Tom Cruise and Religion
Tom Cruise is a popular American actor and producer who has starred in several top-grossing movies. His first leading role in a blockbuster movie was in 1983's Risky Business.
A highly-regarded actor who tops the celebrity "A-list" and regularly appears on lists of the "most beautiful people in the world," Cruise is known for his tireless devotion to his fans and several random acts of kindness (chasing purse-snatchers and the like).
Tom Cruise has also become infamous for his outspoken commitment to Scientology, his controversial condemnations of psychiatry, and his surprisingly overt declarations of love for Katie Holmes. The following article focuses on the role of faith, religion and Scientology in the life of Tom Cruise.
Brief Biography of Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise was born to Thomas Cruise Mapother and Mary Lee Pfeiffer in Syracuse, New York on July 3, 1962. Cruise's parents moved frequently when he was a child, residing in a number of locations throughout the United States and Canada, including Ottawa; Louisville, Kentucky; Glen Ridge, New Jersey (where he attended Glen Ridge High School); and Wayne, New Jersey.
Cruise is clearly a man interested in spiritual things: he considered a career as a Catholic priest before pursuing an acting career and is now perhaps the most outspoken celebrity on his religion. He joined the Church of Scientology in 1986 after a class helped him overcome dyslexia, and his three sisters followed him one by one. His mother, a Catholic, was the lone hold out in the family until she turned to it in 2003 after going through "some things." She still practices her Catholic faith, however.
His 1985 breakout role in Risky Business began a two-decade acting career of huge box office earnings and consistent critical acclaim. Cruise received Academy Award nominations as Best Actor for Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Jerry Maguire (1996) and as Best Supporting Actor for Magnolia (1999).
In 1996, he became the first actor in history to star in five consecutive films that grossed $100 million in domestic release: A Few Good Men (1992), The Firm (1993), Interview with a Vampire (1994), Mission: Impossible (1996) and Jerry Maguire (1996).
Cruise teamed with producer Paula Wagner to form Cruise/Wagner Productions, which has co-produced several of Cruise's films such as Mission: Impossible and its sequels, Vanilla Sky (2001), and The Last Samurai (2003). The company also co-produced The Others (2001).
Cruise has been married twice, to Mimi Rogers (m. 1987, div. 1990) and Nicole Kidman (m. 1990, div. 2001). He and Kidman adopted two children together, Isabella (born 1993) and Connor (born 1995). Cruise is now engaged and expecting a child with actress Katie Holmes, whom he began dating in April 2005.
Beliefs and Practices of Tom Cruise
Cruise is arguably Hollywood's most outspoken member of the Church of Scientology. He joined in 1986 while married to then-Scientologist Mimi Rogers. Cruise has publicly said that Scientology, specifically its "Study Technology," helped him overcome his dyslexia. When speaking of behalf of Scientology, he emphasizes the religion's programs in education, as well as drug addiction recovery and criminial rehabilitaiton.
Cruise's more open attitude to Scientology has been attributed to the departure of his publicist of 14 years, Pat Kingsley in March 2004. He has since replaced her with his sister, Lee Anne DeVette, who is a Scientologist.
Cruise has also been reported to have risen to one of the highest echelons of the Church of Scientology, what is known as 'Operating Thetan Seven' or OT-VII. This rise in the ranks may have contributed to Cruise's more frequent comments on Scientology, since that level reportedly gives Cruise, among other things, more authoritative powers.
Since 2004, Cruise has talked more openly about Scientology and promoted its ideas, especially its rejection of psychiatric drugs. In a combative tone with Matt Lauer on The Today Show on June 24, 2005, he criticized actress Brooke Shields for using the drug Paxil, an anti-depressant for post-partum depression. Cruise also claimed in an Entertainment Weekly interview that psychiatry "is a Nazi science" and that methadone was actually originally called Adolophine after Adolf Hitler, a well-known urban legend.
In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Cruise claimed that "In Scientology, we have the only successful drug rehabilitation program in the world. It's called Narconon... It's a statistically proven fact that there is only one successful drug rehabilitation program in the world. Period." Tom Cruise has been quoted as saying "There is no such thing as a chemical imbalance."
Cruise's fiancée, Katie Holmes, recently has begun studying Scientology, which Cruise says does not conflict with her Roman Catholic upbringing. Tom Cruise's mother is also a practicing Roman Catholic who dabbles in Scientology without seeing a conflict. In 2004, she told Rolling Stone magazine, "I think Jesus wants me to be here right now. My church may not agree, but I personally know that." Cruise's ex-wife of 10 years, Nicole Kidman, was also raised Catholic and she never adopted Scientology.
According to reports, Cruise also recently tried to convert Scarlett Johansson to Scientology, but she was so put off she pulled out of her planned role in Cruise's upcoming movie Mission Impossible III.
Tom Cruise has also recently begun advocating for the Church of Scientology before politicians and government officials around the world. Several European countries consider Scientology a cult that swindles its members and on July 13, 2005, the city council of Paris vowed "never to receive [before the council or the mayor] the actor Tom Cruise, spokesman for Scientology and self-declared militant for this organisation" after he was mentioned as lobbying French minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Jean-Claude Gaudin, mayor of Marseille.
Some quotes of Tom Cruise on the subject of religion and Scientology:
I have absolutely nothing against talking about my beliefs. But I do so much more. We live in a world where people are on drugs forever. Where even children get drugged. Where crimes against humanity are so extreme that most people turn away in horror and dismay. Those are the things that I care about. I don't care what someone believes. I don't care what nationality they are. But if someone wants to get off drugs, I can help them. If someone wants to learn how to read, I can help them. If someone doesn't want to be a criminal anymore, I can give them tools that can better their life. You have no idea how many people want to know what Scientology is. (Spiegel interview, April 27, 2005) I'm a helper. For instance, I myself have helped hundreds of people get off drugs. In Scientology, we have the only successful drug rehabilitation program in the world. It's called Narconon. (Spiegel interview, April 27, 2005) Who are those people that say those things [about Scientology's alleged heavy-handed recruitment tactics, steep membership fees, etc.]? Because I promise you, it isnt everybody. But I look at those people and I say, 'Bring it. I'm a Scientologist, man. What do you want to know?' I don't mind answering questions. (Rolling Stone interview, August 24, 2004) Some people, well, if they don't like Scientology, well, then, f you. Really. F you. Period. (Rolling Stone interview, August 24, 2004) I don't believe in fate. I believe that you make your own fate. That's what I personally believe, but if we were in a situation where we had precognitives that were able to predict the future--I think it's pretty cool. (Hollywood.com interview on the film Minority Report) ## References and Further Reading on Tom Cruise and Religion
- The Passion of the Cruise - Rolling Stone online (Aug 24, 2004)
- Actor Tom Cruise Opens Up about his Beliefs in the Church of Scientology - SPIEGEL Online (Apr 27, 2005)
- Brooke Shields, "War of Words" - New York Times (Jul 1, 2005)
- Cruise Leaves Big Tip For Accident Victim - NBC4 TV (Dec 17, 2004)
- Tom Cruise Says Scientology Helped with Learning Disability - Associated Press (Jul 11, 2003)
- New Church of Scientology Opens in Madrid - Beliefnet.com
- Cruise lobbies over Scientology - BBC News (Jan 30, 2002)
- Katie's [Catholic] dad furious over shotgun wedding - MSNBC (Oct 12, 2005)
- Scientology's Catholic Guilt - Radar Online (Jun 27, 2005)
- Cruise encounters of the third kind - Radar Online (Jun 17, 2005)
- Holmes Sweet Holmes - W Magazine on Style.com (Jul 5, 2005)