The Academy Award winning director of Crash claims a number of actors have left Scientology without speaking publicly about their departure for fear of reprisal.
Paul Haggis, a former Scientologist, met with Leah Remini after the actress spoke out about Scientology and some of its members, including Tom Cruise, in a series of interviews.
Remini describes her alleged experiences over three decades in her memoir, Troublemaker, which she was promoting on in New York on Wednesday evening during a question and answer session hosted by Haggis.
Remini went into more detail about the restrictive measures imposed by leaders during the Q&A, claiming the Church banned her from practicing yoga because “it would mix the practices of the religion”.
Haggis claimed a number of people in the industry had practiced Scientology but kept their beliefs under wraps on the advice of their agents, the Daily Mail reports. He said agents would advise clients: “‘Walk away [and] don’t say anything. It will hurt your career.”
Haggis renounced his beliefs in 2009 after 35 years as a member and praised Remini’s bravery in an open letter following her own very public departure from the Church in 2013.
In his letter, he claimed Remini was his only friend within the organisation who didn’t “disconnect” with him and expressed genuine concern for both Haggis and his family.
He wrote at the time: “I can’t express how much I admire Leah. Her parents, family and close friends were almost all Scientologists; the stakes for her were so much higher than for me. Her decision to leave was so much braver.”
Haggis also criticised the press in 2015 for not challenging Cruise about Scientology following reports journalists had to agree not to question him on his beliefs ahead of interviews for Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.
The Church of Scientology dismissed Haggis as “delusional” and accused him of “exploiting his tenuous connection with Scientology to grab headlines” in a statement responding to his letter.
It has also denounced all of Remini’s claims in a series of statements on its website.
A spokesperson said: “Ms. Remini was a Scientologist for some 30 years practicing the religion in which she was raised. It is a documentable fact that she was proud of and supported the religion she was in, and she voluntarily videotaped numerous testimonials on what the Church had done for her and the good that the Church does around the world."
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