Personally, news of the split between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes registers somewhere between “Wow, I don’t care” and “Why are you telling me this?”
But what is of some interest is the alleged reason Holmes decided to call it quits: Cruise apparently wanted their six-year-old daughter Suri to join a “religious order” within Scientology known as the “Sea Organization” (aka “Sea Org”).
Cruise, as you all probably know, is a Scientologist, which means he subscribes to the religion founded by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
So why did Holmes protest Suri being sent off to to join the Sea Org? We turn to the Daily Mail for details of the almost 6,000 strong group:
The clergy like group is run like a military clique from the Scientology Gold Base in California which has a sniper-style nest bunker on the site.
Members are banned from having children, are paid just $50 a week and can be punished for simply looking at somebody the wrong way by being thrown in ‘The Hole’ — two trailers set aside for punishment.
It has been investigated by FBI agents looking into human trafficking and one member claimed he was locked in a ship’s hold for 18 hours a day with no food.
Well, that sounds like a great place for a six-year-old.
Members are … banned from leaving their base or they are tracked down by a special team who use emotional pressure or physical force to make them come back.
Former Scientology security chief Gary Morehead has claimed that he tracked down more than 100 Sea Org members who left in his 13 years on the job using what he called a ‘blow drill’, referring to the techniques he employed to hunt people down.
If Sea Org members try to leave they are also given a ‘freeloader tab’ which is a bill for all the work they have received, and can run into six figures.
Under the influence of Scientology ‘elders’, Sea Org members are convinced to ‘volunteer’ for punishments which can include being given poor quality food, sleep deprivation or being banned from talking to anyone.
They can also involve manual labor, wearing black clothes to mark you out from everybody else – and can go on for years.
And there is alleged violence:
Then there are the alleged beatings at the hands of leaders and The Hole, two trailers which can hold up to 100 people forced to do group confessions all night.
In one episode detailed in an piece in the New Yorker, those put in The Hole were told that they had to play a game of musical chairs and only the person who won would be allowed to stay.
As the Queen hit ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ boomed out of the stereo, it took until 4am before there was a winner, by which time things turned violent with one chair being ripped in two.
But you think that’s bad? Some of the other reports are far, far worse:
In 2009 former Sea Org members Claire and Marc Headley sued the church after joining in their teens and falling in love.
She claimed to have been pressured into having two abortions because rules state she could not have children, although they lost the case.
And the oddities continue:
The security measures are extreme and include motion sensors, razor tipped wire and what appears to be a camouflaged nest bunker with clear sightlines over the entire property.
“Keeping watch: The Gold Base compound has razor-tipped fences, motion sensors and what appears to be a heavily camouflaged sniper-style nest bunker that over looks the entire property (pictured)”
Since announcing her divorce, Holmes has enrolled Suri in a Catholic school in New York.
This story has been updated. All photos and photo captions courtesy The Daily Mail.