Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini, and New York magazine and HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali fight. The subject? Top Gun: Maverick.
As The Hill reports, Kinzinger praised the film as “amazing” in a recent tweet, prompting Ali to warn against praising top Scientologist Tom Cruise’s new film — even in such anonymous terms.
“No kidding when I say that this tweet will be shown to Scientologists as an example of Tom Cruise’s excellence and how he is the most committed Scientologist,” Ali wrote. “Things like this, especially from elected officials, are what prompts Scientologists who have doubts to reconsider.”
Kinzinger responded with a quote tweet: “WHAT??”
Leah Remini, who left the Church of Scientology in 2013 and has since released three seasons of her docuseries Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, also jumped in quickly: “Instead of investigating Scientology for, among other things, its abuses and intimidation of IRS officials, you are promoting the second-in-command project,” she wrote. “I get it.”
Scientology founder and science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard first announced “Project Celebrity,” an initiative designed to normalize his religion, which in 1955 recruited A-listen like Kirstie Alley and John Travolta.
In a recent investigation for The Daily Beast into Cruise’s role as a Scientology mascot over the years, reporter Tony Ortega wrote: “Tom Cruise’s value to Scientology is not as a leader, but as an ornament. Those have always been the celebrities: symbols. But he is the main celebrity and an incredibly important symbol for the Church.”
As the film dazzles viewers around the world, Ortega writes, Cruise’s star will once again overshadow his history with the Church. “His popularity will be a huge boost to individual Scientologists, who will see the success of Top Gun: Maverick as a justification of Scientology, even if the movie has nothing to do with it.”
Given that Top Gun: Maverick already delivered the biggest weekend opening in Cruise’s career at the box office, it seems anyone hoping to have a real conversation about the religion he represents will have to wait again.