It’s pretty safe to say that Leah Remini is anti-Scientology. She wrote a book called Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, which went into detail about her time in the Sea Organization (a religious order of the most devoted Scientologists), her interactions with the organization’s biggest stars (like Tom Cruise), and the disappearance of Shelly Miscavige.
Now, she’s back with a television series called Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, and there have been some huge moments on the show. Here are the 10 biggest claims from Season 1 of the docuseries.
1. The alleged forced abortions
Marc and Claire Headley are a married couple who talked about their experience with Scientology on the episode, “Golden Era.” Claire is a former Sea Org executive who claimed to have escaped in 2005. Both of the Headleys used to live and work on the Gold Base, which is supposed to be for the top tier members of the organization. A rule for members of the Sea Org is that there are no kids allowed, which allegedly means many members are forced to have abortions.
Claire revealed that she got pregnant with her husband Marc when she was 17, but allegedly wasn’t allowed to keep the baby since she was in the Sea Org. “If a woman got pregnant, she would instantly be scheduled to get an abortion,” explained Claire. “If she refused in any manner she would be segregated, not allowed to speak with her husband, put under surveillance, put under security watch, put under manual labor, and interrogated for her crimes as to why she wanted to leave.”
She then continued to say she knew some women in the organization who had “up to” six abortions. She also made a list of all the women she knew who had abortions and claimed the list was over 50 people long. The organization wrote a letter to A&E regarding this claim:
The Church does not pressure, coerce or compel anyone to have or not have an abortion. These are an individual’s personal choice as provided under the law. Like anyone else, Scientologists and members of the Sea Organization, decide for themselves. Members of the Sea Organization are informed in advance that while they can marry and cohabit, they may not raise children while in the religious order. This is a practical rule due to the rigors of a life dedication to religious work, study, and self-realization. It is not uncommon for members of the Sea Organization to leave to have children while remaining Scientologists and return to the religious order when their children are grown.
2. David Miscavige reportedly beats his staff
Multiple people who have been interviewed on the show have made this claim. In one episode, Leah Remini talks to former staff members Jeff Hawkins and Tom DeVocht about their personal experiences with the new leader of Scientology.
“[David] was a mean guy,” said Hawkins, who worked in marketing for the organization. “David Miscavige physically assaulted me five separate times.” He talked about one incident specifically. “[David] just keeps working himself into a tizzy. Then, finally, he jumps up on the table, launches himself at me, knocks me back against the partition wall, starts hammering my face, knocks me down on the floor. I was scratched up. My shirt was ripped off.”
DeVocht claimed that he was once asked to get a permit to tear up their sidewalks in order to ward off protests, but failed to do so. When asked by Miscavige if he was successful, he said, “I said, ‘No, sir,’ and before I could even think he dove across the table, grabbed my [expletive] tie, and shoved it up. And I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk.” Scientology wrote a letter to A&E regarding DeVocht’s claims:
DeVocht is a thoroughly unreliable source who at one time was part of a conspiracy to suborn perjury, as detailed in the attached white paper. Having no reliable source of income, for the last decade he has spread lies about the leader of our Church in exchange for money and perks.
3. Members supposedly pay to be interrogated
In the first episode, Leah Remini talked about how Scientology officials allegedly question members of the organization if they believe they might have committed something they consider a crime. They then slap them with a bill for the interrogation sessions, which can be hundreds of dollars per hour.
4. Mike Rinder claimed he had journalists followed for the organization
In the episode, “Enemies of the Church” Leah Remini and Mike Rinder talk to several journalists about their experience with the organization after they have written about it. Two of the reporters were John Sweeney and Tony Ortega, who Rinder said he made “fair game,” meaning it was okay for members of Scientology to go after them. This led to private investigators contacting people from the journalists’ personal lives to ask about them. The organization wrote a letter to A&E regarding the fair game policy:
The truth is—as has been determined judicially on more than one occasion—’fair game’ is a term which is often intentionally misinterpreted and used by apostate Scientologists and other critics to unfairly tarnish the Church. The ‘fair game’ policy was cancelled in 1968, nearly five decades ago, expressly because it was susceptible to misinterpretation and misuse.
