After Earth Is Will Smith’s Love Letter to Scientology

Will Smith has never spoken openly of his connections to the Church of Scientology, but they are well documented. Whether or not Smith is a devout member or simply curious about this Hollywood faith, he has visible ties to the group. In 2007, he donated $122,500 to several Scientology rehabilitation organizations. Two years later, he and wife Jada Pinkett Smith opened California's New Village Leadership Academy, a private school founded on the teachings of Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard. Yet to this day, when asked about his own involvement, Smith suggests close friend Tom Cruise introduced him to the practices of Scientology, but that he's not a member. He's simply a "student of world religion."

The clearest evidence of Smith's investment in Scientology might be his newest blockbuster film — this weekend’s After Earth. Based on a story by Smith (and a script by Gary Whitta and director M. Night Shyamalan), the film is a father-son adventure that teams the superstar with his wunderkind offspring Jaden. Together, they traverse the dangerous landscapes of a creature-ridden future Earth. Surprisingly, what's been advertised as an Avatar remix plays out more like Battlefield Earth, another film that hews to the tropes of a science-fiction epic — just like Hubbard's doctrines for Scientology. Here’s how the film parallels the faith’s teachings:



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