By Adam Wilson
February 09, 2011
There's a really fascinating and incredibly long article in this weeks New Yorker about the cult of Scientology, and writer/director Paul Haggis's brave escape back into the world of secular sanity. In the piece, Haggis and other defectors speak with shocking candor on an institution whose inner workings have always been shrouded in secrecy. Before reading it, I'd considered Scientology stupid, creepy, amusing, and mostly harmless. After reading the piece, I now understand that this institution is all those things, but also evil, violent, and incredibly powerful. Read the piece for free in its entirety on The New Yorker website. But for those of you who don't have the time or energy to devote a couple hours to Scientology, I've provided a synopsis after the jump.
-Paul Haggis — writer of Million Dollar Baby and Director of Crash —recently quit Scientology after thirty-five years of involvement.
-Haggis quit because he was upset about the church’s support of California Proposition 8. Two of Haggis’s daughters are lesbians, and he believes strongly in gay rights.
-Scientology is anti-gay, although they deny this. A lot of people think Scientologists like Tom Cruise and John Travolta are gay. They also deny this. They deny pretty much all accusations about anything.
-Haggis’s frustration over Prop 8 led him to do some outside research on Scientology, something he’d mysteriously never thought to do once during the thirty-five preceding years.
-His research showed that Scientology was totally whack.
-Haggis had gotten into Scientology because a big part of the religion involves special forms of therapy and marriage counseling. Also, Scientology connections did wonders for his career.
-Nonetheless, he never knew Tom Cruise. Apparently Scientology celebs aren’t all buds with each other. The one time Haggis met Cruise, Cruise was a total humorless dick. Even though Haggis estimates he donated over $500,000 to the church over the years, they were still constantly asking him for money, and pretty much treated him like crap.
-Josh Brolin once saw Tom Cruise try to heal a wound in Marlon Brando’s leg with is bare hands.
-Haggis got to level VII on the spirituality ladder in the church. This is some hardcore shit. Haggis doesn’t think any of it worked. At level three you have to read this totally wild sci-fish thing about the beginning of humanity occurring 75 million years ago, and how dead souls are deposited in alcohol and then seep into your bodies. You must accept this document as truth. Haggis never fully bought it in his heart, but he’d spent so much time and money that he become afraid of asking himself honestly about his belief system.
-There is something called Sea Org that is kind of like a traveling monastery/jail where people as young as twelve are forced to sign contracts offering their dedication to Scientology for “billions” of years. They then are treated like slaves, paid $50 a week, and forced to do all kinds of manual labor like building airports for Tom Cruise.
-Sometimes these people are beaten and tortured and locked up for extended periods of time. Scientology denies this.
-Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard supposedly healed his own war injuries — lameness and blindness among them — by using Scientology methods. There is evidence supporting the fact that Hubbard was never lame or blind in the first place.
-There is this guy called David Miscavige, who runs Scientology, is totally evil, and allegedly beats the crap out of people on a regular basis. He’s also BFF’s with Tom Cruise. They have matching motorcycles.
-The piece ends with Haggis saying, “My bet is that, within two years, you’re going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church.” He thought for a moment, then said, “I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.”
Read the whole article here.