How has Leah Remini’s family been affected by Scientology? That’s the question viewers are asking after her show, Scientology: The Aftermath, became a critical and ratings success, thrusting the actress and her family into the spotlight.
As Leah and her interview subjects frequently note on the A&E show, former Scientologists allege that Scientology is big on breaking up families. Marriages have to be approved, and married couples aren’t always allowed to live together. Forced abortions are par for the course. Children are separated from their parents and often times put to work in Scientology compounds or even literally put out to sea in the dreaded Sea Org (a Scientology program for children and adults).
And when Scientologists begin questioning the church, family members are pressured to turn them in to their superiors via so-called “knowledge reports.” And when a Scientologist commits the ultimate crime of leaving the church, family members within the church are pressured to cut ties with the so-called “suppressive person” and consider them essentially dead. Of course, these are all allegations that the church disputes.
So how did all of that shake out with regards to Leah Remini’s family?
First, understanding a little bit of the background of Leah’s family will help put their relationship with Scientology in context.
According to Biography, Leah Remini was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, George Remini, left the family when Leah was a young girl; she revealed in an episode of Leah Remini: It’s All Relative that she and her father, George Remini, speak only once or twice per year, if that.
In 1983, when Leah was 13, she moved with her mother, Vicki, to Southern California. Vicki married George Marshall, who is Leah’s stepfather to this day. It was at this time that Leah, George, and Vicki all became attached to Scientology as a family. During this time, Leah’s family grew. She married dancer Angelo Pagan, and they had a baby, Sophia Bella Pagan. Angelo, like Leah and her mother and stepfather and siblings, all practiced Scientology, Leah revealed in the first episode of Aftermath.
By 2006, Remini was questioning Scientology, for a variety of reasons. Near the top of the list was her concern that her daughter, then 3-years-old, would grow up in that environment and endure the alleged abuses that kids in the church have been known to endure. Further, she didn’t want to risk putting her daughter in the position of someday having to choose between the church and her own family.
Leah publicly split with Scientology in 2013. As People reported at the time, her family left with her. She and her family practiced Scientology together, and they left it together.
“They simply put family ahead of the Church, which is oftentimes not the case with Scientology families. I am lucky and blessed.”
Lucky and blessed indeed. By all rights, any of her family members who remained in the Church would have been pressured to cut her off. That her family left Scientology with her puts Leah in a position that many former Scientologists can’t also claim.
As for her daughter, she was born in 2004, and Leah and her family left the church in 2013. That leaves a nine-year window during which the young lady could have been exposed to Scientology practices. However, Leah claims in her book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, that she never exposed Sophia to Scientology.
According to a 2015 People report, Leah Remini now practices Catholicism and had her daughter, Sophia, baptized Catholic. It is not clear what religion, if any, the rest of Leah Remini’s family practice.
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