Big news last week in Hollywood. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes split after 5 years of marriage. Was I surprised?
No, but it is still sad when a family breaks up and a child is caught in the middle.
For years, I have wondered about the strange religious union of this couple. Holmes grew up Catholic and her parents are reported to be devout Catholics. Cruise is big in the Scientology church. At the beginning of the relationship, there were reports that Holmes parents objected to the marriage, but eventually came around so as not to alienate from their daughter. And interestingly, Cruise’s second wife, Nicole Kidman was raised Catholic, but never converted to his religion.
Catholicism and Scientology and not two religions that are compatible with each other. From a Catholic perspective, scientology is not even considered a legitimate religion (www.catholic.org).
Religion does play a role in couples staying together. A study by researchers at Auburn University Montgomery found divorce rates to be inversely related to religious homogeneity. This means that when a couple has the same religion and is involved in that religion, the divorce rate is lower. Certainly other variables are at work in divorce, and people are able to overcome religious differences when there is agreement on norms and beliefs in general, but religions that are very different can certainly be a factor in marital breakup.
Religion can be a stabilizing force in a marriage. It can also be a source of great disparity and concern.
Now that the Cruise child, Suri, age 6, is starting school, you’ve got to wonder how much the Catholic roots played into Holmes decision to leave.
According to reports, Holmes converted to Scientology before the couple wed. And Cruise already had a history of his religion impacted his first marriage to actress Mimi Rogers.
So while Hollywood typically has little to say about the impact of religion on its couples, I wouldn’t rule out that religion played a role this time around.