there, done that: Scientology
by Alice Godfrey
February 13, 2001
Kidman and Tom Cruise, who belong to the Scientologists, are divorcing.
Reports have suggested that the break-up of their marriage may have
occurred because of the growing religious chasm between them; that
they disagreed over the extent to which Scientology should govern
Scientology was refused
the status of a religion in Britain by the Charity Commissioners, which
decided that it did not benefit the public.
In July 1984, Judge
Latey, giving judgment in open court after a private hearing, described
the cult in the High Court as "corrupt" and "both immoral and socially
obnoxious". Judge Latey ordered a Scientologist father to hand over his
ten-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter to their mother, who had
fought for almost six years to be reunited with them after she broke away
from the cult.
The following week
he saw the same group of people three times. As a mother you get a gut
I knew this was not
quite right. I thought his new friends sounded odd. Ours is a close-knit
family, so when Andrew's personality changed I was alert to it immediately.
He became bad-tempered, which was not like him. He began to question our
middle-class values. I talked over my fears with my husband, but he told
me not to worry. He suggested that I was being over-protective and said
it was good that Andrew had found a group of people to whom he could relate.
When Andrew told me that "they" had invited him to their headquarters
at East Grinstead, West Sussex, I became more suspicious. "Who are they?
What do you talk about?" I asked him. He would not answer. I found a book
in his room by L. Ron Hubbard that was total mumbojumbo. That is when
it suddenly hit me: Andrew was seeing people from the Scientologists.
Apparently he was late arriving at East Grinstead and "they" phoned us
eight times to check he was going. I did something I'm not happy to admit,
but it confirmed our worst fears. Andrew was planning to go to New Zealand
for four months and had saved £1,500. I went through his papers and discovered
receipts from the Scientologists for £1,200.
I am a counsellor working for a children's charity, so I enlisted its
help. The people there advised us to keep calm, to tell Andrew we loved
him and trusted him, but that he owed it to us to tell us more about the
people he was seeing.
When Andrew came home he looked strange and was aggressive. He told us
he was leaving his job as a trainee pharmacist and was going to live with
the Scientologists. He seemed to be slipping in and out of the cult personality
he had adopted. I felt we were losing him. We went through our rehearsed
speech and he listened, but when I admitted knowing that he had given
them money he again became belligerent.
We were prepared to do anything to keep him away from those people and
eventually tracked down a counsellor who had been a Scientologist for
12 years before leaving the cult. He agreed to talk to Andrew and they
sat in a restaurant together for four hours while my husband and I worried
and wandered about.
It worked. Andrew was convinced that he had been foolish. The Scientologists
bombarded him with phone calls and letters for ten days. The pressure
was a nightmare, but it was wonderful to hear Andrew tell them to "get
out of my life".
If, as reports claim, Kidman has split from Cruise because she cannot
accept the way Scientologists say children must be raised, then I think
she has reached the only conclusion a mother could.
All names have been changed to protect Andrew's identity. Anti-cult helpline
- Escape: 01342 316129.