A large number of Hollywood A-list personalities converted to Scientology, but is it a religion or a cult?
Opinions may be divided on the subject matter but actress Leah Remini, who was raised as a member of the Church of Scientology since childhood, is clear-cut about how she feels about the organisation.
Quitting it in 2013, she poured her emotions into her book, "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology," which became a New York Times best-seller.
The husky-voiced actress, best known for her lead role in "Kevin Can Wait" and for being part of the panel of "The Talk," shares: “It took me six years to leave.
“I was scared and Scientology was all I had known. And I could no longer be part of an organisation that was abusing its members, lying to them about what they were doing with the money they were giving... and then attacking its former members. In Scientology, there is a policy; if people speak out, it (the organisation) will destroy them. And I just couldn’t be part of an organisation that was doing that to people.”
After plucking up the courage to leave, she said: “I was a very angry person. Scientology was part of my every day. Two-and-a-half hours of my day, every day, seven days a week. And it costs a lot of money to be a Scientologist. They have priests at prices.
They run it as a business. You pay in advance. You are working to pay for your ‘religion’. When I left, I was able to have free time. I had my life back. I was free to decide what I wanted to believe. I was free to decide who I wanted to be friends with. I was free to spend my money on my own family and my life, and securing my child’s future with an education.
“I would love to write another book. Not so much about Scientology, but other projects I want to work on. I’m lucky enough to have A+E Networks as a partner to do other projects with. I would like to do more in this area of exposing things that are important to me: discrimination, education, social problems and so on. Those are the things I’m really looking forward to. These are the things I want to explore as a producer and as a person who has a voice.
“Then on the comedy front, I’m getting older now. I want to work with people I enjoy working with. I want to laugh and have fun. I’m in a movie with Jennifer Lopez called Second Act. That was amazing, I had such a fun time. It’s about working with the people I know and love, or don’t know and love.”
In the meantime, Remini continues to expose her findings on the Church of Scientology in the third instalment of her Crime + Investigation show (DStv channel 170). “Viewers are consistently asking questions like why does this organisation continue to have a tax status, where is the FBI, local police, DOJ and the IRS?”
Remini also features alongside Mike Rinder, chatting about The Jehovah’s Witnesses, unearthing stories of trauma and survival, in Twisted Faith, another show airing on the same DStv channel.
Tune in to Crime + Investigation Tuesday at 10am. Her shows are repeated on the channel if missed.