Katie Holmes 'Biggest Nightmare' in Scientology History, Say Experts

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Using L. Ron Hubbard's "attack, don't defend" strategy, Holmes even fired Tom Cruise's older daughter weeks before filing for divorce; opposite tack from Nicole Kidman.

Rathbun says he witnessed Tommy Davis, head of the church’s Celebrity Centre and the son of actress Anne Archer, feeding Isabella and Connor Cruise false information about their mother so as to turn them against her.

"Tommy told them over and over again their mother was a sociopath, and after a while they believed him," Rathbun says. "They had daily sessions with Tommy. I was there. I saw it."

Soter sent the following statement attributed to Davis:

"Marty Rathbun never witnessed conversations between me and Isabella and Connor Cruise about their mother because no such conversations ever occurred. I have never spoken with Isabella or Connor about their mother and never would as it is none of my business."

Aaron Moss of Greenberg Glusker, the law firm that represents the Cruise family, sent the following statement:

"These stories are completely fabricated and are nothing more than an attempt by Mr. Rathbun, an individual with a well-documented vendetta against the Church, to drive a wedge between Bella and Connor and their mother, and the religion her children practice. Connor is a minor and Bella is only 19."

A number of former Scientology members say Holmes must know that as Suri gets older, the church might start exerting more of an influence on her.

"She’s at the age where the kids get indoctrinated," says Headley. "It’s like, playtime over. You’re a Scientologist now. And they really de-emphasize the family. Katie becomes a lot less important as a mother. It’s all about the organization over the individual."

Soter compared the religious training of children to the practice in Catholicism of beginning to receive Holy Communion at age 7. "Parents may choose to begin educating their children about religion at any time, much as in any other religion," his statement said. "There is nothing unusual here."

Headley, who began working 100-hour weeks at the Sea Org base in Hemet when he was 16, often for no pay, was shunned by his Scientologist mother when he left in 2005. 

"You're either in or out when it comes to Scientology," says Headley. "That’s why Katie is making custody such an issue in the divorce petition. If you’re out, the way she seems to be, they want to cut you off from everyone, including your kids."

Rinder says his biggest regret about leaving is that his son, daughter, mother, sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and several nieces and nephews refuse to speak to him.

Rinder’s 34-year-old daughter works at the Sea Org base near Hemet, where Miscavige has ruled in recent years that no one can marry or have children. His son, 29, works at the Clearwater, Fla., base, from which Rinder was turned away recently and accused of trespassing when he tried to see his son, who may have cancer.

"I feel bad because I put them there -- they were born in the Sea Org," says Rinder. "They’ve been in it their whole lives. At the same time, they’re adults now, and I wish they’d come to their senses."

Rinder’s children might not, as he says, "come to their senses" as Scientology forbids reading stories about the church on the Internet. 

But despite the enormous amount of negative reports online about Scientology -- whether written by ex-members, church opponents or investigative journalists such as Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker, Tony Ortega of The Village Voice or the staff at The Tampa Bay Times -- none of it has really seemed to stick to the church, Rinder says.

Ortega, for example, writes about Scientology at least once a week and broke the news last week that Miscavige’s father, Ron, and a niece of Hubbard escaped from the Sea Org base camp in Hemet sometime this spring after decades with the church.

“I think Tom and Katie, along with Rupert Murdoch’s tweet, is what is going to open the floodgates,” says Rinder. “Murdoch basically telling all his own reporters that it’s open season on Scientology. It means Rupert isn’t scared of them and their reputation for litigiousness. That’s not good news for Scientology.”

It is good news theoretically for Holmes, who might be more successful holding on to Suri after her divorce than Kidman was with her two adopted children if she wins the press over to her side and is able to force some transparency in her divorce negotiations with Cruise.

This story has been updated with statements by Tommy Davis and Aaron Moss, an attorney representing Cruise's family.

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