Leah Remini Still Struggles with Guilt for Going to Therapy — Because She Says Scientology Opposes It

Four years after abruptly leaving the controversial church of Scientology, Leah Remini says she’s still adjusting.

“You rebuild slowly. It doesn’t happen overnight,” the actress, 47, says in the new issue of PEOPLE. “It’s a learning process; it’s changing the way you think.”

Indeed, Remini was in the church for more than 30 years before she walked away in 2013 with husband Angelo Pagán, 59, daughter Sofia, 13, and mother Vicki. And her post-Scientology life has been challenging.

The star has been seeing a therapist now for two years, which she says is difficult because of how her former church views psychiatry.

“I have that guilty conscience,” Remini says. “If I make the most minor transgression” of a Scientology rule, like being rude or losing her temper, “I call my therapist and go, ‘I should be punished for this; I need you to reprimand me.’ She’s like, ‘No, that’s not what therapy is.’ ”

“We really have no debate with a psychologist. We do have issues with psychiatrists who subject patients, especially children, to dangerous procedures and drugs,” a Scientology spokesperson wrote in a statement to PEOPLE.

Last year, Remini launched the Emmy-nominated A&E docu-series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. Now in its second season, the show follows Remini as she shares fellow ex-Scientologists’ stories, including allegations of abuse within the church.

“It is Remini who is the attacker,” the Scientology spokesperson wrote. “Her whole anti-Scientology shtick was scripted and choreographed by her, casting herself in her drama as the ‘victim’ so she could cash in on her false narrative while savaging her friends and those who helped her most of her life.” (The Church’s full response is at leahreminiaftermath.com.)

For more on Leah Remini and her battle against Scientology, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

In addition to the A&E show, Remini will return to comedy this fall, reuniting with her King of Queens costar Kevin James in Kevin Can Wait on CBS Sept. 25. While she’s filming the show in her native New York City, her husband and daughter will stay in L.A. but make frequent visits to the east coast.

“If I didn’t have my family,” says Remini, “I don’t know what I would do.”


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Leah Remini Tells All In New Memoir About Scientology

Actress Leah Remini announced this week that she will soon release a memoir about her 30 years as a member of the Church of Scientology. The book will be “bold, brash, and bravely confessional,” according to publisher Ballantine Books. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology is set to arrive on Nov. 3.

Remini, who is best known her starring role on the long-running sitcom “King of Queens,” became a Scientologist as a child, but publicly left the Church in 2013 because she didn’t want her 9-year-old daughter, Sofia, to become indoctrinated in its precepts.

She revealed her plan to write a tell-all about her time in the Church soon after her departure, but details were scarce until this week. Now, thanks to Remini’s Twitter account, we even have a cover:

A number of books released in recent years — most notably Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear, which was adapted into an Emmy-winning HBO documentary — have thrown open the doors of the famously secretive Church of Scientology. One of the central figures in “Going Clear” was “Million Dollar Baby” screenwriter Paul Haggis, and the book describes the lengths to which the Church will go to keep its most famous members — especially Tom Cruise — in the fold. But Troublemaker will be the first book to reveal the perspective of one of Scientology’s many celebrity members in their own words. 

There’s no telling what she’ll say, though there’s certainly a good chance that much of it will paint the Church in a negative light. Remini has been a rather outspoken critic of Scientology over the past two years. At one point, she even filed a missing persons report for Shelly Miscavige, wife of David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology, which the LAPD called “unfounded.”

The Church, for its part, sent The Huffington Post a statement slamming Remini’s book and behavior over the past couple years as a “pathetic quest to get publicity and seem relevant.”

“Ms. Remini needs to move on with life and stop obsessively blaming others for her problems, be it her former religion or those she has worked with professionally,” Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw said. 

 The Church has a history of responding aggressively to criticism of its practices. Just this week, two movie theaters near the Scientology headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, canceled plans to show the film”Going Clear,” allegedly as a result of pressure mounted against them by the Church. 

