OK well not “reality” so much, because you are probably a millionaire (you’ve got Batman money!), but welcome back to a world in which it’s totally okay for you to Google the word “Xenu.” It can’t have been easy to live and be married to a Scientologist for five long years, and it can’t be easy to finally admit that that’s just not working out for you, especially when you have an adorable little kid you have to share with the Scientologist, but it’s okay! We’re here for you. Here’s a handy guide to being an ex-Scientologist:

You can Google anything you want!
Like “Xenu,” for example! Xenu is the secret twist ending of the grand Scientology science fiction movie, and it’s an ending they hate for anyone to know about before they’ve spent a good 10 years and thousands of dollars proving their gullibility to the Church. But now that you’re out, you can read all about him! Here’s a handy video about it courtesy of the BBC:

You can read the horror stories told by other ex-Scientologists!
The Church tries their best to stop adherents from learning about how L. Ron Hubbard was maybe physically abusive, how Scientologists ripped families apart, how Scientologists tried to have critics imprisoned in psychiatric facilities, and other juicy tales of woe. No more worrying about Tom reading over your shoulder!

You can go back to your therapist!
Scientologists hate psychiatry and spin some terrifying stories in order to stop people from getting the help they need for their mental health. Now you and your family can enjoy the very best mental health care available in the United States without worrying about a Scientology operative hiding in the bushes threatening to accuse you of pedophilia if you take Suri to a therapist or something. Enjoy!

You can donate money to organizations that actually help people!
You know, instead of a bunch of deluded dumbasses who go somewhere with no supplies (apparently in follow-up attempts they brought their own supplies, but still. Lots of secular charities need your help!).

You can yell during future childbirth!
No more “silent birthing” for you! Feel free to scream your head off without worrying about it fucking up your baby for life. Because it won’t! That’s definitely a stupid made-up Scientology story.

You can admit that it’s all super messed up!
When you finally learn what Scientology is all about, you can turn to your friend and say, “Wow, that is all super messed up!” without worrying about Scientologists attacking you in your own home. Awesome!

You can trade some ridiculous gossip with Nicole Kidman!
You know she knows some shit, Katie. You know she does.

For more information on leaving Scientology, check out this great resource guide or go find some sympathetic ears at Operation Clambake.

Congrats!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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57 Comments

  1. Avatar of Dale Husband
    June 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm —

    Why do you assume she is abandoning Scientology? Lots of couples get divorced but continue to share a religion, even a loony one like that!

    • Avatar of Travis
      June 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm —

      It’s called using a large profile media story as a jumping off point to talk about a particular subject, not an assumption. It’s a pretty standard journalistic practice.

    • Avatar of marilove
      June 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm —

      I don’t know. This seems really similar to what happened with him and Nicole. I’m more worried about poor Suri. I don’t imagine Tom and his lawyers are going to be nice about this.

      • Avatar of mrmisconception
        June 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm —

        Oh, I don’t know;

        Exhibit 1: Xenu

        Character witness: Matt Lauer

        They might not want to open that Pandora’s box.

        • Avatar of marilove
          June 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm —

          Depends. I’m sure Katie wants to keep her career.

          They are pretty good at keeping things quiet. Things to leak out but it doesn’t happen as often as it should.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            June 29, 2012 at 10:32 pm

            I have heard rumors that the church has been pressuring Cruise to step up his involvement since they can no longer rely on Travolta. Those same sources say that is the reason Holmes wanted out, she got fed up with the church.

            Seems the church has been running scared since the John Travolta story came out. They fear that since Travolta has little left to lose he no longer fears their smear campaigns and that he and Preston blame the church for Jett’s death and are ready to come forward with damning evidence and possibly testimony.

            Anyway, that’s what I’ve heard.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            June 29, 2012 at 10:39 pm

            BTW – I have no way of knowing if this is true. I just hope that this is true.

          • Avatar of marilove
            June 30, 2012 at 12:29 am

            Yeah, this is what I’ve heard, too. Also, there as a pre-nup.

            Oh, and she filed for divorced in NY because it’ll be easier for her when she tries for primary custody (which she’s doing). Which is why I mentioned Nicole Kidman. That whole thing was weird then, too.

            Ugh.

            All rumors, of course, but something about this relationship is off. And normally I don’t like to comment on celeb relationships.

