What do you think?
Tom Cruise is the highest paid actor in the world.
Katie Holmes, his estranged wife, is a successful actress in her own right.
Katie has sued Tom for divorce after 5 years of marriage. The couple has one child, a daughter Suri, age 6.
Tom Cruise is a devout Scientologist.
Katie Holmes was raised a Catholic.
According to media reports, Cruise wants to familiarize the couple's daughter, Suri, with Scientology beliefs and principles; but Holmes, the Catholic, is uncomfortable with that plan, perhaps desiring to raise Suri in the Catholic faith.
It is my observation that both Cruise and Holmes are nice people who love their daughter Suri, and both seem to want the best for her.
Protagonists and antagonists on both sides of the couple's highly-publicized marriage, and now divorce action, have called each other's religious practices a "cult" from time to time.
Let's take a look at these 3 general belief systems:
The word "cult" in current popular usage generically and usually refers to a relatively new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered different, unusual, strange, abnormal, ritualistic, or even bizarre.
[Collins English Dictionary (10th Edition, 2009); Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper (2010); OED, citing American Journal of Sociology 85 (1980), p. 1377; Marybeth Ayella, "They Must Be Crazy: Some of the Difficulties in Researching 'Cults'", American Behavioral Scientist 33 (5): 562-577 (1990); T. Jeremy Gunn, "The Complexity of Religion and the Definition of 'Religion' In International Law", www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/hrj/iss16/gunn.shtml#fn33; Thomas Robbins, "Combating 'Cults' and 'Sects'," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40 (2): 169-176 (2002); Marion Goldman, "Review Essay: Cults, New Religions, and the Spiritual Landscape: A Review of Four Collections", Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion 45 (1): 87-96 (2006)]
"Scientology" in current popular usage refers to a body of beliefs or practices created as a relatively new religious movement by L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), beginning in 1952 as a successor to his previous self-help system called "Dianetics". Hubbard incorporated his new body of beliefs or practices into the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey in 1953.
Scientology espouses the belief, inter alia, that people are "immortal" beings who have forgotten their true nature. Its method of "spiritual rehabilitation" is a type of counselling known as auditing, in which practitioners of Scientology such as Cruise seek to consciously and ritualistically re-experience painful or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects, etc.
Scientology also espouses the belief that souls ("thetans") reincarnate and have lived on other planets before living on Earth, and that the practice of psychiatry is destructive and abusive and must be abolished, etc.
Practicing Scientology and rising to its highest levels can be expensive.
[Alan W. Black, "Is Scientology A Religion?" (January 24, 1996) Church of Scientology, www.newrelgion.de/ENG/Black/index.htm; Shamus Toomey, "'TomKat' Casts Spotlight Back on Scientology", (June 26, 2005), Chicago Sun-Times, web.archive.org/web/20050629002146/http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-scientology26.html; The Church of Scientology (Studios in Contemporary Religions, 1) by J. Gordon Melton Publisher (September 2000), ISBN 978-1-56085-139-4; "What is Scientology?", published 1998, Bridge Publications, ISBN 978-1-57318-122-8, http://www.whatisscientology.org; L. Ron Hubbard, "Why Doctor of Divinity?", Professional Auditor's Bulletin, No. 32 (August 7, 1954); "Scientology.org-Introduction to Scientology", www.scientology.org/enUS/religion/index.html, Church of Scientology]
"Catholicism" in current popular usage refers to the "Catholic Church", also known as the 'Roman Catholic Church". It is one of the world's oldest institutions, as well as the world's largest Christian church with more than one billion members worldwide.
The world-wide headquarters for the Catholic Church, and "Catholicism", is oddly the landlocked sovereign city-state of the "Vatican", whose territory consists of 110 acres with a population of just over 800 within a walled and highly-guarded enclave in the Italian city of Rome. The "Vatican" is the smallest independent state in the world in both area and population.
Catholic hierarchy is led by the Pope and includes cardinals, patriarchs and diocesan bishops. The church teaches that it is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ,that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles and that the Pope is the sole successor to Saint Peter. The central governing body of the church is known as the "Holy See", referring to the jurisdiction of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome.
The Catholic Church is Trinitarian and defines its mission as spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments
and exercising charity.
Catholic worship is highly liturgical, and ritualistic, focusing on the Mass or Divine Liturgy during which the sacrament of the Eucharist is celebrated. The church strangely teaches that bread and wine used during the Mass is miraculously changed into the body and blood of Christ. The Catholic Church practices closed
communion and only baptised members of the church are ordinarily permitted to receive the Eucharist.
Catholic doctrine maintains that the Church (ie, the Pope) is infallible
when it dogmatically teaches a doctrine of faith or morals.
The Church holds the Blessed Virgin Mary as mother of Jesus Christ in special regard. The church has defined four specific Marian dogmatic teachings, namely her Immaculate Conception without original sin, her status as the Mother of God, her perpetual virginity and her bodily Assumption into Heaven at the end of her earthly life.
Numerous Marian "devotions" are also practiced, inter alia.
[Catechism of the Catholic Church
, para. 77 and 890; Declaration on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church "Dominus Jesus"
, para. 17; Zenit News Agency, April 27, 2010, www.zenit.org/rssenglish-29058; "The Roman Catholic Chruch, and Illustrated History", by Norman (2007); Geography of Religion
, by Hitchcock (2004); "General Essay on Western Christianity", Overview of World Religions
, Division of Religion and Philosophy, University of Cumbria, ELMAR Project (1998), www.philtar.ac.uk/encyclopedia/christ/west/westessay.html]ï»¿