40 Celebrity Scientologists, Past and Present
It’s no secret that, in Hollywood, Scientology is a thing.
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A big thing that—despite its somewhat sinister and secretive reputation—has managed to recruit dozens of high-profile celebrities, some of which are devout followers, while others decided it wasn’t their cup of tea and left the church.
So, what is this thing we hear so much about? On its website, Scientology—which was founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1955 and is recognized as a religion in the U.S. and a few other countries—describes itself as a “twenty-first-century religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being. Scientology addresses the spirit—not the body or mind—and believes that Man is far more than a product of his environment, or his genes.”
Even if you haven’t heard the above definition, you might have heard about one of Scientology’s key practices called “auditing,” which is basically a counseling session during which a person’s unconscious thoughts from painful experiences are purged, often with the help of a trained auditor and a device known as an “e-meter.”
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In 2009, ABC published excerpts from “Nightline” interviews called “How Scientology Attracts Celebrities” and talked to several insiders—both past and present—and reported that e-meters are quite similar to lie detectors and impart electrical current through the body. “The theory is is that when you have emotional charge … it changes the resistance of the body. So that changes the current. And that … and it makes this needle move,” an insider who left the Church in 2003 told ABC.
A little confusing, to be sure, and there’s a lot more to it than that (for an interesting explanation, head to Belieftnet.com, which recruited Hugh B. Urban, professor of religious studies at Ohio State University to explain it), but a staggering number of celebrities have latched on for various reasons (we could speculate and say it’s because of Scientology’s self-help aspect, or its celebration of personal wealth.)
Here, a look at 40 celebrity Scientologists, including those who are devout, those who dabbled, and those who defected (read: quit for good.)
In 2013, the 31-year-old "Mad Men" star told Rolling Stone movie critic and host of ABC’s “Popcorn” that Scientology gives her stability and makes her feel like a better version of herself. It's also been rumored that her faith was the cause of her split from former "SNL" star Fred Armison. (There's also a list online that shows Moss' Scientology service completions—gotta love the web.)
The "Orange is the New Black" actress converted to Scientology when she started Christopher Masterson, the brother of her "That '70s Show" co-star Danny Masterson (both Scientologists.) Prepon and Masterson have since split, and rumors are swirling that she's dating Tom Cruise.
Of the church, Prepon told Women's Health in 2007: "Anyone who knows me is just like, 'Wow, if Laura is a Scientologist, then there has to be something to this.' When I hear something negative, I don't get defensive. I know what's true for me and what works for me."
Khan has said she's not a member of the church of Scientology, but mentions it often in interviews. In 2007, She told the New York Times "I’m not, never was, never will be. I belong to the religion of the Church of Chaka Khan, and I practice it every day. I live my religion, I consider it a personal thing. But I’ve taken some courses in Scientology, and they’ve been very, very helpful through life’s ups and downs."
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
There's quite a bit of murkiness around Will and Jada and their Scientology affiliation. Will has denied that they're members of the church, but they did fund a school that uses its teachings. Plus, many critics have speculated that Will's blockbuster flop "After Earth" was one big "love letter" to Scientology.
The voice of Bart Simpson, Cartwright is an active member of the church of Scientology.
John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Next to Tom Cruise, Travolta is the most recognizable celebrity Scientologist, having joinined during the mid-’70s when he was on the cusp of fame. Much has been written about his involvement, including this in-depth piece by The Hollywood Reporter.
Lisa Marie Presley
Elvis' daughter was an active member, but left the church of Scientology in 2013.
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The actress and rocker is a Scientologist, and she told Vanity Fair in 2010 that it's possible to retain your former religion while practicing.
"I’m a Christian! I think there’s so much confusion because people don’t understand a religion where you can be another religion but you can still practice Scientology. That’s why it’s completely progressive. It’s just tools for living. It’s about understanding one’s self and others and compassion and how to communicate better and how to live in this troubled society. It’s really basic, common sense stuff. It has nothing to do with all this funny folklore that surrounds it. You could be a Jewish Scientologist or a Buddhist Scientologist or a Christian Scientologist or anything else.
The actress was raised Catholic, but was introduced to Scientology by her husband Bodhi and joined the church after they married in 1995.
The 31-year-old "Parenthood" actress has been a lifelong member of the church, and has often defended Scientology in the media.
The celebrity probably best associated with Scientology, the actor is said to be one of the top level members of the church, and was first introduced to it in 1990 by his first wife Mimi Rogers. Cruise has been extremely vocal about his dedication to the chuch, claiming it helped him overcome dyslexia.
You might also recall that Cruise memorably caused controversy in 2005 after he criticized Brooke Shields for using the anti-depressant Paxil while trying to overcome post-partum depression—Scientology is opposed to mainstream psychiatry and its drugs.
In 2013, Cruise admitted that ex-wife Katie Holmes divorced him partially because she wanted to protect their daughter Suri from Scientology. He also said Suri is no longer a practicing member of the church.
The former "That '70s Show" star was raised as a Scientologist.
The actress, model, and '90s It-girl is a Scientologist (as is her husband Danny Masterson) and has spoken out against the use of psychiatric drugs.
The actor is an active Scientologist, and so is his twin sister Marissa, who's married to fellow Scientologist Beck.
One of the church's best-known celebrity members, Alley has said "to tell you the honest-to-God truth: without Scientology, I would be dead. So, I can personally highly recommend it."