  2. Avatar of scribe999
    June 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm —

    I guess one super power that OT VIII’s don’t have is the ability to hold onto a marriage, amirite?

  3. Avatar of teambanzai
    June 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm —

    Well to be fair if it was a 5 year contract like all the rumors claimed then it would seem she was “working” without a contract for nearly a year holding out for favorable terms for the renewal. Maybe another kid or boasts about Tom’s manliness in a magazine article. I’m sure he’ll be holding auditions for a replacement and by now Oprah’s got a new couch that needs jumping.

  4. Avatar of daedalus2u
    June 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm —
  5. Avatar of daedalus2u
    June 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm —

    I just had a great idea. Send her an invitation to TAM.

    That is exactly what she needs, a gigantic dose of skepticism to get rid of that scientiology crap.

    Maybe Randi could send her a personal invitation? He just sent me one.

    • Avatar of marilove
      June 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm —

      You got a personal invite from James Randal? Asshole! :)

      • Avatar of violets
        June 29, 2012 at 9:49 pm —

        I got one too,but I’m under no illusions of my specialness since the subject line began with FWD: Come on,JR, I know you’ve a few years on you but you can at least send me the original form letter if you want to make this woman feel wanted at TAM. ;)

        • Avatar of marilove
          June 30, 2012 at 12:29 am —

          I feel better :)

        • Avatar of daedalus2u
          June 30, 2012 at 8:27 am —

          I think that is the difference. In mine he closed with

          “See you in less than two weeks! And don’t forget that I’m very huggable!
          - Randi”

          It would be hard to get more personal and stay within the harassment guidelines. ;)

          Unfortunately I won’t be going (funding and time difficulties).

          • Avatar of marilove
            June 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm

            Okay, I take it back. Still an asshole. :P

            Lucky bastard.

    • Avatar of Jack99
      June 29, 2012 at 9:19 pm —

      Brilliant idea, Daedalus!

      On a related note, you all might be interested in this:

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-29/scientology-numbers-going-backwards/4101958

  6. Avatar of strigidae
    June 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm —

    Yeah, I really hope I’m wrong but I can see a nasty child custody case in the next few months. Wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    Tragically, even if she does leave Scientology, she’s going to have to deal with them on some level since Tom will most likely have some form of custody/visitation rights.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      June 29, 2012 at 10:38 pm —

      She is asking for sole legal and primary physical custody. Could be nasty or she could have the upper hand and get it with no fight.

      Guess we are about to find out.

  7. Avatar of James Fox
    June 30, 2012 at 12:51 am —

    I hope Katie stands up for all the other people who are way more trapped than she every was in an oppressive bullshit religion. And really, given her resources and fame she doesn’t have anything to loose by leaving except the opportunity to make more lawyers rich. Other people in similar situations would risk way more just visiting their parents for a weekend.

    • Avatar of Madfishmonger
      July 1, 2012 at 12:17 am —

      I agree, it’s hard to imagine how damaging this church is until you’re in it. I hope she and her daughter end up okay.

  8. Avatar of dr. dr. professor
    June 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm —

    This is an obnoxious post Rebecca. It reads like some tabloid column bashing a celebrity for their personal life.

    I get what it’s trying to point but it comes off as a gossip post. Which is lame.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      June 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm —

      Did you read the post? Because it barely touched on the personal lives of these two celebrities other than to use it as a starting point to discuss the abuses and bat-shit craziness of Scientology.

      Besides, since when is Rebecca not allowed to post something that isn’t uberserious?

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
        June 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm —

        Well she’s allowed to post anything she wants, it’s her blog. I just don’t like the gossipy aftertaste of this post.

        And as far as seriousness, everything on the internet must be serious because the internet is serious business.

        Smiley face

        • Avatar of mrmisconception
          June 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm —

          Well sure, but that came from the comments, and I specifically said that it was gossip.

          I wouldn’t worry too much, I don’t think there is much chance of Rebecca becoming Perez Hilton any time soon.

          • Avatar of dr. dr. professor
            July 1, 2012 at 6:04 pm

            That’s not what I heard… I recently heard that Rebecca is planning to launch a new site called scandalousskeptics.com which will focus on the juicy details of things like the secret sex lives of Arthropods, breaking open scandals about well known scientists that are addicted to colloidal silver, and what famous skeptic leaders REALLY eat for breakfast. No my friend this is only the beggining.

