Did Elisabeth Moss cuss a lot at the Emmys because of Scientology’s ‘tone scale’?

69th Emmy Awards 2017 Press Room

I think it’s okay to have mixed feelings about Elisabeth Moss, for whatever record. Some of you will never support a Scientologist or their work, and that’s your right. Some people will give certain Scientologists the benefit of the doubt, or support some of the work in various ways and that’s your right too. I think many people are perfectly capable of appreciating The Handmaid’s Tale as a spectacular piece of art and a great piece of feminist/reproductive rights agitprop AND side-eyeing the sh-t out of Elisabeth Moss’s belief in Scientology. The conversation around this isn’t going away – Moss’s profile has been raised with THT, and her Scientology-life has come under closer scrutiny and she’s even had to make a few public comments about it.

So it’s interesting that a major trade paper like The Hollywood Reporter would give Moss the “Tom Cruise treatment.” By that I mean… Tom Cruise’s connection to CoS is now widely discussed at every level. Moss’s connection has, historically, not been that widely discussed. This weekend, THR published a piece about how Moss’s behavior on Emmy night was by-the-books Scientology. Moss openly cursed on stage, and crudely flipped the bird several times. This is all apparently some kind of under-the-radar Scientology thing about the “tone scale.” From THR:

On the surface, the profanity is nothing more than an actress at the top of her game failing to self-censor during the most exciting moment of her career. But according to Tiziano Lugli, a former friend of Moss’ inside the Church of Scientology, who quit the controversial religion seven years ago, the profanity has a specific purpose. It’s related to something in Scientology known as “the tone scale.”

“Scientologists are urged to communicate with ‘average people,’ and to do so effectively you have to ‘go down the tone scale.’ So they all use ‘f–k, f–k, f–k’ every time they talk. It’s fascinating,” Lugli explains. “The quote-unquote philosophy behind it is you match the tone level in order to communicate on the same level of the people with whom you’re communicating. If you’re too ‘high-tone,’ people will not understand you.”

Not everyone requires swearing. Journalists and gay people, for example, are classified as “1.1″ on the scale, which signifies “covert hostility,” according to Lugli. “That means I have to communicate just slightly above you — which can be anger or hostility. That’s where you get Tom Cruise telling Matt Lauer he’s being ‘glib,’” he explains. (The Church of Scientology and a rep for Moss declined to comment, but the church has denied animosity toward gay people.)

The swearing begins at the highest levels of Scientology and trickles down, Lugli says. He vividly recalls a speech given in the early 2000s by Scientology leader David Miscavige at Gold Base, a church headquarters in Riverside County, California.

“Within the briefing, Miscavige was talking about how Flag [the Clearwater, Florida headquarters] is superior and should be in charge of other Orgs,” Lugli recalls. “He said, ‘Class V Orgs are f–king DBs, which stands for ‘degraded beings.’ He was like ‘f–king this’ and ‘f–king that’ the whole time.” Video of the address began to circulate internally. Cruise, the religion’s most famous adherent, studied it intently, Lugli says, wanting “to emulate what power sounds like. So he started swearing. It started there. A culture of ‘f–k f–k f–k.’” In a 2004 Rolling Stone profile, Cruise swears repeatedly.

But according to Tony Ortega, the journalist behind the influential Scientology whistleblower blog The Underground Bunker, the practice traces all the way back to the church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. “There’s no question that Scientology has this kind of throwback, hard-smoking, curse-language culture that dates to Hubbard being a Navy guy,” Ortega explains.

“Cursing in Scientology is almost a sacrament,” he continues. “The Sea Org [a clergy class with a nautical heritage] sets the tone for all Scientology — and it’s literally sailors. It’s a paramilitary organization that runs Scientology. And the one thing you notice when you run into ex-Sea Org members is they all curse like sailors.”

Ortega says Scientologists are taught to believe that Earth is “a prison planet that they’re trying to save and there’s no point in being polite about it.”

