The Top 25 People Enabling Scientology, No. 16: James Packer - 2020-09-05
Australian billionaire James Packer was a member of the Church of Scientology for only a few years, from about 2001 to 2006, according to Steve Cannane's reporting in his excellent history of Scientology in Australia, Fair Game. But a couple of recent stories suggest that Packer continues to be a powerful friend of Scientology even as he's moved on in his seemingly endless mid-life crisis.
James is the son of Australian magnate Kerry Packer, who died in 2005. And like a lot of children of self-made titans of industry, James struggled to live up to his father's expectations. In particular, he took a bath on a bad telecommunications deal, and by 2001 his life was a mess.
It was Tom Cruise who came to the rescue. Cruise had befriended Packer and that year very quietly got his Australian pal a spot at Scientology's flagship drug rehab facility in Oklahoma, the 200-bed clinic Narconon Arrowhead. After drying out, Packer then became a dedicated member of Tom's church, and James could be seen in the front row at a 2004 IAS gala, the one which included the now infamous celebration of Cruise, who was awarded a Freedom Medal of Valor. Cruise and Packer could also be seen together on the gambling magnate's yacht, along with Katie Holmes and Scientology spokesman and Cruise handler, Tommy Davis.