Paul Haggis Defends Leah Remini's Scientology Exit With 4 Shocking Statements About the Religion
Since former King of Queens actress Leah Remini left the church of Scientology following an argument with church leader David Miscavige, reports surfaced that Remini was facing derision from celebrities and friends still with the church. But, luckily for the actress, plenty have also come to her aid.
Not only did Miscavige's niece — ex-Scientologist Jenna Miscavige Hill, who wrote the memoir, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape — support Remini, calling the actress' decision to leave the church "fantastic and brave," but A-listers who have parted ways with Scientology are stepping up to speak in favor of the actress as well.
And that includes Paul Haggis, the Crash screenwriter who famously left Scientology after 34 years with the church in 2009 in response to its unwillingness to criticize California's Proposition 8. Following his exit, Haggis spoke out against Scientology's "disconnection" practice, which urges members of the church to separate themselves from friends or family that do not support Scientology. And, based on reports, Remini is currently falling victim to the practice.
In response, Haggis wrote a letter about Remini's decision to leave the church, praising her for her kindness following his own decision to leave. "Leah and I were always friendly but never close friends. Despite this, she called me as soon as she heard about my letter of resignation," he wrote. "A few months later, we ran into each other at a school fair. I kept my distance for fear of putting her in an awkward position, but Leah had no such fear. She walked up, asked me why I was being weird and told me she would always be my friend and would never “disconnect” from me."
But along with lending his support, Haggis made other shocking statements about the church. His most surprising admissions? Read on to find out:
Scientology Is Sneaky
Especially when trying to smear its former members, alleges Haggis. "If others who have made noisy exits from the church are to be believed, Scientology would also use their Office of Special Affairs employees to attack Leah indirectly, posting negative comments about her shows and career and abilities under myriad false names, pretending to be disappointed fans or whatever. None of that is new."
Scientology's Leaders Have Delusions of Grandeur
Haggis wrote that upon leaving the church, members look into allegations of abuse at the church. "I was working on a film about Martin Luther King Jr. at that moment and made the polite suggestion that even great leaders like Dr. King were human and fallible. Two of the senior church leaders leapt to their feet and shouted at me, 'How dare you compare a great man like David Miscavige to Martin Luther King!' I ended the meeting at that point, thanking them for coming."
No One Can Ask About Miscavige's Wife, Shelly
Questions in recent years have surrounded Miscavige's wife, Shelly, who hasn't been seen in public since 2007. (An attorney for the Scientology leader's wife said in 2012, "She is not missing. Any reports that she is missing are false. Mrs. Miscavige has been working nonstop in the church, as she always has.") "Leah asked questions about her longtime friend Shelly, David Miscavige’s wife, who had suddenly disappeared. Unlike her pious friends, Leah refused to accept the easy excuses that were offered. She kept asking questions."
The "S" Word — "Support" — Is a Dirty Word in Scientology
Haggis says he feels guilt about what Remini had to face following his exit from the church. "Leah got in trouble because of me, because when I was 'declared' a 'Suppressive Person' and shunned, she came to my defense — without me ever knowing it. She had shouting matches with Tommy Davis, then the church spokesman, who had come to try and keep her quiet. The fact that she fought within the system so resolutely for so long, never making her feelings public, is a testament to how much she believed in the basic goodness of her friends and the institution. Finally, according to what I read, she was turned in by a celebrity friend who had noticed one of our few innocuous tweets."
One thing's for sure: The past few weeks might have been bad for Remini's Scientology friendships, but they've been great for her personal PR.