[From THR]

I watched some of the HBO documentary on Scientology and I really didn’t know about this, the “tone scale” and the cursing and what it all means to them. It’s very… weird. Disconcerting, even. I curse a lot (you should see my emails to CB) and I would hate to think that I was participating in some kind of tone scale or whatever. It’s sort of hard to follow the CoS-logic on this one: so a Scientologist will curse more when he or she is around non-Scientologists, because the Scientologist believes that the non-CoSbots are degraded beings? Or is it about blending in with the Normals? Something. I don’t really get it. THR also quotes Ortega as saying that he doesn’t even believe that Moss is all that involved with CoS because she was raised in CoS by her parents, who “are not particularly strong Scientologists” and “Elisabeth Moss does not hang out with many other Scientologists. And if you look at her course completions list, I don’t know that she’s the most gung-ho Scientologist.”

Photos courtesy of WENN, Instagram.

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38 Responses to “Did Elisabeth Moss cuss a lot at the Emmys because of Scientology’s ‘tone scale’?”

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  1. Julie says:

    I don’t know enough about Scientologists. What’s their endgame? I’ve only heard negative things about the religion “cult”

    I think it’s odd she was in the Handmaid’s Tale

    • thaliasghost says:

      To ‘clear the planet’ and create a scientology world where everybody eventually turns into a Thetan and who disagrees is placed in hard labor camps.

      It’s much more elaborate than my description though and caused the German government to list them as enemies of the constitution and open surveillance on them.

      • Lucy says:

        Right here in Germany they are not allowed to call it “Church” and they are under the surveillance of our homeland security. Good thing that, IMO.

    • makersmark says:


      You need to watch Going Clear, the documentary. Seriously.

  2. ELX says:

    Their endgame is to extract as much money as possible from their adherents and not pay taxes, that is the only goal of this cult.

  3. InVain says:

    It’d be great if that flip of the finger was directed at CoS for so many reasons… but I’m going to assume it’s not and we’re all just degraded beings that she’s pandering to.

  4. Talie says:

    I can believe she’s not gung-ho, but then why get up and leave when Leah Remini won?

    • lucy2 says:

      Sorry, misread your comment.
      Her reaction to Leah does point to her have some involvement.

      • Mannori says:

        well she did more than that. She actually defended Scientology when a fan made a comment about THT in her social media comments

    • tmot says:

      So as not to have to pay for hours of obnoxious sec-checking (and being yelled at) perhaps? The pamper celebrities but even Leah had to endure hours of interrogations, with the $$$ meter running.

      • mayamae says:

        I think Leah was treated poorly, in part at least, because she was a Sea Org member initially. Those are the people that Miscavige feels free to physically abuse.

  5. Junebug says:

    How bizarre. Nothing about this cult makes sense.

  6. Katie says:

    I think it’s two things.

    First, Scientologists language is usually filled to the brim with Scientology talk. It’s like when people suddenly get big into self-help books or therapy and start filling every single conversation with that kind of talk, except for Scientologists it’s not an annoying phase, it’s just how they talk forever. If they don’t want to make it extremely obvious they’re Scientologists and thus open themselves up to questions, they have to choose a different way to speak in public. For the people born into it, that means learning a whole new way of talking, thus the guides on how to do it.

    Second, swearing is a really easy way to come across as raw, honest, open etc. It is something a ton of famous Scientologists use as a deflection tactic. The idea being if you swear a lot, you come across as unfiltered, with nothing to hide. It also highlights one of Scientology’s big selling points, which is that they pretend it’s a really open ‘religion’ that doesn’t have the prudish standards and moralising of others.

  7. Annabelle Bronstein says:

    Is the Democratic Party also following this philosophy? Dems keep swearing, seemingly strategically. Maybe some new focus group came out that said swearing is the best way to get people’s attention? Idk.

  8. littlemissnaughty says:

    I haaaate celebs giving the finger when they’re working. Pull yourself together! Who are you flipping off? What is the point? If you have a point, let me know but don’t just be insulting for fun. Who the hell raises these people?

