40 Celebrity Scientologists, Both Past and Present

40 Celebrity Scientologists, Both Past and Present
37 Start slideshow

It’s no secret that, in Hollywood, Scientology is a thing. A big thing that—despite its somewhat sinister and secretive reputation—has managed to recruit dozens of high-profile celebrities, some of which are devout followers, while others decided it wasn’t their cup of tea and left the church.

MORE: 50 Actors Who Turned Down Famous Movie and TV Roles

So, what is this thing we hear so much about? On its websiteScientology—which was founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1955 and is recognized as a religion in the U.S. and a few other countries—describes itself as a “twenty-first-century religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being. Scientology addresses the spirit—not the body or mind—and believes that Man is far more than a product of his environment, or his genes.”

Even if you haven’t heard the above definition, you might have heard about one of Scientology’s key practices called “auditing,” which is basically a counseling session during which a person’s unconscious thoughts from painful experiences are purged, often with the help of a trained auditor and a device known as an “e-meter.”

In 2009, ABC published excerpts from “Nightline” interviews called “How Scientology Attracts Celebrities” and talked to several insiders—both past and present—and reported that e-meters are quite similar to lie detectors and impart electrical current through the body. “The theory is is that when you have emotional charge … it changes the resistance of the body. So that changes the current. And that … and it makes this needle move,” an insider who left the Church in 2003 told ABC.

MORE: 50 Celebrities Who Changed Their Names 

A little confusing, to be sure, and there’s a lot more to it than that (for an interesting explanation, head to Belieftnet.com, which recruited Hugh B. Urban, professor of religious studies at Ohio State University to explain it), but a staggering number of celebrities have latched on for various reasons (we could speculate and say it’s because of Scientology’s self-help aspect, or its celebration of personal wealth.)

Here, a look at 40 celebrity Scientologists, including those who are devout, those who dabbled, and those who defected (read: quit for good.)

Click though and let us know which, if any, celebrity Scientologists surprised you. 

0 Thoughts?
1 of 37

Elisabeth Moss
In 2013, the 31-year-old "Mad Men" star told Rolling Stone movie critic and host of ABC’s “Popcorn” that Scientology gives her stability and makes her feel like a better version of herself. It's also been rumored that her faith was the cause of her split from former "SNL" star Fred Armison. (There's also a list online that shows Moss' Scientology service completions—gotta love the web.)

Photo: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for 2014 Sarasota Film Festival

Laura Prepon
The "Orange is the New Black" actress converted to Scientology when she started Christopher Masterson, the brother of her "That '70s Show" co-star Danny Masterson (both Scientologists.) Prepon and Masterson have since split, and rumors are swirling that she's dating Tom Cruise.

Of the church, Prepon told Women's Health in 2007: "Anyone who knows me is just like, 'Wow, if Laura is a Scientologist, then there has to be something to this.' When I hear something negative, I don't get defensive. I know what's true for me and what works for me." 

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Juliette Lewis
The actress and rocker is a Scientologist, and she told Vanity Fair in 2010 that it's possible to retain your former religion while practicing. 

"I’m a Christian! I think there’s so much confusion because people don’t understand a religion where you can be another religion but you can still practice Scientology. That’s why it’s completely progressive. It’s just tools for living. It’s about understanding one’s self and others and compassion and how to communicate better and how to live in this troubled society. It’s really basic, common sense stuff. It has nothing to do with all this funny folklore that surrounds it. You could be a Jewish Scientologist or a Buddhist Scientologist or a Christian Scientologist or anything else.

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for SXSW

Jenna Elfman
The actress was raised Catholic, but was introduced to Scientology by her husband Bodhi and joined the church after they married in 1995. 

Photo: Michael Schwartz/Getty Images

Erika Christensen
The 31-year-old "Parenthood" actress has been a lifelong member of the church, and has often defended Scientology in the media. 

Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Elle

Tom Cruise
The celebrity probably best associated with Scientology, the actor is said to be one of the top level members of the church, and was first introduced to it in 1990 by his first wife Mimi Rogers. Cruise has been extremely vocal about his dedication to the chuch, claiming it helped him overcome dyslexia.

You might also recall that Cruise memorably caused controversy in 2005 after he criticized Brooke Shields for using the anti-depressant Paxil while trying to overcome post-partum depression—Scientology is opposed to mainstream psychiatry and its drugs.  

