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How much will a Paul Haggis book hurt Scientology’s image? [Updated]

January 6, 2011 |  3:54 pm


Director Paul Haggis has already been the worst kind of publicity for the Church of Scientology, penning this letter in August 2009 in which he resigned from the group over its support of Proposition 8.

Now he could become more than just a thorn in the church's side. According to this Gawker report, the Oscar winner is shopping a book with New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright about his experience with Scientology –- an experience that he says included, among other things, his wife cutting off contact with her parents at the order of church officials.

[Updated at 10:25 a.m. Friday: A representative for Haggis said that although the book will be done with Haggis' full collaboration and will be focused exclusively on him and his odyssey, Wright will be its sole author.]

According to an agent's listing for the book, "The Heretic of Hollywood," as it will be called, will give voice to much of what the director has felt but hasn't yet said in the time since he left the church.

"Haggis was one of the church's Hollywood trophies, along with Tom Cruise and John Travolta, whose paths cross with Haggis's. His resignation from the church in August of 2009 was a crushing disappointment to the organization. This is the first time Haggis has spoken about his experience," reads the synopsis.

For those interested in the intersection of religion and celebrity, the book could have a particular resonance. "The most profound reckoning to date with this powerful and secretive organization, 'The Heretic of Hollywood'  is also a moving human story of the lure of extreme faith and the price of leaving it," the synopsis states.

There’s no publisher yet, but a tell-all book about a famous ex-Scientologist would obviously have a huge impact. As a 35-year member of the church, the director has more than his share of credibility, since, as his letter demonstrates, he genuinely did (and perhaps still does) believe in certain of its credos.

Maybe more important, while Haggis’ films have recently been a mixed bag -- his 2010 release “The Next Three Days” failed to land with audiences -- as a Hollywood personality there are few who shoot straighter. We experienced that firsthand when we interviewed the filmmaker a few months ago for that film; he was a beacon of straightforwardness to star Russell Crowe's squirminess.

There will be those who read about the book proposal and say Haggis is trying to cash in -- though given the church's alleged propensity for smearing former members, many will likely see in his actions a truth-to-power element as well.

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Paul Haggis. Credit: Nathan Denette / Associated Press


Russell Crowe: One tough interview

Comments () | Archives (68)

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Founded by L.Ron Hubard, based on some of his science-fiction novels and started because of a bet in a bar.
"The best way to make a fortune is to start your own religion....PRESTO....scientology, except as it is now practiced it is a cult and L.Ron would be laughing his butt of at these idiots
A fool and his money are easily parted!

Tom Cruise is a shallow actor with deep pockets. If he wants to support the Scientolgists with his millions, so be it. Perhaps he thinks it will afford him passage into that Sci-Fi Heaven that was invented by a Sci-Fi writer? And never mind the eye of the needle. That's just Bible talk.

Jboa: I echo your comments exactly. He hasn't really done anything very noteworthy recently, and its kind of sad that he's still crying about this now. There's too many people who write books to make sense of life experiences they can't come to terms with. I think this would hurt Paul Haggis' image more than it would hurt Scientology's. He's a pseudo-celebrity now attempting to publish a pseudo-expose.

When Paulette Cooper started writing "The Scandal of Scientology" the cult responded by setting her up for a bomb threat they forged (Operation Freakout).
Here is an article where in typical fashion Scientology denies their harassment of her: news.google.com/newspapers?id=LUMtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-J4FAAAAIBAJ&dq=scientology%20paulette%20cooper&pg=2586%2C4881552

They were later exposed during an FBI raid. youtube.com/watch?v=NRDcS5K2sJM

I doubt that Paul Haggis will do any real damage. I think he's just doing some damage control to himself. Why not fight your battles head on, and not cower down by writing a book? Sheesh.

Congrats, Paul, on leaving this vicious, evil & militant cult. I was in for 7 years and was on staff in Hawaii. I was ORDERED to disconnect from my mother because she asked one too many questions. As I was her only child and she felt she had nothing to live for, she attempted suicide.

Mark Bunker of Xenutv (www.xenutv.com) is filming a feature length movie about this cult. I'm sure he would love to interview you. You can contact him at: markbunker@gmail.com

To see OT3 in living color go to: www.xenu.net. Scroll down the home page all the to the bottom where it says, "Always Remember To Laugh." Click on "South Park Takes On Scientology." Let it ramp up and enjoy the show. This is their absolute core beliefs. Their holy of holies!


If Paul Haggis's own experiences, as related to a distinguished and meticulous writer he trusts, are "pseudo" what is REAL to you Scientologists? Only things that are cult-promoting? Things that will get more people into the money trap bridge to Xenu?

Is Tom Cruise's video, with his disjointed rambling and irrational exhortations to true believers, to be "in or out" and take over the planet within the next 100 years, complete with the laughable claim that he's reached over one billion people with "the tech" already...is that REAL to you?

Are billions of people really interested in the widely discredited and never proven claptrap in Dianetics? Is it feasible to "clear the planet" when auditing can cost $1000/hour?

Is it REAL to you that L. Ron claimed the planet could be CLEAR in a few years, if you followers would just "apply the standard tech properly" and then you are to build a Space Org and begin clearing the Universe. Is that REAL, 100% L. Ron Hubbard truth for you?

Scientologists can't handle the truth, like all of our susceptibility to accepting false memories under the influence of certain procedures, like Scientology auditing and drills (Training Routines).

