Cruise Scientology video clip hits Web

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NEW YORK -- A biography and 4-year-old video of Tom Cruise are calling attention to the actor's belief in Scientology.

Andrew Morton, author of "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography," published Tuesday by St. Martin's Press, alleges that the 45-year-old actor ranks second in command in the Church of Scientology.

"This is a fair, evenhanded treatment of Tom Cruise's life," Morton said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show. "He's a man who deserves attention."

The church responded with a 15-page statement, calling the book "a bigoted, defamatory assault replete with lies" and saying Cruise "is a Scientology parishioner and holds no official or unofficial position in the Church hierarchy."

The public affairs office for the Church of Scientology didn't respond to a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Rogers & Cowan, the publicity firm that represents Cruise, issued a statement criticizing Morton for not interviewing "one person who has known or worked with Tom" in the past 25 years. The statement also derides Morton for writing "outlandish and malicious lies to sell books."

The book's publication comes as a 2004 video of Cruise extolling Scientology's virtues made its way to the Internet. The video was still on gossip Web site Gawker.com on Tuesday.

Cruise is shown speaking in great detail about the religion. He discusses his faith while the soundtrack to his "Mission: Impossible" films plays in the background.

"It's rough and tumble, and it's wild and woolly and it's a blast," he says. "It's a blast. It really is fun, because ... there is nothing better than ... going out there and fighting the fight and, suddenly you see, things are better."

"Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident, it's not like anyone else; as you drive past, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you're the only one that can really help."

The AP sent an e-mail seeking comment to Julie Polkes, one of Cruise's representatives.
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