King of Queens star Leah Remini quits 'corrupt' Church of Scientology after 30 years

King of Queens star reportedly went through attempted ‘thought modification’

Los Angeles

Actress Leah Remini, best known for her role in the sitcom King of Queens, has become the latest high-profile personality to quit the Church of Scientology, after more than 30 years of membership.

Remini, 43, joined the controversial religion with her mother in the 1970s, and had long been one of its most high-profile and outspoken defenders. On Thursday, however, the New York Post reported that Remini had been driven from the Church by the domineering behaviour of its leader, David Miscavige. The Post quoted an unnamed source as saying: “It all began when Leah questioned the validity of excommunication of people. She is stepping back from a regime she thinks is corrupt. She thinks no religion should tear apart a family or abuse someone under the umbrella of ‘religion’.”

Remini later issued a statement, apparently confirming her exit, in which she said: “I wish to share my sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues, and fans from around the world. I am truly grateful and thankful for all your support.” The Post’s source added that the move came as a result of “years of interrogations” and attempted “thought modification”.

In recent months, Remini had reportedly tweeted about a change in spiritual direction, including a reference to praying as a Catholic. Her doubts about Scientology are said to have begun several years ago, however, during a dinner to celebrate the wedding of Scientology stalwart Tom Cruise to Katie Holmes in November 2006.

According to a blog by Mike Rinder, a former chief spokesman for the Church who is now one of its leading critics, Miscavige implemented “heavy-handed efforts to force [Remini] into line” after she asked why his wife, Shelly, was not at the wedding – where Miscavige was the best man. Though Remini had risen to the high church position of “Operating Thetan Level Five”, she was allegedly told by another official: “You don’t have the fucking rank to ask about Shelly.”

Mrs Miscavige is a member of Scientology’s elite “Sea Org”, who are largely secluded at secretive headquarters in Los Angeles and Florida. One anti-Church website, The Underground Bunker, claims she has not been seen in public since 2007. Other excommunicated Sea Org members have spoken of being forcibly separated from friends and family members by the Church.

Besides playing Carrie Heffernan in King of Queens, Remini has appeared in Friends, Cheers and the movie, Old School. In the past she has spoken publicly about being a member of the Church of Scientology, which was founded in 1954 by the science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, and boasts celebrity members including Cruise, John Travolta and Cheers actress Kirstie Alley. In a April 2001 interview with CNN, Remini said she ”finds solace in her steadfast practice of Scientology”, and defended the religion, saying: “If somebody is going to get turned off about something because of what they read or heard, then that person’s not smart enough to even enter a church.”

Other high-profile Church apostates include the film director Paul Haggis, who severed ties with Scientology in 2009 over its implicit opposition to gay marriage. Rinder claimed Remini, whose restaurateur husband Angelo Pagan is also a Scientologist, “remains convinced of the value of L Ron Hubbard’s work, but will no longer tolerate the squirreling and human rights abuses perpetrated in the church”. Her representatives would not comment directly on the New York Post article.

A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology issued a statement saying they “respect the privacy of parishioners” and would not comment on individuals.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'