On the Tuesday, December 6, episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, host and former Scientologist Leah Remini spoke to the man whose job it used to be to discredit and intimidate anyone who spoke out against the church — until he left it himself.
Mike Rinder was once the international spokesperson for the Church of Scientology, but when Remini sat down with him almost a decade after he left the church, he showed her a letter from his daughter, who was still a church member who had “disconnected” from him because he was now a “suppressive person.” The letter accused him of hating her and being a bad person.
“‘It was embarrassing — it was so embarrassing — being your daughter,'” Leah read, as she started to cry.
She was in Clearwater, Florida, the “Mecca of Scientology,” where the flagship church, or “Flag,” is located. She said it felt “weird” to be back there and expressed concern that cameras around the premises of Flag would notice her.
Rinder, who was a member for 46 years, still lives in Clearwater. He said that during his time as spokesperson, if anyone threatened the church or spoke against it, he followed them, hired private investigators, posted cruel things about them online and more. It was the perfect position for him because he became a full-time clergy member in the Sea Organization at the age of 18 to defend Scientology from what he saw as attacks against it.
He used “fair game” — the idea that lying to, tricking or otherwise abusing an “attacker” of the church was justified and righteous if it got them to stop speaking out. The church claims the policy has been done away with, but Rinder said it was only publicly disavowed as a PR move.
David Miscavige is the “undisputed dictator” of the church, and Rinder worked under him for 25 years. Rinder alleged that Miscavige beat him on multiple occasions and kept him locked in “the hole,” a punishment center, for even the pettiest of rule infractions.
“From 50 to 100 times, he would assault me,” Rinder admitted before revealing that, at the time, he believed he must have been in the wrong and had deserved to be punished. It went on for years, but he finally broke free when Miscavige said he was sending him to Australia and he’d never see his family again.
Once Rinder got free, his wife divorced him and his kids disconnected from him. He began receiving visits from the church’s lawyer and getting angry letters from his family, so he started speaking out against the church to the press, highlighting his alleged abuse from Miscavige.
Public Enemy No. 1
Rinder explained that after he spoke out, he became public enemy No. 1 and was forced to seek new employment to avoid picketers. He claimed he was still stalked by church members with cameras, one of whom rear-ended him, according to home video he provided. His garbage collector told him he was being paid by a private investigator to steal his trash so the church could dig through it, and Rinder showed video of himself confronting someone sneaking his garbage into their car. Rinder and his new wife said that a friend they made had been a Scientology plant who was sent to befriend them just to spy on them. Rinder said the church made websites to slander him, he found cameras installed around his street and his family even appeared on CNN to insult him.
Remini said that all of this was part of the “fair game” policy.
It all came to a head when church executives brought his family to a doctor’s appointment he was at with his new wife. He shared the audio he managed to record, which included them screaming at him that he was the one who wouldn’t speak to them.
Still, he said he is an “eternally idiotic optimist” who remains in Clearwater with the hope that a member of his family will reach out to him and reunite with him.
The Church of Scientology has issued the following statement about the show: “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: Should Rinder give up speaking out in the hopes of getting the church to leave him alone?
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath airs on A&E Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.
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