Ever since Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale became a depressingly poignant political allegory thanks to a psychotic rape-melon winning the presidency on a wave of racism and religious zealotry, it’s been a little weird seeing Elisabeth Moss as the face of the show. While Moss might not be the type of evangelical nutjob who blindly supports Trump, she is a member of the Church of Scientology, which has a sordid history of using its “technology” to “cure” homosexuality and its vast wealth to protect accused rapists like Danny Masterson. Toss in reports of forced labor and slave ships where women are allegedly locked in engine rooms for speaking out of turn, and you’ve got yourself a Gilead that’s already up and running.
Considering Moss’ status as the prestige TV actress for this Peak TV era, I wasn’t holding my breath on someone asking her to square Scientology with her work on the most prominent feminist series in recent history. So imagine my surprise when Marlow Stern went right for it.
Via The Daily Beast:
Being on Mad Men and The Handmaid’s Tale and playing these fiercely feminist characters, people have criticized you for being a Scientologist, which some see as being at odds with the themes of those shows—particularly Handmaid’s. I’m sure you’ve heard those criticisms before, but what do you say to those criticisms?
Listen, it’s a complicated thing because the things that I believe in, I can only speak to my personal experience and my personal beliefs. One of the things I believe in is freedom of speech. I believe we as humans should be able to critique things. I believe in freedom of the press. I believe in people being able to speak their own opinions. I don’t ever want to take that away from anybody, because that actually is very important to me. At the same time, I should hope that people educate themselves for themselves and form their own opinion, as I have. The things that I believe in personally, for me, The Handmaid’s Tale, and the ability to do something that is artistically fulfilling but is also personally fulfilling, I’ve never had that. The Handmaid’s Tale lines up so perfectly parallel with my own beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the things that this country was actually built on.
So, Elisabeth Moss’ answer is the First Amendment? Okay…
Fortunately, Stern wasn’t content with that answer and asked Moss point-blank about Scientology’s anti-LGBTQ stance after she went on an odd, almost anti-PC-esque tangent about how we can’t tell people what they can think or say.
Scientology—especially in L. Ron Hubbard’s writings—has a history of being quite anti-LGBT.
Which is not where I stand. It’s like, it’s a lot to get into and unpack that I can’t do. But that is not my bag. I am obviously a huge feminist and huge supporter of the LGBTQ community and believe so strongly—I can’t even tell you—in people being able to do what they want to do, to love who they want to love, to be the person that they want to be—whoever that is. To me, it’s a huge reason why I love doing the show. That’s all I can say. I can’t speak to what other people believe, I can’t speak to what other people’s experiences have been. That’s where I stand and the only place I can speak from is my own.
So right off the bat, it’s amazing that Moss even did this interview because a quick glance at The Daily Beast’s Scientology coverage should’ve made it a hard pass. And, yes, it’s 100% bullshit that Moss is getting hammered about her religion but not its intergalactic messiah Tom Cruise. Granted, his celebrity status is an entirely different stratosphere that lets his people dictate terms, there need to be way more interviews that end with Cruise storming out because someone dared to ask him if he thinks psychiatry caused 9/11. (Actual Scientology belief.)
That said, goddammit, Peggy.
Yes, the First Amendment grants Americans the right to practice whatever religion they see fit and communicate the views of that religion without fear of reprisal from the government. And that’s exactly where it stops. After that, it’s an open ballgame on asking a public figure to explain how the hell they can make something like The Handmaid’s Tale while participating in a religion that personifies so many things that the show is against. Of course, Elisabeth Moss is absolutely entitled to her own private beliefs. But at the same time, she doesn’t get to call herself a “huge supporter of the LGBTQ community” while refusing to denounce a religion that actively recruits new members from the general public in hopes of indoctrinating them into Scientology’s belief system, which involves using two soup cans on a string to zap away alien ghosts that make you gay. On top of that, Moss made it a point during the interview to name-drop her good friend and fellow Scientologist Beck while talking about her music research for Her Smell, so she’s not only refusing to criticize the church but actively promoting its celebrity members.
In other words, Moss is trying to have her cake while shilling e-meters, too.
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