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Celebrities Who Have Left Scientology

Nicole Kidman, Christopher Reeve, Jerry Seinfeld and more

Jerry Seinfeld and Nicole Kidman

Jerry Seinfeld and Nicole Kidman

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Actor Leah Remini's messy public split from the Church of Scientology brought renewed attention to the controversial religion. Founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology believers undergo "auditing," in which a person pays to relive past experiences with the guidance of a church official, to rid themselves of social ills and attain greater spiritual salvation. Hubbard reportedly had an infatuation with bringing famous people into Scientology. His Project Celebrity sought to disseminate the religion through pop culture icons. The famous people Hubbard sought to convert to Scientology in his heyday included Ed Sullivan, Orson Welles and Walt Disney, among others. The celebrity tradition in Scientology has continued today, most notably led by high-profile advocates Tom Cruise and John Travolta. However, many actors have left Scientology in addition to Remini.

By Killian Young

Leah Remini

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Leah Remini

Remini is best known for embodying the sitcom trope of the hot wife with the buffoonish husband when she starred opposite Kevin James in The King of Queens. Remini vehemently defended her belief in Scientology during a 2004 CNN interview. However, a rift began between her and the church in 2006, according to the New York Post. Remini asked about the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige, the wife of David Miscavige, who is the current head of Scientology. (Shelly has not been seen in public since 2007.) Remini later said she resented her inability to question church doctrine, which led her to leave.   

Mimi Rogers

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Mimi Rogers

Tom Cruise is perhaps the most famous living Scientologist. However, each of his three marriages – and three subsequent divorces – resulted in his ex-wives' departures from Scientology. Cruise's first marriage was to Rogers, who is known for her roles in The Rapture and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Rogers originally brought Cruise into the fold of Scientology, according to RadarOnline. Ironically, after her divorce from Cruise, Rogers has since been referred to as a "former member" of the church.

Nicole Kidman

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Nicole Kidman

Cruise then married Kidman, who also has an impressive resume that includes Moulin Rouge! and Eyes Wide Shut (in which she co-starred with Cruise). Although Kidman has severed ties with the Church of Scientology since her divorce with Cruise, her religion is not something she readily discusses. "I've chosen not to speak publicly about Scientology," Kidman said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. "I have two children [adopted with Cruise] who are Scientologists – Connor and Isabella – and I utterly respect their beliefs."

Katie Holmes

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Katie Holmes

In Cruise's infamous, unhinged interview with Oprah, he jumped on a couch and professed his love for then-girlfriend and future wife, Holmes. Holmes, the Dawson's Creek star who also played Batman's love interest in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, was at ends with Scientology due to her family's Catholic background, according to Vanity Fair. The couple's child, Suri, further complicated matters with the court battle in which Holmes won primary custody. The Hollywood Reporter said Holmes didn't want Suri to be raised as a Scientologist. Holmes has been quiet about her reasons for leaving since the divorce.

Christopher Reeve

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Christopher Reeve

Known for his portrayal of Superman (1978) and the equestrian accident that made him a quadraplegic, Reeve discussed his involvement with Scientology in his memoir, Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life. Reeve said his skepticism grew when he was auditing and lied about a past incarnation that was really a story from Greek mythology. "The fact that I got away with a blatant fabrication," Reeve wrote, "completely devalued my faith in the process." After that, Reeve stopped pursuing Scientology.

Paul Haggis

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Paul Haggis

Screenwriter Paul Haggis, who penned the scripts of Crash, Million Dollar Baby and Flags of Our Fathers, has been one of the more vocal critics of Scientology since his departure from the church. Haggis recently wrote an open letter supporting Remini's decision to leave: "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 originally broke with the church due to its endorsement of Proposition 8 in California, which would've banned gay marriage, according to the New Yorker.

Lisa Marie Presley

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Lisa Marie Presley

Although Elvis Presley didn't make the list of Project Celebrity targets, Hubbard certainly would've welcomed an endorsement from the iconic singer. According to Janet Reitman, the Rolling Stone contributing editor who authored Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion, Elvis once went to a Scientology center. He soon exited and said, "Fuck those people! There’s no way I'll ever get involved with that son-of-a-bitchin' group. All they want is my money." Despite Elvis' vehement opposition to the religion, his wife Priscilla later brought their only daughter, Lisa Marie, into Scientology. According to Dame Magazine, Lisa Marie's track entitled "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" – in which she sings, "I'm a bit transgressive and suppressive as well" – appears to be a thinly veiled jab at Scientology. (People deemed dangerous to the well-being of Scientology are labeled "Suppressive Persons.")

Tom Berenger

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Tom Berenger

Berenger has recently made supporting appearances in Hatfields & McCoys and Inception, although the actor is perhaps best known for his roles in Training Day and Major League. According to People, Berenger became disillusioned with Scientology and blamed the failure of his second marriage on strains brought about by the church.

Jerry Seinfeld

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Jerry Seinfeld

Although never a full-fledged member, Seinfeld told Today he briefly took Scientology courses, way before he became famous through Seinfeld. "I did some Scientology courses about 30 years ago," Seinfeld said. "The only thing that bothers me about people knowing that is that it is not my complete wacko resumée. It’s just one aspect!" Seinfeld said he didn't stick with Scientology because he was more interested in dabbling in different academic and spiritual pursuits.

Jeffrey Tambor

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Jeffrey Tambor

George Sr. – Tambor's character on Arrested Development – underwent a spiritual revelation and converted to Judaism while in jail for defrauding investors. Tambor, however, made sure to quash rumors that he actively practices Scientology. "I took some Scientology classes at one time, studied Scientology for a while, but no more," Tambor told LA.com. "I have nothing against it, but I am no longer a Scientologist."

Brad Pitt

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Brad Pitt

Although Tom Cruise is the undisputed face of Scientology, if the church had managed to add Pitt to its ranks, it would've had some serious star power. Pitt took two courses in Scientology when he was dating Juliette Lewis, who is a Scientologist, according to Amy Scobee, who wrote Scientology – Abuse at the Top. Pitt was another of the church's high-profile targets, but he lost interest after breaking up with Lewis.

Van Morrison

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Van Morrison

In Morrison's 1983 album Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, he gave Hubbard special thanks in the liner notes. According to Steve Turner, who wrote the biography Van Morrison: Too Late to Stop Now, an auditor said Morrison only had a basic involvement with Scientology. But the "Brown Eyed Girl" songwriter denied allegations of his religious affiliations – from Scientology to the Jehovah’s Witnesses – by saying, "There have been many lies put out about me and this finally states my position. I have never joined any organization, nor plan to."

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