One of the key sources in the articles, Mike Rinder, was assigned to deal with me when I wrote a 2005 magazine article about Cruise. A fallen-away Rinder speaking on the record is a big get, as any journalist who has covered Scientology knows. Marty Rathbun is a big name in Scientology circles, too. Both were high-ranking members of the Sea Organization, Scientology’s upper-level staff. Sea Org members commit to the job for one billion years (with breaks provided to accommodate childhood at the beginning of each new incarnation). They live in dorms and are not permitted to have children…

Cruise may still have a certain level of remove, though he certainly seems aware at this point that his enthusiastic public embrace of Scientology has not endeared him to fans. But former Scientologists say that for many still on the inside, the church walls are not as thick as they used to be. These days, “you can sit in your dining room, click on a little link and read about [Scientology],” Christman says. “Everybody’s connected. Before, if you left, you had nobody. Now there’s an army of people saying, `Come on out—we’re having a great time!’ ”