Paul Haggis, a screenwriter and director, has called Scientology, his former religion that is currently practiced by actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, a "cult."
Haggis told The New Yorker that he left the church, which L. Ron Hubbard founded in 1952 and which is known for its spiritual healing practice called "auditing," in 2009. He said his departure came after he demanded it publicly renounce Proposition 8, a measure that banned same-sex marriages in California.
"I was in a cult for 34 years," said Haggis, who has directed movies such as "Crash." "Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't."
The Church of Scientology International fired back, saying in a statement obtained by OnTheRedCarpet.com: "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."
"The one grain of truth in the article is its acknowledgement of the positive effect Scientology has had on the lives of its adherents and the world at large," it said. "That is the message of Scientology."
The New Yorker quoted Haggis as saying that Cruise, a longtime Scientologist, once requested to have materials about the church distributed inside a tent on the set of his film "War of the Worlds," which was released in 2005. Cruise, who is currently filming his new movie "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," the fourth film in the hit spy franchise, has not commented on the matter.
The publication also quoted actor Josh Brolin, who stars in the new Oscar-nominated movie "True Grit," as saying that he once visited a Scientology Celebrity Center out of "real desperation" and received "auditing but ultimately decided not to adopt the religion.
The New Yorker also reported that Brolin once saw Travolta practicing Scientology on Marlon Brando in a bid to heal a cut on the iconic actor's leg, adding that Travolta's attorney has called the account "pure fabrication." Brando died in 2004.
The church has not confirmed an alleged 2009 FBI investigation of the church that was cited by The New Yorker. The FBI has denied comment on the matter.