As Tom Cruise' and Katie Holmes gear up for what could be one of Hollywood’s nastiest custody battles, one thing they will definitely be fighting over is Tom's dedication to raising their daughter as a Scientologist, RadarOnline.com is exclusively reporting.
As we previously reported, the couple announced their shocking split Friday after five years of marriage with Holmes filing for divorce in New York City and requesting sole custody of six-year-old Suri.
"Katie does not want Suri raised as a Scientologist or raised under the tenets of the church," a source close to the actress tells RadarOnline.com. "She wants her to enjoy a 'normal' upbringing with a wide variety of friends and a good schooling. She believes that will not happen if she is raised as a Scientologist; it's one of the major things she and Tom fought over when they were together. Now they are apart she is adamant she is going to have Suri raised outside of the church.
"Katie even enrolled Suri in a Catholic pre-school a few years back, which Tom grudgingly agreed to after a lot of fights, but not as a long term measure. He wants Suri raised and schooled as a Scientologist and wants her friends to be fellow Scientologists."
A source close to Cruise tells RadarOnline.com that Katie could be gearing up for the fight of her life as Tom will NEVER allow Katie to take his daughter away from Scientology.
"Tom is incredibly passionate about Scientology, this isn't just some hobby for him and he doesn't just act as a spokesperson," the source says. "He truly believes in the church and its teachings and truly believes that it is imperative that his children are raised as Scientologists. Tom believes Scientology changes people's lives for the better and, obviously, he wants what is best for his children.
"Tom will move Heaven and Earth to ensure Suri stays a Scientologist, at least until she is of an age to make a decision to leave on her own accord. But until then, make no bones about it, Suri will be raised within the church."
While Katie is likely to raise the issue of Scientology during their custody battle, as RadarOnline.com previously reported, attorneys from both LA and New York have stated that it would be "unconstitutional" for a judge to involve him or herself in issues pertaining to Suri's religious upbringing.
“If there are tenets in the religion that spell out certain ways to raise a child, and Katie doesn’t feel that’s working for Suri, maybe because she’s acting out a lot, or not doing well in school, or has developmental issues, then that would be what she uses -- the litmus test would be what is in the best interest of the child," top Los Angeles divorce lawyer Grace Jamra told RadarOnline.com.
“Katie doesn’t really need to use Scientology as the basis or reasoning to get sole custody.”
New York-based family law attorney Bernard Clair concurred, telling Radar a judge would not consider Tom’s religion and its practices as reason enough to grant Katie full decision-making power over their daughter.
“I am hopeful that a judge would not give too much credence to the fact that someone is a member of a particular religion or particular thought-based organization,” Clair said. “It’s only relevant if it impacts the decision making of the parents.
“If any parent’s religion impacts on that parent’s ability to act in the child’s best interest, then that’s going to be a factor for consideration. But in and of itself, how someone practices religion, should not matter. It is only down to whether a parent interacts with the child positively or negatively. If the religion of the parents causes it to be negative then that needs to be looked at.
"Just the fact that Tom is a Scientologist should not matter," he added.