Another Celebrity Scientologist Leaves the Church

According to “King of Queens” star Leah Remini, the latest celebrity to leave the Church of Scientology, millions of Scientologists have it wrong.

Leah Remini

Anonymous sources for the New York Post had plenty to say about Remini’s departure. They claimed that she suffered through years of “interrogations” and “thought modification” after she allowed herself to engage in a bit of freethinking and then — gasp! — question the church leadership about their policies and practices. (Questioning the leader, David Miscavige, is simply not allowed.) Remini didn’t stop there; she went a step further and spoke up about the abuses at Sea Org.

In case you aren’t familiar with Sea Org,

The Sea Organization is a religious order for the Scientology religion and is composed of the singularly most dedicated Scientologists — individuals who have committed their lives to the volunteer service of their religion. The Sea Organization is a fraternal religious order and is not incorporated. Members of the Sea Organization are therefore wholly responsible to the Church of Scientology to which they are assigned and are responsible, as are all other staff, to officers and directors of that Church.

The Sea Organization was established in 1967 and once operated from a number of ships.

These individuals work long hours, live communally, and have signed contracts to spend the next billion years in service to the church. It’s not surprising that this type of environment, along with a constant barrage of heavy indoctrination, is a breeding ground for abuse.

Besides disallowing questions about doctrine, overworking, and brainwashing their members, other strategies commonly used by high-control groups are employed. They excommunicate individuals considered “suppressive persons” and force their family members to disconnect from them. A further search of the website elaborates on what a “suppressive person” is:

A Suppressive Person (SP) is a person who seeks to suppress other people in their vicinity. A Suppressive Person will goof up or vilify any effort to help anybody and particularly knife with violence anything calculated to make human beings more powerful or more intelligent.

The Suppressive Person is also known as the Anti-Social Personality. Within this category one finds Napoleon, Hitler, the unrepentant killer and the drug lord. But if such are easily spotted, if only from the bodies they leave in their wake, Anti-Social Personalities also commonly exist in current life and often go undetected.

The basic reason the Suppressive Person behaves as he or she does lies in a hidden terror of others. To such a person every other being is an enemy, an enemy to be covertly or overtly destroyed. The fixation is that survival itself depends on “keeping others down” or “keeping people ignorant.” If anyone were to promise to make others stronger or brighter, the Suppressive Person would suffer the utmost agony.

It’s clear that the Church of Scientology holds much disdain for “suppressive persons” and, if you’ve been indoctrinated to believe these types of things, disconnecting from them seems like a logical next step.

Remini protested the church’s policies prohibiting family members from communicating with those who have left Scientology behind or have been kicked out. The Post reported that a source close to Remini said that “she thinks no religion should tear apart a family or abuse someone under the umbrella of ‘religion’”:

[In a blog post] Remini innocently asked where Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, was. Former Scientology Celebrity Centre head Tommy Davis scolded her, “You don’t have the [bleeping] rank to ask about Shelly.” Mrs. Miscavige reportedly hasn’t been seen in public since 2007. As a result, Remini “was put through interrogations and blacklisted within the church that she donated millions to and that her family has spent their lives in. She was put through ‘thought modification’ for five years,” our source said.

A Scientology rep denied all the allegations.

This isn’t the first time someone has spoken up about the depravity within the Church of Scientology. And, unfortunately, this kind of news doesn’t seem to be hurting their membership numbers. The organization has revealed that it has anywhere from eight million to fifteen million members worldwide.

About Bridget R. Gaudette

Bridget R. Gaudette is the Executive Director of the Humanists of Florida Association and the Marketing & Grants Manager for Foundation Beyond Belief. Bridget was a contributor to the book, BlackNones, a book highlighting black atheist conversion stories and is currently writing a book, Grieving for the Living: Effects of Disownment in Adulthood.

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  • Cormacolinde

    “anywhere from eight million to fifteen million members worldwide.”

    That is a complete an utter fabrication. Most reasonable estimates place their membership at 20-40 000 in the US, at most they have 200 000 worldwide, probably far less than that.

    They try to count as “members” anyone who ever bought the Dianetics book as well as anyone who’s ever taken one of their “free assessment test”, which is obviously crazy.

    But then, the Catholic Church counts everyone ever baptized in a catholic church as a member…

  • Mare Lacrimarum

    PSA: Take care before visiting any scientology website. They have been known to pull some shenanigans with any visiting IP addresses that visit. In the past, I’ve been sent literature from the cult, and all I did was visit their site for research on a paper. Granted this was a decade ago, but caution is always best.

  • Mitch

    “The fixation is that survival itself depends on ‘keeping others down’ or ‘keeping people ignorant.’ If anyone were to promise to make others stronger or brighter, the Suppressive Person would suffer the utmost agony.”

