Perhaps actress Leah Remini was inspired by the sentiments of thinkers like Edward de Bono when she left the Church of Scientology in 2013. After all, it was de Bono, a noted psychologist and author, who famously mused, “If you never change your mind, why have one?”
Remini – who lived much of her life under the influence of Scientology – changed her mind in a very big way when she broke from the controversial religion two years ago. But while Leah’s bold choice was a watershed moment in her life, her subsequent decision to speak out about what she endured during the decades she spent following the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was even more so.
Leah Remini is in the midst of a media blitz to promote her forthcoming memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. Thus far, some of her discussions with the press hint that she will dish on some of the most noteworthy members of the organization, including megastar Tom Cruise. One of her most anticipated interviews will air on ABC’s 20/20 on Friday, October 30, and in a preview of that discussion, Remini hints that church members faced grave consequences for disagreeing with Cruise.
“Being critical of Tom Cruise is being critical of Scientology itself. You are evil.”
When she first left Scientology in 2013, Remini also told People Magazine that the Church of Scientology controlled its members through a number of tactics, including abuse and blackmail, causing individuals to lose touch with life outside the church. She said that the decision to leave was difficult and scary. In the end, she managed to make the final break through the help and support of her close friend, Jennifer Lopez.
“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… As time goes on, you start to lose touch with the real world. The mindset becomes ‘us against them… The decision to leave is you are giving up everything you have ever known and everything you have worked for your whole life.”
Remini’s reversal on the matter of Scientology is nothing short of remarkable. Less than a decade years ago, she was one of the organization’s most public defenders, even squaring off against BBC journalist John Sweeny in the 2007 documentary Scientology and Me. In a tense conversation with Sweeny, she denounced Scientology’s detractors as practitioners of “bigotry.”
But, after Leah broke with the church, she was blasted by a number of her former fellow Scientologists, including Kirstie Alley. During an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Alley described her former friend as an “enemy.” She even invoked the same caustic terminology that Remini chose years prior, referring to Leah as “a bigot” for publicly criticizing Scientology.
For his part, Tom Cruise doesn’t seem to have any reservations about being the standard bearer of the Church of Scientology’s efforts in the United States and abroad. Indeed, much of what is known about the organization’s inside concepts and buzzwords was inadvertently popularized by Cruise himself when a bizarre series of videos featuring Cruise was leaked to the public. In long, rambling discussions, Cruise spoke of “suppressive persons,” half-acks,” and “out-ethics. MTV News was so intrigued by the story, they compiled an online glossary so that curious types might follow along and decode Tom Cruise’s eccentric verbiage.
Leah Remini says that she herself has now been dubbed a “suppressive” person by The Church of Scientology, explaining that she is now shunned by other members for leaving the organization. She might ultimately have the benefit of a life well-lived without the constraints of that notoriously heavy-handed organization, though. By all appearances, Leah Remini has come to terms with her past and she is now living life on her own terms, enjoying a memorable stint on Dancing With The Stars and now entering a new phase as a bestselling author.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]