What we learned from the first episode of Leah Remini’s new documentary series
Leah Remini’s eight-part A&E docu-series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, premiered Tuesday night, despite the Church of Scientology actively trying to have it pulled.
As a member for over 30 years, Remini eviscerates the organization’s beliefs and its deplorable behaviour not only toward those who have escaped, but also members who remain actively involved in Scientology.
In just the first episode of the series, an even greater hoard of incendiary information is revealed, including allegations of rape and physical abuse.
Here six things we learned from the first part of the docu-series:
1. Former member Amy Scobee said that, at age 14, her 35-year-old Scientologist boss assaulted her: “He had me stay back when everybody else left, and basically we had sex. This was statutory rape. And I was too afraid to tell anyone about it. 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.” The man eventually informed his wife of the assault and Church authorities, but it was never reported to the police. Why? Because Scientology believes that the criminal justice system is ineffective, therefore, crimes committed by members are handled exclusively by the Church.
2. As for the notoriously megalomaniacal Scientology leader David Miscavige, Scobee said he was known for being physically abusive: “He’s a very angry man. If you said something that didn’t please him, he would go off on you. If you were a man, he’d likely hit you, knock you down, choke you … I witnessed that on at least a dozen occasions.”
3. In 2006, while attending Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes (in which Miscavige was the best man), Remini noticed Miscavige’s wife Shelly was notably missing. She attended every event with her husband and was a high-ranking member of the Church. When Remini asked around about her absence, she was soon told she didn’t have the “right” to ask, as there was a “pecking order.” But she continued to inquire, eventually leading to the Church claiming the actress had committed “crimes” against them. She was eventually subjected to interrogations and billed for them (some members can end up paying hundreds of dollars for these).
4. Sea Org (a top level of the religion, made up of the Church’s “most dedicated” members who have pledged their life) would write “Good Roads, Fair Weather” letters to families in order to discourage them from filing missing persons reports or go to the media because they hadn’t heard from their children.
5. The Celebrity Centre is a crucial part of the Church, where staff members are encouraged to keep celebrity recruits “happy” and “surrounded by Scientologists,” which is why Tom Cruise’s large house staff is made up exclusively of Scientologists — but only high-ranking ones.
6. After questioning and looking into Miscavige’s antics, Scobee was eventually forced to join the Sea Org’s Rehabilitation Project Force four times, which operated like a “hard labor indoctrination camp.” “You run everywhere you go,” she said to Remini. “You do hard manual labor. You call everybody ‘sir.’ You have no communication in and no communication out within that group.” Although security guards were put in place to prevent members from leaving, she and her husband eventually escaped. However, she left the Church not knowing how to drive or cook, and had no money, bank account, or high school degree.
In addition to Tuesday’s episode, Remini answered questions about Scientology as part of a reddit AMA on Tuesday, with the most explosive revelations including that she spent “millions” of dollars in her time with the Church and that Tom Cruise, perhaps the Church’s most famous member, is often referred to as the “Messiah” as “parishioners believe that he is singlehandedly changing the planet.”
She went on to say that “anyone who speaks out against the Church is seen as an enemy,” and anyone who goes against the Church’s beliefs of what is “right” is punished. For example, when she did a nude shoot for Stuff magazine, she was “punished.” Remini said, “They would not want us to do anything that would be considered not ‘becoming of a Scientologist.'”