Jason Beghe's troubled relationship with Scientology: How 'Chicago PD' actor went from 'Thetan' to dissenter
While Beghe was one of the church's rising stars, when he left the group in 2007, he began speaking out against Scientology
Jason Beghe is now in his eighth season as Hank Voight on NBC's 'Chicago PD', a role he started in 'Chicago Fire', the first show of Dick Wolf's 'Chicago' franchise. And while most would note that it is remarkable that Beghe is now more famous than ever, he has been associated with one institution that may not be so. Beghe is a former Scientologist, and the fact that he found more success after leaving the church may be quite vexing to the organization.
Beghe first started studying Scientology in 1994, after taking an acting class taught by famed acting coach and Scientologist Milton Katselas. And while Beghe may not have been as famous in the acting circle yet, he was rising up the ranks within the institution. According to The Daily Beast, who spoke to Beghe about his experiences with Scientology, he had risen to the level of OT or "Operating Thetan", regarded as the "highest state" in Scientology. Beghe was all in. He was featured in ads for the church and would wax praises for the religion at Scientology events. In his time with Scientology, Beghe estimated that he gave $1M of his earnings to the church.
By 2007, however, Beghe felt something was amiss and he decided to quit the institution. Since then, he has been one of the most vocal critics of the church. In April 2008, he sat down with Mark Bunker for his first interview about leaving Scientology. In the interview, he called out the Church of Scientology, telling Bunker that it was “dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health". He said, "I went through some s**t. One never knows how much of it is still influencing you, because you don’t know what you don’t know."
In May 2008, he attended a protest against the institution outside the Scientology building in New York, and later that year, he traveled to Europe where he spoke with government officials in Hamburg, Germany, about his experiences as a Scientologist. He also suggested that governments should put up warning signs akin to cigarette packs. The following day, a member of Germany's Interior Department told him that such a sign was placed outside the Scientology building in Berlin.
According to Time, Beghe told The Village Voice that the Church of Scientology is upset that he became more successful after leaving the group. "The entire Scientology mythology is that if you leave the church you go on to fail,” he noted, “But I’ve quadrupled my income. I’m hotter than I’ve ever been. And it’s killing them.”
To The Daily Beast, Beghe spoke about why he is outspoken in his criticism of the church. He said, "My problem with Scientology had to do with the superstructure of the organization — and [David] Miscavige is the superstructure of the organization. I’m not going to sit by and watch someone beat the s**t out of some old lady; I’m going to do something about it. That’s who I am." He went on to say, "One of the things I realized when I was extricating myself is there are many, many steps when you’re in this thing, and then I realized, Holy s**t, that’s a f***ing cult. Wow! I was in a cult? I don’t strike me as someone who would be in a cult."
Scientology also affected Beghe's friendship with 'Californication' star David Duchovny, with whom he was friends with since school, along with John F Kennedy Jr. The church regarded Duchovny as a “suppressive person" or SP — a perceived enemy of the church who is possessed of an “antisocial personality” and a danger to those around them. After Beghe left Scientology, he reconnected with Duchovny and would go on to have a guest role in Duchovny's show.
'Chicago PD' returns with new episodes to NBC on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at 10/9c.