Katie Holmes blindsided Tom Cruise with divorce papers in the last day or two, and many speculate that she wants to protect her daughter Siri from being dragged into Scientology.
Now, I always wondered what possessed her to marry into Scientology in the first place, but it's heartening that her duty as a mom has come ahead of being married to Cruise, which has undoubtedly been a boost to her own career.
I really don't get how anyone can take a religion seriously knowing it was invented by a sci-fi writer and has a theology involving space aliens. But, when you get right down to it, is it that much wackier than Christianity?
(My apologies to TA for posting in Small Talk, having been told to try to post in the more specific categories, but this does seem to be a Small Talk kind of item, though I'm willing to listen to any suggestions of a better category. Perhaps we need a category devoted to entertainment topics. If TA had one, I would have posted there.)
Jul 7, 2012 4:45 AM EDT
[Here's most of the article.]
Holmes’s timing in filing the divorce was also “clearly well thought out,” says Rick Ross, an expert in controversial religions and cult deprogramming who says he has testified as an expert witness in “scores” of custody cases involving Scientology, the Unification Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses. While there has been much speculation that Holmes filed at this moment in her child’s life because she was worried that Scientology ramps up its indoctrination at age six, there is also a legal issue at stake, says Ross. As children reach the age of six or seven, courts begin to take into account issues of consistency and stability. “Even if the court is skeptical of an extreme religion or a cult and would want to give custody to the parent who has left, if the child has spent most of his life in the religion or cult and has been fully indoctrinated, the court will leave the kid there because it’s the life the child knows.” Holmes, he said, would be at much greater risk of losing Suri if she had waited.
Such a dynamic may have played out in Cruise’s divorce from Nicole Kidman. The couple had two adopted children, Connor and Isabella, who were six and eight when their divorce proceedings began in 2001. On the record at least, both Cruise and Kidman favored joint custody. But Kidman, who like Holmes was raised Catholic and never seemed to embrace Scientology with any fervor, fled back to Australia around the time of the separation announcement, and by the time the settlement was reached, the children were had spent much of their childhoods in the church. “Even if she had tried to get custody through the court, it would probably have failed,” said Ross. “It was too late for those kids. The court doesn’t like to disrupt their lives.”
Holmes also made a canny move, experts say, when she announced in her filing that she was open to Cruise sharing physical custody, despite suing for sole legal custody. Such a statement was likely a coded salvo to contrast with he church’s policy of “Disconnection,” they say. Scientology formally declares dissenters and those who leave precipitously as “Suppressive Persons,” a labeling that is a form of “shunning.” Many former Scientologists, especially those who were deeply involved in church hierarchy or members of the “Sea Org,” a small core of full-time workers who are often second generation Scientologists and have no relationships outside of the church, have said publicly that being named an SP was devastating. Some have posted their “Declare” (the document sent by the church) on such websites as “Ex-Scientology Kids.” Kidman has never said publicly if she received a “Declare,” but she has conceded she has little relationship with Connor or Isabella. In 2010, Isabella told an Australian magazine that she sees Kidman “sometimes.”
Mike Kelly, a Santa Monica divorce lawyer and former chairman of the American Bar Association’s custody committee told the Los Angeles Times last week that California courts would not view Scientology differently than another other religions, and that Cruise would be allowed to raise Suri in his faith while she was with him. But Hennessey and others who have experience with both celebrity and high-worth divorces that involve religious differences insist that that is untrue in New York. The church’s policy of disconnection would come into play if the case wound up in court, says Hennessey: “The judges don’t like anything that smacks of parental alienation. They don’t like even the suggestion that one parent would poison the mind of the child against the other parent. That’s considered a deal breaker.”
The fact that Scientology has such a strong opposition to psychiatric medications for conditions including ADHD and depression also could affect a judge. Ross, who has testified in many cases relating to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian sect that opposes blood transfusions and practices a form of shunning called “disfellowship,” says that the courts “aren’t comfortable with religions that are ‘non-accommodating’ and could threaten the child’s health. That’s where they tend to draw the line.”
And while Scientology has long fought to be regarded as a legitimate, even mainstream, practice, Holmes’s divorce action is likely to highlight how alien most people, including New York matrimonial judges, find the church. “No snake-handler religion is ever going to get custody of that child,” says Hennessey. “No way.”
I ran across a fascinating article today - wish I'd copied the URL - in which a church member admitted getting an email from a mass church email campaign that encouraged members to go on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and other social sites, and whenever they find an article critical to the Church, for several members to hit the button that indicates that a reader or viewer finds the article or video objectionable. It specifically stated that just one or two objections wouldn't be enough but ten or twenty could get the item deleted.
The church, of course, denied it.