 

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Paul Haggis Criticizes Journalists For Not Asking Tom Cruise About Scientology

When Tom Cruise was promoting “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” this summer, The Wrap reported that the actor’s PR team banned journalists from asking him about the Church of Scientology, at least in order to secure an interview. Out of those who did talk to Cruise (The Huffington Post was not among them), no one seemed to pop the forbidden questions. Both Salon and The Atlantic questioned why the media, who voraciously covered Alex Gibney’s Scientology doc “Going Clear” (us included) earlier this year, suddenly went soft when it came to interviewing celebrities associated with the Church. Now filmmaker and former Scientologist Paul Haggis is criticizing journalists as well.

I don’t know how journalists can continue to call themselves journalists if they aren’t brave enough to ask a question,” Haggis recently told The Daily Beast in an interview about his new HBO miniseries. The filmmaker resigned from the Church in 2009 and has since been vocal about his experience as a Scientologist,  appearing in “Going Clear.” He said that sometimes movie coverage should come second to asking important questions. “There was this huge elephant there, and every journalist agreed not to address it,” he told The Daily Beast. “Why? You’re just a PR person at that point. Shame on you.”

Gibney’s documentary, which was based on the 2013 Lawrence Wright book of the same name, specifically calls out Cruise and his lack of commentary on the allegations against the Church. At a screening of “Going Clear” in March, Gibney said, “Cruise is the big kahuna and that’s why we’ve gone to the trouble of calling him out. We believe that he has a responsibility to say something about the abuse.”

UPDATE: When asked for comment on Haggis’ remarks, Karin Pouw, a spokesperson for the Church of Scientology, told The Huffington Post in a statement: 


“The Church of Scientology has no interest in being exploited to publicize Paul Haggis’s next made-for-TV project or to convince his skeptics that he is relevant again.”

For the full interview with Haggis, head to The Daily Beast.

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16 Shocking Allegations In Scientology Documentary ‘Going Clear’

The Church of Scientology has long been a controversial institution among both the religious community and entertainment business. But the latest documentary from Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney, “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” explores the secrets of the organization through interviews with former high-ranking officials and former members in a way never seen before.

Based on the 2013 book of the same name by Lawrence Wright, “Going Clear” not only exposes details about Scientology but also serves as an in-depth explainer for those unfamiliar with the group. The Church has spoken out against the film (read their full statement here) as have its celebrity members. But whether you’ve studied Scientology closely or merely know it as “the religion with Tom Cruise,” watching “Going Clear” is a powerful, stunning and emotionally overwhelming experience that will likely leave you with your mouth agape. Here are the most shocking allegations put forth in “Going Clear,” which made its HBO debut on Sunday night:

1. L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology creation story
When Scientologists reach level OT III, they are shown the “secret materials,” as director and former member Paul Haggis described them: Hubbard’s hand-written account of the creation myth. According to this, 75 million years ago a galactic dictator named Xenu froze people and dropped their bodies into volcanoes. From there, the disembodied spirits, or thetans, apparently jumped into newborns bodies. According to Hubbard, these multiple thetans crowded in our bodies are the source of our anxieties and fears.

l ron hubbard

2. Hubbard spent time in a black magic cult
Before founding Scientology, Hubbard befriended rocket and chemical engineer Jack Parsons who was a part of black magic cult Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), which followed the teachings of Aleister Crowley. According to “Going Clear,” Hubbard became Parsons scribe and assistant on a magical operation to impregnate a goddess-like woman to create the anti-Christ.

3. Members were allegedly thrown overboard as punishment
Hubbard created Ethics, or punishments for his auditors who made mistakes during sessions. They were then pushed overboard on his ships into the water, which was “30 feet, 35 feet” below, according to Hana Whitfield, one of the original Sea Org members.

4. Hubbard told his second wife he murdered their daughter
When Sara Northup, Hubbard’s second wife, threatened to leave him unless he got psychiatric help, he reportedly kidnapped their daughter Alexis. According to written accounts from Northup, Hubbard told her he “cut [Alexis] into little pieces” and dropped her in a river. Then he would call back and tell Sara that their daughter was alive.

