Paul Haggis Denounces Scientology in New Yorker Opus

In 26-page story, the “Million Dollar Baby” writer talks about discovering “Dianetics” in 1975 … and leaving it all behind 34 years later

Last Updated: February 7, 2011 @ 7:52 PM

Consider Paul Haggis' Operating Thetan status officially revoked.

Now dissonant from the Church of Scientology, to which he loyally adhered to for 37 years, Haggis serves as key source in The New Yorker's 26-page undressing of what the "Million Dollar Baby" writer now-unabashedly refers to as a "cult."

Read also: Star-Studded Scientology: 10 Celebrity Church Members (slideshow)

Here are a few of the highlights and admissions:

>> The magazine claims the FBI is investigating allegations of physical abuse and misconduct within the church. The FBI told TheWrap it has a policy of neither confirming or denying investigations.

>> Haggis said got in hot water with the church and its highest-profile member, Tom Cruise, in 2005, when he jokingly told Steven Spielberg that the church keeps evil members "in a closet." Haggis said he was summoned to the church's Celebrity Centre a few days later and chastised into an apology.

>> During his 37 years of membership, Haggis estimates that he spent more than $100,000 on courses and "auditing," and $300,000 on various church initiatives. Haggis acheived level Thetan VII status, one of the church's highest rankings.

>> The New Yorker also interviewed actor Josh Brolin (not a member), who recalled a long-ago party during which Marlon Brando showed up with a gash on his leg. Member actor John Travolta then closed his eyes and tried to heal the wound through touch. "I was thinking, 'This is really f***ing bizarre!,'" Brolin recalled. "Then, after 10 minutes, Brando opens his eyes and says, 'That really helped. I actually feel different!"

Haggis had a high-profile falling-out with the church in 2009, spurred by the San Diego branch's support of the successful  anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative Proposition 8 (both of the director's daughters are lesbian).

Responding to the article, the Church of Scientology sent the following statement to TheWrap:

CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT

It is unfortunate that The New Yorker chose to introduce its readers to
Scientology through the eyes of an apostate, someone religious scholars
unanimously denounce as unreliable, rather than take advantage of the Church’s
invitation to experience its practices and humanitarian works firsthand. The New
Yorker doesn’t mention Scientology’s global human rights initiative, which has
educated millions on human rights. Or its “Truth About Drugs” crusade, teaching
millions how to live drug-free. Or its global Volunteer Ministers program, whose
work in Haiti alone has been hailed by the international community. Or its dozens
of new Churches bringing Scientology’s life saving technology to communities
around the world. Indeed the newest Church opened just this last week in
Melbourne, Australia.

The one grain of truth in the article is its acknowledgement of the positive effect
Scientology has had on the lives of its adherents and the world at large—that is
the message of Scientology.

The article is little more than a regurgitation of old allegations that have long
been disproved. It is disappointing that a magazine with the reputation of The
New Yorker chose to reprint these sensationalist claims from disaffected former
members hardly worthy of a tabloid. As for the claim that the Church is the
subject of a federal investigation, the Church has never been advised of any
government investigation, a fact The New Yorker knew before it went to print.
Moreover, the subject of the alleged investigation was recently raised in a lawsuit
by the same individuals who are the sources for the article and the complaint was
resoundingly dismissed by a Federal District Court Judge. The New Yorker was
aware of this fact but irresponsibly used anonymous sources to claim an
“investigation” to garner headlines for an otherwise stale article containing
nothing but rehashed unfounded allegations.

Anyone who wants to know the true story of Scientology should find out for
themselves by coming to a Church of Scientology, whose doors are always open,
or going to the Church’s website, www.Scientology.org.

Tommy Davis
Church of Scientology International