5. Leah Remini claimed members would be charged for talking about Xenu
Leah Remini was also part of Rinder’s mission against Sweeney, according to the show. She had an interview with Sweeney in 2007, where he asked about Xenu, the alien warlord that Scientology allegedly believes existed, but was blown up. During the interview she laughs at him, but she revealed she couldn’t talk about Xenu because members would be charged $100,000 if they talk about that and other confidential Scientology information. Remini also claimed that Scientologists believe that people who are taught such confidential teachings before they are ready, will die of diseases like cancer.
6. Amy Scobee said the organization covered up her rape
Scobee worked in the Scientology Celebrity Centre when she was 14 years old. She claimed her boss there sexually took advantage of her, which would be considered statutory rape. “He was married,” she said on the show, “and he had me stay back when everybody else left, and basically we had sex. This was statutory rape, and I was too afraid to tell anyone about it.”
She then claimed that her boss told his wife who reported it to the organization. However, the organization allegedly never told Scobee’s parents. “And they indoctrinated in me that if anything serious goes on, it’s handled internally. It happened to me, so therefore I must’ve done something that caused it.” In a letter to A&E, Scientology claimed Scobee can’t be trusted.
Anyone who worked with Scobee during her tenure in the Church will tell you that she cannot be trusted as a reliable source. After a long history of false representations, lies, failures to do her job, repeated sexual transgression and refusals to change her ways, despite being given numerous opportunities to do so, she was ultimately dismissed from the Church’s religious order and expelled in 2005.
7. Brandon Reisdorf claimed he was locked away to treat his bipolar disorder
Scientology is reportedly against psychiatry. This is because L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health wasn’t accepted by psychiatrists. So what does the organization do when its members need help with their mental health? They reportedly have a program called Introspection Rundown. Brandon Reisdorf came on the show claiming that when he was a member he would have manic episodes from his undiagnosed bipolar disorder. He was put through the Introspection Rundown program and was locked in a room and isolated until he calmed down. Sometimes, vitamins reportedly are also given during this period.
However, this didn’t cure him of his bipolar disorder. After he left Scientology and his brother was allegedly told to disconnect from him, Reisdorf threw a hammer through a window of a Scientology building while in a maniac state. He was later sent to a hospital and forced to take medication for his disorder. He was then convicted of a felony, and his act of throwing a hammer was labeled a hate crime. The organization gave a statement about this incident to A&E:
Rather than accept responsibility as parents, the Reisdorfs use the program to offer excuses while allowing warped hatemongers Remini and Mike Rinder to actually try to blame their former religion for a violent attack against the Los Angeles Church by their son Brandon in which he was arrested and charged by authorities before pleading guilty. Brandon also made an avalanche of threats against Lois Reisdorf’s two sisters, something Remini and Rinder ignored.
8. Scientology was tax exempt before
If you watched Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief or read up on Scientology, then you probably know what a big deal it was for Scientology to become tax exempt. However, in an episode on the show, Remini talked to former member, Aaron Smith-Levin. He talked about remembering when Scientology “won the war” against the IRS by becoming tax exempt in 1993. However, he later found out the organization was previously tax exempt, but lost that privilege when Hubbard and other officials were caught using it as a business for financial gain.
9. Tom Cruise is reportedly surrounded by Scientologists on purpose
It’s no secret that Tom Cruise is one of the organization’s most famous faces. But the effort to keep him a member of Scientology is pretty shocking. Scobee, who worked in the Celebrity Centre said on the show that she worked on managing Cruise’s personal staff. She claimed that she was instructed to only hire Scientologists, possibly in order to keep him isolated.
10. Guards allegedly keep people from leaving
There have been multiple people who have come on the show to talk about this alleged aspect of the organization. One was Scobee who talked about the Rehabilitation Project Force, which is a program for Sea Org members who have misbehaved. She claimed she was only able to escape after her husband, Mat Pesch stood up to a security guard who intended to keep them there. “I said, ‘Unless you want to shoot me in the [expletive] head, we’re out of here.'”
Marc and Claire Headley also claimed that there were people who tried running away from the Gold Base regularly. They also claimed that those people were often brought back allegedly against their will.
Scientology released the following statement regarding the show to The Rolling Stone:
Leah Remini is doing this for the money and now tries to pretend otherwise. Ms. Remini is being compensated for this show, just as she profited from her book. In addition, she attempted to extort the Church by first demanding $500,000, followed by an additional $1 million, because the Church invoked its First Amendment right to respond to her false claims with the truth. This shows the extent Leah Remini is willing to go to in order to distort the truth about Scientology.
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 [former members] who have been telling differing versions of the same false tales of abuse for years.
Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!