The world of Scientology has experienced a substantial amount of exposure of the last two decades, and the primary way that the Church of Scientology has garnered its exposure is through its ability to attract A-list celebrities into its ranks. There seems to be a never-ending list of well-known celebrities who have sung the praises – pun intended – of Scientology. However, lately, what has been more prevalent is the focus on the number of celebrities who are defecting from the church in highly publicized exits. So the issue is not only in identifying the most well-known celebrity Scientologists, but to also identify which ones may soon be defecting.
What is Scientology?
Before we get to the top 20 most well-known celebrity Scientology, it will do well to provide an explanation of Scientology for those who are unaware of its tenets. In its simplest form, the Church of Scientology is an organized system of thought and faith based on the idea of seeking self-knowledge through a rigorous process of grade study course and direct training regimens. This system of belief was introduced by the late science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard in 1955, and it has grown substantially over the years in the area of power and influence.
The Role of Celebrities
Celebrities have played a substantial role in the growth of the Church of Scientology, simply due to the impact they have on their following, and the access to media platforms that allow them to speak on the controversial faith.
Lately, it seems that the very thing that gave Scientology its relevance may very well lead to it falling back into virtual obscurity. There have been a chain of occurrences in which celebrities have defected from the faith. There has long been suspicions that Jason Lee had defected, and he recently confirmed that those suspicions were accurate. With Jason defecting, there has been a heightened interest in what is coming next.
Over the last eight years, there has been a cascade of defectors, so before getting to the celebrities that are still on board, let’s discuss some who have made ceremonious exits from the church. In 2008, Jason Beghe made a major splash in the celebrity world when he recorded a highly publicized video denouncing Scientology after being one of its most outspoken members for over 12 years. Shortly after Beghe’s exist, Movie director, Paul Haggis announced his decision to leave the Church of Scientology.
In 2013, famed actress, Leah Remini broke ranks with the church. She would later write a book about her defection from Scientology, and she followed that up with a series on the system to be aired on A&E. To add to the list of defectors, Lisa Marie Presley and her mother, Priscilla Presley have both left the church.
Here are the 20 most recognized celebrity Scientologists:
1. Juliette Lewis
Juliette was literally raised in the Church of Scientology, as the daughter of OT 5 Scientologist Geoffrey Lewis. For those who are unaware of it, Scientology has an indoctrination score, and Juliette has the lowest indoctrination score of notable celebrities, which means that she questions some or many of the tenets set forth by the faith, and she may not be all in. According to some sources, the erratic behavior of Lewis makes her suspect as far as her commitment to the church is concerned. Juliette has indicated the she reads the Underground Bunker on occasion, and the conflict that might create definitely leads to the possibility that she may, at some point, choose to part ways with the church.
2. Giovanni Ribisi
Giovanni is from a legendary family that has practiced Scientology faithfully, but he has experienced the defection of his daughter, and a close friend defected after the Jason Lee defection. Ribisi has been a staunch defender of Scientology over the years, so it will be interesting to see how he responds to the growing criticism of the church and its methods. Keep in mind that Ribisi’s family is legendary within the world of Scientology, and they are responsible for recruiting a lot of celebrities into the fold, so while questionable in the area of commitment, it is not certain that he will leave.
3. Beck Hansen
Beck is another musician who was raised in Scientology, but he has always had a reputation of being half in and half out. When he is questioned about his affiliation with Scientology, he is generally vague in his response. What is interesting here is the fact that Beck is married to Giovanni’s twin sister, who is also deeply committed to Scientology. If Beck does leave Scientology, it is not likely that we would hear anything about it from him. Beck’s commitment to his wife, at least to this point, transcends his capriciousness in his commitment to Scientology. At the end of the day, a happy wife is a happy life.
4. Elisabeth Moss
Moss is a six-time Emmy nominated actress for her role as Peggy Olson on the TV series Mad Men. While Elisabeth was born into Scientology, her mother has not been an actively involved in the church, so it’s not clear just how committed the family, as a whole, is to Scientology. Additionally, Elisabeth has spent a considerable amount of time around people who are not a part of the church. Due to the fact that her roots in the church don’t run as deep, as far as commitment is concerned, Moss is considered one celebrity that would break rank with the church under the right condition. What those conditions are is not clear at this time.
