While many of Hollywood's elite have long adhered to Scientology, last week, Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis broke rank, resigning from the church in a scathing letter to Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis.
Haggis wrote that he had for months tried without success to have the church publicly denounce its San Diego chapter for its support of Proposition 8, the legislation to ban gay marriage in California.
"The church's refusal to denounce the action of these bigots, hypocrites and homophobes is cowardly," Haggis wrote. "I can think of no other word. Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent."
Haggis also asserted that the church "ordered" his wife, actress Deborah Rennard, to "disconnect from her parents because of something absolutely trivial they supposedly did twenty-five years ago when they resigned from the church.
"Although it caused her terrible personal pain, my wife broke off all contact with them" for a year and a half, Haggis wrote. "I refused to do so. I've never been good at following orders, especially when I find them morally reprehensible."
Haggis' publicist, Ziggy Kozlowski, confirmed to ABCNews.com today that the letter posted on scientology-cult.com Friday was indeed written by the director in August. Kozlowski added that it was "intended as a private correspondence between [Haggis] and Tom Davis" and that he has no idea how it was leaked.
Scientology spokesman Davis denied Haggis' claims that the church or its San Diego chapter had supported Proposition 8.
"Mr. Haggis had a disagreement with the church that went beyond having anything to do with the church," Davis told ABCNews.com. "He wanted the church to take an active stance on a political issue, which we don't do. We're prohibited from taking stances on political issues.
"The church of scientology in San Diego was put on a Web site supporting Proposition 8 falsely and I had our name taken off of it," Davis said. "That's how all this started. To the extent that anything prohibits or infringes on anyone's civil rights, we don't agree with it. We're a minority, we don't discriminate. We're for civil rights for all people."
Davis also denied Haggis' allegation that the church ordered Rennard to "disconnect from her parents."
"That's not true. The church doesn't do that," he said. "The church doesn't tell people who they should and shouldn't be connected with. It's the fundamental human right for someone to decide who they are and are not going to be in communication with."
Haggis' publicist said the director does not plan to comment further on the matter.
In his letter, Haggis said he is deeply disappointed with the church to which he has belonged for decades.