Can religion make couples drift apart? It would seem so, and the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise divorce has put this in the public arena, although other factors might well have played a role.
"There's a gorilla in the room, and it's Scientology," said a famous attorney. It is about control, apparently. They control Tom and how he proceeds with major decisions in his life.
Other things aside, including Hollywood fame, belief systems do indeed interfere in personal interactions. If they are of an intimate nature, and have far-reaching social dimensions that involve familial ties, then there is little hope for a couple to live in a bubble.
The fact is that Katie immediately reconverted to her Catholic faith and was welcomed back into the church. Is she looking for moral validation for her act? Does the congregation make her feel less isolated? Is it a form of purging from an 'outcast' cult that she seemed to have been forced into tolerating?
She and Tom got married through the Church of Scientology. It follows a completely different set of rules. Was love so overpowering that she did not think about what it entailed? If, as reports suggest, she lived under a supposedly controlled situation, then how much of it is due to Scientology and how much because of his greater fame, his age, and the general patriarchal nature of most male-female relationships?
Besides, no religion can be interpreted in truly feminist or pro-woman terms. We may find a few needles in the haystack about progressive women, empowered women. But it is largely a man's club.
One would have thought that a quasi religion, that relies on psychology and marketing, might have sought to break through stereotypes. But, it is offering itself as an alternative. It isn't an 'unfaith'. It seems to simulate a belief system with greater ritualistic fervour. There is talk of hypnosis. All religions rely on it, although less obviously so. Only because L. Ron Hubbard, the founder, did not hear voices or fought for his people does not as a consequence make him less of a prophet to the followers. Instead of emotion, the appeal is rational. Katie was treated like a robot. Did daughter Suri togged up in designer wear become an automaton, programmed to be a label even as she wore some?
This is an intriguing thought: Is faith itself robotic? Many religions rely on the emotive nature to lure the masses (blind love?), yet talk about the practical nature of practices or their symbolic value. Staunch believers are not unlike spouses; the purpose seems to be to keep the house in order and perpetuate the lineage, to consider only one god as supreme - polytheism too uses a godhead with others as offshoots, somewhat like offspring - and to face the consequences of any sort of disloyalty. Blasphemy is like adultery. Marriage is, after all, an institution.
Similarly, other ideologies too can mess up relationships, unless there is complete fealty towards the same belief or a submergence of individual identity into that of the human god/goddess/thought leader along with an unseen power.
It is a pity that people do not consider this aspect when they decide to marry. For what you believe in, non-belief too qualifies, affects behavior, attitude, social norms. Suspension of disbelief works more for reality than for fiction.