Leah Rem­ini’s his­tory with Scien­tol­ogy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Emily Yahr Fe­bru­ary 2014:Rem­ini

About 2.1 mil­lion peo­ple tuned in on Nov. 29 to the premiere of A&E’s “Leah Rem­ini: Scien­tol­ogy and the Af­ter­math,” Rem­ini’s eight-episode do­cuseries that prom­ises a deep dive into “shock­ing sto­ries of abuse, heart­break and ha­rass­ment” within the Church of Scien­tol­ogy. Net­work ex­ec­u­tives say it’s the chan­nel’s most-watched premiere in two years.

A solid num­ber for the show isn’t sur­pris­ing — Scien­tol­ogy is one of those top­ics that’s ir­re­sistible, mostly be­cause of the se­cre­tive na­ture of the fa­mously con­tro­ver­sial church. Rem­ini, known for the hit sit­com “King of Queens,” was a de­vout Scien­tol­o­gist for 35 years be­fore she left the church in 2013. She has been an out­spo­ken critic ever since, although it is ex­tremely rare for any­one to crit­i­cize Scien­tol­ogy af­ter they leave. Here’s her his­tory of call­ing out the church:

July 2013: Page Six con­firms that Rem­ini, who rose to very high lev­els in the or­ga­ni­za­tion once she be­came a star and do­nated mil­lions, has left Scien­tol­ogy. A Rem­ini “source” says the ac­tress was “put through in­ter­ro­ga­tions and black­listed within the church” when she started to ques­tion leader David Mis­cav­ige, par­tic­u­larly the where­abouts of his wife, Shelly, who re­port­edly hasn’t been seen in pub­lic since 2007.

Rem­ini said she also dis­agreed with the church’s poli­cies that re­strict mem­bers from talk­ing to rel­a­tives who crit­i­cize the church, a prac­tice known as “dis­con­nect­ing.” “She is step­ping back from a regime she thinks is cor­rupt. She thinks no re­li­gion should tear apart a fam­ily or abuse some­one un­der the um­brella of ‘re­li­gion,’ ” the source says.

Later that month, Rem­ini echoes this sen­ti­ment to Peo­ple mag­a­zine. “I be­lieve that peo­ple should be able to ques­tion things. I be­lieve that peo­ple should value fam­ily, and value friend­ships, and hold those things sacro­sanct,” she says. “That for me, that’s what I’m about. It wouldn’t mat­ter what it was, sim­ply be­cause no one is go­ing to tell me how I need to think, no one is go­ing to tell me who I can, and can­not, talk to.”

Au­gust 2013: Rem­ini files a miss­ing-per­son re­port for Shelly Mis­cav­ige, which the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment calls “un­founded.” The church says it’s “ill-ad­vised, lu­di­crous self-pro­mo­tion” on Rem­ini’s part.

Septem­ber 2013: Rem­ini joins the cast of “Danc­ing With the Stars,” where she lands in fifth place. Dur­ing one episode, she tells her part­ner, Tony Do­volani, that she hoped the show would help her move on. “The church is look­ing for me to fail so they can say to their parish­ioners, ‘You see what hap­pens when you leave the church?’ They’re wait­ing for me to fail,” Rem­ini says. tells Buz­zfeed that she quit Scien­tol­ogy be­cause her young daugh­ter was get­ting closer to the age of get­ting “ac­cli­mated” in it and would have to sit for au­dits, where mem­bers di­vulge per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. Plus, Rem­ini thought Scien­tol­ogy was taking over her life. “I was spend­ing most of my time at the Church,” she says. “So, I was say­ing ‘fam­ily first,’ but I wasn’t show­ing that. I didn’t like the mes­sage that sent my daugh­ter.” (Scien­tol­ogy of­fi­cials call Rem­ini’s state­ments “ab­surd, in­sult­ing and mo­ti­vated en­tirely by a de­sire to grab at­ten­tion.”) March 2015: Alex Gib­ney’s “Go­ing Clear: Scien­tol­ogy and the Pri­son of Be­lief ” doc­u­men­tary airs on HBO, fea­tur­ing mul­ti­ple ex-mem­bers telling hor­ror sto­ries about their time in the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Rem­ini tweets her praise: “Thank you to the brave who did some­thing about it. And to those who didn’t have a voice, you do now.”

May 2015:Rem­ini sits for an in­ter­view with Oprah Win­frey in “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” and talks about how painful it was to leave friends be­hind in the church. “I’m learn­ing there’s a new world out here and there shouldn’t be any kind of judg­ment to­ward some­body who has a be­lief sys­tem that is not yours,” she says.

July 2015: The sec­ond and fi­nal sea­son of her TLC re­al­ity show, “Leah Rem­ini: It’s All Rel­a­tive,” pre­mieres, and Rem­ini talks more about how she left to pro­tect her daugh­ter.

Oc­to­ber 2015: Rem­ini writes a book, “Trou­ble­maker: Sur­viv­ing Hol­ly­wood and Scien­tol­ogy,” and pro­motes it with an in-depth in­ter­view on “20/20,” re­it­er­at­ing her pre­vi­ous claims and say­ing she didn’t want want to be “dis­con­nected” from her daugh­ter.

Novem­ber 2015: Rem­ini’s book is re­leased, and she spills lots of dirt, in­clud­ing tales of Scien­tol­ogy su­per­star Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s wed­ding week­end, which is where her re­la­tion­ship with the church started to go down­hill af­ter Rem­ini was ac­cused of be­hav­ing badly. The church’s re­sponse? Rem­ini is “pa­thet­i­cally ex­ploit­ing her for­mer re­li­gion, her for­mer friends and other celebri­ties for money and at­ten­tion to ap­pear rel­e­vant again.”

De­cem­ber 2015: Ac­cord­ing to her show on A&E, Rem­ini starts to get lots of re­quests for help from peo­ple who still have fam­ily mem­bers in the church. She cap­tures one story on video of a fam­ily torn apart by Scien­tol­ogy, and de­cides to de­velop a show.

Novem­ber 2016: “Leah Rem­ini: Scien­tol­ogy and the Af­ter­math” pre­mieres on A&E, chron­i­cling Rem­ini’s past and the sto­ries of for­mer mem­bers, who al­lege phys­i­cal and sex­ual abuse. (Scien­tol­ogy of­fi­cials say all of them are ly­ing.)

The church has called Rem­ini an “ob­nox­ious, spite­ful ex-Scien­tol­o­gist” and claims the ac­tress is bit­ter that she was ex­pelled for un­eth­i­cal con­duct; it also dis­putes many state­ments made in the A&E show.

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