*All that talk about Will Smith being a member of the Church of Scientology is just talk, according to a former Scientology fixer/senior executive and a Scientology expert.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, the fixer/senior executive, Mike Rinder, joined the expert, Tony Ortega, in saying, “ Will Smith is not a Scientologist.”
“There’s not that many celebrities in Scientology, and the young ones were born into it, and the other ones people cite—Cruise, Travolta, and Kirstie Alley—got into it in the ’70s and ’80s,” explained Ortega, a journalist who has been covering Scientology since 1995 . “They have not attracted a major star in 25 years. The only young Scientologists on the celebrity scene were all born into it. Beck was born into it. Giovanni Ribisi was born into it.”
Ortega’s comments put a lid on chatter over the years about Smith and Scientology. The Daily Beast cited reaction pointing to the actor’s “Scientology-supporting” beliefs after the odd interview Smith’s children, Jaden and Willow, had with the Guardian. Other reports referenced include Smith being warned by his former business partner, James Lassiter, about not letting Scientology “get in the way” of his career; Scientology defector Jason Beghe saying Smith was “supposedly dabbling in Scientology;” a former principal at Smith and wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s school, New Village Academy in Calabasas, California, claiming the curriculum was “100 percent” Scientology-focused and a Hollywood Reporter review of Smith’s movie, “After Earth,” by an former Scientologist who claimed the film had alleged Scientology themes.
As it turned out, the media’s intent to connect Smith with Scientology may have come from his close friendship with Tom Cruise, the most well known Scientologist.
“I was introduced to [Scientology] through Tom, and I’m a student of world religion,” Smith told Access Hollywood in 2007. “I was raised in a Baptist household and went to a Catholic school, but the ideas of the Bible are 98 percent the same ideas as Scientology; 98 percent the same ideas as Buddhism or Hinduism.”
“How you gon’ not know nothing about Scientology and attack [Tom]?” Smith added. “It’s dangerous, and it’s ignorant. How am I going to condemn someone for what they believe and I believe God was born from a pregnant virgin?”
The Daily Beast’s interview with Rinder and Ortega arrives as the two are featured in Alex Gibney’s documentary-exposé, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” which hits in theaters March 13.
During his time at the Church of Scientology, Rinder acted as the Church’s Olivia Pope as he worked to legally put out various legal and PR fires, including those pertaining to another well-known Scientologist, John Travolta.
A second-generation Scientologist, Rinder served on the board of directors of Church of Scientology International and was their executive director of the Office of Special Affairs from 1982 to 2007. After a dispute with the Church’s chief, David Miscavige in 2007
In addition to covering Scientology, Ortega serves as the executive editor of The Raw Story website and started The Underground Bunker, a blog that focuses on Scientology coverage.
To see Smith discuss Scientology, check out the video below: