Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Oscar Winner Paul Haggis Leaves Scientology

October 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Latest News

Paul Haggis-Gallery

It’s a story that I believe was first reported by Marty Rathbun. He has been posting excerpts from Paul Haggis’ letter to Tommy Davis over the past couple weeks and revealed Haggis as the author a few days ago.   Now the story has been picked up by Gawker and Radar among others.

Haggis very publicly resigned from Scientology over the group’s support of Proposition 8 during the last election in California. But he also cites the abusive actions of David Miscavige as being a large contributing factor.

Tommy,

As you know, for ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego. Their public sponsorship of Proposition 8, a hate-filled legislation that succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens of California – rights that were granted them by the Supreme Court of our state – shames us.

I called and wrote and implored you, as the official spokesman of the church, to condemn their actions. I told you I could not, in good conscience, be a member of an organization where gay-bashing was tolerated.

In that first conversation, back at the end of October of last year, you told me you were horrified, that you would get to the bottom of it and “heads would roll.” You promised action. Ten months passed. No action was forthcoming. The best you offered was a weak and carefully worded press release, which praised the church’s human rights record and took no responsibility. Even that, you decided not to publish.

The church’s refusal to denounce the actions of these bigots, hypocrites and homophobes is cowardly. I can think of no other word. Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent.

I joined the Church of Scientology thirty-five years ago. During my twenties and early thirties I studied and received a great deal of counseling. While I have not been an active member for many years, I found much of what I learned to be very helpful, and I still apply it in my daily life. I have never pretended to be the best Scientologist, but I openly and vigorously defended the church whenever it was criticized, as I railed against the kind of intolerance that I believed was directed against it. I had my disagreements, but I dealt with them internally. I saw the organization – with all its warts, growing pains and problems – as an underdog. And I have always had a thing for underdogs.

But I reached a point several weeks ago where I no longer knew what to think. You had allowed our name to be allied with the worst elements of the Christian Right. In order to contain a potential “PR flap” you allowed our sponsorship of Proposition 8 to stand. Despite all the church’s words about promoting freedom and human rights, its name is now in the public record alongside those who promote bigotry and intolerance, homophobia and fear.

The fact that the Mormon Church drew all the fire, that no one noticed, doesn’t matter. I noticed. And I felt sick. I wondered how the church could, in good conscience, through the action of a few and then the inaction of its leadership, support a bill that strips a group of its civil rights.

This was my state of mind when I was online doing research and chanced upon an interview clip with you on CNN. The interview lasted maybe ten minutes – it was just you and the newscaster. And in it I saw you deny the church’s policy of disconnection. You said straight-out there was no such policy, that it did not exist.

I was shocked. We all know this policy exists. I didn’t have to search for verification – I didn’t have to look any further than my own home.

You might recall that my wife was ordered to disconnect from her parents because of something absolutely trivial they supposedly did twenty-five years ago when they resigned from the church. This is a lovely retired couple, never said a negative word about Scientology to me or anyone else I know – hardly raving maniacs or enemies of the church. In fact it was they who introduced my wife to Scientology.

Although it caused her terrible personal pain, my wife broke off all contact with them. I refused to do so. I’ve never been good at following orders, especially when I find them morally reprehensible.

For a year and a half, despite her protestations, my wife did not speak to her parents and they had limited access to their grandchild. It was a terrible time.

That’s not ancient history, Tommy. It was a year ago.

And you could laugh at the question as if it was a joke? You could publicly state that it doesn’t exist?

To see you lie so easily, I am afraid I had to ask myself: what else are you lying about?

And that is when I read the recent articles in the St. Petersburg Times. They left me dumbstruck and horrified.

These were not the claims made by “outsiders” looking to dig up dirt against us. These accusations were made by top international executives who had devoted most of their lives to the church. Say what you will about them now, these were staunch defenders of the church, including Mike Rinder, the church’s official spokesman for 20 years!

Tommy, if only a fraction of these accusations are true, we are talking about serious, indefensible human and civil rights violations. It is still hard for me to believe. But given how many former top-level executives have said these things are true, it is hard to believe it is all lies.

“…the same face that denied the policy of disconnection”

And when I pictured you assuring me that it is all lies, that this is nothing but an unfounded and vicious attack by a group of disgruntled employees, I am afraid that I saw the same face that looked in the camera and denied the policy of disconnection. I heard the same voice that professed outrage at our support of Proposition 8, who promised to correct it, and did nothing.

I carefully read all of your rebuttals, I watched every video where you presented the church’s position, I listened to all your arguments – ever word. I wish I could tell you that they rang true. But they didn’t.

I was left feeling outraged, and frankly, more than a little stupid.

