Scientology has eternally been enshrouded in mysticism and an almost perverse curiosity in what, exactly, its followers believe. Tom Cruise's various marriages (and subsequent dramas) haven't helped the controversial religion's public profile, nor has reports of abuse in Scientology's weird naval Sea Org, statements from vocally traumatized critical defectors, or its enduring and dogged recruitment of any celebrity willing to engage with Zorp take an introductory course.
There are more lowkey celebrity Scientologists than you realize, but don't be too quick to judge these artistic elites who've chosen to devote their lives to the church. This reporter (and, purportedly, the United States of America) believes in religious tolerance, as long as its practitioners are tolerant. Christianity has its sh*t, but us Catholics aren't regularly spat on for believing there's literal blood in that communion wine (or, you know, being associated with crazy, homophobic midwesterners). We'll do our best to remain judgment-free unless Scientology's navy goes from being a weird idea to an actual military operation bent on destroying the world. Then, we'd have some words.
John Travolta is one of Scientology's biggest celebrity followers, so naturally, there are some pretty freaky rumors about his involvement floating around the interwebs. Satan himself Fox News reported that an ex-Scientologist claimed John tried to revive his son from the dead with a "Bring Back to Life" assist that orders a person's "Thetan" back into their vessel before it picks a new body to inhabit. On the other hand, John has also stated to USA Today that the church was invaluable after he lost his son to a seizure and fell into a deep depression and that their support got him through the hardest period in his life.
Probably the highest-profile musician involved with the church, Beck was raised a Scientologist by his parents. Gawker notes that Beck didn't reveal his affiliation until 2005 despite his lifelong involvement, but he was finally comfortable enough in his Scientologist beliefs to discuss them during a Vulture profile in 2012. Beck said he doesn't have an opinion on the press's fixation on Scientology, but his father benefitted from joining the church and it's something Beck has always been around. He also pointed out that it's his Presbyterian family members who smoked "hash" and drank, to the point that there are some black sheep in any labeled group of people.
Jason Dohring is best known for his role as bad boy dreamboat Logan Echolls in Veronica Mars, meaning his fame has ebbed and flowed with the beloved teen series' many revivals. Because his claim to fame is fairly modest, most people haven't learned that Jason is part of one of the largest fundraising families in the church. He was raised a Scientologist, and we'd bet good money he'll be raising his two children in the church as well. Jason went so far as to tell Portrait magazine that Scientology saved his acting career because it's the study of life.
Jada Pinkett Smith has ended her relationship with Scientology, but she used to be all-in for the church. Jada and Will Smith founded a school based on L. Ron Hubbard's teaching and Scientology ethics, although Gawker notes this school is now closed, but Jada was the dedicated practitioner in the Smith household. Fox News notes that while Jada and Will would deny their involvement with Scientology, a former member claims Jada served as a celebrity recruiter and spent a lot of time hanging out at the Celebrity Center.
Erika Christensen is another celebrity Scientologist who was raised in the religion, but she had no qualms about opening up to her Parenthood co-star Dax Shepard for his podcast, Armchair Expert, where she spoke about starting introductory courses at age 12. Erika's parents never pressured her into joining Scientology, rather encouraging her to check it out on her own time. Erika says Scientology helps her seek out the best, smartest version of herself. She sees Scientology as an action, not a belief, centered around deciphering "the chronology of your life and its effects upon you," as Scientologists believe that their "Thetans" have lived previous lives and will inhabit future bodies after their current vessels have died.
Riley Keough isn't just a celebrity Scientologist — she is the latest in a prestigious lineage of celebrity Scientologists. The model and Golden Globe-nominated actress is the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, who was brought into the church by *her* mother, Priscilla Presley. Reports of Priscilla leaving the church were quickly denied, but Lisa Marie officially defected in 2014 after years of growing displeasure with the organization. Riley remains in Scientology's good graces, and Page Six (a notoriously "reliable" news source) reports she's trying to get her mother back into the church. It's important to note that Elvis Presley was *not* a fan of Scientology, with a biography of the King quoting Elvis as saying Scientology can f*ck themselves because they just want his money (which, because of Priscilla, they probably have).
Vulture's "Queen of Peak TV" Elisabeth Moss, who's currently continuing her national reign on The Handmaid's Tale, was raised a Scientologist, but she has clarified that her personal beliefs and some of the purported beliefs of Scientology don't always have to align. Elisabeth told The Daily Beast she believes in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and LGBTQ rights, which honestly, is pretty similar to Catholics who believe in same-sex marrriage despite the Vatican's opposition. We're not engaging with Xenu or whatever, but every religion has its stuff.
Catcher In The Rye author J.D. Salinger was a famed recluse from the time of his most famous novel's publication until his death in 2010, giving only the occasional interview (his last was in 1980) and releasing his final work in 1965. Much of what's known of the author's private life comes from his few friends and family, like daughter Maragret Salinger's memoir Dream Catcher, where she reveals he was at least briefly involved in the Church of Scientology. This is around the time he also pursued Christian Science, homeopathy, and drinking his own urine, so it wasn't exactly the ~biggest~ shock to come from Margaret's tell-all.
Orange Is The New Black star Laura Prepon was introduced to Scientology by her then-boyfriend, Chris Masterson, who's not to be confused with his brother, Danny Masterson, Laura's disgraced That '70s Show co-star. Although, to be fair, Danny's model wife Bijou Phillips was introduced to the religion through her relationship with the accused rapist, so it's one big happy Scientologist family over there. Laura told Women's Health she doesn't get defensive with Scientology's detractors because she knows what's true for her, which is the church.
