Scientology has once again found itself making the headlines in the past few weeks. This time it is in connection with Leah Remini, actress and star of the hit show King of Queens. Remini has come out strong in her criticism of the Church of Scientology after she decided to leave the cult with her family. It seems as if the trouble started after she questioned the whereabouts of Shelly, the wife of David Miscavige, leader of the church, at the wedding ceremony of Tom Cruise a few years back. Remini found herself facing interrogations and “thought modification” for her questioning of David Miscavige.
“I believe that people should be able to question things. I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct. That for me, that’s what I’m about,” she told People magazine. And I fully agree with her. The heartbreak and break up of families by cults is devastating. It is a common thread that runs through the majority of cults and organizations like Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and the Moonies. The fear of losing family and friends is just one of the many fear tactics used to keep people in their clutches. I am glad Remini got out with her family in tact. Remini has even gone as far as filing a missing persons report for Shelly Miscavige who has not been seen in public since 2007.
Leah Remini was interviewed by journalist John Sweeney in his book, Church of Fear. Sweeney wrote the book detailing his investigations and experiences at the hands of the cult. Naturally, Remini defended the church and its teachings back then. However, Sweeney says that Leah was the most subtle defender of the Church of Scientology he has met. Perhaps she was already planning to leave back then and was just going through the motions as the whole interview was being filmed.
In retaliation the church has come out strongly against the public moves of Remini. In a statement released by The Church of Scientology it brands the whole saga as a publicity stunt “cooked up with unemployed, anti-religious zealots, such as Tony Ortega, who blog on the fringe of the Internet.” This sort of retaliation by the church does not come as a surprise as Scientology is not very good at taking criticism.
Leah Remini has received support from many former Scientologists like Paul Haggis and the niece of David Miscavige, Jenna Miscavige Hill. Jenna has written an explosive memoir, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape. Miscavige Hill is very familiar with the dangers of criticizing the church.
It’s never easy leaving a cult. Lives are shattered and reputations are sometimes tarnished by the cult in retaliation to those who speak out against them. However, I applaud Leah Remini for taking a stand and speaking out in such a bold manner. Many lives will be touched by her courage. Now if only the poster boy of Scientology can see through this mind numbing and destructive science fiction masquerading as a religion.