And though it may seem small by comparison, I was truly disturbed to see you provide private details from confessionals to the press in an attempt to embarrass and discredit the executives who spoke out. A priest would go to jail before revealing secrets from the confessional, no matter what the cost to himself or his church. That’s the kind of integrity I thought we had, but obviously the standard in this church is far lower – the public relations representative can reveal secrets to the press if the management feels justified. You even felt free to publish secrets from the confessional in Freedom Magazine – you just stopped short of labeling them as such, probably because you knew Scientologists would be horrified, knowing you so easily broke a sacred vow of trust with your parishioners.

How dare you use private information in order to label someone an “adulteress?” You took Amy Scobee’s most intimate admissions about her sexual life and passed them onto the press and then smeared them all over the pages your newsletter! I do not know the woman, but no matter what she said or did, this is the woman who joined the Sea Org at 16! She ran the entire celebrity center network, and was a loyal senior executive of the church for what, 20 years? You want to rebut her accusations, do it, and do it in the strongest terms possible – but that kind of character assassination is unconscionable.

So, I am now painfully aware that you might see this an attack and just as easily use things I have confessed over the years to smear my name. Well, luckily I have never held myself up to be anyone’s role model.

The great majority of Scientologists I know are good people who are genuinely interested in improving conditions on this planet and helping others. I have to believe that if they knew what I now know, they too would be horrified. But I know how easy it was for me to defend our organization and dismiss our critics, without ever truly looking at what was being said; I did it for thirty-five years. And so, after writing this letter, I am fully aware that some of my friends may choose to no longer associate with me, or in some cases work with me. I will always take their calls, as I always took yours. However, I have finally come to the conclusion that I can no longer be a part of this group. Frankly, I had to look no further than your refusal to denounce the church’s anti-gay stance, and the indefensible actions, and inactions, of those who condone this behavior within the organization. I am only ashamed that I waited this many months to act. I hereby resign my membership in the Church of Scientology.

Sincerely,

Paul Haggis

Ps. I’ve attached our email correspondence. At some point it became evident that you did not value my concerns about the church’s tacit support of an amendment that violated the civil rights of so many of our citizens. Perhaps if you had done a little more research on me, the church’s senior management wouldn’t have dismissed those concerns quite so cavalierly. While I am no great believer in resumes and awards, this is what you would have discovered:

* Founder, Artists For Peace and Justice,
- sponsoring schools, an orphanage and a children’s hospital in the slums of Haiti
* Co-Founder, BrandAid Foundation and BrandAid Project
- marketing the work of artisans from the poorest countries in the world,
* Board Member, Office of The Americas
- supporting peace and justice initiatives around the world
* Board Member, Center For The Advancement of Non-Violence
* Member and active supporter, Amnesty International
* Member, President’s Council, Defenders of Wildlife
* Member and fundraiser, Environment California and CalPirg
* Member and Award Recipient, American Civil Liberties Union
* Member and supporter, Death Penalty Focus
* Member and supporter, Equality For All
* Fundraiser, NPH (Our Little Brothers) – for the children of the slums of Haiti
* Member, Citizens Commission on Human Rights
* Patron with Honors, IAS
And formerly:
* Trustee, Religious Freedom Trust
* Board Member and fundraiser, Hollywood Education and Literacy Project
* Board Member and fundraiser, For The Arts, For Every Child
– supporting art and music in public schools
* Board Member and fundraiser, The Christic Institute
- supporting Human Rights in Central America
* Founding Board Member, Earth Communication Office
* Working Board Member, Environmental Media Association
* Fundraiser, El Rescate – Human Rights for El Salvador
* Fundraiser, PAVA – Aid and Human Rights in Guatemala

Awards for outspoken support of Civil and Human Rights:

* Valentine Davies Award – Writers Guild of America
“for bringing honor and dignity to writers everywhere”
*Bill of Rights Award – American Civil Liberties Union
*Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award – Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
*Peace & Justice Award – Office of the Americas, presented by Daniel Ellsberg
*Signis Award, Venezia, World Catholic Association
*ALMA Award – National Council of Latino Civil Rights
*Ethel Levitt Award for Humanitarian Service – Levitt & Quinn
*Prism Award – Entertainment Industries Council
*Humanitas Prize (2) – Humanitas
*Legacy Award, for Artistic and Humanitarian Achievement
*Environmental Media Award – EMA
*EMA Green Seal Award – EMA
*Image Award – NAACP
*Creative Integrity Award – Multicultural Motion Picture Association
*EDGE Awards (2) – Entertainment Industries Council
*Artistic Freedom Award – City of West Hollywood
*Catholics in Media Award – Catholics in Media Associates

And many dozens of fundraisers and salons at our home on behalf of Human and Civil Rights, the Environment, the Peace Movement, Education, Justice and Equality.