          • Avatar of Buzz Parsec
            July 2, 2012 at 3:18 am

            @drdr -

            PZ’s talk at NECSS was about cephalopod sex. Is he in cahoots with Rebecca?

    • Avatar of marilove
      June 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm —

      OH NO! It’s not a super-serious post! About super-serious things! HOW WILL THIS BLOG SURVIVE?!

  9. Avatar of hellboundalleee
    June 30, 2012 at 12:47 pm —

    Xenu the end of the story? Not even close. The Xenu story is only Operating Thetan level three. Supposedly, there are fifteen or even sixteen OT levels. I think that the highest OT level reached is currently VII, held by Travolta and Cruise, but that’s probably fake. Of course, L Ron Hubbard is at the highest OT level, who is Cleared Theta Clear. He’s floating around the universe somewhere.

    All this translates to “spending amazing amounts of money on tech (Scientology books).”

  10. Avatar of scribe999
    June 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm —

    What Katie Holmes is Saving Suri From: Scientology’s Interrogation of Children

    http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/06/katie_holmes_scientology_sec_checking_suri_tom_cruise.php

    It’s called Sec Check…and it’s like something out of a 1950′s anti-Communism PSA.

    • Avatar of marilove
      June 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm —

      This custody battle is gonna get nasty. :(

    • Avatar of maggie
      July 2, 2012 at 3:53 am —

      Yeah, I was just about to chime in and say that Suri’s at the age where Tom is going to have to start pushing for her to start sec checking and possibly into being audited by people outside their household (gotta fill up that PC folder!). Perhaps Katie balked when the time came. Who knows. But for someone who came into Cof$ from the outside, I can certainly see how it could become an ‘irreconcilable difference’.

  11. Avatar of Anthropologist Underground
    June 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm —

    She won’t even need to scream in childbirth if she gets an epidural. Just sayin’….

    • Avatar of marilove
      June 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm —

      Not everyone wants an epidural and that’s perfectly okay.

      • Avatar of weatherwax
        June 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm —

        Also, I seem to recall that scientology doesn’t allow any drugs during childbirth. Same reasons as noise.

  12. Avatar of lactosefermenter
    June 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm —

    What lovely options for Suri!

    1. Be raised by someone dumb enough to be in Scientology…

    or

    2. Be raised by someone dumb enough to marry someone in Scientology.

    I’m betting someday she’ll be laying on a psychiatrist’s couch bemoaning the lack of a third option.

    • Avatar of marilove
      June 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm —

      Wow, you clearly lack any sympathy or ability to consider that maybe, just maybe, you don’t know the whole situation and that your assumptions could be way-off base. Nuance is key in these situations. Not just calling people dumb.

      As someone who was in a long-term abusive relationship: Fuck you.

      We don’t know why she married him. She was quite young when it happened, and he was quite a bit older.

      • Avatar of lactosefermenter
        June 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm —

        Well my post was meant to be TIC, but looking at it I can see how it looks sorta harsh, so I guess I had that coming.

  13. Avatar of winchwench
    June 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm —

    I’m a long time reader of skepchick, but I’ve never really posted before. I thought maybe my experiences with scientology might give another perspective.

    I am an atheist. My mother is a Christian and I grew up in the church, going to church every week, bible study, the whole nine yards. When I started high school, my mom decided to home school me and my sister. When we tried to make friends with other homeschoolers, it was very difficult. Even though my mom is very conservative, compared to the other families we were freaks. We consumed popular culture, we dyed our hair, we listened to rock music. It became very clear that we didn’t have much in common with the other kids in christian homeschool groups, so we ended up forming friendships with the children of scientologists (they homeschool a lot too).

    Through these friends, I met my now boyfriend/life partner/whatever of 5 years. He is a scientologist. His parents are scientologists, and he was brought up in the church. I am very open with him and his family about my atheism. While I believe his religion to be nonsense (and I tell him so), and I believe that people in the upper reaches of scientology do quite a lot of harm, I also think that there are some misconceptions about how most scientologists operate.

    Just like there are Christians who use their religion as a battering ram against people who live differently than they do, there are scientologists who close themselves off from the world, and use their religion as an excuse to hate people they disagree with. On the other hand, just like there are many moderate Christians (like my mom) who believe something false, but are generally doing the best they can to help others and love people, there are scientologists who are doing the same.

