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."
De La Carriere still believes in Scientology as espoused by the founder, Hubbard, but left because she dislikes the current chairman, Miscavige. But she is convinced her son Alexander was not allowed to speak to her because she spoke out against Miscavige's rule after she left.
Soter told THR in an e-mail that the death of Alexander Jentzsch was a "private family matter" and that De La Carriere's statements about the events surrounding her son's death were "troubling and inaccurate."
However, former church members like Scobee say major family rifts such as De La Carriere's are common in Scientology.
“Disconnection is totally based on the status of the person and it can be very arbitrary,” asserts Scobee. “Tom would never be forced to disconnect from Suri and Katie. The PR fallout would be too much.”
Similarly, Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren and her husband, John Coale, the powerful Washington D.C.-based trial lawyer, political power broker and church donor, both longtime Scientologists, have not disconnected from Van Susteren’s sister, Lise Van Susteren, a well-respected, Harvard-educated psychiatrist who lives in Bethesda, Md.
One of the notable parts of Coale’s practice has been to represent plaintiffs in lawsuits against the makers of ADHD medication spearheaded by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a nonprofit anti-psychiatry organization founded by Scientology.
The field of psychiatry is one ofScientology’s biggest bête noires. “As the stepchildren of the German dictator Bismarck and later Hitler and the Nazis, psychiatry and psychology formed the philosophical basis for the wholesale slaughter of human beings in World Wars I and II,” reads a statement on the Scientology website.
Yet there are no indications that Greta Van Susteren has ever broken off contact with her sister.
Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
“They’d never make Greta disconnect from her sister,” says Scobee. “If you’re a celebrity, you get special treatment and even if you’re not, if you have the right connections, you don’t have to cut anyone off.”
Kidman also has a psychiatrist in the family, her father, Anthony Kidman. But there were no reports about her breaking off contact with either of her parents during her 10-year marriage to Cruise.
Andrew Morton addressed the issue in his unauthorized book about Cruise published in 2008. In an interview with the Associated Press, he said Kidman's father was only one of the problems Cruise and Kidman had.
"What happened is that Nicole started to pull away from Scientology," Morton told the AP. "And Tom was sent in and took this course which is called a PTSSP course, which is to basically anchor yourself to the faith and to treat the outside world with more suspicion because it is a self-contained cocooned world. You become more distant from the people who no longer believe in you, who no longer believe in the faith, and one of those was Nicole Kidman."
Morton went on to add: "Having said all that, when Nicole was sitting after the breakup and sobbing into her handkerchief and saying to her friend, ‘Why did he leave?’ she had no real answer. … She was always seen as somewhat of a problem because her father is a psychiatrist and Scientologists loathe psychiatry."
As regards Van Susteren, Domingo and other Scientologists, Soter says the church “will adhere to its policy of not commenting upon its ecclesiastical relationships with individual parishioners. However, it would be both false and defamatory to state the Church provides ‘special’ or ‘preferential’ treatment with respect its application of Scripture. It does not.”
Rinder has experienced that kind of family split firsthand. His former wife, son, daughter, mother, brother, sister and assorted nieces and nephews have not spoken to him since he left the church.
“It’s very traumatic,” says Rinder. “I don’t want to sound like a victim, but it’s very, very hard. Disconnection devastates people. And it’s definitely hardest for the mothers.”
Bonny Elliott, 68, says she was pushed to disconnect from Scobee, her daughter, when she ditched the church in 2005. Elliott says she was pressured by church officials -- in person, on the phone and in e-mails -- to cut off contact and was torn between Amy and her husband, who at that point wanted to remain in Scientology.
“It was a black period, just black,” says Elliott. “It was heart wrenching, like living in this horrible void.”
Elliott lasted only about four months without seeing her daughter and began “sneaking” visits with her. In 2010 Elliott and her husband, Mark, officially left the church.
Elliott says it’s doubtful that most Scientologists will find out that Cruise will be allowed to see his daughter since she says they all are told to shun reading about Scientology in newspapers or on TV and the Internet.
"They won't find out," she says. "They live in a complete cocoon."