Kidman’s kids step up in Scientology
Three weeks ago, Tom Cruise's daughter Isabella had a message for the followers of Scientology.
"This IS what I had been searching for. The missing piece. Suddenly everything began to make sense."
The New York Post reports that in a post for a church newsletter, the 28-year-old enthused about her new role as an auditor in the religion - meaning she interviews other members and gets them to talk through their shortcomings and their deepest secrets.
Her announcement sent "a message to the rank and file that the celebrities are doing their part," said Tony Ortega, author of Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard's Dangerous Religion.
What it also suggests is that the Cruise kids, after laying low for years, are ready to step into the spotlight. According to insiders, Isabella and her younger brother, Connor, 26, are not just members of the church - they're promoters of it.
As the New York Post recently reported, Cruise is considered a "deity" in the religion. But over the past decade, the actor has gone quiet about his faith of 30 years. He was publicly pilloried in 2008 after his interview with Oprah turned into a Scientology preaching session, and a promotional video, made for the church, showed the actor laughing heartily while talking about "rehabilitating criminals, bringing peace and uniting cultures."
(Representatives for Cruise did not respond to a request for comment.)
But that doesn't mean that his children, who he adopted with his second wife, actress Nicole Kidman, can't take up the banner.
In fact, after years of being known as a heartbreaker on the Scientology scene, Connor is said to be dating a rising star of the church. Silvia Zanchi is a 26-year-old from Italy who works at the organisation's Belleair mission, near Clearwater, Florida, which serves as Scientology's power base.
She, too, belongs to a Scientology family and is said to be a prolific recruiter.
"Silvia is pretty, vivacious, very nice and gung ho about Scientology," said Mary Kahn, a former church member who had been affiliated with the same mission project as Zanchi.
According to church literature, Zanchi has already completed preparations to study the church's secretive OT, or Operating Thetan, levels.
Ortega said that the Cruise kids' increased visibility in the religion - which is said to be struggling through a 20-year membership decline - sends a powerful message.
"Going public in this manner adds up to the Cruise family showing support for [Scientology leader] David Miscavige," Ortega explained. "Miscavige needs to shore up support for Scientology. The Cruises set an example, which is huge in terms of his holding onto wealthy donors."
Cruise was introduced to the church in the 1980s by his first wife, actress Mimi Rogers, whose father ranked among the original members. Cruise himself has claimed that a learning system created by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard led to him overcoming childhood dyslexia. It's one of the things that helped turn him into a true believer.
After he split with Rogers in 1990 and married Nicole Kidman the same year, she began taking courses with the church. But by the time the couple adopted Isabella in 1992 and Connor in 1995, the family had drifted away from Scientology. In 1997, Kidman told the Sydney Morning Herald, "I wouldn't classify myself as a Scientologist, but my husband is." At some point, he renewed his dedication and she did not. The two divorced in 2001.
"The (custody) agreement was 50/50," said Ortega. "Nicole went to Australia and Tom stayed in (California) with the kids. He raised them as Scientologists and they have always been strong Scientologists."
As a result, Connor and Isabella have reportedly been long estranged from their adoptive mother.
In actress Leah Remini's memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, the former church member recalled being at Cruise's 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes and asking the children if they'd seen their mother recently.
"Our mum is a f**king SP," Isabella told Remini. Kidman had been declared a "suppressive person" by church leaders, meaning she did not support Scientology and that members were forbidden to communicate with her.
However, Connor told Woman's Day in 2014 that he still had a relationship with his mother even if they aren't seen together.
"I love my mum," he said. "I don't care what people say, I know that me and Mum are solid. I love her a lot. My family means everything. Yeah, I love my music, but the family comes before everything else."
Growing up largely without Kidman's presence, Connor and Isabella spent a lot of time with other kids in their religion.
One former Scientologist remembered hanging out with Connor and other young church members when they were teenagers in Los Angeles.
"He was a cool dude. We weren't allowed to discuss (Connor's parents) and he never brought it up," said the former Scientologist, who joined the church at age 7 with her family but left last year. "Connor always had money and we were all poor because we worked for Scientology. We were happy when he went out with us because he was generous enough to pay."
Connor - who has dabbled at being a DJ and is now a fishing guide - is said to live mostly in Florida. According to insider Aaron Smith-Levin, 38, who left the church in 2013, "The local Scientology community (there) is like a big high school, and Connor is the star jock. Everybody knows him and wants to go out on his big-ass fishing boat."
It makes sense that Connor wound up with Zanchi, who is originally from Bergamo, Italy. A rising star in Scientology, she was part of an "Executive Committee" that, in 2015, delivered the most training and auditing services, while competing against missions around the world for the annual LRH Birthday Game.
Although Connor recently tweeted a denial of any impending nuptials, "She is exactly who Tom would want Connor to marry," said Kahn.
Indeed, the actor was spotted with the couple at Disney World in December.
News of the romance has left a trail of broken hearts, said Smith-Levin.
"There have been a lot of girls spurned. Young Scientology girls are generally trying to get to Connor."
If there is a wedding, ex-Scientologist Geoff Levin said Kidman's attendance "would be forbidden."
Neither parent was at the nuptials between Isabella and Max Parker, an IT consultant, which took place in 2015 at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
Parker is reportedly not a church member, and the couple lives in a modest, semi-detached home in the drab Croydon section of London, where, a neighbor has told The Sun newspaper, they keep "a reptile of some kind" near the window.
Isabella launched the fashion company BKC, which stands for Bella Kidman Cruise, and dropped a line of T-shirts featuring her illustrations in 2018.
In her role as an auditor for Scientology, she asks participants questions and monitors their responses via an E-meter - basically a primitive lie-detector.
"A mild (electrical) current goes through your body and the machine registers adjustments in resistance, which seemed to change based on thought and emotion," said Levin, who said that he had built some of these devices for the church.
According to the former Scientologist, who also went through the process of becoming an auditor, the training usually involves four to six months of classes, at a total cost of $US20,000 to $US30,000.
The former Scientologist told the New York Post there may have been some nepotism involved in Isabella's training. Typically, she said, auditors are on staff and work regular hours at a Scientology centre.
"She is not on staff," said the former Scientologist, who asked to remain anonymous due to pending litigation against the church. "I don't know why she did the training. Maybe her dad (said) that she needed to be trained. It wouldn't surprise me. He is very intense and super into it."
Ortega told the New York Post that "Tom is very proud of his daughter."
(A church spokeswoman told the New York Post, "Someone does not have to be on staff to participate in auditor training.")
Meanwhile, Cruise's youngest child - 13-year-old Suri, with whom he reportedly has little to no contact since mom Katie Holmes pulled the girl out of Scientology in 2012, the year she divorced Tom - is said to have had no real exposure to the church's teachings.
While Holmes has never publicly stated why she left Cruise, there has been rampant speculation that it had to do with Suri reaching the age of 6.
According to the church spokeswoman, "Scientology parents determine when to involve their children in their chosen religion."
But 6 years old is the typical "age when kids start being indoctrinated into Scientology," Ortega said. "[Holmes] saw what the older kids were going through and didn't want that for Suri."
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission