the Ron Howard film starring Tom Hanks has pulled in $224 million on its first weekend worldwide reports Associated Press.

Both “The Passion of the Christ” and “The Da Vinci Code” received less than glowing critical reviews. And both projects garnered the response that they were spurious, Gibson’s for its anti-Semitic content and Howard’s for its heresy.  

Could Ron Howard’s creation catch up to Mel Gibson’s, which grossed $370 million in the United States alone and more than $600 million worldwide?

Controversy about 'Code' sells ticketsBoth films seem to have a kind of cult-following of “true believers.”

However, it seems doubtful that “The Da Vinci Code” can equal Mel Gibson’s 2004 box office take, though it will undoubtedly be a major moneymaker for Sony this summer.

In fact, Sony is already considering a sequel based upon Browns book titled “Angels and Demons” after the very successful first weekend of Da Vinci Code reports Coming Soon.net.