23 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Scientologists
You already know Tom Cruise is a member, but what about Elisabeth Moss?
Shrouded in secrecy, the Church of Scientology, which was founded in 1953 by American author L. Ron Hubbard, is one of the most controversial religions in the world. In the decades since its inception, the church has come under fire for its stance on psychiatry, its high costs, its alleged mistreatment of members, and, most basically, its legitimacy as a religion at all.
But if there’s one thing we know for sure about the Church of Scientology, it’s that a lot of celebrities belong to it. Obviously, we’re all familiar with outspoken celebrity Scientologists such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise. But it turns out, many other superstar celebs follow the religion too, and some even attribute their massive success to it. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of the big-time celebrity Scientologists you never knew about—as well as what they’ve said about the mysterious religion in the past.
1. Elisabeth Moss
Unlike many celebs who choose the religion later in life, The Handmaid’s Tale star Elisabeth Moss was raised as a Scientologist. Although she’s kept her relationship with the practice fairly private, she recently defended it on Instagram. A fan compared Scientology to Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale and Elisabeth responded with a lengthy explanation of how her beliefs are moral and just.
“That’s actually not true at all about Scientology,” she wrote. “Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me.” Still, some have criticized the actress for her defense of the religion.
2. Jenna Elfman
More recently known for her role as June in Fear the Walking Dead (and previously as Dharma in Dharma and Greg), Jenna Elfman has been a Scientologist for almost three decades. In an August 2018 interview with People, Jenna opened up about her relationship with the practice and how she deals with criticism toward it. She says the religion has had a positive effect on her marriage and balancing her family life with Hollywood. “I use it every single day of my life and it keeps me energized and vivacious and happy,” the actress said.
3. Laura Prepon
Orange is the New Black and That 70’s Show star Laura Prepon faced some backlash after defending her relationship with Scientology. In an episode of Scientology and the Aftermath, Laura claimed that Scientology does not discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community after fans wondered how she felt about playing the role of openly gay inmate Alex Voss on OITNB. Many fans found it controversial that Laura’s stardom benefits from playing an LGBTQ character, but in real life, she is openly straight and one of the most prolific celebrity Scientologists.
4. Danny Masterson
Another That 70’s Show star, Danny Masterson is also an active member of the Church of Scientology. In 2015, he sat down with Paper Mag to discuss his relationship with the religion. “It’s just the study of the mind and cutting it into two parts: the analytical mind and the reactive mind,” he said. “One is the one that we use and think with, and the other is the one that uses us, and we do things and like, ‘Why am I doing that?’ or ‘Why am I thinking this thing?’ Hubbard figured a way to get rid of the reactive mind so it doesn’t affect you and it doesn’t take over your life.”
Danny was raised as a Scientologist and has studied the religion since he was a child. He said the religion first made the most sense to him after reading Hubbard’s book, Dianetics.
5. Nancy Cartwright
Known for her voice role as Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright is a firm believer in Scientology and has donated millions of dollars to the church over the years. She is also known for encouraging others to donate as well. According to Scientology’s own Impact magazine, in 2007 Nancy was awarded Patron Laureate status for totaling $10 million in donations to the International Association of Scientologists.
6. Juliette Lewis
Juliette Lewis, Academy Award nominee for her role in Cape Fear, was raised as a Scientologist by her father, actor Geoffrey Lewis. She has spoken out against pharmaceutical companies (including the ones that distribute anti-depressants and ADHD medications) in the press, along with Tom Cruise, claiming they control the mainstream media. “The thing about Scientology is it is anti-drug in that you’re seeking relationship or communication tools—simple basics on how to live better,” Juliette told Daily Mail.
7. Giovanni Ribisi
Giovanni Ribisi is an American film and television actor known for his role in the TV series Sneaky Pete. He also had recurring roles in My Name Is Earl and Friends. He’s been a Scientologist all his life and has defended the religion on the Jim and Sam Show. He is also quoted in What Is Scientology saying, “Scientology has given me certainty of myself. I have the ability to comfortably communicate with anyone in any situation and be certain of my own goals.”
8. Isaac Hayes
The late Isaac Hayes singer-songwriter, actor, voice actor, and producer, was introduced to Scientology in 1993 and appeared on the cover of Scientology’s Celebrity magazine twice. He voiced Chef on South Park but left the show after an episode that made fun of Scientology re-aired. It is unclear if he chose to leave the show or if someone else made him quit.
9. Erika Christensen
Known most recently for her role in Six-Degrees, Erika Christensen was raised Scientologist. In an episode of Armchair Expert, Erika spoke to on-screen brother Dax Shephard about her relationship with Scientology. “I can justify things in all kinds of different ways, but basically, like, as a Scientologist,” she said. “And I definitely cannot speak for every Scientologist about anything because everybody has their own beliefs and comes at it from even other religions and all kinds of stuff.”
10. Doug E. Fresh
The Human Beat Box himself, Doug E. Fresh, has been linked to Scientology since the 1980s. His former girlfriend, radio personality Miss Jones, had worked with fellow celebrity Scientologist Isaac Hayes—and that’s how Fresh found the controversial religion, too.
In an interview with Essence magazine in 2009, the “La Di Da Di” rapper said he found the Scientology “fascinating” from the onset. “I’ve learned how to look at things and not judge them but respect them,” he said. “Scientology is not written with disrespect toward God. It doesn’t worship something that is evil. It is scientific, mathematical, and spiritual. The black community has to check it out and see what’s there. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but you have to take a look. You may be amazed at what you get.”
