Elisabeth Moss Says This Is the "Most Misunderstood" Thing About Scientology
The star opened up about her controversial religion.
Mad Men and The Handmaid's Tale star Elisabeth Moss is a lauded actor who's no stranger to accepting awards. But, aside from her accomplishments, she's probably best known for one other thing. Moss is a Scientologist, having been raised in the controversial religion. And, understandably, people are very curious about it all, especially considering the negative press Scientology has received over the years. In a recent interview, the actor—who stars in the new Apple TV+ show Shining Girls—opened up about her experience with Scientology, including naming the one aspect of the group that she says is the "most misunderstood." Read on to learn more.
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Scientology has been described by some as "a cult."
The Church of Scientology was founded by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, and is notorious outside of the group for a few things. For one, there's a definite Hollywood connection, with Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Moss among the religion's high-profile practicing members. For another, many believe that Scientology is abusive, punitive, and otherwise problematic. Some ex-members claim to have faced retaliation for leaving or speaking out against the church, as well as maintain that members are forced to "disconnect" from friends and family who are not supportive of their involvement. "I was in a cult for 34 years," screenwriter and ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis told The New Yorker (via The Guardian) in 2011. "Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't."
Moss has been asked to answer for Scientology before.
Fans of the show reasoned that, if even some of the accusations leveled against the church are true, then it wouldn't sound much different from Gilead, the strict, oppressive society that provides the backdrop for The Handmaid's Tale—and that Moss' character June has been fighting against.
In 2019, Moss addressed the comparison in an interview with The Daily Beast.
"Listen, it's a complicated thing because the things that I believe in, I can only speak to my personal experience and my personal beliefs," she said. "One of the things I believe in is freedom of speech. I believe we as humans should be able to critique things. I believe in freedom of the press. I believe in people being able to speak their own opinions. I don't ever want to take that away from anybody, because that actually is very important to me. At the same time, I should hope that people educate themselves for themselves and form their own opinion, as I have. The things that I believe in personally, for me, The Handmaid's Tale, and the ability to do something that is artistically fulfilling but is also personally fulfilling, I've never had that. The Handmaid's Tale lines up so perfectly parallel with my own beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the things that this country was actually built on."
She was raised in the religion.
The New Yorker recently profiled Moss and chronicled how she was born into Scientology—and how it basically started her career. The actor's father, Ron Moss, met musician Chick Corea at a Scientology center in England. They hit it off, Ron became Corea's manager, and Corea became Moss' godfather after she was born. A dancer before she was an actor, She performed in one of Corea's music videos when she was just five years old. The New Yorker also noted that Ron played in a band with Ron Miscavige, the late father of Scientology's now-leader David Miscavige. Before Ron Miscavige died, he left the church and wrote a book about the experience, in which he alleges that his son was surveilling him, among other troubling things that the church denies.
According to the publication, Moss began taking Scientology courses when she was eight years old.
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Moss says this part of Scientology is "misunderstood."
When asked by The New Yorker about her long-held beliefs, Moss said she didn't "want to come off as being cagey," but also didn't "want people to be distracted by something when they're watching [her]."
"People can obviously hold in their mind whatever they want to, and I can't control that," she went on, after being reminded that lots of people watching her know she's a Scientologist already. "If it's not that, it's going to be something else. It's not really a closed-off religion. It's a place that is very open to, like, welcoming in somebody who wants to learn more about it. I think that's the thing that is probably the most misunderstood."
The New Yorker reports that Moss said, "I would just encourage people to find out for themselves" of the religion more than once during the interview. "I've certainly been guilty of reading an article or watching something and taking that as gospel." Some critics of Scientology have pointed out Moss' answer is strikingly similar to the answers given by other celebrity Scientologists in past interviews.
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