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Oscar-Winner Paul Haggis' Stunning Departure From Scientology, Accuses Leader Tommy Davis Of "Lying" To The Public

Oct. 26 2009, Published 2:25 p.m. ET

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Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Jenna Elfman can count one less Hollywood A-Lister as a fellow Scientologist. In a shock heard-round-the-Scientology world, Paul Haggis has very publicly quit the organization. Among the acclaimed Haggis' many credits: he wrote Million Dollar Baby and Flags of Our Fathers for Clint Eastwood; and he produced/directed and wrote Crash for which he won an Oscar. He has an all-around stellar reputation in Hollywood as one of the good guys who made good.

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Paul Haggis At The Premiere Of The Valley Of Elah

It was his conscience that made him quit the religion he's been part of for 35 years, Haggis said in a letter to Tommy Davis. Davis, the son of actress Anne Archer, is the face of Scientology, appearing on numerous TV interviews every year.

Roger Friedman, in his Hollywood Reporter column, Showbiz 411, broke the story Sunday, and published a copy of Haggis' letter to Davis.

Haggis first became disenchanted with Scientology last year when it backed Prop 8, the ban on gay marriage in California.

The director personally spoke to Davis about it. He claimed he was horrified at the news, Haggis wrote, and he'd get to the bottom of it. Nothing changed.

Then Haggis learned that in a CNN interview, Davis had laughed off the idea that Scientology has a policy of "disconnection." Haggis couldn't believe he was watching Davis "lying." His own family had suffered from disconnection when 18 months ago, his wife, actress-turned-producer Deborah Rennard was ordered to "disconnet" from her parents because of something Scientology officials claimed occured when they resigned from the church 25 year ago.

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Perhaps coincidental to Haggis releasing his letter, Davis literally walked off the air during an ABC Nightline interview wth Martin Bashir Saturday night.

Here's Haggis' letter to Davis:

Tommy,

As you know, for ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make

a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology

of San Diego. Their public sponsorship of Proposition 8, a hate-filled

legislation that succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and

lesbian citizens of California – rights that were granted them by the

Supreme Court of our state – shames us.

I called and wrote and implored you, as the official spokesman of

the church, to condemn their actions. I told you I could not, in good

conscience, be a member of an organization where gay-bashing was

tolerated.

In that first conversation, back at the end of October of last year,

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you told me you were horrified, that you would get to the bottom of it

and “heads would roll.” You promised action. Ten months passed. No action

was forthcoming. The best you offered was a weak and carefully worded

press release, which praised the church’s human rights record and took

no responsibility. Even that, you decided not to publish.

The church’s refusal to denounce the actions of these bigots,

hypocrites and homophobes is cowardly. I can think of no other word.

Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent.

I joined the Church of Scientology thirty-five years ago. During my

twenties and early thirties I studied and received a great deal of

counseling. While I have not been an active member for many years,

I found much of what I learned to be very helpful, and I still apply

it in my daily life. I have never pretended to be the best Scientologist,

but I openly and vigorously defended the church whenever it was criticized,

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as I railed against the kind of intolerance that I believed was directed

against it. I had my disagreements, but I dealt with them internally.

I saw the organization – with all its warts, growing pains and

problems – as an underdog. And I have always had a thing for underdogs.

But I reached a point several weeks ago where I no longer knew what to

think. You had allowed our name to be allied with the worst elements of

the Christian Right. In order to contain a potential “PR flap” you

allowed our sponsorship of Proposition 8 to stand. Despite all the

church’s words about promoting freedom and human rights, its name is

now in the public record alongside those who promote bigotry and

intolerance, homophobia and fear.

The fact that the Mormon Church drew all the fire, that no one noticed,

doesn’t matter. I noticed. And I felt sick. I wondered how the church

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could, in good conscience, through the action of a few and then the

inaction of its leadership, support a bill that strips a group of its

civil rights.

This was my state of mind when I was online doing research and chanced

upon an interview clip with you on CNN. The interview lasted maybe ten

minutes – it was just you and the newscaster. And in it I saw you deny

the church’s policy of disconnection. You said straight-out there was no

such policy, that it did not exist.

I was shocked. We all know this policy exists. I didn’t have to search

for verification – I didn’t have to look any further than my own home.

You might recall that my wife was ordered to disconnect from her parents

because of something absolutely trivial they supposedly did twenty-five

years ago when they resigned from the church. This is a lovely retired

couple, never said a negative word about Scientology to me or anyone

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else I know – hardly raving maniacs or enemies of the church. In fact

it was they who introduced my wife to Scientology.

Although it caused her terrible personal pain, my wife broke off all

contact with them. I refused to do so. I’ve never been good at following

orders, especially when I find them morally reprehensible.

For a year and a half, despite her protestations, my wife did not speak

to her parents and they had limited access to their grandchild. It was a

terrible time.

That’s not ancient history, Tommy. It was a year ago.

And you could laugh at the question as if it was a joke? You could

publicly state that it doesn’t exist?

To see you lie so easily, I am afraid I had to ask myself: what else

are you lying about?

The great majority of Scientologists I know are good people who are

genuinely interested in improving conditions on this planet and helping

others. I have to believe that if they knew what I now know, they too

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would be horrified. But I know how easy it was for me to defend our

organization and dismiss our critics, without ever truly looking at what

was being said; I did it for thirty-five years. And so, after writing

this letter, I am fully aware that some of my friends may choose to no

longer associate with me, or in some cases work with me. I will always

take their calls, as I always took yours. However, I have finally come

to the conclusion that I can no longer be a part of this group. Frankly,

I had to look no further than your refusal to denounce the church’s

anti-gay stance, and the indefensible actions, and inactions, of those

who condone this behavior within the organization. I am only ashamed

that I waited this many months to act. I hereby resign my membership in

the Church of Scientology.

Sincerely,

Paul Haggis

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