In 2013, Cruise admitted that ex-wife Katie Holmes divorced him partially because she wanted to protect their daughter Suri from Scientology. He also said Suri is no longer a practicing member of the church.

Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Jameson

Danny Masterson
The former "That '70s Show" star was raised as a Scientologist. 

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

Bijou Phillips
The actress, model, and '90s It-girl is a Scientologist (as is her husband Danny Masterson) and has spoken out against the use of psychiatric drugs. 

Photo: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Beck
The rocker has been a Scientologist for most of his life, though he first openly discussed it in 2005, both in The New York Times Magazine ("my dad's been doing it since before I was born") and in the Irish Sunday Tribune's i Magazine ("It's unbelievable the stuff they are doing. Education ... they have free centres all over the place for poor kids. They have the number one drug rehabilitation programme in the entire world.. It has a 90-something percent success rate.... When you look at the actual facts and not what's conjured in people's minds that's all bullshit to me because I've actually seen stuff first hand.")

 

Photo: Karl Walter/Getty Images for Coachella

Giovanni Ribisi
The actor is an active Scientologist, and so is his twin sister Marissa, who's married to fellow Scientologist Beck.

Photo: Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

Kirstie Alley
One of the church's best-known celebrity members, Alley has said "to tell you the honest-to-God truth: without Scientology, I would be dead. So, I can personally highly recommend it."

Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Chaka Khan
Khan has said she's not a member of the church of Scientology, but mentions it often in interviews. In 2007, She told the New York Times "I’m not, never was, never will be. I belong to the religion of the Church of Chaka Khan, and I practice it every day. I live my religion, I consider it a personal thing. But I’ve taken some courses in Scientology, and they’ve been very, very helpful through life’s ups and downs."

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith
There's quite a bit of murkiness around Will and Jada and their Scientology affiliation. Will has denied that they're members of the church, but they did fund a school that uses its teachings. Plus, many critics have speculated that Will's blockbuster flop "After Earth" was one big "love letter" to Scientology.

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Nancy Cartwright
The voice of Bart Simpson, Cartwright is an active member of the church of Scientology. 

Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images

John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Next to Tom Cruise, Travolta is the most recognizable celebrity Scientologist, having joinined during the mid-’70s when he was on the cusp of fame. Much has been written about his involvement, including this in-depth piece by The Hollywood Reporter. 

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

Greta Van Susteren
The Fox News host and her husband John Coale are Scientologists, and had—as of 1998—donated over $100,000 to the church. 

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Landmark Technology Inc.

Catherine Bell
The actress and former "Jag" star is a Scientologist and—in 2006—appeared in a Scientology rap video called "United," which promoted human rights, and also features fellow belivers Isaac Hayes, Erika Christensen, and Jenna Elfman.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Jason Lee 
The actor—best known for "My Name is Earl"—is a Scientologist. His ex-wife Carmen Llewelyn has spoken out against members of the church following their divorce, saying they "harassed" her.  

Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Ethan Suplee
Suplee—known for his work on "My Name is Earl" and "Mallrats"—is a practicing Scientologist, and so is his wife Brandy Lewis, the sister of actress and Scientologist Juliette Lewis. 

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Giorgio Armani

Doug E. Fresh
The hip-hop legend was the first rapper to publicly embrace Scientology, confirming his involvement to Essence Magazine in 2009.

According to AllHipHop.com, Fresh admitted being introduced to the church through former girlfriend and radio personality Miss Jones.

Photo: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Jazz In The Gardens

Jason Dohring
Best known for his role as Logan on "Veronica Mars," Dohring is a Scientologist, and the son of market research titan Doug Dohring, an active member of the Church of Scientology and sits on the leadership team at the Hubbard College of Administration.

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

Lisa Marie Presley
Elvis' daughter was an active member, but left the church of Scientology in 2013. 

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Katharine McPhee
The "Smash" star—who rose to fame after appearing on "American Idol" told Salon.com in 2007: "I took a couple of [Scientology] courses. It was really all about a guy ... You know, guys and girls can do that to our lives and make us think we're into something that we're not," she added. It's been reported on Scientology insider sites that McPhee completed an introductory detox service called the "purification rundown." The practice has been criticized for its potentially deadly combination of large doses of Niacin and five-hour stints in a sauna.

