With his recent 26-page profile in the New Yorker Paul Haggis is the new public-face of the anti-Scientology movement. After 34 years with the group, Haggis claims he came to the realization that he was in a cult.
“Everyone could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.”
Personally, I don’t find it surprising that the guy who wrote Crash had a hard time deciphering what was going on in the real world. But even so, I commend him for finally figuring out a religion that believes in an alien named Xenu is probably bullshit. Kudos to you, Paul.
And while I give Haggis credit where credit is due, he’s far from the first celebrity to stick it to Scientology. Let’s take a look at some other famous people who aren’t down with the L. Ron.
In the book Elvis Aaron Presley: Revelations From The Memphis Mafia, associates claimed the King of Rock’n Roll had a less than favorable impression of Scientology, a fact that is somewhat ironic, considering his daughter went on to become a member. Then again, she also married Michael Jackson, so she’s obviously deranged.
“One day, in LA, we got in the limousine and went down to the Scientology Centre on Sunset, and Elvis went in and talked to them. We waited in the car, but apparently they started doing all these charts and crap for him. Elvis came out and said ‘Fuck those people! There’s no way I’ll ever get involved with that son-of-a-bitchin’ group. All they want is my money.’ Well, Peggy still kept on about it, so Elvis didn’t date her any more. And he stayed away from Scientology like it was a cobra. He’d shit a brick to see how far Lisa Marie’s gotten into it.”
It’s worth noting that Elvis is rumored to have died on a toilet, possibly while shitting a brick. If true, the brick was most likely made up of prescription meds. Given Scientology’s well known stance against psych meds, maybe he would have been better off joining.
Johnny Carson is remembered as the king of late-night TV. But it’s worth remembering that Steve Allen, the original host of “The Tonight Show,” is the founding father of the modern talk show. It’s also worth remembering that he really had it out for Scientologists.
After Allen’s son became involved with a cult, the humorist became an outspoken critic of many religious organizations, including Scientology. Allen was also actively involved with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a group that seeks to discredit pseudo science. As a group that discredits pseudo science, they weren’t exactly well received by a Scientology, an organization that makes its living off of counting peoples “thetens.”
In 1997, Allen wrote an open letter to the Church, eloquently explaining that its bizarre beliefs were not the basis for its negative reputation.
“There are other churches that, in the opinion of non-members, have some truly bizarre beliefs but no one dislikes the individual members as a result of those beliefs. ‘The Mormons are a perfect example. No non-Mormon on Earth accepts a word of Mormon assertions about the experiences of Joseph Smith, visits with angels, golden plates, etc. But despite that fact the Mormons have a very good social reputation. A number of my personal friends are Mormons and they are for the most part lovely and socially decent people. ‘But – again – the same cannot be said of Scientologists. And if I were you it would occur to me to wonder why. So, to save you a little wondering time, I’ll tell you why right now. You have the reputation as just about the worst bullies this side of the National Rifle Association.
When Tom Cruise publicly criticized Brook Shields for advocating the anti-depressant drug Paxil to fight postpartum depression, Shields did not shy away from a fight. In her reply, she told the world’s most famous Scientologist that he should “stick to fighting aliens” and “and let mothers decide the best way to treat postpartum depression.” Cruise later apologized, and the two became friends, but who cares.
You probably know that Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard, and that in his early years, he was a well-known science fiction writer. However, while he may have been respected as a writer, that respect did not always translate to a respect for Scientology, especially among his peers. Nowhere is this more apparent than in this interview with Sir Arthur C. Clarke, author of the science fiction classic, 2001. If Clarke says you’re crazy, you’re crazy. End of story.
Mike Farrell, (a.k.a. B.J. Honeycutt on M*A*S*H) became involved with the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) while researching child abuse for a film. While attending a fund raiser for the group, he encountered a group of Scientologists harassing guests. Determined to learn more, he met personally with Reverend Heber Jentzsch, president of the Church Scientology International, and was less than impressed with his exploitation as to why the Church was against CAN.
According to a interview with Premiere Magazine, Farrell began receiving “numerous strange phone calls, one telling him (falsely, as it turned out) that an old friend had died. There have been so many that now when he gets calls after midnight at his home, he answers, ‘Hubbard was crazy.’ Sometimes, he says, there’s a long silence before the caller hangs up.”
Before Paul Haggis, Jason Beghe was probably the highest ranking celebrity member to walk away from the Church. He spent 14 years as a spokesman, but now he refers to the religion as “bullshit.” If a guy who has been on “Criminal Minds” is calling something bullshit, it must be pretty bad.
Stephen Colbert, host of “The Colbert Report,” doesn’t shy away from hard hitting topics. He also doesn’t shy away from mocking ridiculous crap like Scientology. If the following clip isn’t enough, take a look at Colbert’s Best Scientology Moments.
Throughout the years, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have used their show, “South Park,” to mock and ridicule pretty much every religion under the sun. Scientology is no exception…well, except for the fact that the religion isn’t exactly “under the sun,” since it comes from a galaxy light-years away, but I digress.
When an episode mocking Scientology’s ridiculous origin story was aired, the Church did not take kindly to being ridiculed. Issac Hayes, a long-time cast member, quit in protest, and Tom Crusie threatened to halt promotion of Mission Impossible III if Comedy Central rebroadcast the episode (Comedy Central was owned by Viacom, which also owned Paramount). Then again, Cruise may have been more upset about his depiction as a closeted homosexual than the mocking of his religion, but I’m willing to bet it was a little bit of both.