I have been a very big fan of Haggis’ work. I know people have widely mixed views about Crash but I thought it was a very compelling movie and parts of it stick with me to this day. The scripts he’s written for Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby, Flags/Iwo Jima) have greatly impressed me.

I know a lot of people want to boycott Scientology celebrities but I’ve never felt the need. I am a fan of Cruise, Travolta and others. When they make good movies, I want to see them. When they make “Road Hogs,” I stay home — like most moviegoers.

With Haggis, I grew concerned because here was a talented filmmaker who could cut through the over wrought corn that Scientology produces and might actually make recruitment videos that work. The recent wave of TV ads are slick and a world apart from the old exploding volcano ads of yore.

I’m happy Haggis is out for his own sake, but also for the sake of others who could be lured in by Haggis’ talent.

Comments

24 Responses to “Oscar Winner Paul Haggis Leaves Scientology”
  1. flyguy359 says:

    Don’t forget Walker Texas Ranger – slow motion kicks to the head could have crept into those recruitment videos. Phew!

  2. Billy says:

    Tommy is in trouble. First, losing his cool over the Bashir Xenu question, and now responsible for the exodus of one of its most prestigious and high profile members. Rinder NEVER would have let the poop hit the propellar like little Tommy has done. Anne Archer has gotta be embarrassed, too. He’ll be in RTF before too long – TRUST me…

    LOL!

  3. anon says:

    Holy CRAP… Poor Tommy though, he’s gonna be stuck in the SP Hall at Gold INDEFINITELY now. Of course even though he was following directions by doing everything he did he will be blamed for this because of some overts/withholds.

    I guess Tommy had better practice his musical chairs.

  4. Caliwog says:

    This letter gives me hope. On a semi-related note, I wonder how long it will be before we see Tommy Davis on camera, side by side with Mike Rinder, talking about all the lies they told on behalf of the cult church.

  5. Artoo45 says:

    I can only imagine what Paul Haggis is going through right now. This is clearly a man of integrity and compassion, at least in his artistic expression and charitable work. He must feel like he’s made a very public idiot of himself right about now. He’s defended this awful cult and Hubbard’s patent nonsense for years. I’ve had experiences where I was dumbstruck by how wrong my beliefs were and it’s very unsettling and it makes you question everything. Now, questioning everything is a good place to be, but it can be lonely and more than a little embarrassing too.
    I hope Mr. Haggis can see that the critics of the cult were on his side all along and that the facts of the ugly inner workings of Scientology become crystal clear to him: The RPF. Forced abortions. Gays “removed quickly and without sorrow.” Xenu. Operation Snow White. Operation Freakout. Lisa McPherson. Ellie Perkins. Fair Game. You all know the list, but he’s probably just starting to look at all of these things not as entheta spread by SP’s, but as a terrible legacy of deception and coercion. He could be a powerful force for good and this letter is one hell of a start.

  6. Humanist says:

    Good for Paul Haggis. I hope many other Scientologists find their way out. If I were Tommy Davis, I’d be dropping bricks right about now. Disconnection can only stave off curiosity for so long. Many people will start asking questions and demanding answers. I live two houses down from two generations of Scientologists, they saw Nightline and were not pleased with the way Tommy represented them.

  7. Scam Shamalam says:

    It would be nice to talk with him.

    To borrow the cult parlance, this is certainly a win for the critics.

    But to me, the gay rights proposition was not a pivotal issue– Scientology in fact, sided with the majority of Californians. It is really nothing compared with the many other abuses of the cult.

    Haggis believes that Tommy Davis is a bare faced liar and Haggis wonders what lies he has not caught. It sounds as though Haggis still believes in L.Ron Hubbard’s Scientology but doesn’t like the people who are running it today. In short, despite his many awards and commitments to the betterment of mankind, he remains a pure-blooded sucker. I hope that this is Stage One in distancing himself from the cult of greed and power.

    I hope that after he digests the entirety what Scientology has been up to, he is as vocal as he is now. I hope that he will found a group to get people out of Scientology, along with his other humanitarian works. I hope he will council other influential people in the film industry.

    We are looking at small crack in the veneer. It is not as though he is saying, “It is a huge fraud from Dianetics to OT8 and I have been taken,” which is what people need to hear.

    I’ll keep watching.

  8. Jack says:

    The true end of the Cult of Scientology will come when the method of fear they use to keep their “celebrities” in line is exposed:

    Blackmail and Extortion.

    Whatever DM has on these people is powerful enough to keep em’ pumping millions back into the Cult, while ensuring their very public “support”.

