Tom Cruise and Suri: Scientology's Heartbreaking Double Standard?
Ex-Scientologists tell THR that unlike others in the church, he doesn't need to "disconnect" from his child or Katie Holmes due to PR fears; says one: "I've seen internal memos about Katie."
But Domingo, who says she still is sometimes stalked and harassed by church members, says Holmes still needs to be careful.
“Katie would have been excommunicated normally, and behind the scenes she probably already is,” says Domingo. “Internally, the wheels are in motion to discredit Katie. We have moles that are pretending to be good Scientologists who report back to us on the outside. I’ve seen internal memos about Katie.”
Placido Domingo Jr. was not available for comment but told the Village Voice last year that he got so angry after the church tried to make him disconnect from Samantha that he ended up leaving Scientology himself.
Karin Pouw, a spokesperson for the church, disputes the disconnection policy as described by defectors. “The Church never ‘orders’ Church members to disconnect from anyone and the practice does not have to do with ‘former members or people who are critical of the Church,’ ” Pouw tells THR in an e-mail. “The policy has to do with handling or disconnecting from individuals or groups that inhibit one’s survival. It is similarly inaccurate to say: ‘The policy involves the disconnection of current members from anyone who leaves the Church.’ It does not. Many members are connected to people who have gone on to seek other spiritual pursuits. Disconnection is always a matter of choice by the individual, is always a self-determined decision and a last resort.” Pouw went on to compare the practice to policies in other religions including Catholicism.
A type of this disconnection practice may have been at work after Cruise’s 2001 divorce from his second wife, Nicole Kidman. Former Scientologist Marty Rathbun, who was considered a senior church official under current chairman David Miscavige until he defected in late 2004, told THR on July 4 that the church managed to wrest control of Cruise’s adopted children with Kidman by indoctrinating them against her after she and Cruise divorced.
Several former Scientology members said Kidman took some Scientology courses early on in the marriage but was never an enthusiastic practitioner. Kidman was viewed as a “suppressive person” in the wake of the divorce, Rathbun said. Many media reports have indicated she has had limited contact with her two adopted children since then. Gary Soter, a Calabasas-based attorney representing Scientology, has provided THR with statements discrediting Rathbun and his account.
But in comparison to Holmes, who seemingly took Cruise by surprise and reportedly has won primary custody of Suri, Kidman now looks as harmless as a mouse.
Mike Rinder, 57, who was aspokesperson for the church until he left in 2007, says that in the eyes of the church, “Katie Holmes is probably the biggest suppressive person out there right now.”
Holmes, he says, would be labeled a “suppressive person” without question because she filed for divorce from Cruise, created a PR nightmare for the church and, according to the Huffington Post, re-registered as a Catholic in early July at the Church of St. Xavier in New York City. He believes their daughter, Suri, because she reportedly will live mainly with Holmes, would normally also be off limits.
Amy Scobee, 48, a 24-year Scientology veteran who helped expand the church’s outreach to celebrities and managed the Celebrity Centres before leaving Scientology in 2005, says that in her opinion the church’s disconnection policy is a “very severe human rights violation.”
“My family suffered from it and my husband’s family is all broken apart because of it,” says Scobee, whose self-published book, Abuse at the Top, which came out May 9, claims to tell her "nightmarish experiences" among upper-level Scientologists at the church's notorious "International Base" compound near Hemet, Calif.
Scobee was in Sea Org, a unit of dedicated Scientologists who live at the base. She says she also was in charge of hiring household staff for Cruise during his marriage to Kidman. Scobee tells THR that Cruise’s ongoing relationship with Suri as a newly single dad “is the worst double standard.”
Lori Hodgson, 49, agrees. After joining the organization at age 15, Hodgson decided to leave in 2010 because she was upset that her kids had been recruited into Sea Org as teenagers and felt they were working too hard and not being properly educated.
Hodgson says she and her son, Jeremy, now 19, and daughter, Jessica, 21, always were “exceptionally close,” but that changed after she left the church. Her husband and the children remained Scientologists and she feels the church turned her family against her.
“Katie was so smart to leave now, when Suri is little,” says Hodgson, who said she was banned from the hospital by the family last fall after she found out via Facebook that her son had been critically injured in a motorbike accident. “If I had left earlier, I would have had more control over them.”
Hodgson, Scobee and Rinder believe Cruise’s celebrity status is the reason he can see Suri.
“Tom, if he were an ordinary Scientologist, would be ordered to disconnect from Katie and because Suri will be living with Katie, he couldn’t see her either,” says Rinder. “But because Tom is so high-profile, it would create a total furor if the public knew he was cutting Suri off. This is an example of the church at its most hypocritical.”
Marc Headley, who was in charge of film and video production in Scientology and was in Sea Org for 15 years before leaving in 2005, has been cut off from many friends and family members.
“Katie flew the biggest middle finger Scientology has ever seen,” says Headley. “If she and Tom were regular Scientologists, Katie would have been declared a suppressive person in one second and Tom would never have been allowed to see her again.”
The news about Cruise’s deal with Holmes to stay in Suri’s life hit De La Carriere particularly hard.
“The fact that I served for 35 years and spent decades of my life in the church meant nothing in the end,” says De La Carriere, who held her own memorial service for her son on a boat off Long Beach.