Erika Christensen Defends Scientology While Paul Haggis Slams the Religion

Actress clears up what she says are misconceptions about the Church; writer-director calls it a cult

By Peter Gicas Jan 17, 2013 3:50 PMTags
Erika ChristensenJason Merritt/Getty Images

Erika Christensen has come to the defense of Scientology.

While appearing on her Parenthood costar Joy Bryant's Web series, Across the Board, the actress clears up what she says are misconceptions about the religion she has practiced since childhood.

"One, that we are some kind of closed group. Two, that we are the Hollywood religion, and three, that we worship rabbits," she said with a laugh.

Christensen went on to explain how she would introduce Scientology to her own children someday.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"I would expose to them, like, this is what I do, which is how my parents did it, because my parents are Scientologists," she said. "When I was like 7, they did this demonstration. There is this thing in Scientology, it's a study method to demonstrate things out. I would give them the option of, like, these are our study tools. You can use them in school, get good grades, learn."

Christensen added, "If I had to sum it up, the goal of Scientology is giving the person back to themselves. Like, your own power of choice."

Meanwhile, Oscar-winning writer-director Paul Haggis has much different feelings about the Church he walked away from after being a member for more than 30 years.

On Thursday's Today, Haggis revealed why he left.

"I was ashamed of my own stupidity, of how I could have been so blind for so many years," he told NBC's Harry Smith.

While he admitted that Scientology did help him early on, over time he began to wonder what the Church really stood for and began doing his own research.

Haggis said he came across articles that made allegations of abuse at the highest levels of the Church, of physical violence and reports of children being forced to work 12 to 16 hours a day.

"It's horrible treatment these kids had," he said. "Terrible."

The Church of Scientology, however, denies the abuse and insists there is no evidence to support such claims.

When asked if Scientology is a cult, Haggis stated matter-of-factly: "Oh, of course it is. It's a system of beliefs and you've got all these folks inside this fortress who won't look out, who won't look at any criticism and can't bear any investigation and thinks everyone is against them. How would you describe that? It's a cult."