The XX Factor

Why Scientologists Are Crying

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are divorcing

Photograph by Andrew Cowie/AFP/GettyImages.

All right, Tom and Katie are getting divorced. Enough about them. We know the big question on everyone’s minds is: Is this bad for the Scientologists?

Yes, most definitely. This whole summer will be bad for the Scientologists. Ever since the news that Katie Holmes’ marriage to Tom Cruise came with a Scientology conversion, public perception has been that he forced his religion onto this one-time good little Catholic girl, and that she wasn’t happy about it. Never mind that Holmes should be able to make her own mind about religious matters; tabloids and celebrity sites have relentlessly pushed the notion of Cruise as a creepy control freak bent on spreading his creepy religion. Maybe he forced her to convert, much like Jason Lee’s ex-wife has said she was forced. Maybe it was part of some contract—why else would any sane woman even consider a silent birth? Or maybe she was hypnotized by his pinwheel eyes.

In 2009, when Holmes reportedly enrolled 3-year-old Suri in a Catholic pre-school, the Daily Mail presented it as a victory for her. (“Holmes, 30, has not been seen at the Church of Scientology for more than five months,” the paper reported). It’s more than likely that in coming weeks the barrage of gossip emerging about the couple’s split will include details about their religious rift. What are the odds Holmes remains a Scientologist post-divorce?

This is shaping up to be a crummy season for Scientology. New Yorker writer Paul Haggis is said to be writing an exposé of the church. The movie The Master, due in the fall, takes a highly critical look at a church/cult that appears awfully similar to Scientology. And of course, Scientologist John Travolta has been inundated with lawsuits from several men, including massage therapists and a personal assistant, alleging he made unwanted sexual advances, including asking one of the men to “take me.” This is not the sort of scandal Travolta can fix by simply kissing his wife on the red carpet, though he did try. Given the persistent rumors that Tom Cruise is also gay, there will be no doubt those who joke that the men’s marriages are dissolving so that they, at last, can be together. We, however, will not make this joke.