& NICOLE SPLIT:
A QUESTION OF FAITH
by Peter Farron
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, divorcing after 10 years, are getting
ready for a potentially nasty legal battle over how their children will
be raised, The Post has learned.
lines are likely to be drawn over the religion of the children.
is so dedicated to the controversial Church of Scientology that
he insisted the children were born according to a Scientology
Kidman, on the other hand, left the church nearly a year ago.
Sources say she does not want the children, Isabella Jane, 8,
and Connor, 6, raised according to the teachings and methods of
the controversial religion.
who have some experience with Scientology's child-rearing practices
say Kidman is right to be concerned. Teresa Summers, of Clearwater,
Fla., who raised one child inside Scientology and one outside,
told the Post: "I was a Scientologist for years and worked
in the Sea Organization, Scientology's religious order. We had
a terrible experience."
Actor Tom Berenger
said Scientologists are encouraged not to treat sick children with conventional
medication, not to comfort and nurture children, and to cut or restrict
ties with grandparents if they are not Scientologists.
"Mothers who have raised children in the Church of Scientology
and come out have a terrible sense of guilt over what our children went
through," Summers told the Post. "They had children doing
physical work, sometimes 40 to 60 hours a week. It could be anything
- shoveling gravel, laying carpet, but mostly it was clerical work,"
"I also worked in one of their schools, in Clearwater, Fla. Many
of the children don't do as well as they should academically.
"Teachers don't have college degrees. They are trained in Scientology
technology. They don't explain. They don't help. If some child doesn't
understand, it's because they don't understand a particular word, so
kids are constantly being told to just look up a word." AFTER 20
years as a Scientologist, Summers now works for the Lisa McPherson Trust,
an organization that actively opposes the Church of Scientology.
The church runs a network of private schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco,
Oregon, Virginia, Florida and Vancouver.
Applied Scholastics, a Scientology subsidiary that runs the church's
school program, claims its students have higher SAT scores than the
national average, higher math scores on the California Achievement Test
and lower rates of violence.
But parents of some former students dispute that group's figures. Stephanie
Graham, of Orlando, Fla., who put two children through Church of Scientology
schools, said her children had difficulty keeping up in state schools
after she left the church.
"Children raised in Scientology are often given only minimal basic
education," she said. "It's not an education; it's propaganda
The sometimes bizarre application of Church of Scientology attitudes
to children begins at birth.
When he adopted Isabella and Connor, Cruise insisted their biological
mothers deliver the babies in near-silence, under conditions dictated
by founder L. Ron Hubbard in his best-selling book "Dianetics."
Kelly Preston, wife of leading Hollywood Scientologist John Travolta,
had both of her children under similar conditions. After the birth of
their second child, Ella Bleu, Travolta explained to reporters what
the method means in practice.
"We do the traditional French Lamaze, but in Dianetics, you try
and keep the delivery room quiet so there's nothing recorded in the
child's mind that shouldn't be there while there's pain going on.
"Kelly is free to moan, because the sounds are not as detrimental.
Any people saying any kind of negative verbiage may adversely affect
the baby later on."
SCIENTOLOGISTS believe pain and negative experiences
imprint themselves on the mind as "engrams" and affect subsequent
behavior. The silent birthing technique is supposed to prevent "engrams"
being formed on the child's mind.
The same pseudo-scientific beliefs continue to guide family relationships
during early childhood.
Parents are encouraged not to comfort or nurture young children because
Hubbard believed children are small adults, able to think and fend for
themselves from a very early age.
For example, a child who falls and hurts himself is taken to the place
where he was hurt and the injury is pressed against the object that
caused it. It is believed the pain can be made to flow back into the
"That's called a contact assist," Teresa Summers said. "There
is also a fever assist. We were discouraged from seeking medical help
or giving medication, even Tylenol, to bring down a fever.
"Instead, you get the child to hold an object still. That's supposed
to bring down the fever. When it doesn't work, it's because you aren't
doing it right or didn't repeat it often enough. I tried it on my child.
Naturally, it didn't work."
Some parents who left Scientology also report they neglected their children
because they were kept too busy with church programs, instruction and
work. They had little time left for child care, they said.
Scientologists are actively encouraged to raise their children in the
Church of Scientology and not among what are derisively called "wogs"
- people outside Scientology - or as Hubbard defined them, "common,
ordinary, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety humanoids."
A recruitment flier for Scientology schools warning against state education,
says: "If you turn your kids over to the enemy all day for 12 to
15 years, which side do you think they will come out on?"
The schools use a dubious device called a "learning accelerator,"
which is similar to the "E-meter" - a type of lie-detector
device - used by adults.
The E-meter and "learning accelerator" detect small amounts
of electronic resistance. The subject holds two electrodes and answers
questions while trying to get the measuring needle to balance or "float"
to indicate an honest answer.
A DOCUMENT obtained by the Post contains an insidious,
guilt-inducing 60-question test designed by Hubbard for children as
young as 6.
The questions include: "What has somebody told you not to tell,"
"Have you ever spoiled things for people," "Have you
ever done anything you shouldn't when you were supposed to be asleep,"
and "Have you ever tried to make others believe that your parents
or teachers were cruel to you?"
Teresa Summers also claimed that children are routinely asked to spy
on one another and are subjected to grueling punishments.
"It's called making amends, and it can be anything - my daughter
was made to scrub poles, paint walls, report on her friends. I let her
do all that," she said.
If Cruise and Kidman face off over Scientology's controversial practices,
they won't be the first celebrities to do so. Others include O.J. Simpson
prosecutor Marcia Clark and movie actor Tom Berenger.
Clark's successful battle with her ex-husband, computer programmer Gordon
Clark, coincided with the opening of the Simpson trial.
In 1997, "Platoon" star Berenger, 51, claimed in his divorce
battle with ex-wife Lisa that she was brainwashed by Scientology and
had become "so involved and mentally entrenched in Scientology
that she abandoned me."
Among his stipulations was that their children, Chelsea, now 13, Chloe,
12, and Shiloh, 5, should not be raised in Scientology.
Neither Berenger nor Clark returned calls.
The Church of Scientology International was reticent to discuss its
Janet Weiland, a minister who also acts as a spokeswoman, refused to
discuss how child care in Scientology differed from that in the rest
"You're talking about something directly related to what is happening
right now with two of our parishioners," she said. "We won't
Pat Kingsley, spokeswoman for Cruise, has downplayed the role Scientology
played in the breakup. But friends of Cruise said Kidman's decision
to distance herself from the church did not sit well with him or Scientology's
Cruise is a close friend of church president Heber Jantzsch.
"Tom takes his religion very seriously," said a producer who
worked on "Mission: Impossible." "It could not have been
easy for him to see Nicole treat Scientology like just one more dish
in a religious smorgasbord."
Further proof of Cruise's dedication to his religion was provided by
London's Daily Mail. That paper reported Cruise became enraged when
Kidman and actor Mel Gibson teased him about Scientology at a party
in Sydney, Australia.
Cruise "lost his cool completely," a witness told the Mail,
but Gibson would not stop making fun of Cruise and giggling at his temper
Hawaii-born, Australia-bred Kidman was raised a Catholic.
During the past few years, she has made several on-the-record statements
indicating she still regards herself as a Catholic, despite having flirted
with other denominations over the years.
Connor and Isabella Jane are enrolled in elite parochial schools in
an affluent suburb of Sydney.