Payback time! On the Tuesday, December 13, episode of Scientology and the Aftermath, Leah Remini explored the business side of the Church of Scientology by explaining to viewers about “the bridge,” or path to enlightenment.
The Business Plan
The episode began with Remini showing off her “thousands and thousands of dollars'” worth of books. Every Scientologist is required to read everything ever written by L. Ron Hubbard and take courses designed to deliver them to enlightenment. The path to enlightenment is a course list called "the bridge."
This, she explained, costs about a quarter of a million dollars, at minimum. With classes lasting from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., parishioners have little time to work, which makes the price that much more daunting.
Remini did say that some of the content of low-level classes are useful, but the content of the higher courses can include something as seemingly frivolous as instructions on how to perform telekinesis. Few people get up very high, though, because the church will, according to Remini, pretend that new facts or scriptures pertaining to low-level courses were found, then make parishioners retake those classes.
Remini also explained “auditing,” the practice of answering specific questions while using an “e-meter,” or sort of lie detector, which is promoted as a form of therapy. The church can allegedly use these questioning periods to find out about people they suspect of being close to turning on them. Often, the questioning gets uncomfortable because those asking the questions won’t stop until they get an answer they want, Remini claimed. This causes members to lie, according to Remini, which can be traumatic for anyone who joined the church after being promised they’d learn to find the truth within themselves if they ascended the bridge.
What’s more, the parishioners pay to be interrogated that harshly, Remini said, which can allegedly cost $800 per hour.
“The Church of Scientology is a business, and it’s a financial burden to most people,” Remini said.
Remini and former member Mike Rinder went to see another defector named Mary Khan, who still lives in Clearwater, Florida, where Scientology is headquartered. She got to OT VIII, the highest level on the bridge, but was forced to retake almost all of her courses.
The time and money spent retaking her classes led her to leave the church, but her 22-year-old son, Sammy, stayed and disconnected from her. She hasn’t spoken to him in three years.
Under current leader David Miscavige, almost all of L. Ron Hubbard’s works and courses were revised, causing just about everyone to slide down the bridge and have to redo their classes, according to Rinder.
For Khan, that meant spending months on Freewinds, a boat that operates like a floating classroom and holds parishioners hostage until church officials feel they’ve learned enough. Because so many of the original teachings rely on the idea that any individual is responsible for what happens to them, Scientologists tend to believe it’s their fault they have to pay so much to spend months and years retaking courses that haven’t actually changed at all since the first time they took them. That’s why so few people complain when allegedly scammed into devoting time and money to classes they’ve already completed.
Khan said the attempts to get money were “relentless,” but to keep her family together, she did whatever the church asked. Still, in the end, she was unable to stay in a church that allegedly stressed her out, took all of her money and physically abused its parishioners. She revealed to her husband she was having doubts about the church, and he turned her in for it, which led to being taken in for an interrogation with the e-meter. She ran out of the questioning … and came to a locked door, where she started screaming. She turned and continued to run until she found an unlocked door, then bolted for the street.
As she retold her story, she began to sob because she had never wanted to leave her son behind, and the memory was too painful. Remini stopped the filming, and when it resumed, she promised Khan she was working to make the world more aware of what the church is supposedly doing to people.
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."
Tell Us: What do you make of Leah's claims?
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath airs on A&E Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.
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