Wonderwall, Friday, January 13, 2012, 10:32am (PST)
It's been more than two years since "Crash" director Paul Haggis left the celebrity-packed Church of Scientology, in part over its stance on gay marriage, but he believes the notoriously touchy organization is still keeping tabs on him.
"There are private eyes going through my trash," Haggis, 58, tells the New York Post. "But only the paper is missing. Well, only paper I write on."
And Haggis, whose resignation from the church was the subject of a fascinating, in-depth New Yorker profile last year, doesn't think the L. Ron Hubbard-devoted powers-that-be are going to forget about him anytime soon.
"They're in it for the long haul," the filmmaker explained while making the rounds as part of his longtime charity work in Haiti. But, he's quick to point out, "I am not on a crusade to discredit Scientology."
A Scientology spokesman tells the paper that the trash allegations are "ridiculous."
Well, maybe not that ridiculous. After all, the organization, which counts Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley among its decades-long devotees, does seem to have a history of using similar tactics.
Back in 1979, documents seized by the FBI (via the Associated Press) detailed a Scientology plot called "Operation Freakout" that was designed to disgrace author Paulette Cooper, who'd written a book critical of the church.
One method purportedly employed against Cooper involved stealing stationary from her apartment and using it to send bomb threats (read more about her here).
But Haggis doesn't seem to have any regrets about his departure, and he says many former Scientologists have expressed their appreciation for his candor about his experience.
"I've had people who were in Sea Org [an elite church group in which members take a "one-billion-year pledge to symbolize their commitment"] and major donors say, 'Thank you,'" Haggis shared with the Post. "Or, 'I was a member of the church till they found out I was gay.'"
Plus, it's not as though Haggis was unaware of the risks when he left the church.
"My bet is that, within two years, you're going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church," he told the New Yorker. "I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't."