The Church of Scientology has been in existence since 1953. And since then, they’ve slowly established a part of their congregation to consist of well-known celebrities.
And why not? One of their most well-known locations is a church in Los Angeles, while the church is said to also operate “Celebrity Centres” — locations that are apparently open to the public but are intended mostly for “artists, politicians, leaders of industry, and sports figures” — according to numerous sources. Their biggest one, as you might’ve guessed, is also in Los Angeles.
The founder of the religion, science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, had at one time thought very intently about recruiting a number of celebrities who he thought would help his then-newfound spiritual practice gain traction throughout a perceived closed-minded society. Names like Ed Sullivan and Walt Disney were rumored to be potential recruits that ultimately didn’t pan out.
Some other popular names joined long ago, looking for a sense of spiritual enlightenment. A number would end up successfully detaching from the religion, while others are still proud and devout members.
Celebrities who can admit they were a part of the Church
Leah Remini’s name likely comes to mind first if you’re thinking of more recent celebrity names. She’s best known as the co-star of The King of Queens, a popular CBS sitcom that also starred funnyman Kevin James and ran from 1998 to 2007. After that, Remini went through a bitter defection from Scientology – after growing up within the church since childhood, leaving the organization for good in 2013. Her publicized departure resulted in a memoir titled Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology and an Emmy Award-winning A&E documentary television series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
A movie star that everyone knows, Nicole Kidman is another former Scientologist that if not for Remini’s more recent history, would likely come to mind first for many people. Kidman was once married to Hollywood leading man and prominent Scientologist, Tom Cruise. She’s actually the second of Cruise’s three wives, with Mimi Rodgers being the first and Katie Holmes being the third, who have all broken away from the church by way of divorce. Kidman, along with Cruise, adopted two children, who are still Scientologists.
Katie Holmes probably had the most publicized departure from the Church of Scientology. After her enormously popular marriage to Cruise, which also resulted in a child, Holmes’ split from her former husband was tougher than most would imagine because of the custody battle for their daughter. She would eventually win primary custody of her in a decision that would allow Holmes the ability to prevent her daughter to be raised within Scientology.
The “Man of Steel”, the late, great Christopher Reeve was once a member of the church. The former Superman actor had once revealed in his own memoir, Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life, that he told church administrators about a past-life experience that was actually something from Greek mythology. It was a lie that everyone in the church took as fact, further brewing previous skepticism he had regarding the church. So much for Superman never telling a lie.
Jerry Seinfeld never considered himself a full-fledged Scientologist, though he admitted to NBC’s Today Show in 2007 that he took preliminary courses as an amateur member of the church. This all happened well before his legendary sitcom and any tangible popularity to his name so to him, it’s practically no harm, no foul.
Perhaps a surprise to some, Brad Pitt was once giving Scientology a try. During the early 1990s, he was briefly dating actress Juliette Lewis, another former member of the church, who nudged him to give it a try. It was ultimately short-lived after their relationship fizzled out.
Other popular names in Hollywood that are former members include Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis, Lisa Marie Presley, Orange is the New Black actress Laura Prepon, Demi Moore, Russell Crowe, and Chicago P.D. star Jason Beghe.
Celebrities that are still involved with the Church of Scientology
One current name who’s associated with Scientology is Elisabeth Moss, formerly of Mad Men fame and now the lead actress of the Hulu television series The Handmaid’s Tale. And speaking of that show, Moss came under some fire when some thought that the dystopian government depicted in the show was noticeably similar to the hierarchy that’s believed to currently exist within the Church of Scientology.
She’s often defended her practice of the religion all while also asserting her support for feminism, civil rights, and religious freedom, despite any perceived ironies.
Hip Hop legend Doug E. Fresh has been a part of the church since the 1980s, thanks to a past collaboration with another well-known Scientologist, the late Issac Hayes. He’s still a part of the organization and has even contributed his musical talents to a Scientology music album, The Joy of Creating.
Kirstie Alley has been a Scientologist almost as long as her Look Who’s Talking co-star John Travolta, joining the church in 1979. In addition to being outspoken about her political views, she was just as vocal about some of the controversial opinions that the church promotes like their disagreement with psychiatry.
Michael Peña is another name that might surprise some out there. Chances are if you’ve seen a decent amount of movies over the last 20 years, you’ve seen him in at least one of them. His most recent roles include appearing as Luis in the Ant-Man series of movies, the sci-fi action film Moonfall, and the upcoming superhero film Secret Headquarters. After joining the church in 2000, Peña has said over the years how fundamental Scientology has been as a foundation in his everyday life. “For me, it isn’t religion like a belief; it’s practical things you do,” he explained in a 2106 interview with The Guardian.
Other names who are still practicing within the church are Nancy Cartwright, who’s most known for her legendary voice acting performance as Bart Simpson, as well as conservative journalist Greta Van Susteren. Actresses such as The Walking Dead‘s Alanna Masterson, as well as Erika Christensen, Catherine Bell, Jenna Elfman, Anne Archer, and actors Giovanni Ribisi and Jason Dohring are also current celebrities who are known Scientologists.