- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Another one of Scientology's ex-famous members is speaking out against the church.
Carmen Llywelyn, who had roles in Never Been Kissed and The Mod Squad and was once married to actor Jason Lee, recently penned an essay for Gawker titled, "Why I Left Scientology." In it, she makes harsh accusations against the church and her ex-husband.
Llywelyn, 41, was a Scientologist for eight years. "I've spent the last 13 years keeping Scientology out of my life," she begins. "It hasn’t been easy, but I've realized that the religion is built on a foundation of violence. I'm proud to add my voice to the many who, despite fear of retribution and humiliation, have come forward to tell of our experiences."
Lee is the one who introduced Carmen to the church. They got married in 1995 after one year of dating. At the time, the My Name is Earl actor had been a Scientologist for five years.
"When I think back, I believe a part of me knew if I didn’t accept Scientology the marriage would be over before it even started," she writes. "But in truth, regardless of how different I feel about Jason and Scientology today, I was very much in love with the guy and wanted our marriage to work. I did what I thought was right. But I made the mistake of immersing myself completely in his world. I did what so many other people who join Scientology do: I lost all sense of individual identity in the name of the cult."
After an unusual tour of Scientology's Celebrity Centre in L.A. — including a stop by founder L. Ron Hubbard’s office, which was set up perfectly for when he comes back in another lifetime — Carmen joined Scientology. "As we kept going, it occurred to me how unreal and expensive Scientology was going to be," she shares, estimating that her involvement with the church cost her around $50,000 over the eight years she was a member. "To me, Scientology seemed more of a surreal lifestyle for the privileged than a kind of belief system."
According to Llywelyn, the church is also not an easy place to make friends. "You’d never think that speaking your mind could get you in that much trouble, but if you knew what the average Scientologist’s perspective was on friendships you’d understand," she says. "It becomes a lonely world… In Scientology, your friend can become your worst enemy overnight."
Carmen said her Scientologist pals, like Jenna Elfman and Gay Ribisi, became her "faux friends."
When Carmen ran into Elfman shortly after she left the church, "[Jenna] didn’t ask me how I was. She didn’t wish me well or ask me about my life… I was just supposed to listen to her while she lectured me in that tone-40 type of voice and told me I needed to get back on 'the bridge'... It was a very cold encounter."
Carmen was labeled a "suppressive person" after she read the book A Piece of Blue Sky that opposed the church's beliefs.
"Most people know the only view you'll see of any Scientologist once they disconnect from you will be their backs," she notes. "Before I was disconnected with him, I still got along with Jason as long as I agreed with his and the church’s demands. But when I revealed over the telephone to my talent manager, Gay Ribisi, that I’d read an anti-Scientology book, it started the chain of events that led to me being disconnected with everyone I had known."
After that, Carmen says she lost Jason, all of her friends, and Gay, who allegedly got United Talent Agency to drop her. She claims Jason disconnected with her in a one paragraph letter, ending "in the same meaningless way and insinuated the same serious things."
"Scientologists have no boundaries and their cruelties exclude no one," she says. "There are no choices in Scientology. There never were. It is all a ruse. In truth, after I left Scientology, I had to learn how to think for myself again, to speak for myself again. It’s very different from the language Scientology promotes in its advertisements: 'think for yourself.'"
Today, Llywelyn lives and works in Atlanta. She has been in a long-term relationship since 2003 and has twins who are about to turn 11.
"It’s always been a dream of mine to travel and film a documentary on all different ways people incorporate their beliefs into their lives all over the world," she concludes. "And I one day hope to help and be of service to other survivors who have suffered through the experiences of predatory cults."