Maybe we have lived past lives. Maybe we haven't. L. Ron Hubbard certainly never proved we have, just because a few thousand of his followers "know" he did. That's all Tom Cruise says, "I know." Scientologists have such poor communication skills they can't, and aren't allowed to, talk about what they know. Turns out it is squat. Really, Sasquatch is more credible than Xenu, and hundreds of thousands cheaper too.

So let Paul Haggis tell us what is "true for him." Isn't that what your pile of philosophy boils down to?

Haggis should concentrate on getting his life in order. Too many drugs, perverts and bankruptcies run in his family. Writing a big stinking fart of a book will not help him at all. For the sake of movies better than his last one: kill this project and do something creative!

Looking forward to reading this book. Will be nice to read an "insider" account. And let's hope it encourages even more books exposing ALL religions as shams.

How can you hurt a bad image?

Scientology isn't a faith (although it does take a great deal of faith to buy into it) it's a cult.

There are so many Hollywood types who've been drawn into Scientology either through conversion or because they were raised in it.

The CoS loves having celebrities in their midst. They know that people will take the advice of a movie/tv star because, for some ridiculous reason, they trust them.

In my opinion scientology is a cult and a dangerous one. One of my friends, who was very depressed, became a member. The cult is against all psychiatry and psychiatric medication. My friend committed suicide while within the church of scientology. Traditional mental health treatment might have saved her. Be very careful with this organization.

I'm sure that the CoS has all sorts of people who attempt damage control in the comments section of articles.

Haggis' public letter is two years old. There is nothing "all of a sudden" about it.

more proof that religion poisons everything it touches!

Looking forward to this!

Scientology has brought peace and abundance to my life. I couldn't be happier. Whir...click... Scientology has brought peace and abundance to my life. I couldn't be happier. Whir... click... Scientology has brought peace and abundance to my life. I couldn't be...

The compelling need by many to condemn a religion makes you wonder the motive. Will Scientology be more of a threat than Catholicism? Will it cover the earth in unfed children? Will it foster fanatics? I tried to read the Scientology manifesto. It was unreadable. What anyone sees in it is beyond me. I will stick to speeches by the Dalai Lama. He, I can understand and feel good after hearing him. I doubt he would deny the Scientologists.

scientology rocks. Solve depression, drug addiction, and anxiety without creepy psychiatrists or creepy medications. Scientology has solutions to mental problems while psychiatrists try to numb people with medications that dont really solve anything. Scientology grows and will continue to grow. Paul Haggis can write all he wants.

Well, it should be well written, at the very least, and an accurate, albeit, subjective account. I doubt it will damage the church, because there's an abundance of negative material doing that already. But I do expect them to rally their celebrity supporters and fight fire with fire. The questions is: Will these celebrities put their careers on the line for Scientology? I doubt it. Perhaps a few. But as their religion grows in disdain and publicity, I wonder how long their celebrity allegiance will last - especially give how much money they're expected to contribute?

Scientology, the church and it's members, have lied to me and extorted my money - and I'm a really open-minded guy. They've also stolen my Father's life for years (or shall I say, my Dad has allowed his life to be stolen). I hear the church's members talk about it being the fastest growing religion in the world, but I've never meet a Scientologists outside of a Scientology gathering. That's why they have so many gatherings, to psychologically stroke their current die hard membership, to maintain the illusion that they're following something important and honest. They claim to want to clear the planet, but I've never seen a single family, community, small town, etc. cleared by Scientology - and they've had about 65 years of promoting this goal. My Dad is the only Scientologist in my family of about 40, and he's been at it for around 45 years. Has it had some positives? My Dad would say yes. I would say that if he had given the same amount of time to, say meditation, he'd be levitating by now. I've seen very little results except for a major lack of time with my Dad, who continues to lie to the family on Thanksgiving (alteration of time, place form, or event = lie) when he needs to fill in at the mission. I'm sure that for L. Ron Hubbard, lying to one's family is conducive to "climbing the bridge" - climbing an object you normally cross should be a sign pointer!).

Scientology = Good people, Bad church!

Uh, oh, the slam-the-Scientology religion PR firm in full swing. Well, your hate crimes will be your downfall.

Scientology's image can't be hurt. They're known the world over as organized crime with massive human rights and civil rights crimes against their own customers, the murder of Lisa Mcpherson, and their quack medical fraud they call "NarCONon."

Nothing anyone can say about the Scientology crime syndicate can harm the criminal enterprise's reputation.

Thank you Steven Zeitchik for your post.
Paul Haggis and Lawrence Wrights are 2 of the most human beings with high integrity. I appreciate them for getting the truth out.

There are thousands of ex- church members who have had horrible experiences within the church.
There is a huge different between Scientology as a subject and the Church of Scientology run by its current dictator and tyrant (David Miscavige).

Many ex-members are objecting to David Miscavige's crimes and abusive leadership, not the subject of Scientology.

OSA & Miscavige, your days are over, your crimes are revealed. Your tactics are old and not working any more. The whole world knows about your crimes. You can hide, but you can not run away. You are busted.

Scientology and Psychiatry have a lot more in common than Scientologists would like to believe.

When it comes to Scientology, Tom Cruise is yellow.
In spite of the dozens of first hand reports about David Miscavige beating people, spitting on them and lying, Cruise will not look and have a cognition.
In movies he may play a hero, but in real life he is anything but.

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