26 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Scientologists
THESE ACTORS, MUSICIANS, AND EVEN NEWS ANCHORS HAVE STOOD BEHIND THE CONTROVERSIAL RELIGION.
Shrouded in secrecy, the Church of Scientology, which was founded in 1953 by American author L. Ron Hubbard, is one of the most controversial religions in the world. In the decades since its inception, the church has come under fire for its stance on psychiatry, its high costs, its alleged mistreatment of members, and, most basically, its legitimacy as a religion at all. But if there's one thing the public knows about it for sure, it's that there are a lot of celebrity Scientologists.
We're all familiar with outspoken celebrity Scientologists such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise. But many other actors, singers, and public figures belong to the religion, and some even attribute their success to it. So keep reading for the famous practicing Scientologists you never knew about—as well as what they've said about the mysterious religion in the past. And for more star surprises, here are 15 Secret Celebrity Nicknames Only Their Friends Use.
Unlike celebs who chose the religion later in life, The Handmaid's Tale star Elisabeth Moss was raised as a Scientologist. Although she's kept her relationship with the practice fairly private, she has defended it on Instagram. A fan compared Scientology to the controlling government from The Handmaid's Tale, and Moss responded with a lengthy explanation disputing the idea.
"That's actually not true at all about Scientology," she wrote. "Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me." Still, many have criticized the actor for her continued involvement in the religion.
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Recently known for her role as June in Fear the Walking Dead (and previously as Dharma in Dharma and Greg), Jenna Elfman has been a Scientologist for almost three decades. In an August 2018 interview with People, Elfman opened up about her relationship with the practice. She says the religion has had a positive effect on her marriage and balancing her family life with Hollywood. "I use it every single day of my life and it keeps me energized and vivacious and happy," the actor said.
Orange is the New Black and That '70s Show star Laura Prepon faced some backlash after defending her relationship with Scientology. In an interview with Fusion, Prepon claimed that Scientology does not discriminate against members of the LGBTQIA+ community after fans wondered how she felt about playing the role of lesbian inmate Alex Voss on OITNB. It's been alleged by multiple sources that homophobia runs rampant in Scientology.
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Prepon's That '70s Show costar Danny Masterson is also an active member of the Church of Scientology, having been raised in it. "It's just the study of the mind and cutting it into two parts: the analytical mind and the reactive mind," he told Paper in 2005. "One is the one that we use and think with, and the other is the one that uses us, and we do things and like, 'Why am I doing that?' or 'Why am I thinking this thing?' Hubbard figured a way to get rid of the reactive mind so it doesn't affect you and it doesn't take over your life."
In June 2020, Masterson was charged with three counts of rape for assaults that allegedly occurred in the early '00s, as Deadline reports. Through a statement from his lawyer, the actor maintained his innocence. He's yet to be tried.
Lisa Marie Presley
Though Elvis's daughter and musician Lisa Marie Presley was once a devout Scientologist—along with her mother Priscilla—she spoke out about why she eventually left the church in a 2012 USA Today interview.
"I got bad advice. I was insulated with no grip on reality," she said. "They were taking my soul, my money, my everything."
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Known for her voice role as Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright is a firm believer in Scientology, as well as a major donor. According to Scientology's own Impact magazine, in 2007 Cartwright was awarded Patron Laureate status for totaling $10 million in donations to the International Association of Scientologists.
Juliette Lewis, Academy Award nominee for her role in Cape Fear, was raised as a Scientologist by her father, actor Geoffrey Lewis. She has spoken out against pharmaceutical companies (including the ones that distribute anti-depressants and ADHD medications) in the press, as has Tom Cruise, claiming they control the mainstream media. "The thing about Scientology is it is anti-drug in that you're seeking relationship or communication tools—simple basics on how to live better," Lewis told The Daily Beast.
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Giovanni Ribisi stars in the series Sneaky Pete and also had recurring roles in My Name Is Earl and Friends. He's been a Scientologist all his life and has defended the religion on the Jim and Sam Show. He is also quoted in What Is Scientology saying, "Scientology has given me certainty of myself. I have the ability to comfortably communicate with anyone in any situation and be certain of my own goals."
The late Isaac Hayes was introduced to Scientology in 1993 and appeared on the cover of Scientology's Celebrity magazine twice. He famously voiced Chef on South Park but left the show after an episode that made fun of Scientology re-aired. It is unclear if he chose to leave the show or if higher ups in the religion forced him to quit.
Erika Christensen, who you may know from Parenthood, Traffic, or Ten Days in the Valley, was also raised as a Scientologist. In an episode of his podcast Armchair Expert, Christensen spoke to on-screen brother Dax Shephard about her relationship with Scientology. "I can justify things in all kinds of different ways, but basically, like, as a Scientologist," she said. "And I definitely cannot speak for every Scientologist about anything because everybody has their own beliefs and comes at it from even other religions and all kinds of stuff."
Doug E. Fresh
The Human Beat Box himself, Doug E. Fresh, has been linked to Scientology since the 1980s. His former girlfriend, radio personality Miss Jones, had worked with fellow celebrity Scientologist Isaac Hayes—and that's how Fresh found the controversial religion, too.
