Scientology is the new Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Hollywood is in the throws of developing competing projects which will pull back the curtain from the notoriously secretive, celebrity-laden, pseudo religion. Paul Thomas Anderson was doing a movie but his project has been put on hold, leaving room for someone else to beat him to the punch. That someone is going to be Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis.

Haggis is a former Scientologist. He left the organization back in August 2009 and published a scathing letter outlining his reasons for abandoning L. Ron Hubbard’s exploration of thetans. You can read his entire letter right here but mostly it boils down to his belief that Scientology hates gay people. It’s great that he decided to think for himself, so now that he’s out, why not make a little money off the 35-years he wasted doing a dead science fiction author’s bidding? He’s writing a book.

The details of his upcoming exposé, which he’s writing with New Yorker staffer Lawrence Wright, were announced today. The book is being called The Heretic of Hollywood: Paul Haggis vs.The Church of Scientology. Here’s how it’s explained in information uncovered by Gawker from this book catalogue:
The roots of Scientology are explored in this book, particularly the life of its eccentric founder, L. Ron Hubbard, whose flashes of brilliance and insanity are woven into the fabric of this elaborate belief system. Through Haggis's eyes, we discover the appeal of Scientology, especially to talented and ambitious members of the entertainment industry. Haggis conducted a personal investigation of the church, in which he was told about the wanton physical abuse on the part of its current leader, David Miscavige, of senior members of the organization. He was told that young volunteers in the Scientology clergy, called the Sea Org, are subjected to conditions approaching slavery or imprisonment, and that many female members have been forced to have abortions.

This is going to turn into a pretty big deal, given the secrecy of Scientology and the organization’s well known involvement in the workings of Hollywood. When it’s released, everyone is sure to run around pointing to it as proof of how crazy these Scientology people must be. Maybe they are crazy and sure it’s fun to mock their beliefs, but they’re really no more strange than anyone else’s, just newer and less familiar. Their sins are unlikely to be any different or worse either. It’s safe to assume that Haggis’ expose will not contain any accusation leveled at the pseudo-religion which hasn’t already been thrown the way of nearly every other religion in existence at one time or another. Has Scientology let any of its priests molest little kids or committed genocide? Somehow I doubt it.

Haggis claims Scientology requires that its members break off any communication with anyone who speaks out against them, and if true that’s likely to happen to him over this (if it hasn’t already). But even that isn’t a new, Scientology innovation. It’s pretty commonplace among many different religions, even today. People just don’t talk about it. For that matter, heretical whistleblower books are pretty old news too. Haggis isn’t even the first to write one about Scientology. There’s a book called The Scandal of Scientology out there, written by Paulette Cooper.

Cooper by the way, claims Scientology tried to shut her up by driving her insane. I’m sure that also, is old hat for other religions. Name just about any faith-based organization or pseudo-religion of any size or measure of influence, and you’ll find hundreds of books written about them in much the same mold as the one Haggis plans for Scientology. I guess it’s their turn.

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