    Anyone else find this funny? Talking about “Suppressive Persons” in a cult that doesn’t allow questioning of it’s doctrines, leadership, etc.

  • Willy Occam

    “Goof up”… really? Is that an officially-sanctioned scientologist term (like thetan, audit, and Suppressive Person)?

    Not that it’s more fucked up than any other religion….

  • Jordan

    More widespread Secular Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous would cause a massive exodus from Scientology

  • Jordan

    And Mormons baptize people after they die. Which is at once the most hilarious and horrifying thing I have ever heard.

  • Stev84

    I’ve recently read some articles that suggest that Southern Baptists have massively inflated their numbers as well. A lot of evangelicals move from church to church, trying out different ones. At many of them they may get baptized, so they are counted as a new member at each of those. In reality they are just moving around without changing the total numbers.

  • Houndentenor

    It’s interesting that it’s the abuse of the “church” that finally caused her to leave and not its absurd teachings, but either way she got herself out of that madhouse. She still seems to adhere to the teachings but have problems with the Miscavage and others who are in charge. The problem with that is that there has been nothing but abuse in that organization from the very start.

  • Houndentenor

    I think it’s horrifying when they do it to Jews who died in the holocaust, but if they want to fake baptize me after I’m dead, I’ll still be dead and still won’t be Mormon so it seems like a big waste of time to me. Since it’s time they won’t be raising money for anti-gay ballot initiatives, I guess maybe that’s a good thing.

  • Denis Robert

    I think you’re way too naive about the membership numbers the Church is “releasing”. Their numbers are likely a tenth of that, based on independent estimates. They have inflated their numbers for years (not unlike the Catholic Church), counting anyone who has ever taken a course, for example, as well as counting anyone who has left the Church.

  • Makoto

    Scientology is a fascinating case to me. Its founder straight out said that if you want to make money, you make a religion.. then he did so. People believe in this religion and are spreading it as best they can, just like all the other religions out there.

    I think it’s a rather nutty religion, but I almost wonder if L. Ron was punking the world when he created it by making it sooo zany that surely no one would believe.. and yet they did and the cash flowed in.

    Though really, I think he was just after the money, applied his sci-fi writing skills to the task, and made a holy book that makes about as much sense as any other, just with a couple of modern twists because he could.

    One would hope that this case would make people question other holy works and religions, since it’s happening right before our eyes. But no, they still claim their works are the words of their particular gods, and must be true because just a few people maintained them at various times and brought them into the modern era.. kinda like Scientology.. oh, wait..

  • JET

    Scientology gives the Mormons something to point and snicker at.

  • onamission5

    Funny how in the screed about “Suppressive Persons,” the Church of Scientology seems to be describing itself.

  • JET

    Joseph Smith was a convicted flimflam man. Even the inner circle of his earliest followers doubted the validity of his revelations. No problem.


    I’m glad Leah Remini saw fit to leave Scientology behind, but that being said, Scientology wasn’t exactly an unknown quantity when she joined it. I have no sympathy for any adult who willingly allows themselves to be part of such an obvious, and ongoing fraud.

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    Xenu is no more ridiculous than magic underwear, two of everything on a boat, and zombie deities.
    Actually, Xenu sounds like the most plausible scenario out of the mythologies described by every current major religion,
    We like to laugh at Scientology, but they don’t strap bombs to themselves, drop airplanes on dense population centers, pass laws supporting medieval attitudes toward women, or shoot abortion doctors.

  • Erp

    I agree the numbers are absurd. For comparision there are less than 14 million Jews in the world (this includes non-observant Jews) and the Mormons only claim about 14 million people (which also includes inactive but not people who have actively sought removal from the rolls).

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    Name one single religion that doesn’t sound “nutty” when you describe it to someone who isn’t familiar with it.
    Honestly, an alien warlord sounds more believable than The Garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark.

  • Erp

    Why most horrifying? Even within the Mormons I would think the total exclusion of women from any position of power (except over other women and even then only under the supervision of a man) is much more horrifying.

  • Stev84

    Mormonism is basically 19th century Scientology. Their theology also contains some extremely weird space stuff.

  • Makoto

    Quite true! Makes me wonder if I rank it higher on the nuttiness scale simply because it includes modern-day concepts that I more strongly associate with humans (747s and such), while others use concepts more esoteric to us modern folks.

    But yeah, they’re all pretty nutty when you get down to it.

  • SeekerLancer

    Incoming torrent of baseless insults from Scientology calling her a criminal and a child molester.

  • mumd0g

    I think the most fascinating video I’ve seen on the subject was this two hour interview with Jason Beghe about leaving the church. It is incredible. If you know nothing about Scientology, you may want to read a Wiki article or two, but if you understand the framework, jump right in and watch this. Since it is two hours long, it gets into larger concepts than Scientology specifically, but the best parts are his personal awakening from what was really going on.

