The former church employee, Brendan Tighe, worked as a security guard in the global headquarters of the Church of Scientology in Clearwater, Florida up until 2009. Tighe had been a Scientologist for 30 years, and he recently told The Daily Mail that his position in the Clearwater hotel known as "Flag" gave him a lot of inside dirt on the controversial religious organization.
In particular, Tighe said that there was a lot of resentment between John Travolta and Tom Cruise, always boiling just under the surface. As two of the most famous members of the church, the two of them received a lot of special treatment, but Tighe said that when Cruise joined in 1990, Travolta felt displaced.
"Cruise is the only celeb with a direct line to [David] Miscavige," Tighe said, referring to the leader of the church. "Travolta and Kirstie [Alley] don't have that."
Tighe said that, before Cruise came along, Travolta saw himself as the "favorite son" of David Miscavige. However, the star power that Cruise brought with him gave him even more special treatment than Travolta was accustomed to.
"Travolta doesn't get anything free, no one is giving him absurd gifts like an airplane hangar, custom-made bikes, or over the top favors," Tighe said, referring to the exorbitant gifts Cruise is rumored to have received from the church.
"It's no secret that Cruise and Travolta despised each other," he went on. "Travolta wasn't invited to Cruise's wedding with Katie Holmes, it told me everything. I can assure you Travolta doesn't recognize Cruise as a superior in any way. When Cruise got that medal Travolta was so p—ed off."
The medal Tighe referred to was the Freedom Medal of Valor. Currently the highest award within the structure of Scientology, it is given only to the church's most dedicated member. Miscavige presented the medal to Cruise in 2008 at a special gala in the United Kingdom. Tighe said that the award pushed Travolta over the edge in a fit of jealousy.
"The closest person Miscavige had ever said that about before was Travolta, he was told by Miscavige that he was [t]he most dedicated Scientologist and had introduced more members than anyone, so it was like getting his title stripped, he was jealous," he explained.
"Travolta dictated a scathing letter to his chauffeur, who had to write to Miscavige asking 'what the hell is this medal was all about?'" he added.
To hear Tighe tell it, Travolta wasn't the only church-goer upset by Cruise's lavish honors. Cruise received more perks than anyone in the church ever had, and it began to break down the faith of certain sects of the insular religion.
"I'd say it's a 50/50 split whether Cruise is even respected in Scientology," Tighe said. "When Cruise got the medal, the Office of Special Affairs [the spy unit of Scientology] was on high alert for any comments that were negative - it built up a lot of resentment within the ranks of Scientology, they didn't think he deserved it."
Neither Travolta nor Cruise responded to the stories from Tighe's interview. The Church of Scientology itself told Daily Mail that the report "repeats unsubstantiated claims by an apostate who has a personal axe to grind."
Tighe went on to tell his own story of life within the church, which he was born into. He recalls spending years in the Rehabilitation Task Force, describing it, as many other former members have, as a sort of prison or labor camp. He left of his own accord nearly a decade ago.