    One day it will come out…

    And Blackmail & Extortion are more solid crimes to prosecute than what is going on in France. When this happens, it’s all over.

  9. Scientologist says:

    Listen, Scientology Loser, didn’t you know that you must leave your conscience, compassion, truthfulness, common sense and other weaknesses behind you when you enter the Church of Scientology?
    We are Homo Nuovoses, Psychopaths, not ordinary humans, dammit!

  10. Artoo45 says:

    So check this out from the L.A. Times coverage of this letter . . .

    Haggis is currently filming “The Next Three Days” with Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson and another former Scientologist, Jason Beghe.

    I bet Beghe got to him. I’m really glad he’s got someone he can relate to who will reinforce his decision to leave. This just gets better and better . . .

  11. Neteret Farouk says:

    Now if John Travolta would just leave…

  12. Kari says:

    I’ve only been enlightened to the abuses of this corporation for about a month and a half. I’ve researched the Scientology sites, protest sites, all of it I could find. What some have been through is horrifying and horrific, almost unbelievable to some that may not have lurked in comment threads and read consistent stories of abuse, neglect of rights and escape from this corporation.

    I found Mr. Haggis’ letter to be very authentic in the gentle yet unyielding manner it approaches the neglect of the church on some key issues, such as disconnection.

    No, it doesn’t cover all deeds, but it does give a quiet, genuine account of a former member of the church that also wants answers and isn’t getting them. I also see a underlying respect for any fair gaming that may follow.

    I think that Mr. Haggis is a very savvy communicator. With all the coverage of this letter and humble manner of the communication, if the corporation decides to fair game, the result will draw even more attention from people that will begin lurking, learning, posting and melting into anonymous.

    The contrast of this missive to Mr. Davis’ performance on Nightline is striking. People that have never searched before are reading Wiki and maybe even finding a path here.

    Take Care All.

  13. stevie o says:

    BREAKING NEWS Mark…..6 Members {high ranking} of the Co$,in France ,just been found GUILTY of SERIOUS FRAUD charges=possible jail terms…..and consideration of the Ban of the insidious CULT in France ….finally JUSTICE …should be news to brighten up your DAY Mark !!!All the best ,regards from the NL:..XX

  14. Sam says:

    True, Scientology France is condemned for organised fraud and they have to pay about 600.000 euro. The org itself may continue its practice however. Still it is another victory for everyone opposing the cult. Seems like mr Haggis left a sinking ship. (a bit late I must say, but hey…)

  15. Elron Hokum says:

    HEY EVERYBODY-BUNKER NEEDS OUR HELP!

    Tory Magoo said your car was broken down, Mark. I encourage everybody to donate a bit to XenuTV to help you through a rough patch.

    Take care, and thanks for all you do.

  16. Anon1260 says:

    Has anybody told Paul Haggis to Wiki ‘Fair game’?

    And if not, why not?

  17. Run says:

    As far as I can tell, Haggis still believes all the $cientology stuff about alien souls and whatnot. He hasn’t evolved that much, really. He just left a corrupt and mean-spirited organization, that’s all.

  18. jim says:

    LRH said that gays were of no use to society and should be locked up, so they are CLEARLY anti-gay–but Tommy says otherwise!

  19. Elron Hokum says:

    “As far as I can tell, Haggis still believes all the $cientology stuff about alien souls and whatnot. He hasn’t evolved that much, really. He just left a corrupt and mean-spirited organization, that’s all.”

    Yes, but a step in the right direction, both for him and those who would be oppressed using his continued monetary support of the cult.

  20. Jay says:

    The Co$ is finally coming to its End of Days – all over the world – what is left of the LRH minions are finding that dabbling in the black arts results in nothing but despair.

    2010 – will be the year that $cientology becomes a smudge on history’s page.

  21. Mr. Mike says:

    “As far as I can tell, Haggis still believes all the $cientology stuff about alien souls and whatnot. He hasn’t evolved that much, really. He just left a corrupt and mean-spirited organization, that’s all.”

    Yes, but a step in the right direction, both for him and those who would be oppressed using his continued monetary support of the cult.
    - Elron Hokum

    I think he’ll wind up in the FreeZone, then realize he was wasting his time, and finally drop the tech altogether. But it’s good that he made that decision and abandoned Hubbard’s fantasy kingdom/ripoff.

  22. anon says:

    One thing’s for sure, when The Next Three Days comes out in theaters and the people involved with it are making the promotional rounds this letter will be the main topic of discussion and it will give the media a reason to not only talk to Haggis about it, but also interview Jason Beghe about it too.

  23. Rusty says:

    And now he’s writing a book!

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