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Why Tom Cruise Can’t Quit Scientology

There’s been some reporting in the tabloid press recently that Tom Cruise has been behaving a bit strangely while filming a new movie in London: he’s been seen out late at night, and with people who aren’t usually around him. He’s seen little of his daughter Suri. He’s been showing up places sometimes completely alone and without his usual tribe of handlers.

Based on that, plus some anonymous quotes from “insiders,” the tabs have wondered if his recent divorce has caused Tom to split from Scientology, certainly a juicy notion, since the actor seemed to have placed his loyalty to church leader David Miscavige above all else, even his wife and child.

But is Tom really rejecting Miscavige and the church?

Hollywood Reporter scribe Dana Kennedy did a good job summing up the reasons why Cruise might rethink his role as Scientology’s most visible member. She talked to ex-members who say Miscavige openly mocked Cruise behind his back, going so far as to entertain other church officials with embarrassing details from Cruise’s supposedly confidential counseling session folders.

But is any of that getting through to Cruise? We’ve been talking with several sources who knew Tom extremely well, and we’ve been asking them what they make of Tom’s recent behavior.

Each of them, independently, told us the same thing: Tom’s done this before, and it doesn’t really suggest that he’s rejected Miscavige and the church. During his marriage to Nicole Kidman, Cruise spent years holding Scientology and Miscavige at arm’s length, a fact that didn’t come out until years later. If he’s reeling somewhat after his divorce from Katie Holmes, his recent behavior may be an indication that he’s taking another break from the church as he sorts his head out.

But leaving Scientology entirely? Our sources doubt it. One of them put it this way: “Tom Cruise is the most competitive person you will ever meet. It consumes him. And for him to leave Scientology? He’d have to admit that he had made a mistake about one of the biggest things in his life over the last 20 years. He’s just not built that way.”

Yesterday, Marty Rathbun posted a sneak preview of some material from his next book, The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know. Despite that ecclesiastical-sounding title, the portion he posted was all about Miscavige’s project to get Cruise back in the church after his breakup with Kidman in 2001. It was Rathbun who was assigned the task of auditing Cruise through Scientology’s upper levels, but more importantly, making him associate with Miscavige all that was good about his life. And Rathbun says that project was successful. “[Miscavige] now had the undying loyalty of the world’s biggest movie star,” he writes.

That’s consistent with what John Brousseau told us for our story about him in July. Brousseau said that the relationship between the two was unequal. But instead of Miscavige fawning over the actor, what he witnessed was the opposite: “Tom Cruise worships David Miscavige like a god,” he told us.

We’d like to hear what you think. Is Cruise, even now, still in thrall to Miscavige? Or have recent events spun him out so that he may begin to see that Miscavige has showed him little actual respect? Could Tom Cruise really walk away from the organization that he’s become such a symbol for? Give us your theory on what Tom will do.

And how about other celebrity members? We reported earlier this year that Lisa Marie Presley has obviously walked away from Scientology. Who’s next?

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