Top 10 Celebrities Who Left Scientology
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Script written by Nathan Sharp
The Church of Scientology may have some big names, but they couldn't keep these notable ones. Stars like Brad Pitt, Katie Holmes and Christopher Reeve have all dabbled in Scientology, before deciding it wasn't for them. WatchMojo is counting down the top 10 stars who left Scientology.
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Script written by Nathan Sharp
Top 10 Celebrities Who Left Scientology
They may some big names, but they couldn’t keep these notable ones. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten celebrities who have left Scientology.
For this list, we’ll be looking at celebrities who either joined, dabbled in, or showed interest in Scientology before leaving it for good. We’ll only be including well-known individuals on this list, so people like Jenna Miscavige Hill will not be included, despite their bravery.
#10: Jerry Seinfeld
While Seinfeld never officially joined the church, he has admitted to dabbling in Scientology. Seinfeld told “Access Hollywood’s” Billy Bush that he enjoyed experimenting in self-help when he was in his 20s, which included studying karate, yoga, meditation, and Aikido. However, that list also includes Scientology. Seinfeld admits to only taking a few Scientology courses, but claims that he enjoyed it nonetheless. As Seinfeld was more interested in experimenting than committing to one specific practice, he left Scientology to pursue other avenues of self-help.
#9: Brad Pitt
While the church has one of the biggest movie stars in Tom Cruise, they nearly snagged another A-lister in Brad Pitt. In the early 1990s, Brad Pitt dated Juliette Lewis, a self-identified Scientologist who worked with Pitt on “Kalifornia” and the TV movie “Too Young to Die?” According to Jenna Miscavige Hill, who left the church in 2005, Brad Pitt “took the first step” towards Scientology while dating Lewis. However, the couple broke up sometime around 1993, and Brad Pitt lost all interest in the church soon after. Lewis still identifies as a Christian and Scientologist to this day.
#8: William S. Burroughs
William S. Burroughs was an important figure in the Beat Generation of authors. He penned notable works like “Junkie”, which is considered an important book on addiction, and “Naked Lunch”, which TIME called one of the best English-language novels written between 1923 and 2005. After publishing these seminal works, Burroughs joined Scientology and vouched for its philosophies of self-help. However, he soon grew disinterested after realizing that it did not accept criticisms or discussion and left the church. Burroughs would later have fierce debates with Scientologists in the “letters” section of Rolling Stone magazine.
#7: Don Simpson
Don Simpson was one half of Simpson and Bruckheimer, the production team known for making a bunch of hit movies like “Flashdance”, “Beverly Hills Cop”, and “Top Gun”. In the 1970s, before he made his big break in Hollywood, Simpson was full-on committed to practicing Scientology. In Janet Reitman’s book “Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion”, she sources an interview from 1993 in which Simpson claims to have nearly gone “Clear” after spending $25,000 on the church. However, he instead left after realizing that he blew a ton of money on what was, in his view, a con.
#6: Katie Holmes
Mimi Rogers and Katie Holmes are notable as ex-wives of Tom Cruise, but they're also notable as high-profile ex-members of his church. In fact, it was actually Rogers who introduced Cruise to Scientology. As for Holmes, she became “really excited about” Scientology when she began dating Cruise in 2005, and made claims that it was making her a better person. Holmes and Cruise married in a Scientologist ceremony in 2006. Holmes split with both Cruise and the church nearly six years later, and cited fears of being followed and intimidated by Scientologists and living in a constant state of anxiety as a result.
#5: Jason Lee
Making a name for himself on the big screen in projects like the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies, and on the small screen as Earl Hickey in “My Name Is Earl”, Jason Lee was once one of the most famous Scientologists. Lee was married to photographer Carmen Llywelyn from 1995 to 2001, but they allegedly split after Llywelyn read a book that critiqued Scientology. According to her, Lee sent her a “disconnection letter” after learning of her betrayal. Lee later moved to Denton, Texas with his family and admitted to its local paper, The Dentonite, that he is not currently practicing Scientology.
#4: Christopher Reeve
Superman himself was almost a Scientologist. Before making a name for himself as Superman on the big screen, Reeve briefly dabbled in Scientology and partook in a few auditing sessions. According to Reeve, he managed to fool the E-Meter device and told a story from Greek mythology during one of his auditing sessions. After the Scientologists believed his Greek mythology story, he grew disillusioned with the organization, and wrote in his memoir: “The fact that I got away with a blatant fabrication completely devalued my faith in the process.”
#3: Lisa Marie Presley
The only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley – Lisa Marie followed in her father’s musical footsteps by releasing three studio albums between 2003 and 2012. She also gained notoriety by marrying notable celebrities like Nicolas Cage and Michael Jackson. Presley was introduced to Scientology as a child, and became an important member of the organization, developing the Literacy, Education and Ability program within the church. But by 2008, Presley began to grow disinterested in the organization, and officially left it in 2016. Her mother, and daughter, Riley Keough, meanwhile, remain in the church.
#2: Paul Haggis
Paul Haggis is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, known for penning movies like “Casino Royale”, “Million Dollar Baby”, and “Crash”. Haggis joined Scientology when he was in his early 20s and remained with the church for over thirty years, until he grew disillusioned with its beliefs and policies, the smear campaigns against its defectors, and its vocal support of the banning of same-sex marriage. It was this that eventually led Haggis to leave the church. Haggis would later appear in the documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” to make fun of the religion he had devoted half his life to.
#1: Leah Remini
Leah Remini is undoubtedly Scientology’s most well-known defector. Best known for her role in “The King of Queens” and the CBS talk show “The Talk”, Remini was introduced to Scientology when she was nine years old and subsequently defended Scientology in interviews. However, Remini left the church in 2013 due to its numerous controversies and for refusing to allow criticism of its leader, David Miscavige. She has since become a devout anti-Scientology activist, releasing a memoir and an Emmy-award winning documentary detailing the problems of the church.