In case you’re unaware, actress Leah Remini has had a lengthy experience with the Church of Scientology. She practically grew up in the highly controversial organization, but managed to free herself from it as an adult. Since leaving the church, she’s written a book about her experience and co-hosted an A&E docuseries that hits Netflix on November 1. Obviously, in prep for your binge-watch sesh of the show, we’ve gathered the basics of her relationship with the religion. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Leah joined the Church of Scientology when she was 9 years old.
When Leah’s parents got divorced, her mother became very involved in Scientology, the religion founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Shortly after that, her mom brought her and her sister into the church. She eventually enrolled them into something called Sea Org, a.k.a. the full-time religious order of the church, and moved their family from New York to the church’s headquarters in Florida, according to a 20/20 interview. From then on, Leah became immersed in the religion–which involved signing a billion-year contract to be a part of it, FYI–and continued to practice it after moving to Los Angeles.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s 2006 wedding was the beginning of a turning point for Leah.
What you mainly need to know is that she started seeing red flags. She was invited to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' wedding, but was asked by the church to bring her friends J.Lo and Marc Anthony (presumably so that the church could recruit J.Lo). The church made attempts to separate Leah from J.Lo throughout the entire event, like having them travel in separate cars, etc. The head of the church, who was serving as Tom's best man, attended that wedding without his wife. Leah saw all of this as strange, unacceptable behavior.
She left the Church of Scientology in 2013.
Leah didn’t leave the church right when she started having doubts. It was actually Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ divorce that re-sparked her frustrations. Around that time, she started reading criticism of the church online, which is not a thing you’re allowed to do when you're actively in the church of Scientology. She was heartbroken reading stories of families being torn apart and allegations against the church's top leaders. She went public with her separation from the church in 2013.
The church denies everything Leah has said.
There’s a lengthy statement on its website sharing its views of her, and, um, warning: It’s aggressive.
She wrote a book about her experience.
Her 2015 memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology outlines her experiences with the religion as a child and adult.
Her docuseries Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath has three seasons and a two-hour special.
She co-hosted the Emmy-winning series from 2016 to 2019 with Mike Rinder, who was once a spokesperson for the church. The series dives deep into the wide-scale abuse and tactics of the church, along with the corruption and difficulty that comes with trying to leave the church. “We did not plan on more than a season or two,” Leah told The Hollywood Reporter last year. “I always thought it would be six or eight episodes and that would be enough for the FBI, local police, and the IRS to start doing something about it—or at the very least revoke their tax exemptions.”
Her work isn’t done.
Leah has made the public aware of what’s going on in the highly controversial organization. Now, she wants to focus on protecting its future victims. She told the outlet: “We’re going down another avenue that we feel will bring real justice to victims of Scientology but also prevent it from happening in the future—particularly with children. They need a voice that their Scientology parents aren’t providing. I’m not dumb enough to give Scientology a heads up on what we’re planning exactly.”
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