Katie, Tom and Scientology

Okay, I admit it. I have been following the TomKat divorce news. It has had me intrigued, not just because Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes happen to be one of the most famous celebrity couples in the world. I’ve been fascinated with how the media have been covering their split and, more importantly, how this event has sparked a global conversation about the highly controversial new religion, Scientology.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise wedding

In my observation, the media has portrayed Katie Holmes as an “angel” — and Tom Cruise as the “devil.” As a seasoned PR pro myself, I’m highly aware of the inner operations and tactics of a PR machine and how an person’s image can be shaped in the way they want it to be shaped. No question, both Holmes and Cruise have sophisticated PR teams behind them.

And I am also certain that the reverse of this image can be made true – it depends on how you want to spin it. Rest assured, Holmes is no angel. And I’ll bet you that there are loads of people who would tell you Tom Cruise is the nicest guy on the planet.

But more than the divorce itself, what I find interesting is how much fear that people– and I mean the masses — have about Scientology, which has been on the forefront of the media coverage. By all accounts, the media has Holmes “fleeing” from her controlling husband and the control of what is being projected as a cult with sinister activities. For instance, there were reports of “Scientology people in dark suits and sunglasses” following Holmes around New York City — which has been noted as the reason she had a contingent of security detail. Give me a break. She needed the bodyguards because of the paparazzi.

People are afraid of what they don’t know. In doing some research on Scientology, the organization seems to have some merit in terms of its emphasis on personal development and helping people fully actualize their potential. While some of the ideology is a bit too far-out for me, it obviously has served a purpose for those who subscribe to its teachings. But that is the same for any religion or spiritual group — or self-help guru — that holds its own belief system.

These are two human beings who could not make a marriage work. I suspect that, when reading between the lines based on what Katie herself has said in a recent interview, at some point she became unhappy, perhaps with more than just her marriage.

I can only imagine how unpleasant the media coverage has been for these two people, especially for Cruise.