Wellington: Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s daughter, Suri, may be pulled in between her father’s controversial religion of Scientology and her mother’s Catholic believes.
Now that her star parents are divorced, the parent with primary custody decides in what faith the child will be raised.
If Suri lives with her mother for a majority of the time, which will be the case, then Holmes will have the right to determine how (or whether) the girl worships, Stuff.co.nz reported.
This means that Suri is probably more likely to grow up with saints and Psalms than with hypnosis and the Scientology Code of Honor.
Still, most US courts allow the noncustodial parent to expose the child to his or her religious beliefs, so long as no effort is made to denigrate the faith of the custodial parent.
Behind this judicial leniency stands the conviction that every child should eventually have the power to chart her own religious course, and that only after encountering both mom’s and dad’s spiritual practices can she truly make an informed decision.
While any divorce court ruling depends in part upon the temperament of the individual magistrate, most judges would be reluctant to intervene in such a scenario unless the second religion had caused the child demonstrable harm. (Either that, or if a tenet of the faith seemed likely to interfere with the child’s adjustment post-settlement. Should Cruise’s Scientology inform his attitudes towards therapy, for instance, and lead him to deny Suri psychiatric treatment as needed, Holmes would have a strong argument for banning the religion entirely.)
The trick here is balancing parents’ First Amendment right to practice their religions, and to rear their children according to their own lights, against the best interests of the children.
No precedent exists such that, if a judge awards Cruise and Holmes absolutely equal custodial rights, Suri must be raised half-Catholic and half-Scientologist.
But most likely, the 6-year-old would practice the religion of the parent with whom she was staying until she reached an age to choose her own faith.
If one or both parents deemed that solution unacceptable, the court would probably hold a hearing, summoning forensic psychiatrists, ancillary witnesses, and experts in the precepts of the two religions to offer testimony about the child’s best interests.