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How to Escape from Scientology

You may have read last year that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are no longer jumping on sofas to celebrate their love. Instead, Katie Holmes used disposable cellphones and hired multiple law firms in a mad panic to escape their love. Oh, those crazy kids.

It seems very likely that we'll never know the full details of why Holmes wanted to leave in such a cloak-and-dagger manner, but there are reasonable inferences to be made from the way she did it and what has happened to other people who have tried to get away from the Church of Scientology. So let's take a look and see how you too could distance yourself from the church, if you were so inclined.

The Celebrity Route

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Leaving the Church of Scientology as a celebrity requires a bit of forethought. Do you want to go the Katie Holmes route and hire many law firms while escaping to the other side of the country? It couldn't hurt.

In 2009, director Paul Haggis opted to leave the church as a result of their support of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, in an open letter to Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis. In the letter, he also mentioned Scientology's practice of "disconnection," where church members are encouraged to sever all ties with former members. Haggis said his wife experienced this with her parents. Surprisingly, it doesn't involve filling your pants with raw fish or spending seven minutes in a closet with John Travolta.

Like Katie Holmes, former Tom Cruise wifebot Nicole Kidman was also a Scientologist, and she also left the church, also to protect her children from the church, which we assume she found even more off-putting than sharing a bed with a man who willingly starred in Vanilla Sky.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

"The film's about how I look like Rocky Dennis but pork Cameron Diaz or some shit. I dunno."

Former star of hilarious sitcom Living Dolls Leah Remini had been an ardent supporter and member of the church for years until she one day questioned why no one had seen Shelly Miscavige, wife of church leader David Miscavige, in years. She was told to shut her filthy Kevin James-kissing mouth. Not content with that, Remini eventually left the church and filed a missing persons report on Shelly, who, I can't stress this enough, has not been seen in almost 10 years. The LAPD promptly assured the world via press release that Shelly was fine and the case was closed. Where was she? Shut your filthy Kevin James-kissing mouth. No one's required to answer that.

Basically, if you're famous, you can leave by standing in front of the media and saying "Hey, isn't Scientology weird? I quit those weirdos!" Then you must stay in front of the media for the next several weeks to ensure you're not locked in a fun house somewhere.

Its Repercussions

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Scientology's biggest weapon is that it kind of has a peer pressure/bully approach to everything. If your whole family is in the church, and all your friends, what's a good way to deal with you if you choose to leave? Maybe cut you off forever from contact with literally everyone you know. The church says they don't do this, but, oddly, literally every person ever who has left the church says otherwise. So probably yeah, they do that.

When you leave the church, you're considered a "suppressive person." That's L. Ron talk for dick waffle. As a dick waffle, you get ostracized. Remini has spoken openly about it, Haggis talked about it, Samantha and Placido Domingo Jr. have talked about it. If you left the church and have given an interview, you've talked about it. It's as real as Tom Cruise's public insanity. Sorry if that came across sounding glib.

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"Well, if it isn't Glibby Glibberton."

Fortunately for our celebrity friends, when they leave Scientology, it's newsworthy. It's a big event. This is bad news for an organization that famously broke into 136 agencies, government or otherwise, in 30 different countries to destroy records that said anything bad about the church or L. Ron Hubbard. They don't want you to think they're bad people, despite organizing massive criminal conspiracies. So when you leave them in a public way, they can't really do massive criminal things to you or else that will get noticed, too. I'm not suggesting that the church would break into Remini's home in the middle of the night, wrap her in a wet carpet, drive her to the nearest active volcano, and toss her in before filing numerous lawsuits against anyone who even suggests that that's what happened if they thought they could get away with it; I'm just saying it took me all of 30 seconds to think that up, and the church has been coming up with kooky bullshit since the 1960s.

Mind you, if you're not a member and still in the public eye, they could try to maybe get you committed to a mental hospital like they did with author Paulette Cooper via something they called Operation Freakout. Before going any further, please take a moment to appreciate that the Church of Scientology has knowingly developed plans to ruin people's lives and code named them things like Operation Freakout.

Dmitriy Shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

"John Travolta touches me from the inside! Beware the Ides of March! Free Tibet!"

Freakout was meant to stop Cooper from criticizing the church. They planned to do this by calling in bomb threats to Arab consulates in New York with someone imitating her voice. Threatening letters written on paper that they had gotten Cooper's fingerprints on would also be sent to the consulates from Cooper. Finally, someone would impersonate Cooper in a laundromat and make threats against President Gerald Ford, as well as Henry Kissinger. Clearly it all made perfect sense, and it makes you wonder why the woman ever said anything bad about the church to begin with.

Lisa Marie Presley had for a long time been a prominent church member but then one day seemed to slide off the radar while she refused to answer any direct questions about her involvement. Why no talk? Her mother was still in the church, and speaking out would get her a fatty disconnect right in the Graceland. If you leave the church and want to still have contact with anyone in the church, you'd better keep your mouth shut.

Eventually Presley spoke up about the church in much the same way actor Jason Beghe did, but with less swearing, talking about the bad advice the church offers and how they take your money and cut you off from reality. He, of course, went on to say, "If Scientology is real, then something's fucked up."

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Felix Clay

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