Now it’s Salon’s turn to whale on Scientology (more please mainstream media, you have a lot of catching up to do):
When Paul Haggis, the writer of “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash,” kicked his faith to the curb after 35 years, he did so as only an Oscar-winning scribe could: with a badass screed. His resignation letter, dated Aug. 19, emerged on ex-Scientologist Mark Rathburn’s blog yesterday and promptly went viral.
In his letter, Haggis explains, “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.” Though the Church claims not to dictate personal sexual practices and has several openly gay members, it’s perhaps no coincidence that Scientology also has a reputation as Hollywood’s biggest closet, with gay rumors persistently dogging famous members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
Even before Haggis’ resignation came to light, it had not been a good week for the Church’s public relations. On Friday, ABC’s “Nightline” aired a scathing investigation of celebrity Scientology by gotcha journalist nonpareil Martin Bashir (of the infamous Michael Jackson interview). The Church’s high-profile membership, its secrecy and unusual practices — which Salon explored extensively back in 2005 — have long made it a subject of fascination and disdain.
But the real corker of the recent “Nightline” story came when Bashir brought up founder L. Ron Hubbard’s most confidential — and controversial — doctrines. Many organized religions sound like so much sci-fi gobbledygook to outside ears, but Scientologists aren’t known for their generous senses of humor on the subject. And so, when Bashir asked Church spokesman Tommy Davis the age-old question, “Do you believe that the galactic emperor called Xenu brought his people to earth 75 million years ago and buried them in volcanoes?” Davis immediately became defensive. “I am not going to discuss the disgusting perversions of Scientology’s beliefs … things that are so fundamentally offensive for Scientologists to discuss.” When Bashir gently tried another tactic, asking about L. Ron Hubbard’s personal beliefs in Xenu, Davis unclipped his microphone and stalked off…
[continues at Salon.com]