Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning writer-director of Crash, has atoned a bit for that wretched movie by ending his 35-year association with the Church of Scientology in spectacular scorched-earth fashion.
Haggis wrote a fiery letter of resignation to the organization's national spokesman Tommy Davis (son of actress Anne Archer), blasting the church's support of California's anti-gay rights legislation Proposition 8. Haggis also accused the church of forcing his wife to sever all ties with her parents - even preventing them from seeing their grandchild - because they had quit Scientology 25 years earlier.
This is a lovely retired couple, never said a negative word about Scientology to me or anyone else I know – hardly raving maniacs or enemies of the church. In fact it was they who introduced my wife to Scientology.
Although it caused her terrible personal pain, my wife broke off all contact with them. I refused to do so. I’ve never been good at following orders, especially when I find them morally reprehensible.
For a year and a half, despite her protestations, my wife did not speak to her parents and they had limited access to their grandchild. It was a terrible time.
Haggis was especially peeved when he came across a clip of a CNN interview in which Davis categorically denied that the policy of separation - forcing members to cut off all ties with specific friends and relatives - existed within the church. "To see you lie so easily, I am afraid I had to ask myself: what else are you lying about?" Haggis wrote. "I was left feeling outraged, and frankly, more than a little stupid."
The great majority of Scientologists I know are good people who are genuinely interested in improving conditions on this planet and helping others. I have to believe that if they knew what I now know, they too would be horrified. But I know how easy it was for me to defend our organization and dismiss our critics, without ever truly looking at what was being said; I did it for thirty-five years.
And so, after writing this letter, I am fully aware that some of my friends may choose to no longer associate with me, or in some cases work with me. I will always take their calls, as I always took yours. However, I have finally come to the conclusion that I can no longer be a part of this group. Frankly, I had to look no further than your refusal to denounce the church’s anti-gay stance, and the indefensible actions, and inactions, of those who condone this behavior within the organization. I am only ashamed that I waited this many months to act. I hereby resign my membership in the Church of Scientology.
I still can't stand Crash, but I think Haggis is a bad-ass now. You can read the full text of his letter here. There has been no response on the creepy Scientology website yet, but some kind of face-saving rebuttal must be forthcoming after Haggis' letter and last week's Nightline debacle, during which Davis stormed off camera after Nightline's Martin Bashir calmly and politely asked him “Do you believe that a galactic emperor called Xenu brought his people to earth 75 million years ago and buried them in volcanoes?”
The Nightline interview meltdown starts at the 3:40 mark in the clip below. Can you imagine if Tom Cruise ever quit Scientology in such a public manner as Haggis did? It would be game over, guaranteed.