He may be one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but these days, Tom Cruise may be best known for his ties with the Church of Scientology. The actor has become the poster boy for the Church, and despite dozens of rumors, he hasn't quit Scientology — though the controversy surrounding the religion has only increased. Scroll down to learn more about how Scientology has impacted both his personal life and career.
His first wife introduced him to the religion
Tom didn't discover Scientology on his own — it was first wife Mimi Rogers, a Scientologist herself, who encouraged him to join, and he did so in 1986. Over the years, Tom has become the religion's most famous face.
The Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International in Los Angeles. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
He's a proud member
"It's something that has helped me incredibly in my life. I've been a Scientologist for over 30 years," Tom said about the religion in a rare public statement to the press in 2016. "It's something, you know, without it, I wouldn't be where I am. So it's a beautiful religion. I'm incredibly proud."
"I think it's a privilege to call yourself a Scientologist and it's something you have to earn," he said in an interview. "If you're a Scientologist, you see life, you see things the way that they are. In all its glory, all of its complexity. The more you know as a Scientologist, you don't become overwhelmed by it."
The religion helped with his dyslexia
The American Made star was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age and referred to himself as a "functional illiterate" when he graduated high school in 1980. It wasn't until he came across the research of L. Ron Hubbard, the religion's founder, that he finally learned to read.
"[Hubbard] had found that literacy and comprehension levels were declining worldwide, so in the 1960s he had developed 'Study Technology.' It pinpoints three barriers to learning: Lack of mass (you can’t learn to fly a plane by just reading about it — you have to sit in the cockpit or at least have a picture of a plane); skipped gradients (trying to master skills or information without mastering or understanding that which comes before them); and misunderstood words (the most important one and a cause for stupidity)," Tom explained in an issue of People. "Once I started focusing on those problems, everything fell into place. I had a lot of catching up to do, but that was it." He has advocated for this method of learning ever since.
Tom at the 2003 grand opening of the Applied Scholastics International headquarters, a center that uses Hubbard's teachings. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
They have strong opinions
Scientology is against psychotherapy and the use of certain psychological drugs like antidepressants — a belief that landed Tom in hot water with Brooke Shields. In 2004, the actor scolded Shields for taking antidepressants to help her overcome postpartum depression, because according to Tom, "When someone says (medication) has helped them, it is to cope, it didn’t cure anything. There is no science. There is nothing that can cure them whatsoever."
However, a year later, the actress revealed that Tom apologized for his comments. "He came over to my house, and he gave me a heartfelt apology," she shared. "And he apologized for bringing me into the whole thing and for everything that happened."
It's harmed his relationships
In 2012, Vanity Fair published a lengthy piece claiming that the Church held auditions for women to become Tom's girlfriend — and ex-wife Katie Holmes won the part. However, the religion was one of the main reasons behind their divorce, as the actress didn't want their daughter Suri, now 11, to be a member any longer. Former Scientologist Leah Remini even commented on the divorce, stating, "I know now [Katie] did what she did...because she had to protect her daughter."
Tom and Suri in 2011. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Though Tom nor Katie has ever publicly commented on the situation, it's been reported that Tom hasn't seen Suri in years, as after leaving Scientology, Suri and Katie became "suppressive people." In the church, the phrase is used to refer to anyone who has left the religion, and members are allegedly forced to cut off communication with them — though Katie is trying to bend those rules for the sake of their daughter, since Tom refuses to quit the church.