The screenwriter was a member of the Church of Scientology, which counts actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise as followers, for more than 30 years before quitting over its support for Proposition 8, the bill which outlawed same-sex marriage.
He has broken his silence about his time as a member to help The New Yorker journalist Lawrence Wright with a 25,000-word article about the secretive group’s practices.
Haggis tells the publication, “There was a feeling of camaraderie that was something I’d never experienced; all these atheists looking for something to believe in, and all these loners looking for a club to join…
“I was in a cult for 34 years. Everyone else could see it. I don’t know why I couldn’t.”
The piece, published on Sunday (06Feb11), suggests leaders control members’ lives and track down those who attempt to defect. It also claims there is an ongoing government investigation into allegations of human trafficking.
But the Church’s spokesman, Haggis’ former pal Tommy Davis, has hit back at the article, criticising Wright for using Scientology to “garner headlines”.
Davis says, “The article is little more than a regurgitation of old allegations that have long been disproved. It is disappointing that a magazine with the reputation of The New Yorker chose to reprint these sensationalist claims from disaffected former members hardly worthy of a tabloid.
“As for the claim that the Church is the subject of a federal investigation, the Church has never been advised of any government investigation, a fact The New Yorker knew before it went to print.”