Leah Remini: Why I'm Fighting the Church of Scientology
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
Leah Remini will not be silenced.
For her A&E docu-series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, the King of Queens star interviewed former members of the Church of Scientology, many of whom accused the Church of abuse, lies and sexual misconduct. “It’s bold and brave and amazing,” Ellen DeGeneres told Remini in Wednesday’s show. “I saw the first one, and I can’t wait to see all of them.”
“That’s what made me want to do the series,” said Remini, who defected in 2013. “We’re doing an eight-part series. A&E is very brave to do it. And the people who are speaking are very brave to do it because the repercussions to speaking out [are severe]. And that’s why I said, ‘OK, I can’t sit back.’ Because I left. I wrote my book. It went to No. 1, which—thank you everyone.”
“Then I was watching high executives, former executives of the Church leaving and speaking out about abuses and things that they’ve experienced while working for the Church, and I saw how the church reacted,” the actress said. “I felt I had a responsibility to say, ‘I’m not going to allow you to bully these people who were very brave to come out and tell their stories.’ And that’s from executives. But there are just average parishioners like me who leave and speak out about what they’ve experienced. They lose their family. The Church goes after their family to shun their family, oftentimes. I’m very lucky that that didn’t happen to me. My family chose me.”
Remini claimed she has “been followed” since leaving Scientology. “But again, my story pales in comparison to what happened to other people, how people are bullied into silence. We don’t have $3 billion to protect ourselves, right? So, what I have is I’m an actress, and I’m able to speak, and I’m able to give a voice to people who might not have an Ellen to go on,” she explained. “For that, I feel lucky and I feel blessed. That’s kind of what my path is right now.”
Why do people—particularly famous people—remain loyal to the Church?
“The Church does have all your secrets from when you were a child, but that isn’t the reason why people don’t leave the Church,” Remini told DeGeneres. “People don’t leave the Church because they actually believe what they’re doing is good. It’s very hard for me to attack something that I believed in, and I believed in it wholeheartedly my whole life. It’s a difficult position to be in. They believe that they have the answers to life to help mankind. So, they choose often the Church, believing they’re saving their family anyway. I’m not going to sit back and just go on with my life and let the Church—who has $3 billion—bully people, bully victims.”
DeGeneres questioned why Scientology is classified as a religion based on spiritual merit alone.
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
“They claim that they have the technology to get you to the highest enlightenment of that spiritual side of you and to be the best part of you. There’s a lot of things that are good in Scientology, because I wouldn’t have been in it. And that’s the thing: A lot of people trivialize it: ‘Oh, it’s Xenu and it’s a volcano and it’s jumping on couches and acting crazy.’ These people are victims. We’ve been victimized. We believed in something because it starts out very normal,” Remini said. “I could be a better Leah, I could be a better mother, I could be a better sister, I could be a better friend—not to you, because I’ve been fantastic—but we all want those things. What Scientology offers is a bigger game. You’re part of an elite group saving the planet.”
When the trailer for Remini’s docu-series premiered in early November, a spokesperson for the Church of Scientology issued a statement to E! News: “Desperate for attention with an acting career stuck in a nearly decade-long tailspin, Leah Remini needs to move on with her life. Instead, she seeks publicity by maliciously spreading lies about the Church using the same handful of bitter zealots who were kicked out years ago for chronic dishonesty and corruption and whose false claims the Church refuted years ago, including through judicial decisions.”
The spokesperson encouraged people to learn more about Scientology by visiting its website.
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath premieres Nov. 29 at 10 p.m. on A&E.