Leah Remini Slams Scientology in New Series


Maddie Warren

What is Scientology? It claims to be a religion based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, that focuses on the human spirit. There have long been suspicions and controversy regarding the church, but in 2013 star Leah Remini publicly left the church. She went on to write a book about her experiences within the church, claiming that there are abuses within the organization that the public doesn’t know about. After that, she went on to partner with former Scientology executive, Mike Rinder, to film a docu-series that focuses on telling personal stories of people who have been affected by Scientology. 

The series covers several grievances against the church. One of the biggest issues is that because Scientology claims to be a church, they have tax-exempt status. Remini says that the church basically bullied the IRS into granting them this status in 1993. The rules of tax exemption include not accumulating money. According to Remini, Scientology has achieved this by unloading millions and millions of dollars into massive buildings that sit empty. Many of the personal stories in her documentary include former Scientologists who say they were bullied out of their money and into debt. Scientologist collectors would show up to people’s homes and places of work unannounced, pressuring them into donating money and buying more packages. If a member of the church said they did not have the money for this, Scientology collectors would help them sign up for credit cards. She also said that it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to move up in the church and that the church does not give refunds for courses you do not complete.  In an interview with Larry King, Leah Remini said that you cannot be poor and be a Scientologist. 

Another huge controversy about the church is its leader, David Miscavage. David Miscavage took over the church when L. Ron Hubbard passed away, and former members say that he is incredibly abusive. Many witnesses have come forward and said that they were beaten by David Miscavage or have witnessed the beatings of others. Accusations include slamming heads into filing cabinets, squeezing people’s heads together, and outright punching executives in the face. Mike Rinder says that he was beaten several times when he was an executive, but never came forward because he believed he deserved it or that it was for the good of the church. However, Remini’s reason for leaving the church is that David Miscavage’s wife, Shelly Miscavage, has been missing for several years. Those that were close to her before she disappeared say they believe it was because she was having doubts about the church and the way her husband treated people. They say that David Miscavage is keeping her locked away in a Scientology compound because he is afraid she may speak out. Again, the church denies this and says she has stepped out of the public eye of her own free will. Remini said that she was punished for asking about her disappearance as well as the beatings; this was the final straw for her. She, her mother, her stepfather, her sister, and her brother-in-law all left the church in 2013. 

Every former Scientologist on Remini’s show has a similar story; including what happens after they leave and speak out. Scientology spares no expense in hiring private investigators to follow who they deem as enemies of the church. This is called the “fair game” policy and it states that Scientologists need to destroy their enemies. PI’s follow them everywhere, digging through their trash, picketing in front of their house, trying to find crimes they’ve committed and expose them, show up to their work and homes, call the police on them, and turn their family members on them. Scientologists disconnect from anyone who leaves the church. Former members on Remini’s show say that their family still in Scientology refuse to speak to them. The Church denies that they have a disconnect policy, and have done away with their fair game policy under the heat of media exposure. 

In her interview with Larry King, Remini said she didn’t necessarily want to put an end to Scientology, but to put an end to the abuse and the way that it tears apart families. Leah has even criticized other celebrities who have left and not spoken about their experiences. She said that she as a celebrity promoted Scientology while she was in it, and so she feels a responsibility to expose the truth about them to the public and prevent more people from being roped in and hurt by the organization. When asked if she thought Scientology would lose momentum in light of all this controversy, she said yes. She said that all the young people you see in Scientology are second or third generation and that they are gaining few to no new members. Remini hopes that with all the witness testimonies she is bringing to light, that an investigation will be opened and Scientology will have to put an end to its practices that are harming people and families.