Did Scientology Destroy Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ Marriage?

After five years of marriage, Katie Holmes files for divorce from Tom Cruise. Lizzie Crocker and Ramin Setoodeh on the break up.

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

Katie Holmes had not been sleeping.

For months, Tom Cruise hadn’t appeared in public with his wife. But while promoting Rock of Ages in May, he gushed about Holmes like they were still madly in love. Cruise talked to Playboy about turning 50 and said he spent most birthdays alone on film sets. He told a peculiar story about how he was worried that Holmes, 33, had become an insomniac, but she assured him she was working hard on a screenplay in the wee hours of the night.

“She is an extraordinary person, and if you spent five minutes with her, you’d see it,” Cruise told the magazine. “She’s funny and charming, and when she walks into the room, I just feel better. I’m a romantic. I like doing things like creating romantic dinners, and she enjoys that. I don’t know what to say—I’m just happy, and I have been since the moment I met her. What we have is very special.”

And now, whatever that was, is over. On Friday afternoon, Cruise and Holmes announced they were breaking up after five years of marriage. Holmes, who once claimed she and Cruise would “always be in our honeymoon phase,” filed for divorce in a New York court on Thursday, citing “irreconcilable differences” and seeking sole legal custody of their 6-year-old daughter, Suri.

The Internet wasted no time in speculating on what really wrecked their marriage: his religion.

“Scientology Was Her Breaking Point,” blasted TMZ, one of many gossip websites that made the allegation. Holmes filed her papers in New York (even though the couple lives in Los Angeles), perhaps a sign that she plans to move as far away from her soon-to-be ex-husband as possible.

Holmes, who converted to Scientology in 2005 before marrying Cruise, reportedly hadn’t been seen inside a Scientology Church for some time. Several years ago, she enrolled Suri in a Catholic preschool.

Debra Opri, a high-profile family trial attorney in Los Angeles, speculates that the divorce could have been driven by Holmes not wanting Suri to be lured into Scientology. “Their prenuptial contract might have been conducted in such a way that the child, by a certain age, would have been a full-fledged Scientologist,” she says.

Opri, whose client list includes Larry Birkhead, the ex-boyfriend of Anna Nicole Smith, notes that Holmes was only 25 when she met Cruise, who is 17 years her senior. “This is the big issue. Was she really mature enough when she entered into that marriage? Did she really know what hell she was getting herself into? He’s heavily involved in Scientology. She [could be] suddenly saying, I don’t want my daughter involved in this. She has her parents talking to her-—you have to look at this from the angle of your daughter.”

Holmes, the teenage sweetheart from Dawson’s Creek, seemed to literally transform overnight when she met Cruise. He proposed to her after a six-week courtship. Before that, he had endured a prolonged public divorce after 10 years of marriage to Nicole Kidman. (Of her two adopted children who went to live with Cruise, Kidman later said, “My kids don’t call me mommy. They don’t even call me mom. They call me Nicole.”) He also broke up with his girlfriend Penélope Cruz, reportedly because her father had issues with Scientology. When Holmes debuted as Tom’s girl on the cover of W magazine, she almost sounded like she was in a trance. A representative from the Church of Scientology reportedly accompanied Holmes and wouldn't let her answer questions that went off script.

“Tom is the most incredible man in the world,“ Holmes said at the time. She continued: “I’m just exhilarated. He makes me laugh, we have fun, we understand each other, everything is so aligned.”

Unlike Kidman, whose career seemed to be buoyed by Cruise’s fame, the reverse was true for Holmes. It was widely speculated that Cruise persuaded her to not reprise her role as the love interest in The Dark Knight, the No. 4 most successful movie of all time. In 2011, she played Adam Sandler’s wife in the disastrous flop, Jack and Jill.

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After news of the divorce broke, the biggest PR loser wasn’t Tom or Katie, but Scientology. The phone line for the national press center of the Church of Scientology was busy for so long, it had seemingly been disconnected. Representatives to the press weren’t available at churches in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Honolulu. An employee from the Phoenix Scientology Church said she would answer The Daily Beast’s questions about Scientology’s stance on divorce in an email right away. After we asked if the church provided counseling to couples considering divorce, she never responded.

Tom Cruise has frequently said that the Church of Scientology keeps him grounded and content. “I know we have an opportunity to really help and effectively change people’s lives,” he said in a 2008 video interview. “I’m absolutely uncompromisingly dedicated to that.”

But when it comes to Scientology and Hollywood, several celebrity couples have experienced marital hardships.

John Travolta, perhaps the most high-profile Scientologist after Cruise, is in the middle of lawsuits from several men who allege that the movie star made inappropriate sexual advances toward them. On the red carpet for his new movie Savages, Travolta awkwardly kissed his wife, Kelly Preston, in front of photographers this week.

After eight months of marriage, SNL’s Fred Armisen split from Scientologist Elisabeth Moss in 2010. Armisen never converted, and celebrity tabloids wondered if Scientology drove them apart. “Her religion was as important to her as her marriage, if not more,” Us Weekly reported.“He could not get with it.”

As Tom and Katie’s marriage privately unraveled, Holmes was photographed recently with a big smile on her face. She was pushing Suri in a shopping cart at a New York Whole Foods. Later that night, she carried her sleeping daughter home in her arms.

Maybe now Holmes will finally get some rest, too.