When faith causes fissures

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.


  1. There is a camel in the room and it is bent on Jihad. Scientology doesn't stand a chance unless it cracks a pig-skin whip with a poisoned tip!

  2. what is the point of marrying someone when the couples can't accept each others belief system - the reason Katie never converted to Scientology or tom to Catholicism. It was doomed to fail .

  3. accepting each others belief system means "give up your own"? strange.

    In any case, how does one do that. People are not born with belief system, that is built through lifetime of experiences. So, how exactly does one take up another belief system; like a new pair of shoes?

  4. Hello FV, you view the fellow Ron Hubbard all wrong. He had no intention of helping people when he started scientology in a pretty cynical manner.

    He was a terrible Science Fiction writer and is known to have said "You don't get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion" in response to a question from the audience during a lecture he gave in 1948 (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/L._Ron_Hubbard)

    His "bestselling" novels were actually a result of the Church of Scientology buying the entire stock of his books in order to push them into the NY Times bestseller list over and over -- this scam was discovered in the 80s/90s. http://www.holysmoke.org/cos/dianetics-not-best-seller.htm

    Ron Hubbard also used the word "scientology" so clueless people would think it is associated with science, when it is all mostly nonsense. The scientology "religious texts" are protected by the copyright act. Before web browsers were around back in 1991, the entire scientology texts were posted by an ex-follower and within 48 hours, scientology lawyers got the site shut down and all the material confiscated.

    Church of scientology is closer to a criminal mafia as an organization than a religious cult -- suckers who buy into scientology usually end up losing all their money and life to the church. Scientology makes organized religions look like a bunch of girl scouts selling coconut macaroons.

    So how do you take up another belief system? Just brainwash yourself, and convince yourself that your current belief system is all nonsense by blaming all ills of society on it. I am now a member of Church of the Subgenius thanks to such techniques....and don't forget to ask yourself "what would Bob do?" when you encounter a situation you cannot resolve. Works for me every time...also helps that Bob usually sits on a couch watching TV and eating Fried beef lard...but I digress.


  5. Tom is a control freak and that has been the problem in all his previous marriages too. His first wife Mimi converted him to Scientology but she asked for divorce because of his control freak nature. Religion had nothing to do with that. Nicole Kidman spent 10-11 years with him but finally gave up. Katie is young and she made a quick decision.

    I have some friends and they are control freaks. They would call their wives every hour just to get an "accounting" of what they were doing in the last hour or have they finished the task assigned to them by the husband in the last phone call. No wonder, their marriages don't last long.


  6. Rizwan:

    I agree with Hitesh. Besides, for whatever it is worth, katie did concert to Scientology, and as you know Tom's first wife is a practising one even today...so it is not about what faith, but trust.


    Reading Animal Farm? Or-well!

  7. Hi Al:

    How have I got Ron Hubbard wrong? He was pretty much a charlatan and his cult has been kept alive because of such rational voodoo.

    Thanks for all the info. I must admit that I had once filled in some questionnaire on an overseas trip, and corresponded with them. Had no idea, but they thought I had a spiritual bent. Made me feel quite good at the time, although I did not know which way and how I bended.

    As for your digression, I don’t need to ask what would Bob do. I am the one on the couch watching TV and eating…never mind :-)

  8. HP:

    I’d go with you on the control freak bit, a problem that is not just Tom’s. But apparently Scientology did have some role to play in this particular alliance because of Katie’s quick reconversion and concern about her daughter’s upbringing.

    Having said that, the cult seems to have helped her because if they like to keep their reputation intact, then she managed to be quite smart about the pre-planning, from what I read.

    Really makes one wonder what marriages are made of and not where they are made…

    PS: Good to see you here after quite a while.

  9. now here is a religion I can switch to like a new pair of shoes :)



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