Actress Leah Remini, best known for her leading role on CBS's "King of Queens" from 1998 to 2007, has left the Church of Scientology. Her discontent with the church leadership reportedly stems from an incident that occurred during Tom Cruise's wedding to Katie Holmes in 2006.
The New York Post's Page Six was the first to report the news on Thursday that Remini, a long-time Scientologist, was fed up with church leader David Miscavige's "interrogations" and "thought modification" procedures. According to the paper's source, Remini decided to quit "because of policies that don’t allow parishioners to question Miscavige's management or the reported abuse of members of its Sea Org religious order — and for forcing followers to 'disconnect' from family members branded as 'suppressive persons' if they choose to leave the church."
As for any fear of retribution, the Post's source added, "She's from Brooklyn. The church can’t hurt her ... they don’t have her family, that’s all that matters to her."
The Hollywood Reporter later corroborated the report that Remini was leaving the church. The trade magazine also points out that Remini's is the latest in a series of high-profile celebrity departures from Scientology, a list that includes Tom Cruise's three ex-wives, Katie Holmes, Nicole Kidman, and Mimi Rogers, as well as film director Paul Haggis and singer Lisa Marie Presley.
Omg! contacted the Church of Scientology, which issued the following statement: "The Church respects the privacy of parishioners and has no comment about any individual Church member."
Omg! also reached out to agents for Remini (she does not currently have a publicist), but has not heard back from her camp as of yet.
News of Remini's departure first surfaced last Friday, in a report from longtime Scientology critic Tony Ortega. On Monday, Ortega (a former editor-in-chief at The Village Voice) followed up on his original report with several new details from his sources about why Remini was leaving. He writes on his website that during Cruise's wedding to Holmes in Italy in 2006, Remini asked Miscavige why his wife, Shelly Miscavige, was not in attendance. Shelly has reportedly not been seen by any church members since 2007, but at that time, it was unusual that she wasn't present at such a high-profile event. Remini was told "to shut up, as if the question itself was out of line," according to Ortega's source.
This action led to the perpetually outspoken Remini later writing a "Knowledge Report" for the Church that included several criticisms of Miscavige as well as other high-level leaders and media handlers. Remini's report allegedly accused the church of lying to the press about its "disconnection" policy and excessive interrogations of members. She was then reportedly ordered to visit the church's "Flag Land Base" at its headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, for a "thought modification" process, and was later forced to rescind her report.
Ortega writes that throughout this ordeal, Remini's family — themselves high-ranking "Operating Thetan" church members — have vowed to stand by her.
Another church critic, former member Mike Rinder, who says he has known Remini for many years and refers to the actress as "one of the most down-to-earth, honest, and truly caring celebrities I came across in Scientology," also wrote on Monday about her departure. He adds that church spokespeople Tommy Davis and Jessica Feshbach also played strong roles in the events that eventually led to Remini's departure. Rinder adds that Remini "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. Nor will she allow anyone to tell her who she can and cannot talk to or associate with."
Following her decision to leave the Church of Scientology, Remini released the following statement:
"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."
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