When she was just nine years of age, future King of Queens star Leah Remini became a member of the Church of Scientology, a pseudo-religious organization which claims to guide its members towards spiritual clarity by ridding them of their “engrams” (negative emotions and repressed memories of past traumas).
Over the next couple of decades, Remini would become a public advocate for the church, using her status as a beloved celebrity to bring in new members and raise support for its embattled leader, David Miscavige.
In 2013, however, Leah Remini announced her departure from the Church of Scientology, citing her increasing frustrations with the morally questionable practices of the religion’s leaders.
In the years that have passed since Remini’s apostasy, the star has become a vocal critic of her former church. In 2015, she released Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, a stunning tell-all memoir in which she discusses her various negative experiences within the Church of Scientology. One year later, the star released Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, a documentary series focusing on the stories of other past Scientologists.
Remini’s Scientology revelations range from the kind of surprising to the more-than-a-little shocking, all the way up to the surefire WTF. Here are 15 of them.
15. The True Cost Of Auditing ($800 An Hour!)
The Church of Scientology infamously forces its members to undergo a process which it refers to as “auditing”. Auditing, for those who don’t know, is similar to therapy as it allows the subject to discuss the problems which they have experienced in the outside world. Each session is generally driven by the auditor, who asks the subject a series of questions and steers the conversation in a direction which is beneficial not to the troubled individual, but to the growth of Scientology.
According to Leah Remini, auditing is presented as an absolute must for any members of the church who are labeled “Preclear” as a progression through the ranks is not possible without it. Despite Scientology’s declaration that auditing is essential for the saving of the soul, it charges members a staggering $800 per hour session, meaning only the organization’s wealthiest members have any chance of ever becoming “Clear”.
14. The Sessions Where You Reveal Your Deepest Secrets Are Recorded
Auditing sessions conducted by the Church of Scientology take place inside the church’s designated “therapy rooms” and may not be carried out anywhere else. But just why is the church so adamant that auditing occurs only within its walls? Well, according to Leah Remini it is because those so-called “therapy rooms” are fitted with video cameras and audio devices which record everything that is said and done during the auditing process. This means the deepest, darkest secrets of every subject, which they are coaxed into revealing are caught on tape and carefully stored away on the off chance the church will need them in the future.
13. Sea Org Contracts Last One Billion Years
The Sea Organization – more commonly referred to as the “Sea Org” – is interesting in that it is legally non-existent but is nonetheless the governing body of all other organizations within the Church of Scientology.
According to Leah Remini, the Sea Org borders on totalitarianism, with members sacrificing what little freedom they have in favor of round the clock surveillance.
Members of the Sea Org are usually recruited when they are still in their teens and are urged to sign with the organization not just by the church itself, but by their parents who are brainwashed into believing there is no greater honor than dedicating one’s life to spreading the message of Scientology. What makes the recruitment methods of the Sea Org all the more shocking is that enlistees are forced to sign a contract of one billion years (you read that right) and are threatened with violence or excommunication should they ever seek a release.
12. Legal Action Is Prohibited Against The Church
The Church of Scientology is no stranger to legal action – or, at least, the threat of legal action – and has used its team of high-priced lawyers to instil fear into the hearts of all those who have criticized it since its inception. Despite this, however, the Church does not permit its members to bring court cases against each other for fear it may appear as a schism within the organization.
If Leah Remini is to be believed, the most scandalous example of the Church of Scientology refused to allow one member to take another to court occurred back when the actress was just 16 years of age. According to Remini, her friend was the victim of statutory rape at the hands of an older member of the church but officials refused to allow her to go to the police and instead attempted to handle the situation through in-house mediation.
11. Family Values (Or Lack Thereof)
Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and pretty much every other major world religion all put a great deal of importance on the role of the family in the development of its members. In Scientology, however, the family is treated as something of an obstacle on the way to total spiritual clarity.
Because Scientology teaches that human beings must go through a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth before finally entering into the next world, mothers and fathers are treated as temporary players in a soul’s existence.
Prohibiting parents from developing close relationships with their children in this manner is key to the continued growth of the Church of Scientology as mothers and fathers become far more willing to allow, and even actively encourage, their offspring to sign that aforementioned one billion year contract with the Sea Org.
10. The Real “Death” Of L. Ron Hubbard Was A Stroke
Ron Hubbard started out as a writer of science fiction, a career which would lead to him founding the Church of Scientology in 1954. Hubbard would go on to lead and influence the church for the following three decades, taking it from a small club which allegedly arose out of a bar bet to a full-fledged world religion.
When he passed away on the 24th of January, 1986, the Church of Scientology attempted to portray it as Hubbard achieving the highest level of Scientology and leaving his earthly body to enter the afterlife.
When speaking about the church’s handling of its founder’s passing, Remini described the belief that Hubbard had voluntarily left his body as “bullshit” before declaring “L. Ron Hubbard died of a stroke”.
9. There Are Two Fully Furnished Mansions In Preparation For When Hubbard Returns
According to Leah Remini, not only does the Church of Scientology teach that L. Ron Hubbard voluntarily left his body to go on some sort of wacky celestial voyage, but the organization also promises its followers that their leader will one day return from his trip around the stars and resume his role as their overlord.
While it may seem like an outlandish claim to you and me, followers of the religion are steadfast in their belief that L. Ron Hubbard will be resurrected (for lack of a better term), so much so that they maintain two fully furnished mansions in California for him to live in upon his return. Each mansion is stocked and restocked with the finest, freshest foods while a full team of gardeners and maids work to ensure nothing falls out of place.
8. The VIP Treatment For Celebrities Includes A Glorified Servant
It’s no secret that the Church of Scientology loves to capture celebrity members. Among its current A-list congregation, the religion can count the likes of Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Laura Prepon, Beck, and even Nancy Cartwright the voice of Bart Simpson. However, the church’s love of celebrities runs far deeper than any of us could have imagined.
