LEAH REMINI’S FIGHT AGAINST SCIEN­TOL­OGY

Leah Remini’s FIGHT AGAINST SCIEN­TOL­OGY Four years af­ter walk­ing away from the con­tro­ver­sial re­li­gion, the ac­tress opens up about how she’s mov­ing on—and why she’ll never stop fight­ing back against the church she claims wants to si­lence her

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The ac­tress opens up about why she’ll never stop fight­ing back against the church she claims wants to si­lence her.

Loften. Remini for­ever.her Rem­i­niSofi­aeah own“Remini’sWhe­nis thinksIt’s 13—the­waslife a changedI when­fact about­was daugh­ter­age her lucky,”I age, was think­ing do­ing—she’ssays The about King very whatof eighth grader when Queens her star, fam­ily who was an moved to Clear­wa­ter, Florida, to join Sea Org, Scien­tol­ogy’s clergy-like or­der for its most ded­i­cated mem­bers. “She doesn’t know what it means to get up and start work­ing from 7 in the morn­ing to 10 at night with vir­tu­ally no school­ing. It’s very dif­fi­cult to hear your child say, ‘I hate my school’ when things get rough. I’m like, ‘I wish I had a school.’” Remini, 47, left the Church of Scien­tol­ogy four years ago—and has since be­come one of its most vo­cal crit­ics. (The church has de­nounced her as a liar and pub­lic­ity seeker, and said her ac­count of child labour and other claims about the or­gan­i­sa­tion are false.)

Her 2015 me­moir, Trou­ble­maker, was a best­seller and she shares fel­low ex- Scien­tol­o­gists’ sto­ries, in­clud­ing al­le­ga­tions of abuse within the church, on her Emmy-nom­i­nated Foxtel docu-se­ries Leah Remini: Scien­tol­ogy and the

Af­ter­math, now in its sec­ond sea­son. (She’ll soon re­unite with her King of

Queens co-star Kevin James in the Nine Net­work sit­com Kevin Can Wait.) She’s also still grap­pling with the af­ter­math of her own 30 years in Scien­tol­ogy, from deal­ing with church of­fi­cials call­ing her “pa­thetic” to find­ing new struc­ture for her life with hus­band An­gelo Pagán, 59, and Sofia. “I’m fi­nally at peace know­ing who I am and who I want to be,” she says. “I just want to be happy—and

to help peo­ple. I’m one of the lucky ones.”

Remini says one big rea­son she’s lucky is that her hus­band, her mother, Vicki, and other fam­ily mem­bers left Scien­tol­ogy with her, while oth­ers who leave Scien­tol­ogy have had fam­ily mem­bers who stay within the church feel forced to “dis­con­nect” from them. (The church says no-one is forced to cut off con­tact, and dis­con­nec­tion is a choice.) “Th­ese peo­ple who are speak­ing to us [for her docu-se­ries], they’re get­ting bul­lied by Scien­tol­ogy, their chil­dren are dis­con­nect­ing, their par­ents are dis­con­nect­ing, and I just hope that I’ve helped even one per­son to not give up their lives for an ide­ol­ogy,” she says.

Remini con­tends Scien­tol­o­gists no longer speak to her: “It’s los­ing all your friends, and not just me—my daugh­ter was raised with a lot of my friends’ chil­dren, and my mother has lost all of her friends of 40 years.” Dur­ing her last years in Scien­tol­ogy she be­came dis­il­lu­sioned as she ques­tioned dis­con­nec­tion and other church poli­cies, from the cost of classes and do­na­tions (she es­ti­mates she gave $US5 mil­lion to the church) to the ac­tions of church leader David Mis­cav­ige. She says the church hyp­o­crit­i­cally treats celebrities and their fam­i­lies dif­fer­ently—like her friend Jen­nifer Lopez’s fa­ther, who is a Scien­tol­o­gist. “The [prac­tice] of Scien­tol­ogy says her fa­ther should be dis­con­nect­ing from her be­cause she’s con­nected to me. And that hasn’t hap­pened. They do it to ev­ery­body else who is not a big name.” Scien­tol­ogy de­nies that it dis­tin­guishes among its parish­ioners based on their fame.

The church came out swing­ing when Remini left and be­gan pub­licly cri­tiquing its prac­tices. “It is Remini who is the at­tacker,” a Scien­tol­ogy spokesper­son wrote in re­sponse to this story. “Her whole anti- Scien­tol­ogy shtick was scripted and chore­ographed by her, cast­ing her­self in her drama as the ‘vic­tim’ so she could cash in on her false nar­ra­tive while sav­aging her friends and those who helped her most of her life.”

Af­ter her show pre­miered, the church cre­ated web­sites claim­ing to “ex­pose Leah’s lies” and in­cluded a video of her long-es­tranged fa­ther, Ge­orge, crit­i­cis­ing her for not help­ing him when he had can­cer. Remini says her fa­ther, who split from their mother when she and her sister, Ni­cole, were tod­dlers and has es­sen­tially never had a re­la­tion­ship with her, “only made a video be­cause [he] is des­per­ate for at­ten­tion” and isn’t a Scien­tol­o­gist. Still, noth­ing about the church’s re­ac­tion sur­prised Remini. “You can leave Scien­tol­ogy; you just can’t pub­licly leave Scien­tol­ogy,” she says. “If you pub­licly leave ­Scien­tol­ogy— and I’m not ­ex­ag­ger­at­ing— their [prac­tice is] to ‘never de­fend, attack.’ To de­stroy, ut­terly, the per­son’s life, to attack the vic­tims and try to dis­credit any­one [who speaks] out.” De­spite this she re­mains stead­fast. “If they’re go­ing to come for me, they’re go­ing to come,” she says. “I’m not afraid of it. I think it’s dis­gust­ing and the more they do it, the more they ex­pose who they re­ally are.” She adds, “I would like to be the face of re­sis­tance to abuse.”

Yet Remini con­cedes life af­ter Scien­tol­ogy has been chal­leng­ing. “It’s a learn­ing process; it’s chang­ing the way you think,” she says. “My real friends came for­ward. Iron­i­cally, not one of them was a Scien­tol­o­gist.” One of those clos­est re­la­tion­ships is with Lopez. “She’s so proud of me, she’s there for me,” Remini says. “She’s an amaz­ing friend.” Remini is see­ing a ther­a­pist—though her for­mer church op­poses psy­chi­a­try. “It still feels weird that I’m not be­ing re­ported on con­stantly,” says Remini. “I have that guilty con­science. If I make the most mi­nor trans­gres­sion” of a Scien­tol­ogy rule, like be­ing rude or los­ing her tem­per, “I call my ther­a­pist and go, ‘I should be pun­ished for this; I need you to rep­ri­mand me.’ She’s like, ‘No, that’s not what ther­apy is.’ ”

SUP­PORT SYS­TEM “I’m in a place of calm and growth,” says Remini (left, at daugh­ter Sofia’s 2015 Catholic bap­tism; right, on In­sta­gram re­cently with Sofia and hus­band An­gelo Pagán). “I have a re­ally strong fam­ily unit,” says Remini. “Many are not so for­tun

Be­fore walk­ing away in 2013, Remini (with Scien­tol­o­gists Kelly Pre­ston, far left, Danny Master­son and Erika of Chris­tensen at a 2003 gala) was one the church’s high­est-pro­file mem­bers.

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