Three weeks ago, television talk show host Conan O’Brien received an unprecedented communique from the Church of Scientology. The letter was personally addressed to O’Brien and disparaged a scheduled guest. When Conan mentioned the menacing memo to that guest, she was not surprised. Former King of Queens actress Leah Remini explained to Conan how the organization seeks to discredit and defame anyone who leaves the “church,” even going so far as to systematically dedicate “hate websites” to former members who demean the dogma of Scientology.
O’Brien, on the other hand, seemed very surprised about the letter, noting that at no time during his 24-year tenure as a late-night TV titan had he been issued a written warning about a scheduled guest. As the January 25 interview progressed, O’Brien asked Remini why she did not speak out earlier. “From the very beginning of the teachings of Scientology, you are taught that the news is a bad place, that the news lies,” reported Esquire magazine. “That’s what they do, they’re in the business of lying.” Remini added that Scientology teaches its members that news media cannot be trusted and “goes out of its way” to overlook good works done by the so-called church.
Scientology’s inherent mistrust of media and proscription against negative public statements regarding the organization were factors that caused the 46-year-old actress to hold her tongue for many years. Remini explained that the “church” requires daily attendance at hours-long indoctrination meetings during which members are “brainwashed” to believe the so-called church is doing remarkable things to aid mankind. Scientology, she says, is adamant that anyone who leaves the fold be treated as an outcast by friends and family members who remain within the organization.
Here’s the official Scientology stance on “disconnection”:
“The overriding policy of the Church is to encourage strong family relationships. Scientologists do not ‘disconnect‘ from family members, or from anyone else for that matter, because of a difference of beliefs. There is no policy in Scientology that a member of the faith disconnect from someone who decides to leave the Church. One disconnects when he or she decides not to communicate with a hostile individual who is attacking one personally, one’s way of life or one’s beliefs. These kinds of choices are made routinely in everyday life and are not unique to Scientology.”
Remini was introduced to Scientology by her parents at age 9 and was essentially raised in the “church.” The actress told Redbook magazine that kids who grow up in Scientology tend to have overblown egos and too much self-confidence. “Because Scientologists view children as spiritual beings, you’re not treated as a kid, so you’re given a lot of responsibility, and your ego becomes extremely inflated.”
Remini formally left the fold in 2013 and published Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology two years later. When asked why she exposed her own personal misdeeds and those of her family in the book, Remini explained that she did so before the church or its members had a chance to launch a public attack.
“Well, I know the policy of the church when someone speaks out publicly against them. I know how they deal with people like me. You’re OK to leave, just don’t talk about it. That’s why it was important for me.”
Remini was correct when she told Conan O’Brien about Scientology websites that disparage former church members. On a page copyrighted 2017 Church of Scientology International, the organization calls Remini “a bitter ex-Scientologist” with one motivation: money.
“Leah Remini has repeatedly disparaged and exploited her former faith for profit and attention through a series of failed publicity stunts, culminating in her reality TV show featuring a cast of admitted liars who to make a buck have been telling differing versions of the same false tales of abuse for years. Many of their allegations have been reviewed and discredited in courts of law. A&E’s promotion of their agenda smacks of bigotry. It also is sad that Leah Remini attacks and exploits those who tirelessly worked to help her when no one else was willing to tolerate her behavior.”
Leah Remini is not the only person to have left Scientology and subsequently had the organization sponsor a website to vilify them. Amy Scobee, former manager of the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles, and onetime international Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder are among those targeted by Scientology webmasters. Rinder told Radar Online that while he still believes in the tenets of Scientology as conceived by sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard, he has no respect for the way the church is currently led by David Miscavige. Rinder holds no animosity toward Leah Remini and said he understands why she defected from the organization.
“I have known Leah Remini for many years. She is one of the most down-to-earth, honest and truly caring celebrities I came across in Scientology. Funny, endearing and abrasive all at once, she does not sit quietly when she knows injustices are being perpetrated on those who have no voice to speak for themselves.”
[Featured Image by Charles Krupa/AP Images]