In an interview with Essence magazine in 2009, the "La Di Da Di" rapper said he found the Scientology "fascinating" from the onset. "I've learned how to look at things and not judge them but respect them," he said. "Scientology is not written with disrespect toward God. It doesn't worship something that is evil. It is scientific, mathematical, and spiritual. The Black community has to check it out and see what's there. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but you have to take a look. You may be amazed at what you get."
Wikimedia Commons/CBS Television
In the 1970s, pop star-turned-politician Sonny Bono became a devoted Scientologist along with his first wife, Cher. He was a member for nearly two decades but tried to leave the religion in 1991. In a 1999 interview with George magazine (via the New York Post), his widow, former U.S. Representative Mary Bono, said, "Sonny did try to break away at one point, and they made it very difficult for him. Extremely difficult. I was resentful of that. I did not like the fact that he said, 'Hey, I'm done with it. I'm not a Scientologist.' … And they were saying, 'Hey, you can't do that.'" Mary also claimed that church officials attempted to take the reins of Sonny's funeral, though it ended up being a Catholic service.
Beck Hansen, professionally known by just his first name, has said in the past that he's both Jewish and Scientologist. But after his divorce from fellow second-generation Scientologist (and Giovanni's twin sister) Marissa Ribisi, Beck declared in 2019 that he wasn't a member of the church and never really had been. "I think there's a misconception that I am a Scientologist," Beck told The Sydney Morning Herald, per The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm not a Scientologist. I don't have any connection or affiliation with it."
Marisol Nichols is now well known for her role as Hermione Lodge on the smash-hit CW series Riverdale. She's married to cinematographer Taron Lexton, the son of Mary Shuttleworth, who founded the Scientology front group Youth For Human Rights. According to the Daily Herald, Marisol battled with substance use disorder at a young age and credits the Church of Scientology for helping her get clean.
You've seen actor Michael Peña everywhere—from Narcos and Ant-Man to The Martian, and more. In addition to being an in-demand actor, he's also a Scientologist, having joined in 2000. In a 2016 interview with The Guardian, he claimed that his involvement with the church has improved his work. "For me, it isn't religion like a belief; it's practical things you do," Peña said. He also confessed that he avoids reading critical "tabloid" coverage of Scientology.
Greta Van Susteren
News anchor Greta Van Susteren and her husband are both members of the Church of Scientology. Per CBS News, she told People magazine back in 1995 that she is "a strong advocate of their ethics."
Otherwise known as Tara on The Walking Dead, Alanna Masterson was raised as a Scientologist (she's half-sister to Danny Masterson). Her father, Joe Reaiche, left the church, which he says splintered the family. He claimed in a Daily Mail interview that he was declared "a suppressive person" by Scientology, and his children were "brainwashed" into cutting him out of their lives.
Former Cheers star Kirstie Alley has been a Scientologist since 1979 and claims that it helped her with a substance use disorder. She's spoken out many times over the years in defense of the religion, but has been criticized for spreading misinformation about psychiatric drugs—a favorite topic of Scientology.
In addition to JAG, Army Wives, and The Good Witch films, Catherine Bell also starred in a Scientology promo video. The actor also regularly attends church events and has been on the cover of its magazine.
You probably remember him as Eugene, the obligatory geek in Grease, so it makes sense that Eddie Deezen was first introduced to Scientology by former castmate John Travolta. "Now, I'm not going to tell you everything, it's something you would have to try for yourself and see if it works for you," he said in a 2012 interview with Vice. "I'm never the kind to place my beliefs on someone else. Everyone has their own path to happiness."
Veronica Mars star Jason Dohring is a second-generation Scientologist, thanks to his multi-millionaire father, Doug Dohring. In a 2008 interview, Jason said, "The misconceptions that occur with people who haven't ever read a book about [Scientology], or don't know what it's about. They're just taking someone else's false opinion of what it is." The younger Dohring, who also claimed that Scientology is the secret to his acting success, continues to be intimately involved in promoting the religion.
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Producer and acting coach Milton Katselas was known for introducing his students and colleagues to the Church of Scientology. In a 2007 profile in the New York Times, it's stated that some actors left his classes "because of the unspoken pressure they felt to join." Katselas, who died in 2008, often credited Scientology for his success.
Anne Archer, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Fatal Attraction, became a part of the religion during her first marriage. "Scientology has been very meaningful in my life," she told The Guardian in 2014. "It's taught me a lot of good information. A lot of sanity. It's a lot about responsibility and it's very smart stuff that has helped me in my life…"
In 2019, soap opera actor Michelle Stafford went from starring on General Hospital to appearing again on The Young and the Restless (a show she had departed years before), and there are claims that Scientology is why. Though the official word is "contract renegotiation," Showbiz411 reports the rumor that Scientologist Stafford wasn't pleased with a General Hospital storyline about a fictional cult that shared some characteristics with her belief system.
The late Jeff Conaway was also brought into Scientology by Travolta, his Grease costar. In a 2008 Inside Edition interview (per HuffPost), the actor said that practicing the religion helped him with substance use issues. "John and I stayed friends but he couldn't watch me going down the tubes," Conaway said. "He gave me a whole library of Scientology books and he's given me an auditor who comes almost every day."
My Name Is Earl and Mallrats actor Ethan Suplee is a practicing Scientologist along with his wife, Brandy Lewis, sister of Juliette. While Suplee's costar Jason Lee was a part of that inner circle at one time as well, he announced in 2016 that he had left the church.