5. Erika Christensen
Erika has had some memorable roles as an actress, including her role in the 2002 film, Traffic. Erika is another individual who was raised in Scientology by her parents, Steven and Kathy. Erika is a member of the Citizens Commission of Human Rights, which is considered to be one of the organization glues that holds the church together, so her ties to the church through this organization may be strong enough to keep her in place; however, it is the fact that she does not have many existing friendships with other Scientologists that creates the questions around her commitment to the church. She does not stand to lose much if she walks away.
6. Catherine Bell
Catherine entered the world of Scientology in the 1980s as she was breaking into the acting world. She was influenced by other actors who were raving about the tenets of Scientology. Catherine has definitely dealt with controversy as a member of the church, especially when she divorced her husband, Adam Beason, and started a relationship with another woman, Brooke Daniels. According to Mike Rinder, as spokesman for the church, this did not go over well with leadership. According to sources, since Catherine’s little indiscretion, she has been kept off line, which means she does have the access to progress through the different stages of spiritual enlightenment. It is unsure how this has impacted her commitment to the church.
7. Michael Pena
Michael Pena joined the church after hearing Jenna Elfman speak so highly of Scientology. Pena has a strong commitment to the church. Because of the fact that Michael’s career is during so well currently, it not likely that he will be willing to shake up things by breaking rank. According to sources, he equates his success with his affiliation with Scientology, so he is not going anywhere. Michael has proven that he does not have the desire to rock the boat, and his mental association of his success with the Church really points towards him being with church for the foreseeable future.
8. Kirstie Alley
According to most sources who follow the Church of Scientology, Kirstie Alley is locked in, and she is not going anywhere, as long as the Church of Scientology exists, she will be a member. Some people see Alley as being kind of weird throughout her career, and it is likely that she believes that her association with the church is what provide her credibility at this stage in her career. Alley’s mental and social instability drives her to lean heavily on the credibility, or at least her perception of it, of the church – meaning she feels safest inside the church and may not adjust well to the world without it.
9. Anne Archer
It is reported that Anne Archer joined the church in 1975, which would have been during her marriage to real estate mogul, William Davis. Archer has been a harsh defender of her position within the church. At this stage in her life, the idea of making such a drastic change in ideals, beliefs and values in unlikely. She will be with the church for life. With archer and Davis living what they see as the idyllic life, there is no organic compulsion to leave the church. Her career is not suffering, and there are no major pressures to drive her out of her comfort zone.
10. Nancy Cartwright
Nancy Cartwright is considered to be extremely hardcore when it comes to her commitment to Scientology. She joined the church in 1991, and has not looked back. It has been said that Nancy sees herself as being the ideal celebrity Scientologist, and she has no problem letting others know if she believes that they are not measuring up to the standard. Cartwright is actually one celebrity that takes pride in policing the others, so that kind of perceived pseudo-power is hard to relinquish. She is definitely in for the long haul.
11. Chick Corea
Chick Corea joined the Church of Scientology in 1968, after reading books that were written by the church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The fact that Corea is considered to be living in the past, the chance of him walking away from something that was so central to his identity during his glory years is highly unlikely. In fact, it has reported that Chick has recently completely level OT 8, which is the highest level of advancement within the church. Essentially, being an OT 8 means that you have power of matter and space.
12. Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise joined the church in 1986, during the time he was dating actress, Mimi Rogers, who was a Scientologist. Tom Cruise is likely the most celebrated celebrity within the church, and while he has a lot of motivating reasons why he should be leaving the church, including a non-existing relationship with Suri, his daughter – it is highly unlikely that Tom is going anywhere anytime soon. He is simply too deeply rooted in the ideology to walk away from it. It is said that Cruise, and the church’s current leader, David Miscavige, believe themselves to be the two most important people on the planet. Well, it is no wonder Cruise is fixed in his position in the church.
