Will Smith donates $1m to fund Scientology school
When people first heard Will Smith and his wife, Jada, were donating $1 million to a new private school, there were cheers all round, however, the press has changed its tune after discovering the facility will be run on Scientology principles.
The New Village Academy, which will open later this year, has reportedly hired a team of Scientologists to help integrate Scientology teaching methods into the school curriculum – although the dreaded ‘S’ word isn’t mentioned anywhere on the school’s website, www.newvillageacademy.org.
‘School should be forthright about its purposes. And if it’s a religious school, I don’t see why it wouldn’t wish to announce its religious affiliation loud and clear,’ Ron Reynolds, executive director of the California Association of Private School Organizations, told Fox News – pointing out that it wasn’t the fact that Scientology methods would be taught at the school he objects to, just that they aren’t being open about it.
Unlike his good friend Tom Cruise, Will Smith – whose two children are both currently home-schooled – has never openly admitted to being a Scientologist, although has hinted to an affiliation.
Last December, he told Access Hollywood: ‘I was introduced [to Scientology] by Tom, and I’m a student of world religion. I was raised in a Baptist household, I went to a Catholic school, but the ideas of the Bible are 98 percent the same ideas of Scientology, 98 percent the same ideas of Hinduism and Buddhism.’
Four years ago, he and his wife also donated $20,000 to the Hollywood Education and Literacy Program, which forms the basis for Scientology’s home-schooling system.