Priscilla Presley has become the latest celebrity to walk away from the controversial Church of Scientology, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Presley, 72, who has been a member of the religious sect which counts Tom Cruise and John Travolta as members, told friends she had quit the religion after nearly four decades.
‘I’ve had enough. I’m done,’ said Presley, who recently dated singer Tom Jones. She is believed to have joined Scientology after the death of husband Elvis.
‘Priscilla reached out to John Travolta after Elvis died in 1977 and that’s how she ended up in the church,’ a source said. ‘She has been in it ever since and she raised her daughter Lisa Marie in it.’
Lisa Marie quit the church in 2014. ‘Lisa Marie leaving made it hard for Priscilla,’ the source added. ‘They are very close as a family and leaving the church has been a family decision.’
Scientology, founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1955, has been the subject of controversy for years.
Both Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman – ex-wives of Top Gun star Cruise – have quit the church, as have actress Demi Moore and filmmaker Paul Haggis. The latter described it as an ‘evil cult’, adding: ‘Everyone who’s left has left quietly. Everyone is so scared; all the well-known people.’
Scientologists go through a process of ‘auditing’, in which they are asked extremely personal questions about their lives, including their sexual orientation.
Former members have alleged this information is used to ‘blackmail’ members to stay.
Others have accused the secretive church of holding them prisoner, making them do hard labour and forcing them apart from their families.
British filmmaker Louis Theroux was famously ‘tailed’ by Scientologists when he attempted to make a documentary about the church.
And BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney said he had been ‘spied on’ during his investigation, ‘had my hotel invaded at midnight’ and was ‘chased around the streets of LA by sinister strangers’.
Cruise has credited Scientology with ‘saving’ him. He famously criticised actress Brooke Shields in 2005 for taking anti-depressants to cope with postnatal depression, saying psychiatric drugs are ‘dangerous’; a view held by the church.
Lisa Marie said after leaving the church: ‘I was slowly starting to self-destruct. They were taking my soul, my money, my everything.’
The church has always vehemently denied all charges of wrongdoing against it.
A spokesman for Priscilla Presley declined to comment.