“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” premiered Tuesday night on A&E. Like other exposes of alleged abuses in the Church of Scientology, the horrors detailed are sobering. Remini’s doc is a series, though, focusing on the victims.
For Remini, a member of Scientology for more than 30 years, the series is a way to begin to make amends for the damage she caused while being part of a church that, Remini says in the show, “I promoted, defended, and believed in most of my life.”
To avoid being sued into oblivion, presumably, A&E is running cards before each segment of the show that contain statements from the Church of Scientology that dispute the veracity of the stories in the show and Remini’s own story, painting her and the alleged victims as bitter apostates — A&E even set up a site to post the Church’s complete responses.
With those stipulations, here are seven revelations from the premiere of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”:
- Remini began seriously questioning the Church in 2006. She had asked a fellow attendee at Tom Cruise’s wedding where Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology chief David Miscavige, was. In response, she was berated for daring to pry into the affairs of her betters.
- Scientologists who are being interrogated must pay for the interrogations, sometimes at the cost of hundreds of dollars an hour.
- Scientology members as young as 12 can join the infamous Sea Organization, the Church’s equivalent of the Vatican. Members of the Sea Org sign billion-year contracts, and parents give up all rights to participate in their children’s lives. From ages 12-17, these members need their parents’ permission to sign up, but, according to former Sea Org member Amy Scobee, the Church strong-armed her mother, and told her to tell her father that she was going to Paris to be a model.
- Sea Org members would write “Good Roads, Fair Weather” letters to families so that families wouldn’t file missing persons reports or go to the media because they hadn’t heard from their children.
- Scobee also said that, at the age of 14, her Scientologist boss had sex with her. “This was statutory rape. And I was too afraid to tell anyone about it,” Scobee said. “They indoctrinated me that anything serious that goes on is handled internally. It happened to me, so I must have done something that caused it. I believed it.”
- Scobee was forced into the Sea Org’s Rehabilitation Project Force, described as a sort of hard labor indoctrination camp, four times, after she began questioning the actions of Miscavige, whom she says she saw assault men who had aroused his ire. She and her husband physically escaped, though she didn’t know how to drive or even cook, and had no money or bank account, and no high school degree (she had joined the Sea Org at 16).
- One of Scobee’s duties was to run the Celebrity Centres, to recruit celebrities to Scientology and keep them happy and surrounded by Scientologists. Mostly, she said, that meant making sure Tom Cruise’s household staff was comprised entirely of Scientologists — particularly, Sea Org members.
The Church of Scientology has also set up its own website to respond to the stories told in the program, in addition to issuing a statement alleging Remini attempted to extort large sums of money from the Church.