  • Tom

    Five years of intensified brainwashing and persecution for asking a single question one day. What can possibly be said that isn’t horrifically obvious?

    The one shred of solace one can take from this is that, for all their demented authoritarian evil, the people who run this organization are evidently at least none too bright if they don’t realise that such an overblown response to an awkward question like that is all but spelling out the answer to everyone anyway. Or maybe they feel so secure in their power that they just don’t care that everyone can easily figure out what sort of thing they’re really up to, just so long as they’re sufficiently cowed as not to show signs of defiance by actually asking about it.

    Too bad that also means that Mrs Miscavige is rather unlikely to be alive and well somewhere.

  • randomfactor

    They actually have something like 50,000. Their numbers have always been overinflated…they count anyone who’s ever taken one of their phony “personality tests.”

  • randomfactor

    I think Joseph Smith has been necrobaptized as a gay man, so it evens out.

  • randomfactor

    “Fair Game.”

    And Scientology is America’s official religion…

  • randomfactor

    Playing Xenu’s Advocate here, when she joined the Operation Clambake site wasn’t operating (I think) and much of their Sooper Sekrit Skripchure wasn’t as widely available for public derision.

  • randomfactor

    No, but their activities have killed several women.

  • randomfactor

    Scientology has its for-profit version of Narcotics Anonymous pretending to be something of a secular organization. In the past, they had a vast number of interpointing “drug abuse” websites to snare the unwary and inflate their Google ranking.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    applied his sci-fi writing skills to the task

    Wait, his WHAT? He had writing skills? Why didn’t he ever use them? ;P

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    They’re incredibly vicious and like to ruin peoples’ lives and finances for spite over trivial or even nonexistent offenses.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    One of the most effective propaganda techniques is to preemptively paint the enemy with your own faults.

    If those I’ve aggravated had reading comprehension, they’d try to exploit the above sentence. It’d be the very definition of “floundering”. :P

  • Feminerd

    There is an urban rumor floating around that L. Ron Hubbard and Orson Scott Card had a bet to see which could make up a religion and actually get people to follow it. Hubbard made Scientology and Card created the one seen in Speaker for the Dead. The much nuttier one took off.

    I don’t know if this is true. It’s probably not true. The idea amuses me a lot, though, so I thought I’d share it.

  • SecularPatriot

    There had better not be, “millions of scientologists.”

  • Tom

    “Necrobaptism.” Asinine concept, cool word.

  • Ibis3

    Another possibility is that she bolted and changed her name.

  • Ibis3

    I’d heard that the bet was between Hubbard and Robert Anton Wilson, and the other religion Discordianism.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Card’s a LDS member with some evilly regressive neocon stances. Not likely he’d do that, even though he is an egotistical blowhard.

  • Feminerd

    The stuff about Card being a regressive, neocon LDS member is definitely true, which makes it likely he wouldn’t take the bet. Like I said, this is almost certainly not true. It just amused me, especially because Speaker for the Dead actually would be a fairly nice religion as such things go.

  • Feminerd

    Maybe. I haven’t really looked into it much.

  • Rain

    [In a blog post] Remini innocently asked where Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, was. Former Scientology Celebrity Centre head Tommy Davis scolded her, “You don’t have the [bleeping] rank to ask about Shelly.”

    Yeah, nothing “suppressive” about that. Oh, by the way, where the hell is she.

  • TBJ

    What!? Where are the usual xian commentators? I expected at least one would try positing the argument that any religion is better than no religion.

  • TBJ

    Since most religions are based on over inflated supernatural myths one should expect that the reported numbers of adherents would also be an over inflated supernatural myth.

  • Rain

    If Scientology actually works, then how do you explain the latest rash of movies-with-Scientologist-actors-in-them flops? Coincidence, I think not.

  • Ryan Hite

    Perfect example of any modern day religion, including the mainstream ones. They all have it wrong!!!!

  • HollowGolem

    There’s a lot wrong with that, not the least of which is timelines. Hubbard had already founded Scientology decades before Card had a novel published (let alone Children of the Mind). Remember, Hubbard died in 1988.

    The actual story is that the bet was between Hubbard and Robert Heinlein. Obviously everyone associated with Hubbard denies it, but a few Heinlein biographers and Heinlein’s own wife have both supported the claim.

    But really, who knows?

  • Feminerd

    OH right, it was Heinlein not Card I heard it about. Dammit. I need to keep my urban legends straight better, apparently :/

  • UWIR

    Counterpoint: if Scientology doesn’t actually work, how do actors whose movies flop keep getting hired?

