Paul Haggis supports Leah Remini on Scientology departure with open letter

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Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Paul Haggis has written an open letter to support actress Leah Remini's decision to leave Scientology. The "King of Queens" actress publicly announced she had left the controversial religion earlier in the same month

You can read the entire letter, as it will appear in The Hollywood Reporter's Aug. 9 issue, here.

Haggis knows a lot about this kind of situation. The man behind films like "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby" broke publicly with Scientology in 2005 after 35 years of membership. He has since been critical of the church, an attitude shared by the Church of Scientology toward Haggis.

Although the entire letter gives the filmmaker's entire opinion, excerpts make the basics of that opinion clear.

  • "Leah and I haven't spoken in quite a while. What I knew about Leah is that she was one of two Scientologists who had refused to 'disconnect' from me and certainly the only high-profile one when I decided to quit the organization in August 2009 ... Unlike the rest of my former friends, she expressed real sadness that I was leaving and concern for me and my family."

  • "In the last few days, I read some things that really disturbed me. First was the way Leah was being attacked by her celebrity 'friends,' who were disparaging her character."

  • "I assumed Scientology's next step would be to try and plant disparaging stories about her with less-informed journalists and bloggers. And if others who have made noisy exits from the church are to be believed, Scientology would also use their Office of Special Affairs employees to attack Leah indirectly, posting negative comments about her shows and career and abilities under myriad false names, pretending to be disappointed fans or whatever."

  • "What was new to me was the report that Leah had run afoul of the church by challenging Scientology's leader, David Miscavige, who is held to be infallible."

  • "The next thing I learned made me feel terrible. Leah got in trouble because of me, because when I was 'declared' a 'Suppressive Person' and shunned, she came to my defense -- without me ever knowing it. She had shouting matches with Tommy Davis, then the church spokesman, who had come to try and keep her quiet. The fact that she fought within the system so resolutely for so long, never making her feelings public, is a testament to how much she believed in the basic goodness of her friends and the institution."

  • "I can't express how much I admire Leah. Her parents, family and close friends were almost all Scientologists; the stakes for her were so much higher than for me. Her decision to leave was so much braver."

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images