Top Hollywood actor Tom Cruise has made a rare public statement on his religious beliefs, noting that he is very proud to have been a Scientologist for over three decades now.
"It's something that has helped me incredibly in my life. I've been a Scientologist for over 30 years," Cruise told ITV news in London ahead of the U.K. premier of his latest film, "Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back."
"It's something, you know, without it, I wouldn't be where I am," he added. "So it's a beautiful religion. I'm incredibly proud."
Cruise has tried to portray the religion in a positive light despite its many controversies, and in leaked footage from a video on Scientology in 2008 he said: "I think it's a privilege to call yourself a Scientologist and it's something you have to earn. And because a Scientologist does, he or she has the ability to create new and better realities, and improve conditions."
Documentaries such as "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," have sought to expose what they detail as heavy pressure on members to stay in the church, and have accused its leaders of abusing their powers.
The Church of Scientology has denied the criticism, however, and in a March 2015 statement accused the film of "falsehoods, errors, embellished tales and blatant omissions."
Actress Katie Holmes divorced from Cruise after five years of marriage in 2012, though there were conflicting reports about whether or not she returned to her Roman Catholic faith after the divorce. Speculation about the divorce at the time focused on Cruise's strong Scientology beliefs potentially being one of the main wedges between him and Holmes.
While the practices and beliefs of Scientologists remain unclear for many, former members of the Church, such as Leah Remini and writer Paul Haggis, have claimed that church leaders encourage members to shun apostates, according to MailOnline.