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Scientology’s Homophobic Backlash: Crash Director Paul Haggis Quits Church

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Are there “good” reasons to ditch Scientology? Or is any reason — it’s expensive, it’s abusive, it’s based on science fiction characters — a good reason? Let’s ask Crash and Million Dollar Baby director Paul Haggis, who just quit the church because it’s too … homophobic. Hey, we like that reason!

Up until last week, Haggis was a 35-year-member of the Church, and one of their most prized assets: As a Hollywood macher, he was a commodity to church leader David Miscavige. Like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Haggis helped bridge the gap between famous and influential (and wealthy) nonbelievers and the Church.

So why give it all up? Because Scientology brass refused to back off its support of Proposition 8, and homophobia in general. Not that it should be terribly surprising to hear the Church traffics in anti-gay tactics — it’s basically a refuge for actors running from their homosexuality. Explains Haggis in a lengthy letter addressed to Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis (to, uh, ensure they’re prepared for the media assault?):

As you know, for ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego. Their public sponsorship of Proposition 8, a hate-filled legislation that succeeded in taking away the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens of California – rights that were granted them by the Supreme Court of our state – shames us.

I called and wrote and implored you, as the official spokesman of the church, to condemn their actions. I told you I could not, in good conscience, be a member of an organization where gay-bashing was tolerated.

In that first conversation, back at the end of October of last year, you told me you were horrified, that you would get to the bottom of it and “heads would roll.” You promised action. Ten months passed. No action was forthcoming. The best you offered was a weak and carefully worded press release, which praised the church’s human rights record and took no responsibility. Even that, you decided not to publish.

The church’s refusal to denounce the actions of these bigots, hypocrites and homophobes is cowardly. I can think of no other word. Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent.

Haggis’ exit has been at least 10 months in the making. He’s been critical of the Church’s homophobic stance, and calls the accusations made in the St. Petersburg Times — about Miscaviage’s violent rule — accurate. This is damning stuff. And it’s pornographic to read in full.

But the bigger question remain: Just how much more of a high-profile an assault from a veteran member will it take for Scientology to actually become the defender of human rights it claims to be?