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Scientology has some A-list followers: a whole slew of actors and actresses are associated with the notorious church. One of the most famous followers is Tom Cruise, which begs the question: Was his ex-wife Nicole Kidman ever a member? And if so, what effect did the organization have on her life? The story of how Scientology has interfered with some of Hollywood’s biggest names may shock you.

Tom Cruise became a Scientologist first

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in 1992
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in 1992 | Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

Cruise was first introduced to Scientology through his first wife, Mimi Rogers. The actress had grown up in the church, and her father was a prominent member. When Cruise first began attending meetups of the religion, church leader David Miscavige was thrilled. He saw Cruise as a way to bring Scientology into the mainstream, and he began courting the actor. Enticing him to join the group with lavish gifts and personal training. Miscavige’s efforts paid off when Cruise dedicated himself to Scientology.

However, Miscavige saw Cruise’s relationship with Rogers as a problem. According to the book, Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story of Scientology in Australia, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Miscavige wanted complete control of Cruise, and as long as he was in a relationship with Rogers, his father-in-law would have the upper hand. Miscavige wanted Cruise, who he considered to be the church’s biggest asset, all to himself.

Scientology encouraged Tom Cruise’s relationship with Nicole Kidman

When Cruise met Kidman in 1990, Miscavige did everything he could to encourage the relationship, pushing Cruise away from his current wife. His efforts included getting 20 of his most dedicated followers to stay up all night, planting a romantic field of wildflowers for Cruise to be able to run through with Kidman.

“It just goes to show you how twisted and corrupted Scientology is,” Marty Rathbun, a former senior church executive, told journalist Tony Ortega. “Why would Scientology want to promote Tom’s promiscuity? Because Mini was connected to her father Phil Sickler, and Miscavige wanted to own Tom outright. But then, only a few months later, Wilhere got pummeled because he reported that Nicole had got her claws in and Miscavige was now worried that she was going to lead him away.”

Although Rogers was heartbroken and did everything she could to save her marriage, Cruise left her for Kidman. Rogers, disgusted with the way the church had encouraged the breakdown of her marriage, left Scientology.

Kidman and Cruise were soon married in a Scientology styled service, and the couple moved into the Int Base, so they could study Scientology full time. Kidman rose to high levels within the organization, further than most members do in a lifetime. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Kidman rose to Operating Thetan Level II (OT II), and was just one level away from “learning about the evil galactic overlord Xenu, his spacecraft and the exploding volcanoes.”

Nicole Kidman became a problem for Scientology leaders

Cruise was head over heels in love with Kidman. According to one of his staff members, Cruise stopped attending Scientology events so he could spend more time with his wife. “He was absolutely obsessed with Nicole from the moment he met her,” the source said.” If she said, ‘Jump,’ he would say, ‘How high?’ I’m not kidding you. So if she didn’t want to be involved with Scientology anymore, he wouldn’t be involved with Scientology anymore.”

According to Rathbun, when Miscavige saw how much Cruise was besotted with Kidman, he became worried. Miscavige reported screamed: “He [Cruise] thinks this Nicole thing is for real! You son of a b***h, you better start planting a seed!”

At first, Kidman embraced Scientology, but after awhile, she began to have doubts. A major concern for the actress was the church’s teachings about psychologists. Kidman is the daughter of a prominent psychologist and author, Dr. Anthony Kidman. Scientology teaches that psychologists are “suppressive persons,” or antisocial personalities who could harm the organization.

When an article was printed in Time Magazine, titled The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power, it offered powerful criticism of the religion. Kidman was deeply affected by the article. This, combined with her previous doubts, led her to distance herself from the church.

Scientology’s leaders kicked into overdrive to keep Cruise from leaving the organization, and instead to cast Kidman as the bad person. According to the documentary, Going Clear, as reported by US magazine, Miscavige enacted a plan to “facilitate the break-up” of Kidman and Cruise.

The first step was to send church officials to audit Cruise’s mental state and stir up his paranoia. Cruise became worried that Kidman was confiding in non-church members about their problems, and so he requested a phone tap on his wife, which the church helped to coordinate.

Then, the church encouraged the couple’s two adopted children, Isabella and Connor, to turn against their mother, so that Cruise would get full custody of them.

Why Nicole Kidman left Scientology

Kidman declared for the first time that she was no longer a Scientologist in 1997 to Australian reporter Anne Summers. By 2001, her marriage to Cruise was over, and the church had been successful in getting the children to turn away from her.

The devastating effect of the church’s doctrine on Kidman’s relationship with her kids is demonstrated by a story told by actress Leah Remini, who has also left the church of Scientology. Remini now speaks out against the organization and wrote a book, titled Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, where she describes an experience she had with the Cruise children. Remini says she was traveling in a car with the children after attending their father’s wedding to his third wife Katie Holmes. Remini asked the kids if they had seen their mother recently. Isabella replied: “Not if I have a choice. Our mom is a [expletive] SP [Suppressive Person].”

Scientology keeps Nicole Kidman away from her older kids

Kidman is now married to singer Keith Urban, and the couple has been joined by two daughters: Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret. But Kidman still has lots of love for her estranged older children. She doesn’t see them often and wasn’t even invited to their weddings, because she is not a Scientologist, but she has made it clear she is available whenever they want to see her. Kidman opened up about the relationship in an interview with Who.

“I know 150 percent that I would give up my life for my children because it’s what my purpose is,” she said. Regarding her older children’s practice of Scientology, Kidman said, “They are adults. They are able to make their own decisions. They have made choices to be Scientologists and as a mother, it’s my job to love them. And I am an example of that tolerance and that’s what I believe- that no matter your child does, the child has love and that child has to know there is available love and I’m open here. I think that’s so important because if that is taken away from a child, to sever that in any child, in any relationship, in any family- I believe it’s wrong. So that’s our job as a parent, to always offer unconditional love.”