In last week’s premiere episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, the former Scientology member began her mission to expose the Church for its history of wrongdoing. Remini spoke to a former member who had not only been raped by her Scientology leader as a 14-year-old, but heard numerous claims that David Miscavige, the “undisputed dictator” of Scientology, is known for being physically abusive toward Church members.
To back up those allegations, Remini spent the most recent episode speaking with Mike Rinder, the former international spokesperson for the Church who had been a member for 46 years. Rinder claimed he was repeatedly attacked by Miscavige, which led him to eventually leave Scientology – and his two children, a wife of 31 years, his mother and his brother – behind in 2007.
Rinder worked under Miscavige for 25 years, alleging that the Scientology leader beat him on multiple occasions and kept him locked in “the hole,” an area used as punishment for even small indiscretions. “From 50 to 100 times, he would assault me,” Rinder said during the episode, admitting that he was often made to feel as though he deserved the punishments.
He eventually made the decision to leave the church when Miscavige said he wanted to relocate him to Australia, where he would be away from his family. Unfortunately, after leaving the Church, his wife and his children chose to “disconnect” from him as they were still happy members and chose to label him a “Suppressive Person.”
Upon leaving, Rinder found himself stalked by Church members with cameras, one of whom even rear-ended him (which he captured on video), while his family sent him angry letters and the Church lawyer would pay him threatening visits. In retaliation, Rinder chose to speak out against Scientology, and reveal how he had been treated by Miscavige in hopes that he could one day be reunited with his family, despite them even appearing on CNN to insult him.
But the Church’s behaviour toward him didn’t change, as Rinder described learning that his garbage collector at one point informed him that he was being paid by a private investigator to steal his trash so the church could dig through it. Rinder even showed video evidence of himself confronting those stealing his garbage, refusing to admit to anything. Several times, Mike and his current wife, Christie, would find new friends they made to actually be Scientology spies planted to watch them. Meanwhile, the Church created websites just to slander him, and set up cameras around his neighbourhood to watch him. He even found a birdfeeder with a camera installed inside and positioned toward his home.
“I know that there is going to be people who will say things that are just outrageous made up lies in order to try and discredit me,” Rinder said. “That’s the standard policy of Scientology. I know that there will be efforts to get inside my head and intimidate me into not speaking out by putting up websites.”
One day, the church sent his family to confront him when he went to a doctor’s appointment with Christie. Rinder recorded audio of the event, and played it on the show, in which you can hear his family accusing him of refusing to speak to them.
The irony with all of this is that it was once Rinder’s job to go after those members who chose to leave the church, stalk them and hire private investigators to spy on them (at the cost of up to $10,000 a week), while defaming them online.
“If the Church believed that someone was an enemy that needed to be silenced or destroyed, it was my job and I did it,” Rinder said. “If I was told to follow someone, I made it happen. If I was told to discredit someone, dig up dirt on them, get their backgrounds investigated I made it happen.”
This concept is known as “fair game” by the church, meaning attackers of Scientology can be “tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed” if it keeps them from speaking out against Scientology. Still, Rinder remains an “eternally idiotic optimist,” waiting for the day his family reunites with him, though they have since spoken out against him multiple times in Scientology videos. His daughter, Taryn Kelly, says in one that when she needed her father “in any situation, he was never there.” In another clip, Rinder’s brother, Andrew, calls him “evil.”
The church sent a nine-page letter to A&E discrediting Rinder’s appearance on Remini’s show, which includes a letter his daughter Taryn also sent discrediting his appearance, saying that he has been “lying his whole life” about the Church, while making her and her brother “suffer” as he discriminates them and their beliefs.
In their letter to the television network, the Church writes, “Rinder’s dishonesty and malfeasance caused the Church numerous problems that took years and millions of dollars to correct. Ultimately, the intervention of the ecclesiastical leader was needed to clean up Rinder’s final and greatest mess, resulting in his removal in disgrace in 2002. Years later, he remains bitter and angry for the humiliation he endured as a result and refuses to accept personal responsibility for any of his actions.”
To see their entire letter, along with Taryn’s and all of the church’s correspondence since the show began production, click here.