    Some of my best friends have been scientologists, and I have found them to be, as a group, loving and accepting of me and and of others. Certainly, they have been more accepting then many of the Christians I grew up with, and they have never made me feel like I was one false move away from being cut out of their lives.

    I don’t defend the falseness of their beliefs, but I know that most of them are far more “normal” then what is portrayed. My boyfriend is kind and loving and supports my efforts to get more involved in skepticism and atheism, even though he disagrees with me. Also, he is allowed to google anything, and I have gone with him to the org (church) he is involved with. The people there were not universally awesome, but I was able to have (sometimes heated) discussions with them about what they believe. His mom had four children, and made noise at every birth, and when she homeschooled her kids learned about evolution, unlike me and my sister. Also, no one has ever tried to convert me.

    I think part of the reason there is this disconnect between what the religion espouses and what the individuals practice, is that scientology is not a all or nothing religion. This is one of the reasons it can be so insidious. You are told you can take or leave any individual part as feels right to you. This makes it seem very reasonable, and the things that aren’t, well, you don’t have to believe in that stuff. However, it also means that the vast majority of scientologists are low level, and use it as a sort of therapy as opposed to as a religion. Most of the people there on staff are just trying to help others. They take the “take responsibility for your life part” and leave the “Xenu, nuclear bombs” part. Just like most other religions.

    Sorry for the length of this post, and the constant run on sentences. I just thought maybe I could add something to the discussion.

    • Avatar of marilove
      June 30, 2012 at 3:30 pm —

      Any religion that does this kind of abusive shit to CHILDREN:

      http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/06/katie_holmes_scientology_sec_checking_suri_tom_cruise.php

      Is a terrible, terrible religion and all the justification sin the world own’t change that.

      • Avatar of jamess
        June 30, 2012 at 4:54 pm —

        You read winchwench’s post as a defense of scientology?

        • Avatar of marilove
          July 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm —

          No, not exactly, but I was probably way more rude than I needed to me. I still think a lot of it is is just making excuses and trying to explain away the terribleness of the “region”.

      • Avatar of winchwench
        June 30, 2012 at 7:54 pm —

        That’s absolutely true, however I hold other scientologists no more or less responsible for the actions of others in their community than say catholics. If their religion is doing something they do not agree with in their name, they should say/do something, but you can’t necessarily judge each individual for the actions of others.

        It’s no worse and no better then what more mainstream religions do, it just has a sexy sci-fi weirdo twist. We (as skeptics and atheists) talk all the time about how and if we should work together with more moderate Christians to work for goals we hold in common. I don’t see how it’s any different here.

        • Avatar of scribe999
          July 1, 2012 at 1:38 am —

          The problem I have with Scientologists, and in the same way, Catholics, is that fact that in your entire description of them as being nice, accepting, loving individuals, which I have no reason not to accept as true, there is no mention of them acknowledging and repudiating the crimes of their organization’s hierarchy. There is never talk of how they have sent strongly worded letters (at the very least) or withheld funds, or just admitted that David Miscavige and their founder himself, L. Ron Hubbard, were tyrannical criminals who abused people around them and harassed their opponents in ways that are frankly astounding. The “falseness” of their beliefs are just the tip of the iceberg. Whether or not they are cafeteria Scientologists or Catholics hardly concerns me.

          I don’t hold these individuals “responsible”, in the same way I don’t hold my Catholic friends necessarily responsible for priests raping children or the church attacking contraception/abortion/gay marriage…but if they tell me how they aren’t like those mean Catholics in the Vatican, but spend no time in actually denouncing their edicts and actions (and I’m not asking for armed revolt here…a simple questioning of where their donations go, maybe a letter to a Cardinal or local Bishop, support for “renegade” nuns), I don’t see how we’re working towards common goals. If they spend more time attempting to validate their life choices to me rather than accepting the deficiencies of the organized aspect of their beliefs and demanding changes/asking someone to be held accountable, then I remain unimpressed.

        • Avatar of gworroll
          July 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm —

          I’m sure there are many individual Scientologists who are great people, and even a few local orgs that do great work for their local community.

          But the Church of Scientology is evil. The documentation to demonstrate this is everywhere.