    • downTime says:

      I started swearing during menopause, and it really scared my kids. I guess the steam was getting to me, but it’s ugly and stops any real conversation. When someone around me swears a lot I can’t really be close friends. I feel it’s toxic. It’s a sign of PTSD in my opinion, or a sign of current distress. I don’t buy it’s “good for anyone”, and confirms that co$ is toxic city.

  9. Moon says:

    Her agent is Co$

    • Mannori says:

      I’ve noticed that too. Mama Ribisi and Mama Masterson are the two matriarchs that keep at bay the young Hollywood section of the cult, by being their agents and managers. Mama Masterson is an agent too. That’s their scam to recruit young actors. They give them a small job on some shitty show where a Scientologist has a say, like My Name is Earl, Jenna Elfman’s shows, Shaun Piller’s shows, and they own to the cult forever.

  10. Her Higness says:

    what a confusing read, my goodness. so glad im just a normal ‘DB’


  11. Radley says:

    Such baffling nonsense. I wonder how many people have moved up in the church only to realize it’s a scam and a fraud, but are in too deep to leave? Scienos keep those “audits” as blackmail material. It seems that there are celebs that are disillusioned but afraid to leave.

    Once upon a time, Tom Cruise had toned down the rhetoric to the point that people were speculating about him leaving. Same with John Travolta. But they never leave. Too many skeletons. I say tell the truth and set yourself free. I think their dreaded audit secrets are probably sexuality related and aren’t anything to be ashamed of anyway.

  12. lucy2 says:

    I feel like I’ve noticed her do this before, and found it off putting (and I like her quite a bit as an actress). I never would have guess it was a CO$ strategy. Strange.

    The only thing I did like was her giving the finger to the stupid manicure camera on E, but now even that seems tainted by CO$ influence.

  13. paranormalgirl says:

    Yeah yeah. Flip me off, I don’t support your work. Then again, I’m a psychiatrist, the lowest of the degraded beings.

  14. BeReal2 says:

    don’t know if it’s true that Moss doesn’t hang out a lot with other cult members, as her manager is Giovanni Ribisi’s mother.

    • Mannori says:

      agreed, she might not be a hardcore one like Prepon or the Mastersons, but she’s very very deep into it if one of the matriarchs of the cult is her agent. Probably more than her agent: also her handler.

  15. Char says:

    The way I took this is that Scientologist think they are so smart & above us normal/non Scientologist, that they curse around us to “dumb themselves down.” Yes, to fit in, but only because they are so above us & so smart & they have to speak in simple words or we won’t get what they are saying. So to that, I flip them the bird.

  16. Kealeen says:

    For what it’s worth, Ortega has increasingly pissed off a lot of rank-and-file ex-Scientologists, especially those who were born into it, by ignoring stories that don’t fit into his journalistic narrative. Make no mistake, if E-Moss wasn’t a high-profile, critically acclaimed actress, she would be forced to either leave and be disconnected from her family, or fully commit to the “church.”

  17. Casey says:

    My two cents: The Handmaid’s Tale is a fantastic work of art, television, and social commentary. I don’t think anyone can argue that it isn’t a great show with great performances. I also really like Elizabeth Moss, she has a great sense of humor and I think she’s super talented. I’m comfortable judging CoS REAL hard as a ‘religion’ because I think it’s all bullshit. Kinda like, don’t hate the player, hate the game?

  18. Izzy says:

    Well, if her objective was to communicate down to the rest of us non-Co$ plebes, that was a fail, because her speech was a bunch of silent moments when she cursed. I pretty much tuned out right away, figuring I wouldn’t be able to hear much of it anyway.

  19. HoustonGrl says:

    This is SO weird.

  20. Ellie71 says:

    I just watched her reading ” mean tweets”.
    She looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, so I was surprised by her flipping the bird and having a potty mouth.

  21. Electric Tuba says:

    Meh. She’s an a hole. And she can shove that finger in Toms prosthetic Xenu cave.

  22. IMUCU says:

    Hmmm, I live in Clearwater, near COS Flag, this makes me curious to go downtown & hang out to see how they’ll talk to me ;-) !