Hollywood hunk Tom Cruise battled a German journalist over his controversial Scientology religion recently, claiming the faith ran the world's most successful drug rehabilitation program.

The actor and director Steven Spielberg conducted a joint interview with Germany's SPIEGEL magazine to promote their forthcoming film WAR OF THE WORLDS.

When asked if Cruise had an official role to recruit new Scientologists, the Minority Report heart-throb replied, "I'm a helper. For instance, I myself have helped hundreds of people get off drugs.

"In Scientology, we have the only successful drug rehabilitation program in the world. It's called Narconon."

The Spiegel reporter quickly countered, "That's not correct. Yours is never mentioned among the recognised detox programs."

Defiant Cruise replied, "You don't understand what I am saying. It's a statistically proven fact that there is only one successful drug rehabilitation program in the world. Period."

The journalist answered, "With all due respect, we doubt that," before adding "Scientology is not considered a religion there (Germany), but rather an exploitative cult with totalitarian tendencies".

After the reporter labelled Scientology a "cult", Cruise became defensive.

He said, "We've won over 50 court cases in Germany. And it's not true that everyone in Germany supports that line against us.

"A minority wants to hate - okay. For me, it's connected with intolerance. If someone is so intolerant that he doesn't want to see a Scientologist in a movie, then he shouldn't go to the movie theatre. I don't care. Here in the United States, Scientology is a religion."

03/05/2005 14:03