          Read up on the Free Zone. If they feel they have to practice Scientology, they can do so outside the auspices of the Church. Try to point them towards the Free Zone. The beliefs aren’t any more rational(they are mostly the same, though some FZ groups discard stuff they feel is a corruption of the original doctrine), but at least they wouldn’t be supporting one of the most evil “religious” organizations the world has ever seen.

  14. Avatar of Rayna Ramsay
    July 1, 2012 at 5:19 am —

    Isn’t this like the 100th time that she has left Tom and the Church? It wont last long I bet you.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      July 1, 2012 at 11:03 am —

      There have been plenty of rumors that she was leaving before (unsupported) but this its different as she has actually filed for divorce and custody.

    • Avatar of marilove
      July 1, 2012 at 10:35 pm —

      Um… No.

  15. Avatar of daedalus2u
    July 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm —

    The more I think of it, the more I think it would be a great idea to do some skeptic outreach to Katie Holmes in her hour of need.

    The skeptics as a group have access to resources that could make a gigantic difference in any custody battle she has with the Scientologists.

    • Avatar of scribe999
      July 2, 2012 at 8:26 pm —

      It might not be a bad idea:

      Creepy crew reportedly from Church of Scientology keeping tabs on Katie Holmes, daughter Suri

      Read more:
      http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/creepy-crew-reportedly-church-scientology-keeping-tabs-katie-holmes-daughter-suri-article-1.1106034?localLinksEnabled=false

      • Avatar of daedalus2u
        July 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm —

        She and Suri really need legal counsel that know about Scientology.

        I suspect that the Scientologists are willing to throw Cruise under the bus, but the lawyers that Cruise has hired will try to prevent that. I suspect there is going to be a big fight between the lawyers that Cruise has hired (who will keep their activities within the law) and the Scientologists who will do illegal stuff to try and protect Scientology.

        If she is being followed by Scientology goons, she needs to get a restraining order against them and Scientology. I suspect they won’t obey a restraining order. When the Cruise lawyers tell them to is when they will go rogue and throw Cruise under the bus.

        If discussions are going on in Scientology headquarters about Katie Holmes and Suri and what to do to/with them, that would be discoverable if they breached a restraining order.

  16. Avatar of benbradley
    July 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm —

    Firstly – no, make this Point Zero – I don’t know jack about their relationship(s), but my comments are about Scientology (and similar groups/religions) and not either of these celebs.

    Now. Firstly as in Point One, Scientology is hardly a religion – it’s clear (ha ha, did you see what I did there?) that Scientology claims itself to be a religion for the tax exemptions and for the “goodwill” and deference that is too-often given to religious groups in the USA (much more so than in other countries. It’s arguably less of a religion than many Eastern religions and philosophies that don’t promote a deity). As far as goodwill, read Sam Harris’ writings for the problems caused by deference to religion. Scientology has “classes” that supposedly teach you “personal growth,” similar to est (later named the Landmark Forum) and other groups that started around the 1960s that were part of the “Human Potential Movement.” As far as I know, none of the other groups claim religious or even “spiritual” status. The movement has a neat-o, positive-sounding name, but the groups that are/were under it are known for extreme verbal abuse as part of their “reprogramming.” I’ve read of examples of people having psychotic breaks after attending est who had no history of mental illness before attending.

    Here are two pertinent links – first is the writing “How To Talk To A Scientologist” by a former long-time member (and keep in mind this can work with many other “high-demand, coercive” groups by changing only a very few details):
    http://www.xenu.net/archive/infopack/16.htm

    This odd little film, “Mind Control Made Easy,” describes MANY techniques used by certain groups without naming a single one other than the fictional “E-merge” group depicted. See how many techniques YOU recognize:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnNSe5XYp6E

    And I didn’t even mention Alcoholics Anonymous this time…

  17. Avatar of tracylords
    July 11, 2012 at 10:11 am —

    Sounds like she is back to being Roman Catholic now. Out of the Frying Pan and into the Friar? It amazes me that people like Stephen Colbert and Melinda Gates, who seem really really smart and use critical thinking, can be members of a religion that is so not. Xenu, Cardinal Ratzinger, Jerry Falwell, Joseph Smith, whats the difference?

    • Avatar of flueedo
      July 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm —

      You know, I bet they probably pick their religions for some reason other than believing in all that.

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