Bart Simpson recruited into Scientology against his will

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Simpsons producers €˜have a cow’ as Bart lends his voice to Scientologists

Bart Simpson used to be an underachiever and proud of it. These days, it seems, he’s an Operating Thetan VII in the Church of Scientology and proud of that, too.

At least, that is what Scientologists were led to believe this week when they received an automated telephone message featuring the voice of Bart inviting them to the Scientology Flag World Tour, an event being held in Hollywood tomorrow.

Bart Simpson recruited into Scientology against his will

The message was recorded by Nancy Cartwright, the 51-year-old voice actress and high-ranking Scientologist who has played Bart in The Simpsons since the show was created in 1987. “Yo, what’s happenin’ man,” begins the message. “This is Bart Simpson. Haha! Just kidding, don’t hang up, this is Nancy Cartwright.”

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When the message leaked out on the internet yesterday, Ms Cartwright’s bosses at The Simpsons had — as Bart might say — a cow. Although the details of the actor’s contract are not known, it is thought that the copyright of Bart’s voice is owned by Twentieth Century Fox, part of News Corporation, parent company of The Times, and therefore cannot be used without permission.

In a public statement the show’s executive producer, Al Jean, attempted to make light of it. “The Simpsons does not, and never has, endorsed any religion, philosophy or system of beliefs any more profound than Butterfinger bars,” he said.

Ms Cartwright, who earns an estimated $400,000 ( £280,000) per episode, was recently awarded Scientology’s Patron Laureate Award after reportedly donating $10 million to the organisation, founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard, the science-fiction writer. As an Operating Thetan VII — and therefore an individual who can operate independently of her body, according to the movement’s website — she has attained the second-highest rank in the Church.

Critics accuse the Church of Scientology of being secretive, profit-motivated and cult-like. In the 1970s, a series of FBI raids found that Scientologists had infiltrated and wiretapped the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies; several members, including Mary, Hubbard’s wife, were jailed. The organisation says that it has reformed itself.

– Source: Simpsons producers €˜have a cow’ as Bart lends his voice to Scientologists, Chris Ayres, The Times (UK), Jan. 30, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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This post was last updated: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 1:39 AM, Central European Time (CET)