Leah Remini’s new A&E TV show debuts tonight and she’s been busy promoting the eight-episode docuseries titled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. She’s given several interviews and participated in a fascinating Reddit IAmA earlier today where she answered numerous questions regarding Scientology and her choice to expose what she believes is wrong with the religious organization. According to a new report by E! News, Remini also addressed questions regarding two high-profile celebrity Scientologists and whether they’ve reached out to her now that she is an ex-member. Leah Remini released a statement regarding Tom Cruise and John Travolta and stated they weren’t allowed to reach out to her.
“They will not reach out to me. They are not allowed to reach out to me. John Travolta, by the way is one of the nicest, sweetest people you’re ever going to meet. They wouldn’t want to reach out to me because what they’ve been taught is that I mean them harm, that I am an anti-social personality that means them harm, that I literally wake up in the morning and want them to fail in life. That is the mentality.”
What Leah Remini states regarding the nature of Scientology and the treatment of people who leave the group fits more in line with a cult than it does with a church or religious organization. It can be difficult to determine whether a group is a new spiritual movement, religious organization, spiritually abusive group, or a cult. What Leah Remini and other ex-members of Scientology describe is a group that is authoritarian; controls access to outside media; keeps a close, tight reign on members; uses coercive tactics to keep people submissive; and practices varying levels of mind control. These are clear indicators of a cult and not a spiritually healthy group.
If Tom Cruise and John Travolta are not permitted to speak to Leah Remini or reach out to her because the organization has told them they may not have contact with her, then they are clearly involved in a controlling situation. The United States was formed on the premise that everyone has the right to free thought. Cults are tricky beasts because they use mind-control techniques and brainwashing to cause a person to accept and adapt someone else’s ideology as his or her own. This can happen so subtly that a person is unaware it is happening. You then have an adult who believes he or she is in control of their own decisions, actions, and belief system, when they aren’t. Does Scientology take away individual thought and punish members for exercising his or her own unique individuality? Is the group open for scrutiny and criticism or are members who question the group ostracized, punished, or retrained?
People are born with different personalities, unique characteristics, and traits that separate them from each other. In a healthy organization, group, or spiritual center, those unique traits are praised, celebrated, and embraced. One of the earliest red flags that a group might be a cult is that individual expression is discouraged. It might be freedom of speech, freedom of dress, how you spend your time when away from the group, or even what food you eat. A cult will seek to conform every aspect of your life to what is presented as a higher purpose or calling, often set or established by the cult leader.
What is most disturbing about this practice is that many people who join cults do so because they are creative problem solvers. They often look at the state of the world or the social climate and become distressed. They may recognize that those in government positions are failing to care for the needs of others and they sincerely want to make the world a better place. This need opens them to suggestion and through mind control techniques, they end up trading the bleak picture of the world they live in for a world that is micro-managed by an authoritarian cult leader. The cult leader is often a flawed human being who has narcissistic tendencies and feeds off the attention, praise, and adoration of his or her followers. The members now belong to what they believe is a unique, elite group of people who have special insight or knowledge that other people don’t have. They have become members of an exclusive club and given the privilege of saving the world, but in order to be a member, they have to leave their personalities and freedom of thought by the wayside.
The difference between a cult and a healthy, spiritual organization is that in a healthy environment, one person does not possess secret knowledge or wisdom that other people must follow steps to obtain. Additionally, most cults do not show genuine love and concern for those not in the group. Those outside the group are viewed as enemies to the organization and only those who agree to transform and become part of the group are worthy. There are many groups, organizations, and situations that people may find themselves in that have cult-like characteristics. It is important for all people to question whether they have the freedom to think, to question, to disagree, to discuss, and to be their unique, individual self regardless of what situation or organization they belong to.
Cult expert Rick Ross discussed Scientology and whether it is a cult or a church in a video interview that you may see below. Check the videos above for cult documentaries.
Leah Remini’s statement that Tom Cruise and John Travolta wouldn’t be permitted to reach out to her is extremely disconcerting. It is one of the most significant red flags that ex-members claims life within Scientology as well as after they leave is not healthy but abusive. Remini has spoken repeatedly about the ostracization that members face when they leave Scientology. Of course, Scientology is not the only religious or spiritual organization that cuts contact with people once they leave. It is, however, one of the signs of a cult or spiritually abusive group.
The site Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) has a detailed section discussing cults and their characteristics. You may read through the list of characteristics cults portray. What do you think? Is Scientology a cult or a church?
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