Leah Remini says Scientology was ‘a lie,’ she was a ‘hypocrite’
Leah Remini is opening up further about her controversial decision to leave the Church of Scientology, calling herself a “hypocrite” for staying with the organization and saying everything the church taught her was “a lie.”
The “King of Queens” alum made headlines last summer because of her break with the high-profile organization.
In a Buzzfeed interview published Wednesday, Remini, who had been a Scientologist for more than 30 years, explained that she decided to leave the church for the well-being of her 9-year-old daughter, Sofia.
“She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the church would have to start,” said the actress, who will next appear in the TV Land comedy “The Exes.”
Remini’s mother, Vicki, joined the organization after her stepfather persuaded them to move to the church’s Clearwater, Fla., compound before Remini was 10. Apparently, he never followed.
There, she said, she and her sisters were separated from their mother and had to sign “billion-year contracts we didn’t understand” and work for the church “from morning until night with barely any schooling.” (Though she does credit the time to building up her work ethic.)
Plainly, the 43-year-old mom didn’t want that life for her own child.
“I started thinking of my own childhood and how I grew up resenting my mother because she was never home,” she added. “It’s funny; somehow my father, the guy who left his kids and never paid child support, was excluded from my resentment and I grew up resenting my mother for not being home to make food, like all my friends’ moms were. But my mom thought she was doing something good; she thought she was helping the planet. That’s what the church tells you.”
She also disagreed with the organization’s “church first” mantra.
“In my house, it’s family first — but I was spending most of my time at the church,” she said. “So I was saying ‘family first,’ but I wasn’t showing that. I didn’t like the message that sent my daughter.”
And her desire to implement changes in the church were met with opposition, she said. “They didn’t care about doing the right thing. That showed me everything the church taught me was a lie,” she said.
Remini signed on for “Dancing With the Stars” shortly after announcing her split from the church and placed fifth. During her ballrom stint, she accused the church of looking for her to fail.
Her decision to part ways with the church resulted in an upheaval that included actress and Scientologist Kirstie Alley railing against her, calling her “repulsive” and a “bigot” in a December appearance on “The Howard Stern Show.” The church has also spoken out about Remini’s misrepresentation of the organization.
However, the Brooklyn native said the fact that her mother stood by her decision to leave last year “totally took away any resentment” she’d been harboring toward the organization.
“In the church, you’re taught that everybody is lost,” Remini said. “They say they’re loving, caring, nonjudgmental people, but secretly, they were judging the world for not believing what they believed. To me, that is not a spiritual person. That’s a judgmental person, and that is the person that I was. I was a hypocrite, and the worst thing you can be in this world is a hypocrite.”
The church did not immediately return a Times request for comment.
[Update, 3:30 p.m. Feb. 27: The Church of Scientology responded Thursday afternoon to Remini’s comments. “It comes as no surprise that someone as self-absorbed as Leah Remini with an insatiable craving for attention would exploit her former faith as a publicity stunt by rewriting her history with it, including omitting that she was participating in a program to remain a Scientologist by her own choice, as she was on the verge of being expelled for her ethical lapses,” the church said in a statement.]
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