Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini, and New York magazine and HuffPost contributor Yashar Ali are fighting. The subject? Top Gun: Maverick.
“Not kidding when I say this tweet will be shown to Scientologists as an example of Tom Cruise’s excellence and how he is the most dedicated Scientologist,” Ali wrote. “Stuff like this, particularly from elected officials, is what leads Scientologists who are having 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, soon jumped in as well: “Instead of investigating Scientology for its abuses, its intimidation of IRS officials, among other things, you’re promoting the project of its second in command,” she wrote. “Got it.”
Scientology founder and science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard first announced “Project Celebrity,” an initiative designed to normalize his religion that’s recruited A-listers like Kirstie Alley and John Travolta, in 1955.
In a recent investigation for The Daily Beast exploring Cruise’s role as a Scientology mascot over the years, reporter Tony Ortega wrote, “Tom Cruise’s value to Scientology is not as an executive, it’s as an ornament. That’s always what the celebrities have been: symbols. But he’s the most important celebrity, and an incredibly important symbol for the church.”
As the film dazzles viewers worldwide, Ortega writes, Cruise’s star will once again eclipse his history with the church. “His popularity will be a huge boost for individual Scientologists, who will see the success of Top Gun: Maverick as a vindication of Scientology, even if the movie has nothing to do with it.”
Given that Top Gun: Maverick has already delivered the biggest weekend opening in Cruise’s career at the box office, it appears anyone hoping to have a real conversation about the religion he represents will once again be stuck waiting.