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Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology

By Roger Friedman

HollywoodNews.com: The New Yorker– venerable and respected–has taken on the Church of Scientology.

Lawrence Wright’s piece, called “The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology,” chronicles the Oscar winning screenwriter and film director’s departure from Scientology after 34 years. It’s something this reporter has written about often, not only Haggis’s exit but that of other Hollywood stars. Wright goes even further: he has actor Josh Brolin describe his brief encounter with Scientology. It scared him. Brolin–smart, respected–has taken a big chance here because Scientology is vindictive. They’ve already called him a liar less than 24 hours since his anecdote was published.

I know Josh Brolin, and he’s no liar. He says he saw John Travolta try to “heal” Marlon Brando using Scientology techniques. “It was f–ing bizarre,” Brolin said.

I told readers of this column last year that Haggis left Scientology for two reasons: their campaign for Prop 8 against gay marriage, and for their treatment of former members. Haggis told me that when his in-laws left the Church, he and his wife were told to have nothing to do with them anymore. They banned the Haggis’s child from seeing his grandparents. This went on for a year, Paul told me. The toll it took was brutal on the family. Haggis’s in laws sued to see their grandson. Finally, Haggis and his wife, actress Deborah Rennard, caved in, reunited with the grandparents, and exited Scientology. The whole story, in detail, is in The New Yorker piece.

For years I’ve written about the horrors of Scientology, right up through Kelly Preston, John Travolta’s wife, confronting me in Memphis on the night before Isaac Hayes’s bizarre Scientology tinged funeral. Preston and Tommy Davis, chief celebrity wrangler for Scientology, then went to my bosses at Fox News to complain about me. Or more. I’ve also written about Tom Cruise‘s antics, Kirstie Alley‘s Scientology based diet plan, about Davis’s wife, Jessica Feschbach, who was Katie Holmes’s “monitor” when she first was scooped up into Cruise’s world and cut off from family and friends. I also wrote about actor Jason Beghe, and how he escaped after 14 years. And lots more. Lawrence Wright‘s piece–which is long and incredibly detailed and comprehensive–is a brilliant job and a must read.


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About Roger Friedman

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411.com column in April after 10 years with Fox News where he helped create Foxnews.com. Friedman’s prior experience on the Internet is with MSN’s Cinemania column. Friedman also wrote the Intelligencer column as a contributing editor at "New York Magazine," where he covered the O.J. Simpson criminal trial. In addition, Friedman has been involved in book publishing and filmmaking (Only the Strong Survive). For more about Roger go to Showbiz411.com

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  • February 8, 2011 | Permalink |

    Great job, Roger! The unethical, scamming “Church” of Scientology is having a hard time dealing with the fact that they can’t bully journalists or ex-members into silence anymore. Next step: revoke Scientology’s ill-gotten tax exempt status.

  • February 9, 2011 | Permalink |

    The New Yorker article is another thinly veiled tabloid piece repeating old and new rumors from people with an axe to grind with the Church of Scientology. The New Yorker author Lawrence Wright could not come up with a single line that has not been discarded as the work of fanatic anti-religionists a long time ago. This piece actually sheds a new light on him as a researcher and writer. How much does his obvious hate against religion taint his judgment? This piece has been written by someone with a deep-set hatred against religion and spirituality. Just like the Hollywood dude Haggis, who openly confesses that he makes a living putting his personal life traumata in movie scripts, Lawrence Wright lives his anti-religious hatred in writing one-track minded articles and books. The New Yorker, putting on tabloid colors for a moment, has allowed him to air his therapy sessions and that is their choice but one really has to ask: I don’t really want to waste my time reading something like this.

  • February 9, 2011 | Permalink |

    Oh, Louanne. Where to begin about what bollocks your comment is?
    Tabloid piece? It’s by a Pulitzer Prize winner and it’s far better written than anything I’ve see in supermarket tabloids, ever.
    Nothing that isn’t a smear job? LRH lied about his war record. The Xenu story is kept from recruits until they reach OT3. Lisa Macpherson died at Scientology property and a coroner determined she was extremely dehydrated. David Miscavige has been accused of hitting staff. Tommy Davis is a pathological liar. All true – indisputably true.
    Wright hates religion? Interesting allegation. Might be relevant if Scientology were a legitimate religion.
    I’ll take a wild guess here. You’re a Scientologist, aren’t you? And you’ve given the CoS a lot of money in pursuit of personal growth? You’re so heavily invested by now that you can’t bring yourself to acknowledge that it’s all a scam. You would have my sympathy if your comment weren’t so obnoxious.

  • February 11, 2011 | Permalink |

    Louanne is a Scientology Office of Special Affairs internet “handler” and she has copy-pasted the same comment on every website that mentions this story. Just do a GoogleNews search for “scientology”.

  • February 23, 2011 | Permalink |

    Haggis says: “I say a few things that worked for me, a few things that didn’t work for me or upset me..”.

    Feelings like these are not uncommon among members of large institutions. I nevertheless commend him for sticking by his guns but I keep wondering that if Haggis’ statement above is true then why didnt Wright use the “things that worked” in his “exposé”?? I think this perspective would have given the article increased balance and integrity.

  • February 23, 2011 | Permalink |

    Here’s an expose: Paul Haggis was bullied by the NewYorker to give them a juicy story about Scientology. If any of it is true, that’s another story. He just admitted to USA today that he walked into the interview not even knowing they were gonna ask about Scientology. Then in The Hollywood reporter, he says something else entirely – that he walked into it with “his eyes open.” So which is the truth??

  • February 23, 2011 | Permalink |

    Funny that a columnist for an entertainment industry site fashions himself an expert on faith, or at least enough to comment directly on its membership. Last I checked, the qualifications needed to get this gig is the ability to keep your nose permanently brown with the studio establishment – which is why crossing an actress seems to qualify as an act of bravery.

    Here’s the skinny, nobody cares about a Hollywood columnist’s take on religion. In fact, remove the marginally well-known names connected to this sorry excuse for a news hook and there’s nothing here. At least this writer has the courtesy to identify his bias in the story, but it just makes it transparent how he’s dug his claws into this angle to generate clicks. Give it a rest already and report on something you’re qualified to talk about. The rest of it is boring me to death.

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