Leah Remini said she doesn’t “want to be known as this bitter ex-Scientologist.” The former star of the long-running hit comedy series "The King of Queens" said in an interview with BuzzFeed: “I’m not trying to bash anybody and I’m not trying to be controversial. I just want people to know the truth."
The actress’ defection caused her onetime friend and Scientologist Kirstie Alley to call her “repulsive” and a “bigot” on a radio show, the piece points out.
“Remini has since learned, albeit the hard way, that honesty isn’t always the best policy in Hollywood, a place she’s called home since 1983 when her pregnant mother, Vicki, could no longer stand the living conditions her daughters endured at The Church of Scientology’s Clearwater, Florida location,” the story notes.
Remini tells the publication of her move to Florida when she was about 10, “We went from a middle-class lifestyle [in Brooklyn, N.Y.] to living in a roach-infested motel with six other girls off a freeway in Clearwater.”
She added, “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?’”
Remini’s stepfather had convinced their mother to move to Florida for the church, but the stepfather never followed, the piece notes. Remini’s family immediately started working for the church.
“We were working from morning until night with barely any schooling,” Remini told the publication. “There was no saying no. There was no being tired. There was no, ‘I’m a little girl who just lost her father and everything I’ve ever known.’ There was only, ‘Get it done.’”
Eventually the family left Florida, although Remini said the move to Los Angeles wasn’t about show business.
“My mother had a friend who was willing to take us in for a month until we could get on our feet. So we lived on her floor,” she noted.
Soon, Remini said, she had an agent and was auditioning for parts, leading to roles on “Head of the Class” and “Living Dolls,” a spinoff of “Who’s the Boss.” She later went on to a run on CBS’s "The King of Queens" from 1998-2007.
Regarding her decision to leave Scientology, the piece reports that it came down to Remini’s desire not to put her daughter through what she had gone through.
"While Remini insists there were dozens of influencing factors fueling her decision to exit the notoriously controlling Church, none were more persuasive than her 9-year-old daughter, Sofia," the story repots.
Said Remini: “She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the Church would have to start.” The report adds that the process "begins with auditing. It includes having children answer questions like, Have you ever pretended to be ill? Have you ever decided you didn’t like some member of your family? Have you ever been a coward?"
Remini adds: “I started thinking of my own childhood and how I grew up resenting my mother because she was never home. It’s funny; somehow my father, the guy who left his kids and never paid child support, was excluded from my resentment and I grew up resenting my mother for not being home to make food, like all my friends’ moms were. But my mom thought she was doing something good; she thought she was helping the planet. That’s what the Church tells you.”
The report notes: "Like many churches that actively exclude non-members, Scientology reinforces a ‘Church First’ mantra, which became harder and harder for Remini to swallow."
Adds Remini: “In my house, it’s family first — but I was spending most of my time at the Church. So I was saying ‘family first,’ but I wasn’t showing that. I didn’t like the message that sent my daughter.”