Remini, who would have experienced Scientology’s preferential treatment of celebrities first-hand, claims that the organization goes out of its way to impress high-profile members of Hollywood in an attempt to gain their support and eventual membership. Once indoctrinated into the church, famous followers of Scientology are treated to exclusive meetings with its most respected authority figures, granted permission to partake in courses from the comfort of their own home and are gifted an underpaid member of the Sea Org as a glorified servant.
7. The Church Wanted To Blackmail Kevin James Into Joining
Leah Remini’s greatest fame came when she was cast as Carrie Heffernan in the hit CBS sitcom King of Queens in which she starred alongside comedy juggernaut Kevin James. The series ran from September of 1998 to May of 2000, during which time the Church of Scientology made it clear to Leah Remini that it was of paramount importance that she convince James to align himself with the church.
According to Remini, church officials were so determined to have Kevin James join the religion that they began quizzing her about her co-star’s personal life in an attempt to gather information regarding his romantic relationships which could then be used to blackmail him into endorsing the Church of Scientology. Remini, to her credit, defied the church and refused to share any information regarding her TV husband’s private life.
6. The Disappearance Of The Head Of Scientology’s Wife: Michele Miscavige
David Miscavige, the current head of the Church of Scientology, has faced even more scandals than L. Ron Hubbard did during his time at the helm of the religion. Miscavige likes to keep a low profile and is at the center of more than a few Hollywood mysteries, including the sudden disappearance of his wife.
About a decade ago, Michele Miscavige stopped appearing in public without ever acknowledging an intention to step back from the spotlight. When Leah Remini, a friend of Michele’s, ran into her husband at the 2006 wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, she made the mistake of inquiring as to her whereabouts. According to Remini, she was subsequently subjected to a barrage of abuse from church officials for daring to ask the almighty leader of the church about his family life.
5. The Church Is Clearly Anti-LGBT To Anyone Inside
Unlike most organized religions throughout the world, the Church of Scientology does not take a stance on homosexuality one way or another. According to spokespeople for the organization, the church will accept all people from all walks of life regardless of their gender, sexuality, or race.
However, since leaving the church, Leah Remini has claimed that while Scientology may not appear homophobic to those who are not members, the church is staunchly anti-LGBT once you get inside. According to the former star of The View, Scientology includes homosexuality among the “deviant” sexual desires which one must overcome in order to progress from “Preclear” to “Clear” and eventually “Operating Thetan”. If the Church of Scientology were to publicly acknowledge its homophobic practices, it would likely see a mass exodus of celebrity members not wishing to derail their careers by being associated with an anti-LGBT organization.
4. They Discourage Mental Health Treatment
While the auditing process is pretty similar to what goes on inside the office of a therapist, the Church of Scientology is very much against psychiatry, therapy, and anything which may lead people towards a better understanding of how they feel and why they feel that way.
According to Leah Remini, church officials actively discourage members from seeking help for their personal issues, advising them instead to discuss their problems in an auditing session (you know, the ones that cost $800 per hour). Remini has even claimed that authorities regularly search members of the church for antidepressants, which are promptly confiscated if found.
In 2005, actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise found himself at the heart of a controversy (not a place any celebrity wants to be) when he openly criticized Brooke Shields for her use of antidepressants. In response, an outraged Shields told Cruise to “stick to saving the world from aliens”.
3. David Miscavige Engages In Physical And Emotional Abuse
David Miscavige’s time at the helm of the Church of Scientology has been marred by controversy. Literally, hundreds of people who have left the church have cited Miscavige and his leadership as the reason for their departure, with many stating they still believe the story shared by L. Ron Hubbard but just cannot stay within an organization headed by somebody they perceive to be an unhinged megalomaniac.
According to multiple sources, David Miscavige runs the Church of Scientology as a dictatorship and is known to fly off the handle should anybody question his leadership or suggest an alteration to the church’s rules. Miscavige has been accused of both verbal and physical abuse, as well as forcing members of the church to cut off all contact with family and friends who have left the religion.
2. There Is A Detention Center For Those Who Displease Miscavige
Since leaving the Church of Scientology, Leah Remini has spoken at length about David Miscavige’s morally questionable methods of reminding his followers just who is in charge. She has been a great source of information regarding Miscavige’s mistreatment of members and has also been able to shed some light on the mysterious “Hole”, which has been whispered about for years.
The Hole, according to Leah Remini, is a detention center operated by the Church of Scientology to which Miscavige sends those who displease him; this can range from those who have sneezed at an inopportune time to those who have questioned his position within the church.
While confined to the Hole, inmates are fed gruel, sometimes forcibly, and are refused permission to leave the building until it is determined that they have learned their lesson (whatever that lesson may be).
1. Tom Cruise Is Treated As The Messiah
Scientology teaches that we are all spiritual beings from another world, so it doesn’t exactly have a messiah or a particular savior outside of L. Ron Hubbard, who founded the religion. However, Leah Remini has stated that Tom Cruise is treated as something of a prophet by the church’s highest ranking members and is straight-up revered as the Messiah by those who are still struggling to obtain the rank of “Clear”.
While there were countless famous Scientologists before Tom Cruise, none of them had quite the status of the Rain Man star. Cruise joined the Church of Scientology in 1990 and quickly became the poster boy of the religion. He is almost single-handedly responsible for the religion receiving mainstream coverage and is regularly deployed to counteract potentially damaging claims made by Leah Remini and other former Scientologists.
Tom Cruise’s contributions to the Church of Scientology have been so great that David Miscavige was moved to create and subsequently award him the Scientology Freedom Medal of Valor in 2004.