11. Sonny Bono
In the 1970s, pop star-turned-politician Sonny Bono became a devoted Scientologist along with his first wife, Cher. He was a member for nearly two decades but tried to leave the religion in 1991. In a 1999 interview with George magazine, his widow, former U.S. Representative Mary Bono, said, “Sonny did try to break away at one point, and they made it very difficult for him. Extremely difficult. I was resentful of that. I did not like the fact that he said, ‘Hey, I’m done with it. I’m not a Scientologist.’ … And they were saying, ‘Hey, you can’t do that.’” After Sonny’s accidental skiing death in 1998, officials from the Church of Scientology asked if they could preside over the service. Ultimately, the honor went to the Catholic Church.
Musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer, Beck Hansen, has self-identified as both Jewish and Scientologist. He was raised Scientologist and is married to Marissa Ribisi, a second-generation Scientologist. Although he isn’t very vocal about his participation in the religion, he and his wife were listed as Patrons in 2006 in Impact 114, the official magazine of the International Association of Scientologists.
13. Marisol Nichols
Marisol Nichols is now well known for her role as Hermione Lodge on the smash-hit CW series Riverdale. She’s married to cinematographer Taron Lexton, the son of Mary Shuttleworth, who founded the Scientology front group Youth For Human Rights. According to the Daily Herald, Marisol battled with drug abuse at a young age and credits the Church of Scientology for helping her quit.
14. Michael Peña
We’ve seen actor Michael Peña everywhere—from Narcos and Ant-Man to The Martian, and more. Aside from being an actor, he’s also a Scientologist. He joined the church in 2000 and told The Guardian that his involvement with the church made him a better actor. He first joined the church in an effort to stop drinking as much and now refrains from reading tabloid stories about the religion.
15. Alanna Masterson
Best known for her role as Tara Chambler on The Walking Dead, Alanna Masterson was raised as a Scientologist. She is now estranged from her father who left the church and stated in a Vanity Fair article that the religion has brainwashed his children into cutting him out of their lives. Despite the strain it has caused on the family, Alanna remains an active member of the church.
16. Kirstie Alley
Famous as both an actress and supermodel, many people would be surprised that Kirstie Alley is one of the most devout celebrity Scientologists. She’s publicly defended the religion a few times and has even refused to explain it on Celebrity Big Brother. After being hounded on the show to explain Scientology, Alley responded with a “read a book about it” comeback. Probably not the answer people want to hear, but perhaps the best way to learn about and make sense of a new religion.
17. Catherine Bell
Best known for her roles in JAG, Army Wives, and The Good Witch films, Catherine Bell appeared in a 2006 Scientology promotional video called United. She joined in the late 1980s after being influenced by other actors in the religion. Although she divorced her husband and remarried a woman, Catherine is still an active member of the church. The last time she spoke about Scientology publicly was in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern where she told him she’s become more confident and a better actress because of Scientology.
18. Eddie Deezen
Famous for his role as Eugene in Grease and voicing the characters of some of America’s favorite cartoons, Eddie Deezen was first introduced to Scientology by former castmate John Travolta. He has not been all that active in the church lately, but in 2012 he told Vice, “Now, I’m not going to tell you everything, it’s something you would have to try for yourself and see if it works for you. I’m never the kind to place my beliefs on someone else. Everyone has their own path to happiness.”
19. Milton Katselas
The producer and acting coach Milton Katselas (left) was known for introducing his students and colleagues to the Church of Scientology. In a 2007 profile in the New York Times, it’s stated that some actors left Milton’s classes “because of the unspoken pressure they felt to join the Church of Scientology.” Milton would constantly credit Scientology for his success.
20. Anne Archer
Known for her role in Fatal Attraction, actress Anne Archer discussed her relationship with Scientology in a 2014 interview with The Guardian. “Scientology has been very meaningful in my life. It’s taught me a lot of good information. A lot of sanity. It’s a lot about responsibility and it’s very smart stuff that has helped me in my life…” She became a Scientologist during her first marriage to real estate investor William Davis.
21. Bijou Phillips
Bijou Phillips has been in the public eye since the age of 13, when she became one of the youngest people ever to appear on the cover of Italian Vogue. She’s also an actress, socialite, and singer. She was first introduced to Scientology when she met Danny Masterson in 2004 and later married him in 2011.
22. Jeff Conaway
Another actor who was introduced to Scientology by John Travolta on the set of Grease was Jeff Conaway. He played the controversial Kenickie. In an interview with Inside Edition, Conaway spoke of how Scientology cured his drug addiction and how Travolta is to thank for it. “John and I stayed friends but he couldn’t watch me going down the tubes…he gave me a whole library of Scientology books and he’s given me an auditor who comes almost every day.”
23. Ethan Suplee
Ethan Suplee is best known for his roles as Louie Lastik in Remember the Titans and Randy Hickey in My Name Is Earl. He’s also another of the celebrity Scientologists to be featured on the cover of Scientology’s Celebrity magazine in January 2004. He’s also known for being a member of Scientology’s tightest celebrity clique, The Ribisi clan, including Jason Lee, Greg Garcia and Juliette Lewis.
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