- (PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Jenna Miscavige, niece of Scientology president David Miscavige, blasted TV host Barbara Walters after Walters endorsed the Scientology education system. Co-host Sherri Shepherd also joined in the criticism, causing a rift between the two.
"I'm not going to speak about Scientology in general," Walters said, "but Scientology has a pretty good educational program. They're not telling people to drop out."
The comment was in reference to Jaden Smith's comments about wanting to drop out of school. The teen son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith posted several tweets encouraging people to drop out of school for the better of society.
"School is the tool to brainwash the youth," he tweeted last week. "Education is rebellion. If everybody in the world dropped out of school we would have a much more intelligent society," Smith followed up.
Walters made note of the fact that Scientology does not encourage students to drop out and has a high retention rate, yet Shepherd cited Jenna Miscavige's story and her appearance on the show in February, an appearance that Walters was not present for.
"Jenna said they pulled her out and put her in a camp," Shepherd said. "What kind of school is that? It's like it was a hard labor camp. She built the doggone … huts that they lived in!"
"I have been to some of the Scientology schools and some of their education programs are very good," Walters added. "The last thing I want to do is argue about Scientology."
Jenna recounted her experiences in the Church of Scientology in her book, "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape," in 2005 and has been a very vocal advocate for those leaving the organization and speaking out against it. She gave a blistering statement to The Underground Bunker, a website devoted to following the Church's actions and supporting those who want to leave.
"Without getting into the details of my childhood and the dangers of Scientology's education system, I will say this. The leader of Scientology, Tom Cruise's best man, my uncle David Miscavige, is a high school dropout. What does that say about the value Scientology puts on education? Is this not what Jaden Smith is advocating?" Jenna asked.
"I don't know what propaganda you have seen or what your celebrity advocate friends have told you, but it's time to look a little deeper. If you don't want to know the truth (which I gather is the case from you saying you 'don't want to talk about Scientology') then please refrain from praising a system you clearly know nothing about," she concluded.
The Church of Scientology has not issued a statement about Walters' comments or Miscavige's response.