Elisabeth Moss

Elisabeth Moss in 2014. Photo by Dominick D [CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Scientologist and The Handmaid’s Tale Actress Elisabeth Moss Responds to Criticisms of her Scientology Beliefs

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Elisabeth Moss, Scientologist and actress from Hulu’s award winning The Handmaid’s Tale spoke about her Scientology beliefs. Moss has been called “The Queen of Peak TV” because of her famous roles not just in The Handmaid’s Tale, but also The West Wing and Mad Men.

When asked about her feminist values seeming to be at odds with the popular notion of Scientology, and others’ criticism of her beliefs, Moss declared, “I should hope people educate themselves for themselves and form their own opinion, as I have.” She also spoke about freedom of speech and freedom of religion: “I’m never going to take away your right to talk about something or believe something, and you can’t take away mine.” Adding to that, she also emphasized that she is a “huge feminist and a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community.”

Here is the complete transcript of the Scientology-related portion of Elisabeth Moss’s interview with Marlow Stern of 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.

I once spoke with Neil deGrasse Tyson about Scientology and he argued that much of the criticism it receives is because it’s newer and weirder. But I’m sure you’ve heard the criticisms of Scientology—from “disconnection” to the sums of money some adherents have been forced to fork over to it. Is the argument, then, that what it’s doing is not worse than, say, what the Catholic Church has done with its systematic abuse of children? I’m curious where you stand.

Right. It’s funny, there’s two things you’re never supposed to talk about at a dinner—politics or religion—and of course I’m doing The Handmaid’s Tale, which is politics and religion, so it’s a strange situation where you’re going to be asked about these topics. I choose to express myself in my work and my art. I don’t choose to express myself about it in interviews. I don’t choose to talk about not just religion, but my personal life—who I’m dating and that kind of thing. So for me, it’s so hard to unpack in a sound bite or an interview, but I will say that the things that I truly believe in are the things that I’ve mentioned, and I think that they’re very important. I think people should be allowed to talk about what they want to talk about and believe what they want to believe and you can’t take that away—and when you start to take that away, when you start to say “you can’t think that,” “you can’t believe that,” “you can’t say that,” then you get into trouble. Then you get into Gilead. So whatever happens, I’m never going to take away your right to talk about something or believe something, and you can’t take away mine.

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.

Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale debuts on June 5. Moss can also be seen on the big screen in Jordan Peele’s latest thriller, Us.

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