King of Queens star Leah Remini quits 'corrupt' Church of Scientology after 30 years
King of Queens star reportedly went through attempted ‘thought modification’
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Friday 12 July 2013
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.
Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way
Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat
- 1 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 2 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 3 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 4 Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Australian jihadist Abdullah Elmir vows Isis will fight 'until black flag is on the top of Buckingham Palace'
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Chicago voter tells Obama 'don't touch my girlfriend' – Obama stays super smooth
Oscar Pistorius: The brutal prison life that awaits disgraced athlete
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
£18000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester is seeki...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£26000 per annum + 25 days holiday & further benefits: Ashdown Group: Telecomm...
£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are seeking a confident...