Australia's second richest man and the son of the late billionaire media mogul Kerry Packer, was introduced to Scientology
by his friend Tom Cruise
in 2002. Recently the billionaire's closest friends have confirmed that he has quietly distanced himself from Scientology. He is no longer undertaking Scientology courses and had slowly moved away from the religion, saying he no longer "needs it"
The religion entered Mr 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 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,"
he said. "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."
Thanks to his Hollywood confidant Cruise, Mr Packer and his fortune were embraced at Scientology's highest levels.
A video from 2004 shows Mr Packer in the front row with the world's most senior Scientologist at a convention in Los Angeles at which Tom Cruise was awarded a large medal before a roaring crowd.
However, Scientology caused discomfort within Mr Packer's old circle of Sydney friends. When his lifelong friend David Gyngell quit Channel Nine in May 2005, it was Mr Packer who called in Scientologists to counsel the TV executive.
Out of respect for his friend, Mr Gyngell listened to them but politely said he did not need their help. In a blaze of negative publicity, he left the network his father, Bruce, had launched. Mr Gyngell has since returned to Nine and resumed his friendship with Mr Packer.
However, observers suggest Mr Packer's expanding casino empire has presented issues difficult to reconcile with Scientologist beliefs.
Scientology's founder, the science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, denounced gambling. "An obsessive gambler is a psychotic just like a drug addict or an alcoholic,"
Hubbard wrote in 1977.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald