HBO’s explosive new Scientology documentary, “Going Clear,” has shed a new light on the controversial church.
But many celebrities weren’t afraid to leave the church and later speak out against it.
After 30 years as a devout Scientologist, actress Leah Remini abruptly left the church in July 2013, and she didn't go quietly.
At the time of her exit from the church, Remini explained to People magazine:
'I believe that people should be able to question things. I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct. That for me, that's what I'm about. It wouldn't matter what it was, simply because no one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to.'
After viewing HBO's Scientology documentary 'Going Clear,' Remini released a statement thanking fans for their support:
'I wish to share my sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues, and from fans around the world. I am truly grateful and thankful for all your support.'
More on Remini's history with the church here.
She then released her third album, 'Storm & Grace,' where it was suggested she dissed the religion on several tracks.
From single 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet':
'This here is a city without lights / Those are all the people without eyes / Churches, they don't have a soul / Soup for sale without a bowl / Religion so corrupt and running lives / Farewell, fair weathered friends / I can't say I'll miss you in the end.'
After watching HBO's Scientology documentary 'Going Clear,' Presley tweeted: 'Sometimes… The S##t hitting the fan is a damn nice sound ;).'
Film director and screenwriter, Paul Haggis ('Million Dollar Baby,' 'Crash') spoke out in the New Yorker about his decision to leave Scientology in 2009, saying it horrified him.
'I was in a cult for 34 years,' said Haggis. 'Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't.'
After reading an article by the St. Petersburg Times reporting physical violence committed by church members, Haggis was extremely bothered.
'They were ten years old, twelve years old, ... scrubbing pots, manual labour -- that so deeply touched me,' Haggis told the New Yorker. 'My God, it horrified me!'
Haggis ultimately left Scientology after the church refused to publicly denounce Proposition 8 -- the ballot that banned same-sex marriage in California.
Haggis, who sent Leah Remini a letter commending her 'brave' decision to leave the church, is featured prominently as a talking head in director Alex Gibney's 'Going Clear' documentary about Scientology.
The New York Times claims the 'Arrested Development' actor was a member of Scientology in 2007.
In 2007, Tambor later spoke out about the rumours saying he took some classes at one time, but no longer follows the religion.
'I took some Scientology classes at one time, studied Scientology for a while, but no more,' said Tambor. 'I have nothing against it, but I am no longer a Scientologist.'
In his 2004 book, 'Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life,' the 'Superman' actor discussed his experience with the religion.
In the fall of 1975, when Reeve was 22, he found himself at the New York headquarters of the Church of Scientology to find out his score on an assessment he was given by a young man from the church. Instead of receiving a score, the actor was told he should begin 'training,' and, so, Reeves took up studying the religion.
After a few sessions, he was told to recall past lives and scepticism began to take over.
He ultimately dismissed the religion after concocting a story about a past life as the commander of a warship in ancient Greece to an auditor.
'I didn't expect my auditor to be familiar with Greek mythology; I was simply relying on her ability, assisted by the E-Meter, to discern the truth. The fact that I got away with a blatant fabrication completely devalued my belief in the process.'
'G.I. Jane' actor Jason Beghe, who is prominently featured as an interview subject in HBO's Scientology documentary 'Going Clear,' says he began straying from the religion after a Scientologist suggested a car accident of Beghe's was caused by his friendship with a homosexual.
When he openly left the religion in 2008, he said the purpose of Scientology is to create a 'brainwashed, robotic version of you.'
'It's a 'Matrix' of you, so you're communicating with people all the time using Scientology,' said Beghe. 'So we're seeing you 'via' Scientology. And it creates an addiction, so you come back for more.'
The actor claimed he spent $US1 million to get to the position of 'OT5 auditor.'
'Young and the Restless' star Michael Fairman joined Scientology in 2003, acting as the face of the religion for a few years before ultimately cutting ties with the church.
He told the Village Voice he began doubting Scientology leader David Miscavige's pressure to make expensive purchases in 2009.
'It was a really hard sell, and it turned me and my wife off. I stopped going to events,' he said. 'Then, when Paul Haggis's letter came up in 2009, that's when I really started to look at things. It brought me to Marty Rathbun's blog, quite fearfully, because Marty had been painted as the most evil of evil.'
Last year, Fairman made his 'Suppressive Person Declare' public, a document which tossed him out of the church.
The former 'Soap' actress opened up about her time in Scientology for seven years to Premiere Magazine in September 1993.
Canova has publicly discussed joining the church before she was an actress and what led to her ultimately cutting ties with Scientology.
'The first time I walked in those doors, they said, 'Just give us all the money in your bank account. You'll get it back tenfold ... It (prices) went up to about $US175 in the early '80's,' she recalls. That was shocking to me. I was beginning to wonder, Is it really worth it? They're telling you 'Don't spend $US100 an hour on a shrink's couch, it will ruin your mind.' Auditing is so much better?' ...
It took me years before I decided to quit ... I guess finally I was so fed up with being afraid. You've heard all these horror stories … I believed them.'
The church was displeased with the article and in response was permitted to run a 2,000 word essay about Scientology in the magazine under threat of libel.
Afterward, the church published a two-page rebuttal piece entitled 'Premiere's Propoganda: Correction of False Reports in an Article Published in Premiere Magazine, September 1993.'
'He just was the most adorable man that you can possibly imagine,' she said of Cruise. 'I have to say, I don't understand the Scientology thing because I don't understand it, you know. Sonny was a Scientologist. I didn't understand that either.'
Bono reportedly became interested in the religion after being introduced by actress Mimi Rogers, Tom Cruise's first wife.
But the former Palm Springs mayor stated that he was a Roman Catholic on all official documents, campaign materials, web sites, etc.
Bono died in 1998.