5. There was a Scientology “prison camp”
Former Church member Sylvia “Spanky” Taylor, who was once the liaison between the Church and John Travolta, was sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), or what she described as the “prison camp where you’d go for re-indoctrination.” According to the film, when sent to the RPF, people would have to do hard labor for “30 hours on, 3 hours off,” eat table scraps and sleep on dirty, wet mattresses.

scientology

6. The FBI raid on the Church was the biggest in history at the time
On July 8, 1977, the FBI raided Scientology’s Los Angeles, Hollywood and Washington, D.C. locations, which at the time was the bureau’s biggest raid ever.

7. The Church stole government documents
According to the film, in the ’70s, many Scientologists were directed to get jobs in Department of Justice and IRS offices in order to steal documents against or relating to the Church.

8. The Church apparently has a blackmail folder on John Travolta
According to Wright in the film, when there were rumors of Travolta wanting to leave Scientology, the Church created a “black PR package” that has “all the damaging material” from his private auditing sessions. Travolta also reportedly refused to have his sessions video taped, but secret cameras were hidden anyway.

john travolta

9. The Church investigated the IRS
One of the Church’s goals was to be recognized by the IRS as a fully tax-exempt religion, according to former senior executive of the Church Mark “Marty” Rathbun. Thousands of Scientologists reportedly filed 2,400 total lawsuits against IRS employees, and private investigators were sent to IRS conventions to obtain information. According to journalist Tony Ortega, Scientology leader David Miscavige told the IRS commissioner that the lawsuits would go away if the Church was given tax-exempt status. The Church was granted exemption in October 1993.

10. Tom Cruise and the Church allegedly wire-tapped Nicole Kidman’s phone
According to the film, the Church noticed Tom Cruise slipping away from Scientology during his marriage to Nicole Kidman. Cruise reportedly said he wanted to have Kidman’s phone wiretapped, which the Church did at his request.

11. Cruise may have had employees pimp his cars for 40 cents an hour
Sea Org members make 40 cents an hour, according to Ortega, who says, “I don’t think there’s any way Tom Cruise is not aware of that.” According to the film, they have “tricked out his cars and motorcycles” and hanger in Santa Monica, California, and installed the audiovisual equipment at his home.

tom cruise

12. The Church supposedly found Cruise a new girlfriend
According to Wright, Cruise was “overheard to complain that he needed a new girlfriend” when he was in Spain at the opening of a new Scientology center. The Church then found a young Scientologist, Nazanin Boniadi, and reportedly had her braces removed, bought her $ 20,000 of clothes and colored her hair “to Cruise’s liking.” She was then told she would be Cruise’ girlfriend, but the relationship soon ended. Boniadi apparently signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Church and has since become a well-known actress in “Homeland,” “Iron Man,” among other films and shows.

13. Paul Haggis left because of the the Church’s homophobic stance
Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis (“Crash,” “Casino Royale”) left Scientology in 2009 after 30 years when his two gay daughters told him how they were being treated and harassed by the Church. According to Church doctrines, the religion views homosexuality as a disease. Haggis then wrote a now-famous letter of his resignation from the Church.

paul haggis daughter

14. Scientology’s book value is about $ 1.5 billion
Ortega obtained recent tax records that revealed the main three tiers of the Church (which is a non-profit organization) have a combined book value of $ 1.5 billion.

15. Sea Org members were allegedly tortured to the sounds of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”
In 2004, Miscaviage apparently ordered the top members of the Sea Org to live in what was known as The Hole in the Chuch’s secret Gold Base in California. In the film, former members say they were told to confess their crimes against the Church in order to leave The Hole. Beyond beatings and one man being ordered to “mop up the bathroom floor with his tongue,” another method of abuse was when members were forced to play musical chairs to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Those participating were “fighting to stay” in the Church: whoever didn’t have a seat when the music stopped was expelled from the Church.

16. If members leave the Church their friends & family are forced to “disconnect”
The biggest reason to not leave the Church for many Scientologists is fear of “disconnection.” This is when all friends and family members still with the Church are told to cut ties with those who leave, or those deemed Potential Trouble Sources (PTS), or Suppressive Persons (SPs). Many former members included in the film haven’t seen or spoken to their family or friends since they left.

“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” airs again on Monday, March 30 at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO.
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