Kirstie Alley was a big deal in the '90s and was on Scream Queens in 2016, but we really just know her from the Jenny Craig ads she was always in during our childhood. Kirstie was raised Methodist but joined the Church of Scientology in 1979 when their Narconon drug treatment program helped her kick a coke addiction, Daily Mail reported. Kirstie even bought a mansion in Clearwater, Florida, Scientology's spiritual headquarters, from former celebrity Scientologist Lisa Marie Presley back in 2000 and donated five million dollars to the church in 2007.
You might not know his name, but you *definitely* recognize his face. Giovanni Ribisi will probably go down in history as "that guy who was in that thing" (or Sneaky Pete), but Beck's brother-in-law is an active Scientologist. Giovanni was raised in the religion, but his daughter claimed Giovanni has "questioned" the religion after she defected from the church and gave an anonymous interview to KCRW, according to The Underground Bunker. His best friend, Jason Lee, apparently also left the church, as did his grandfather.
Actress Jenna Elfman credits Scientology with her long-lasting marriage, close relationship with her sons, and her career in an interview with People, where she discussed nearly 30 years in the religion. Jenna, who's currently a regular on Fear the Walking Dead, speaks so highly of the church that it almost sounds like a good idea. She cites it as a source of energy and happiness, responding that anything that works seems to be attacked in the media.
Juliette Lewis has been steadily working since 1987, but most recently, she appeared in the film Ma and the Joey King/Patricia Arquette Hulu miniseries The Act in 2019. Weirdly, Juliette is both a practicing Scientologist and a Christian, and her explanation in Vanity Fair aligns with Erika Christensen's comments on Scientology being more of an action than a belief. She sees Scientology as progressive tools for living separate from the strange folklore surrounding it, but we have a funny feeling OT8 VIIIs might disagree with her. Still, if it works for her *and* she gets Christmas, more power to her.
Ant-Man star Michael Peña might be the first Marvel Cinematic Universe Scientologist. Although, to be fair, the church is so far-reaching in Hollywood, there could be tons of MCU celebrity Scientologists keeping on the DL. Michael joined Scientology in 2000, and CBS quotes Michael as saying Scientology made him a better actor, but The Underground Bunker learned Michael joined up after seeing fellow celebrity Scientologist Jenna Elfman talking about the religion on television with Barbara Walters.
Neil Gaiman is one of the most prolific science fiction writers of all time, and we can't help but wonder if some of those creative juices were inspired by his youth in the Church of Scientology. Neil prefers to keep quiet about his Scientology past, and he publicly stated he's no longer a member a year after his father, Scientologist David Gaiman, died in 2009. The Village Voice somehow found an extended interview with a seven-year-old Neil about the church from an old BBC broadcast, which concluded in a footnote about Neil not being let into a prep school because of his parents' connection with the church.
Our Queen Cher had no affiliation with the Church of Scientology, but her ex-husband and longtime collaborator Sonny Bono might as well have been singing "I've Got Xenu, Babe." Gawker's list of Scientologists explains that Sonny joined in the 1970s and blamed it on Cher, who's said in the past that she never understood Sonny's beliefs, but a Washington Post article from 1999 quoted Sonny's widow, Mary Bono, saying Sonny did try to break away from Scientology after a while. The church made a departure difficult for Sonny, and they repeatedly tried to visit Mary's house after Sonny passed away.
We were shocked to learn that Hermione Lodge is a Scientologist. Marisol Nichols, who you likely know from her roles on The CW's Riverdale or 24 on Fox, joined the church in 1997 after being introduced to Scientology by her chiropractor. The Underground Bunker cites Marisol saying Scientology has made her a better person and has reached the highest current auditing level in the church, Operating Thetan Level 8, where truth is "revealed." As with all Scientology levels, the specifics are a big, vaguely sinister secret known only to those who shell out enough cash to learn firsthand.
You don't realize it, but you're a huge fan of Nancy Cartwright. The voice of Bart Simpson (plus Nelson, Todd Flanders, and Ralph Wiggum), who also voiced Rufus the Naked Mole Rat on Kim Possible, is an avid Scientologist. Nancy joined the church in 1989 and made a 10 million dollar donation to the church in 2007, which the New York Post noticed topped even Tom Cruise's donations to the organization. In 2009, she recorded a cold call as Bart Simpson promoting the religion, which still exists on YouTube for the brave and curious.
Danny Masterson isn't the only Scientologist whose had some extremely public lady troubles. And by "lady troubles," we mean career-derailing sex scandals. Jeffrey Tambor, who before his 2017 sexual harassment allegations was best known for iconic roles on Arrested Development and Transparent, is a famous ex-Scientologist, whose affiliation was outed by the New York Times in 2007. Less than a year later, Jeffrey clarified he was "no longer a Scientologist," but admitted to studying it for a while.
Okay, this one is a bit of a gimme, but it's easy to forget that Nicole Kidman was the OG Katie Holmes. Nicole is happily married to country cutie Keith Urban, but once upon a time in Hollywood, Nicole was married to Tom Cruise and embraced Scientology while they were together, but after their divorce, she became so estranged from the church that she's been labeled a "suppressive person" (which is basically a Scientologist slur for their detractors and the ex-communicated). Heartbreakingly, Los Angeles Magazine reported Nicole's children with Tom have been indoctrinated against Nicole by the Church and taught to despise her.