Anderson, known for his roles on 'Days of Our Lives' and appearing in TV series like 'Boston Public,' 'Mork & Mindy,' and 'Mad Men,' joined Scientology in 1976.
The actor was featured in the religion's 1996 40-minute promotion film, 'Orientation' in which he said the following:
'If you leave this room after seeing this film and walk out and never mention Scientology again, you are perfectly free to do so. It would be stupid. But you can do it. You can also dive off a bridge or blow your brains out. That is your choice ... But, if you don't walk out that way, if you continue with Scientology, we will be very happy with you. And you will be very happy with you.''
In 2008, Anderson became frustrated with the church's auditing and high costs for the many reprintings of basic teaching books after the founder's death.
'I looked around and everybody's in a standing ovation, getting their checkbooks out. I thought, 'Oh, my God, we are sheeple.' Not me. I'm out.''
After his break from the church in 2009, Anderson wanted $US150,000 in return, an amount he estimated he spent on his 33 years of service.
According to a 1993 Premiere magazine interview, the 'Top Gun' producer said he nearly went clear doing 'the E-meter' in the '70s.
However, after spending upwards of $US25,000 on courses without seeing much improvement, he decided to leave the religion.
'At that point I realised it was a con,' said Simpson. 'Heber Jentzsch called me into the Guardian's Office and implied that I was making a grave error. The implication that I took away was that I would be on their enemies list.
*Note: Jentzsch served as president of the Church of Scientology International since 1982. He hasn't been publicly seen since 2004.
The 'Taxi,' 'Babylon 5,' and 'Grease' star claimed Scientology saved him from drug addiction. He told 'Inside Edition' in March 2008:
'I've been doing Scientology...my doctor was like, 'Holy cow,' he says, 'Whatever you've been doing keep doing it because it's really working.''
Conaway said 'Grease' co-star, John Travolta, introduced him to the Church giving him an auditor and a library of Scientology books.
The actor died in 2011.
The NY Daily News reported in January 2008, the actor was actively recruiting for the Church.
Further suspicion came underway when he and his wife began supporting the New Village Academy, a private school in Los Angeles that borrows teaching techniques from the religion.
In a later interview with Fox News in September 2008, the actor defended the school borrowing from Scientology's learning techniques, but said he is not a Scientologist:
'I am not,' Smith said, 'You can take different parts of things you like and put them all together.'
Three months later, Fox News reported Smith donated a total of $US125,500 to Scientology.
'I was introduced to (Scientology) through Tom (Cruise), and I'm a student of world religion,' Smith told 'Access Hollywood' in 2007. 'I was raised in a Baptist household and went to a Catholic school, but the ideas of the Bible are 98% the same ideas as Scientology; 98% the same ideas as Buddhism or Hinduism.'
Smith added, 'How you gon' not know nothing about Scientology and attack (Tom)? It's dangerous, and it's ignorant. How am I going to condemn someone for what they believe and I believe God was born from a pregnant virgin?'
Reps for Scientology recently confirmed to The Daily Beast: 'Will Smith is not a Scientologist.'
Ricky Martin: The singer told TV Guide in June 1999 he explored Scientology along with Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
Katherine McPhee: In an interview from 2006 on 'Larry King Live,' the former 'American Idol' contestant admitted enrollment in a few Scientology courses after dating someone immersed in the religion.
'I took like a couple of courses and things like that. And they put my name on the Internet,' said McPhee. 'They totally exposed me, and so everybody thought I was a Scientologist. And I am no longer affiliated with Scientology.'
J.D. Salinger: According to a New York Times interview with his daughter in 2000, the 'Catcher in the Rye' author 'pursued Scientology, homeopathy and Christian Science.'
Brandy: A friend suggested the singer try out the religion after her car crash in 2006. Ultimately, she decided it wasn't for her:
'Someone said, 'There are these classes that you can take that can better you as a person.' said Brandy. 'I'm like, 'OK, I'll go check it out, but that's all I did, go check it out. I'm not a Scientologist.'
Patrick Swayze: The late 'Dirty Dancing' star told The St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) in 1989 he looked into the religion.
'I've always felt there was something different in there (my personality), but I was scared to look for fear I wouldn't find anything,' said Swayze. 'That's the reason I got into Buddhism, took est training, was into therapy, into Scientology, into Transcendental Meditation. I was trying to support that side of myself.'
A similar telling is also included in his biography, 'Save the Last Dance' by Wendy Leigh.
Russell Crowe: The 'Gladiator' actor told 'Interview' magazine he came close to joining the religion at one point, but ultimately decided against it:
'I looked at Scientology, as well. I read Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard, I got a couple of videos and I took it all in,' said Crowe. 'It just seems like a religion that is perfect for people who feel like they need a grounding, who feels that the world has run off on them. I've discussed this with Scientologists, and they don't disagree. So, for a certain type of person, that's great.'
Brad Pitt: In former high-ranking church official Amy Scobee's book, 'Scientology -- Abuse at the Top,' she claims Pitt completed two Scientology courses in July 1991 and May 1993.
'In the end, Brad didn't think it was for him and he and Juliette (Lewis) broke up,' said Scobee. 'He was high on the church president's list of stars they felt could be 'recovered.'
Demi Moore:The former leader of the church's Hollywood Celebrity Centre, Karen Pressley, claimed Moore was another celebrity sought out by Scientologists.
Elvis Presley: According to 'Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion,' Peggy Lipton, who was dating Presley at the time, tried to get the singer to join. From one of Presley's associates, Lamar Fike:
'One day, in L.A., we got into the limousine and went down to the Scientology center on Sunset, and Elvis went in and talked to them,' said Fike. 'Apparently they started doing all these charts and crap for him. Elvis came out and said, 'F--- those people! There's no way I'll ever get involved with that group. All they want is my money.''
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