Jerry Seinfeld Was Introduced To Scientology By... His High School Mechanics Teacher?
When Jerry Seinfeld said that he “has a little secret” about the finale of Seinfeld earlier this month, was this one of those past-lives secrets that you find out while you’re hooked up to a polygraph?
Like so many A-listers, the Seinfeld star and co-creator has long been associated with the Church of Scientology, both through rumor and his own suggestive remarks about his relationship with the organization. Yesterday, the cruise ship crusaders made headlines for making the rare move to expel one of their misbehaving celebrity members, That ‘70s Show star Danny Masterson, following decades of allegedly enabling his behavior and protecting him from the prison sentence he now faces. Since Masterson’s sentencing, there has been renewed interest in the intersection of fame and faith among sitcom fans who wonder what other secrets were drowned out by a laugh track in the late 1990s.
Last week, the men’s magazine Best Life explored Seinfeld’s history with the controversial religious organization, which, according to the comedian, began back in his teenage years when his high school auto mechanics teacher turned him on to the church’s teachings. It all started with Comedians in Cars Going Clear.
Though Seinfeld wouldn’t address his involvement in Scientology until somewhat recently, rumors about his relationship with the organization have been swirling around the comedy community since at least 1994 when Bobcat Goldthwait went on The Arsenio Hall Show to call Seinfeld “the devil” and “a spooky weird Scientologist guy banging teenage girls," referencing the then-38-year-old comedian’s relationship with 17-year-old high school student Shoshanna Lonstein.
Along with his interest in high school girls, Seinfeld’s fascination with Scientology stretches back to his own teen years as he discussed in a 2008 interview with Parade, wherein he explained, “I actually got to it from my auto mechanics teacher in high school, who was into it, and he was telling me about it.” Seinfeld said that his curiosity was not based on faith, saying, “Believe it or not … it's extremely intellectual and clinical in its approach to problem-solving, which really appealed to me …They have a lot of very good technology. That's what really appealed to me about it. It's not faith-based. It's all technology. And I'm obsessed with technology.” Seeing as this was around the time Star Wars first came out, maybe we should ask him exactly what kind of space technology he thinks the Scientologists wield.
“In my early years of stand-up, it was very helpful. I took a couple of courses,” Seinfeld further explained of his early contact with the church. “One of them was in communication, and I learned some things about communication that really got my act going.” In a 2020 appearance on WTF with Marc Maron, Seinfeld would further discuss these courses in a more measured town, saying, "I found it very interesting, never pursued it,” saying that he enjoyed its "emphasis on ethical behavior" but was less attracted to its "avoiding negative people trip," referencing the church’s practice of keeping a list of “suppressive persons” who behave in a way that is anathema to the organization’s interests.
Though Seinfeld denied being a member of the church, he told Maron that he does consider himself a “spiritual guy,” saying, “Comedy is very spiritually satisfying. You're risking your own personal comfort to make total strangers happy, make them feel good, for just a moment. That's a spiritual act.” And here we thought the motivation for The Bee Movie was money.