King of Queens star Leah Remini has issued a statement thanking the media, fellow actors, and fans in the wake of reports that she has split from the Church of Scientology.
“I wish to share my sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues and fans from around the world,” the 43-year-old said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “I am truly grateful and thankful for all your support.”
It was reported Thursday that Remini left the church following disagreements with leader David Miscavige. Church policy prohibits members from questioning rules or management decisions, but when Remini questioned several policies, specifically those regarding excommunication, she was reportedly subjected to “thought modification.” Remini also questioned a suggestion that members distance themselves from family members.
A source said of Remini’s decision, “It all began when Leah questioned the validity of excommunication of people. She is stepping back from a regime she thinks is corrupt. She thinks no religion should tear apart a family or abuse someone under the umbrella of ‘religion.'”
Remini and her mother have been members of the Church of Scientology for over 30 years.
Mike Rinder, a former high-ranking Scientologist, wrote on his blog that Miscavige “began heavy-handed efforts to force [Remini] into line” when she asked why his wife, Shelly, was not present at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ wedding in November 2006. Rinder said that Tommy Davis, the head of the Scientology Celebrity Centre, told Remini, “You don’t have the f***ing rank to ask about Shelly.”
Shelly Miscavige has reportedly not been seen in public since 2007.
According to Rinder, Remini “remains convinced of the value of L. Ron Hubbard’s work, but will no longer tolerate the squirreling and human rights abuses perpetrated in the church.”
He added, “Nor will she allow anyone to tell her who she can and cannot talk to or associate with. As a result, the church has lost one of its most effective supporters – both in the public relations arena and their bank balances.”
Former Village Voice editor Tony Ortega wrote on his blog, The Underground Bunker, that Remini rose through Scientology’s ranks to achieve Operating Thetan Level Five. She had three more rungs to go before reaching the highest spiritual rank. Remini’s husband, restaurateur Angelo Pagan, is also a Scientologist. The couple have a 9-year-old daughter, Sofia.
Remini was once fiercely defensive of Scientology, telling CNN in 2001, “If somebody is going to get turned off about something because of what they read or heard, then that person’s not smart enough to even enter a church. If you’re really against something, then know what you’re against.”
A Church of Scientology representative refused to comment on Leah Remini’s break from the church, saying, “The Church respects the privacy of parishioners and has no comment about any individual Church member.”
What do you think of Leah Remini’s split from Scientology?