Photo: Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for Soho House

Jerry Seinfeld
Yup, Seinfeld once dabbled with Scientology, telling Parade in 2007: “I last really studied, oh, it’s almost 30 years ago. But what I did do, I really liked, in terms of it’s very…it was interesting. Believe it or not…it’s extremely intellectual and clinical in its approach to problem-solving, which really appealed to me. I actually got to it from my auto mechanics teacher in high school, who was into it, and he was telling me about it. In my early years of stand-up, it was very helpful. I took a couple of courses. One of them was in communication, and I learned some things about communication that really got my act going.”

“It was just things about understanding the communications cycle… Even the volume at which I’m speaking now is the right volume for where you’re sitting. I’m almost performing, in a way.”

Photo: Larry Marano/Getty Images

Leah Remini
By now, you've probably heard about the hoopla that surropunded the "King of Queens" actress when—after 30 years as a devout and very vocal Scientologist—decided to leave the Church in July 2013. In a February 2014 interview with Buzzfeed, Remini said there were "dozens" of factors that led her to leave. The fascinating interview also delves deep into Remini's lifelong affiliation with the Chruch.

 

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Candace Bergen
It's been reported that the actress was connected to Scientology in the late '60s

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Sharon Stone
The actress reportedly was a Scientologist in the 1990s, but quit. 

Photo: Kevin Tachman/Getty Images

Mikhail Baryshnikov
The ballet legend and actor took courses in Scientology, but is not a member. 

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Brandy
While the singer isn't a member of the church, she has copped to taking some Scientology classes during a low point in her life (following her 2006 car crash that led to the death of another motorist) though she's since said it wasn't necessarily her cup of tea. 

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Demi Moore
Moore dabbled in Scientology—apparently she was "desired" by the Church—but was never officially a member.

Photo: Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Diane Von Furstenberg

Jeffrey Tambor
In 2007, it was reported that the "Arrested Development" actor was a Scientologist, but set the record straight in an interview with LA.com. "I took some Scientology classes at one time, studied Scientology for a while, but no more. I have nothing against it, but I am no longer a Scientologist."

Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images

Shirley MacLaine
It's not clear whether the new age-y actress ever had ties with Scientology, but according to a 2012 interview with the Guardian, it was revelaed that Scientologists have tried to recruit MacLaine many times. 

"Because they know I believe in reincarnation." She bats them away. "I'm not sure what they really believe. Much of it is secret," MacLaine said.

Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images

Nicole Kidman
The Oscar winner was indeed a member of Scientology, but left it behind after splitting with Tom Cruise in 2001. Kidman has admitted that she and Cruise's two children, Connor, 17, and Isabella, 20, are still involved. “I have chosen not to speak publicly about Scientology. I have two children who are Scientologists and I utterly respect their beliefs," she told The Hollywood Reporter.

Photo: Getty Images for Variety

Paul Haggis
Director and screenwriter, Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby," "Crash") caused a stir in 2009, when he spoke to the New Yorker about his decision to leave Scientology.  "I was in a cult for 34 years," said Haggis. "Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't."

 

 

Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Paramount International

Brad Pitt
During the '90s, Pitt dated actress Juliette Lewis, a devout Scientologist, and apparently dabbled in the movement. According to SheKnows, Pitt's flirtation with Scientology came to the surface recently when a former high-ranking church official, Amy Scobee, wrote about Pitt's experience with the religion in her 2010 book Scientology -- Abuse at the Top.

She contends that from 1991 to 1993, Pitt completed two courses at the church's Celebrity Center, including "Human Evaluation."

"In the end, Brad didn't think it was for him and he and Juliette broke up," Scobee said, adding, "He was high on the church president’s list of stars they felt could be ‘recovered.'"

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Katie Holmes
The last boldfaced name to leave the church before Leah Remini, Holmes split after divorcing Tom Cruise. The actress created a stir in 2012 after reportedly trying to extricate daughter Suri from the church. 

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.

Patrick Swayze
The late actor told the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) in the late 1980s that he flirted with Scientology following his father's death at the age of 57, but opted out soon after. 

 

Photo: Michael Caulfield/Stand Up To Cancer via Getty Images

Next slideshow starts in 10s

Makeover Timeline: See Victoria Beckham’s Dramatic Transformation

Makeover Timeline: See
Victoria Beckham’s Dramatic Transformation
share