13. Jenna Elfman
Jenna Elfman was recruited into the church by her husband Bodhi Elfman during the mid-1990s. Everyone who knows her says that she is immensely hardcore when it comes to her commitment to the church. She seems to be in a very irritated place as of late, but regardless of her state of mind, she is committed to the church. Elfman is one of the most active celebrity recruiters for the church, so she is most definitely at a committed stage at this point. What is worth paying attention to is her unpredictable behavior – will it drive her close to the church or signal the beginning of the end.
14. Danny Masterson
Danny is just one more celebrity that was raised in the church. His parents, Carol and Pete Masterson were faithful members of the church. Danny also has brothers who are actors, Jordan and Chris, and a sister, Alanna, and all of them are Scientologists. The cohesiveness in this family all but guarantees that they will not be exiting the church, because it has become a part of the family’s identity. According to a leading source, the interviews that Danny does, with different media outlets, supporting the church has made him something like a superhero with the church.
15. Marisol Nichols
Marisol Nichols joined the church in 1997, after her chiropractor introduced her to it. Marisol’s most intimate connections are so intricately interwoven into the church that she is not likely to abandon it. Her husband, Taron Lexton, is a Scientologist, and his mother is the founding member of the Scientology group, Youth For Human Rights. With these kind of connections, Marisol is surely staying where she is with the church. The rapid advance to the level of OT 8 for Marisol is said to represent the church’s commitment to support her and Nancy Cartwright as a way of showing those up and coming members that the system works. This type of support demands loyalty.
16. Laura Prepon
Laura joined the church in 1999, while she was working on the set of That 70s Show with Danny Masterson. Prepon is immensely influenced by the Masterson family that she is completely engulfed with the ideology behind the church tenets of Scientology. There was a question about Laura playing the role of lesbian in Orange is the New Black, and people close to the church says that it is not much of a problem, despite the strong stand against homosexuality. The reason given is that the number one rule of Scientology is that celebrities get to break all of the rules.
17. Kelly Preston
Kelly was introduced to Scientology by her acting coach, Milton Katselas. While she has her own acting credits, Preston is most known for being the wife of famed actor John Travolta. With Kelly and John being treated like royalty within the church, there is absolutely no motivation for them to leave. Both of them have a long-standing reputation of being extremely nice people, which helps to provide validity to the church. While some believe that the loss of their son, Jett, produced a reality in which Preston and Travolta was as close to being human beings as they have ever been, others say that the church was right their close auditing the entire situation, and the couple attributes their success in getting through that ordeal to the church’s involvement, so their commitment is stronger now than it has ever been.
18. Ethan Suplee
Ethan is another actor that was recruited during the 1990s by the Ribisi clan. While Ethan is immensely laid back, his wife, Brandy, who is the sister of Juliette Lewis, is very hardcore when it comes to the church. The question with Ethan is that he was such good friends with Jason Lee that many are concerned that Jason’s defection will impact him. Many believe that Ethan is getting a constant earful from OT 8 members reinforcing an idea that Jason never gave them a good feeling. The quicker they can get Jason out of Ethan’s head, the better.
19. John Travolta
If Tom Cruise is Scientology’s top celebrity, one would have to believe that John Travolta brings in a strong number two. John became a member of the church in 1975 while filming his first feature film, The Devil’s Rain. It is believed that Travolta believes that his successes are directly associated with his beliefs surrounding the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, and these beliefs keep him in a bubble that insulates him against any thoughts that might oppose the church. Because he associated his success with Scientology, it is not likely that he will ever break ranks. Plus, the manner in which he and his wife are treated provides no impetus to leave.
20. Greta Van Susteren
It is likely that Greta was recruited into the church during the late 1980s by her husband, Attorney John Coale. Susteren has consistently stayed out of the celebrity fanfare as it is associated with the church, so her inner movements are not as known as most. She is different than many Scientology celebrities in that her career in news exposes her to information that they are not privy to, but her commitment to the church remains strong. Many say that Van Susteren has an us-against-them mentality, and that, alone, is enough to ensure that she will stay put those she associates with.
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