  • Rain

    Good point. They still rake in the dough no matter what, lol.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Color me humorblind there for a minute. Pity he isn’t anywhere near as cool as the ideas he comes up with. :P

  • Bob

    David Miscavige acts like the king of his very own totalitarian state. If I believed in the antichrist, he’d be my first pick for the role.

    ht tp://

  • Robster

    Yeah, that’s a lot of people, the eight to fifteen million victims claimed by the Scientology church plc. But it’s only about 0000.2% of the population, there’s many more non members but that does mean that there’s plenty more potential victims. It is distressing that there are people gullible anough to fall for the nonsense offered by the church of Scientology.

  • Mario Strada

    That’s the very first thing that came to my mind.

  • Randay

    L. Ron Hubbard was convicted of fraud in France, as have several other cult bigwigs. While in the Navy, he was relieved of two commands of small ships for incompetence. He spent much time after as a patient in hospitals with a duodenal ulcer, but he claimed he suffered war wounds though he never received a Purple Heart and probably was never in a war zone.

    L. Ron was a big time serial liar as is his “church” which fabricated a war record for him. If you have time to waste on learning more about Scientology, why though, try and

  • paleotn

    You are correct. Back in a dark ages, when I was a teenager, church membership rolls routinely included people we’d not seen or heard from since grade school. Their family may have moved to another SBC church, another denomination or stopped attending altogether. Who knew! Didn’t matter. Total church membership and the perception that comes with that did matter. I doubt the practice has changed in the last several decades. Another case of lying for Jebus.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Jesus loves them.

  • Pseudonym

    Name one single religion that doesn’t sound “nutty” when you describe it to someone who isn’t familiar with it.


    What do I win?

  • Sajanas

    Most churches do something like that…. I was on the roll for my former ELCA Lutheran church (and perhaps, remain) long after I stopped attending as anything other than an occasional visitor when I was visiting my parents. I’d expect a lot of those who were members as children are probably still on the rolls.

  • Sajanas

    Its pretty creepy. If I have heard correctly, its not like they just go down a list and check a box… they conduct a ritual with a younger member standing in for every name they do. And it seems like a disturbingly cult like way for them to lay claim to the fate of dead people and ignore their own very different religious convictions to make their current living Mormon relatives feel better. At its worst, it seems like an insulting way to win an argument with a dead relative, like when Romney death baptized his athiest father-in-law.

  • Gus Snarp

    I’m ready to believe just about anything nasty about Scientology, and everything about the organization that’s in that article fits with other accounts, so it’s believable, but this is nothing but gossip. It’s one unidentified source. I want to rejoice that an actress whose work I’ve enjoyed is out of that cult, and more than that, I want her to be speaking out publicly about it, but that does not appear to be the case. Yet. We can’t be certain she’s out based on this article, and she’s not quoted at all, so we can’t credit her with speaking out. We have gossip, and nothing more. I’d also like to point out that this:

    [In a blog post] Remini innocently asked where Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, was.

    Is not at all a fair abbreviation of this quote from the original article:

    Former Sea Org member Mike Rinder blogged this week that at Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ 2006 wedding, Remini innocently asked where Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, was.

    The former makes it sound like Remini wrote the blog post in question, when the blog post was actually written by a third party, describing what he claims Remini said at a wedding.

    To be clear, none of this is outlandish based on other stories about what goes on inside Scientology, but it’s still unsubstantiated rumor. When dealing with an organization as secretive as Scientology, and with the tactics Scientology uses, it’s not wise to repeat unsubstantiated gossip. This only feeds into Scientology’s claims that outsiders are just spreading lies and are out to get them. If any of this was the actual words of Remini, I’d have no problem with it as a first hand account, but it’s not.

  • sane37

    Confucianism is a philosophy, not a religion.

  • sane37

    oh you’re such an SP you.

  • sane37

    Hollywood Liberal Conspiracy. Duh!

  • Pseudonym

    A distinction without difference.

  • Jim Jones
  • Jim Jones

    She probably committed the one, unforgivable sin for a little prick like Miscavige:

    She pointed and laughed.

  • Jim Jones

    They have committed numerous actual crimes, it is alleged, including break ins, thefts, bugging and the like.

    The only good thing they ever did was show why religion should be treated like every other business, by being forced to pay taxes and file financial records.

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    Like drawing Mohammed?

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    And how many women have Christianity and Islam killed? I’m not saying Scientology isn’t a horrible institution, I’m just saying, next to other less-ridiculed religions that are considered “legitimate” they are guppies in a shark tank.

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    Again, I’m not saying they don’t suck. I’m just saying they get a lot more attention for sucking than other religions that suck way more and have sucked for way longer.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    I’d liken them more to stingrays in that analogy, but yeah.