Mar 2, 2014
The furious church slammed the former King of Queens star as self-absorbed and desperate for attention, and claimed she was on the verge of being expelled for “ethical lapses” when she left.
“It comes as no surprise that someone as self-absorbed as Leah Remini with an insatiable craving for attention would exploit her former faith as a publicity stunt by rewriting her hitstory with it, including omitting that she was participating in a program to remain a Scientologist by her own choice, as she was on the verge of being expelled for her ethical lapses,” a Scientology rep told US Weekly.
Remini, who was raised in the church, opened up on her decision to leave Scientology in a Buzzfeed interview this week, saying “I just want people to know the truth.”
Remini, best known for her star turn as Carrie Heffernan on the 90s/2000s sitcom The King of Queens, left the church last year in acrimonious circumstances after she claimed she endured years of “interrogations” and “thought modification”.
It was reported at the time she questioned the mysterious marriage of Scientology leader David Miscavige and his rarely-seen wife Shelly, and was sternly rebuffed and threatened.
Now she has opened up on the devastating circumstances of her split from the church, a bitter falling out with former friend Kirstie Alley and her difficult childhood growing up in a Scientologist family.
Remini, 43, told Buzzfeed the decisive factor in her departure was the intensive devotion the church requires from its followers. She feared she was putting her family, especially her nine-year-old daughter Sofia, a distant second.
“In my house, it’s family first — but I was spending most of my time at the church,” she said.
“So, I was saying ‘family first,’ but I wasn’t showing that. I didn’t like the message that sent my daughter.”
Remini described growing up on a floor in a “roach-infested” Los Angeles motel - after leaving behind a comfortable, middle-class life in New York - as “traumatic”. Then her family moved to a compound in Florida, where the church pulled them apart.
“We were separated from our mother. We had to sign billion-year contracts we didn’t understand. And we kept saying, ‘Why are you doing this to us? Why are we here?’”
That experience ultimately informed Remini’s decision to leave the church last year. She thought of her daughter and wanted to spare her from the Scientology life.
“She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the church would have to start,” she added.
“I started thinking of my own childhood and how I grew up resenting my mother because she was never home.”
When she eventually quit the church Remini was scalded by its followers, including some of her then-close friends. Alley, the Look Who’s Talking actor, said Remini was repulsive and a bigot.
“They only cared that their lives would be disrupted if they stood with me,” Remini said of the reaction from her Scientology friends.
“They didn’t care about doing the right thing. That showed me everything the church taught me was a lie.”
But it was Remini’s mother — herself a devout Scientologist — who provided her with the most comfort and support during the tumultuous split with the church.
“The fact my mother stood by me after all her years in the church totally took away any resentment I may have been harbouring,” she said.
“When it mattered the most, my mother was there for me.”