Sydney, May 10 : Billionaire businessman James Packer has quit Scientology as the religion faces international controversy about its anti-psychiatry stance, according to reports.
Members of Packer's inner circle have confirmed that the billionaire, who had ranked as Scientology's wealthiest member in the world, was no longer undertaking Scientology courses and had slowly moved away from the religion, telling his closest friends he no longer "needs it".
The Australian gambling mogul was introduced to Scientology by his friend Tom Cruise in 2002. Friends say they remain close. They were most recently photographed dining together with their wives in Germany.
The religion entered Packer's realm at one of the lowest points in his personal and business life.
He was overweight and depressed, his marriage to his first wife, Jodhi Meares, had ended and he was reeling from the humiliating and very public collapse of One.Tel, losing 350 million dollars from the family business on the way.
He has spoken publicly of his involvement in the religion only once, telling The Australian Financial Review Magazine in 2006 that he spent an hour or so "every couple of days" practicing Scientology.
"I think it has been very good for me. It has been helpful. I have some friends in Scientology that have been very supportive. But I think it's just helped me have a better outlook on life," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him, as saying at the time.