UPDATE: The Church of Scientology tells Us in a statement: "Leah Remini is doing this show for the money, just as she profited from her book. In addition, she attempted to extort the Church by first demanding $500,000, followed by an additional $1 million, because the Church invoked its First Amendment right to respond to her false claims with the truth. This shows the extent Leah Remini is willing to go to in order to distort the truth about Scientology. For the Church’s perspective and the truth about the bullies she now supports, go to www.leahreminiaftermath.com/."
ORIGINAL STORY: Leah Remini’s long-awaited docuseries, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, premiered Tuesday, November 29, on A&E. In it, the King of Queens alum and former member of Scientology spoke to people who have left the religion, but whose families have not. “When I first started filming this show, I thought I would just be documenting stories of families that were torn apart by the Church of Scientology’s policies and practices, but what I uncovered was deeper and darker than I ever expected,” she said. What did she find? Read on to learn.
At the beginning of the show, viewers saw statements from the church itself claiming that Remini was lying to further her career. Then, there were flashbacks of the actress, 46, passionately promoting the church throughout her 35-year stint as a member. The flashbacks continued throughout the episode.
To the camera, Remini shared her family’s story before moving on to interview others. Her stepfather got the family into the religion, then got her mother pregnant before leaving the family for another woman. Alone with a newborn, they fell further into the church, which was full of people willing to help them out as long as they stayed devoted. Obviously, it was hard to leave, especially once Remini became a famous actress other church members looked up to.
She said still didn’t get the respect she thought she deserved, not as an actress but as a human being. After allegedly being humiliated by higher-ups at Tom Cruise’s wedding for asking about the whereabouts of church leader David Miscavige's wife, Shelly Miscavige, Remini started doing research on the church’s alleged abuses. She claims that research got her interrogated and got her family punished, which cost them money.
The actress explained that Scientology is a religion based on self-improvement. Members strive to better themselves … while spending money on church-sanctioned books and services and not realizing that, as Remini sees it, they’re being scammed.
Bonny and Amy’s Story
Before she even knew she’d develop the footage into a show, Remini went to see and film Bonny Elliott, the mother of Scientology whistle-blower Amy Scobee. Scobee was in charge of recruiting celebrity members before she left the church. Elliott stayed behind as a member of Scientology, and claims she was — like others — ordered to “disconnect” from her child.
Scobee recounted the rape she allegedly endured at the hands of an authority when she was a child, with Scobee claiming that when the church found out, they didn’t tell her parents or law enforcement because it would be “bad PR.” Instead, they allegedly made Scobee feel it was her fault and that she needed to continue improving to prevent it from happening again. Viewers learned that the church released a statement dismissing Scobee — who didn’t attend high school and instead worked for Scientology full time — as a “pathological liar.”
“I hope it helps,” Elliott said of the filming of their story. “I don’t want any other person ever to go through any of this crap anymore.”
As it turned out, it was Elliott and Scobee’s story that got Remini to make a show that would help “people wake up and go, ‘Somebody needs to do something about this cult.’’’
To do that, she brought out Mike Rinder, the former international spokesperson for the church. Part of his job, he said, “was to discredit and destroy critics who spoke out against the church.” Now he is working to discredit the church itself.
Rinder still has two children in Scientology who won’t speak to him now that he’s left.
Regarding David Miscavige
Scobee revealed that after advancing all the way to the highest ecclesiastical level of the church, she noticed that Miscavige, the current leader or “pope” of the religion, is a “very angry” person. She alleged that she knew he would physically abuse members, but justified it by telling herself that Scientology was doing so much good for so many people that it didn’t matter.
Next, she had the “blinding realization” that she was “rationalizing insanities.” But who could she tell? No one would hear a word against Miscavige. Ultimately, she was sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force where she was made to do manual labor for acting out and “thinking bad thoughts.”
Finally, she and her husband (who was also in the RPF) left and were immediately declared enemies of the church, or “suppressive people,” which put her mother at risk. Enforcement officers began trying to persuade Elliott to sever ties with her “evil” daughter. Elliott chose her Scientologist husband over her daughter, and “disconnected” from her.
Elliott revealed that after turning her back on Scobee, she fell into depression, considered suicide and eventually gave up the disconnection so she could reunite with her daughter. In the end, even her husband left the church, reuniting the whole family, which Remini and Rinder both said was rare. Most families stay disconnected.
“They are not winning,” Elliott recalled thinking. “They are not ripping us apart … so there, Scientology. Don’t you ever tear up another family, you bastards.”
Elliott died of cancer two weeks after telling her story on film but had the chance to be reunited with her family first.
Tell Us: What is your take on Elliott and Scobee's story?
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath airs on A&E Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.
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