Leah Remini is the most famous former Scientologist to speak out against the Church – so for a religion that prides its self on its celebrity members, her latest interview is a major blow for the controversial organisation.
The King of Queens star sat down with American ABC’s 20/20 to give a scathing recount of her time within the church, and no topic was off limits.
We’ve compiled the five most shocking claims Leah has levelled against the religion she grew up in - claims that have prompted the church to label her a “liar, self-absorbed, rude and embarrassing".
Leah was disciplined for fraternising with a boy
As a teenager the actress signed a billion-year contract to join the church’s religious order The Sea Org. During her time she allowed her first boyfriend to “lightly” touch her breasts and once officials found out, she was in serious trouble.
“When you have screwed up royally in the Sea Org, it’s basically to reform you,” she told 20/20. “You have to wear black. You have to run everywhere you go. You have to call everyone ‘sir.’ … So it’s pretty severe punishment for an adult, not to mention a child.”
Leah was “written up” for criticising Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
Leah had been in the church since she was eight, so as her celebrity status rose thanks to The King of Queens she was catapulted into the orbit of names like Tom Cruise and John Travolta – but that didn’t come without a price.
Leah Remini learned the hard way to never speak ill of Tom, the church’s most famous member and leader David Miscavige's right-hand man.
“Being critical of Tom Cruise is being critical of Scientology itself,” Leah says. According to her, she was disciplined by officials after telling Tom and his then-girlfriend Katie to “get a friggin’ room” after witnessing them locked in an intense make-out session.
The church allegedly tried to use Leah to recruit Jennifer Lopez
Tom and Katie’s 2006 wedding was the event of the decade – but Leah revealed that her invitation and instruction to bring along her close friend Jennifer Lopez may have just been an elaborate attempt to recruit some more celebrity members.
She noted that high-ranking members of the church tried to distance Leah and JLo at the event.
“They were always trying to extract me, I could only assume because they wanted to make Jennifer a Scientologist and maybe I was barring that road for them," she says.
Tom Cruise’s wedding marked the beginning of the end for Leah’s time in the church.
The wedding of the decade was also the event that marked Leah Remini’s demise in the Church as she started to ask questions that Scientology was not prepared to answer – particularly, why the leader of the Church, David Miscavige was there without his wife.
“It’s such a simple thing, it’s a big wedding, the leader of the Church is here but his wife isn’t – it’s getting weirder,” the mum-of-one explained.
Scientology issued a statement about Leah’s recount of the wedding calling her “ridiculous and stupid.”
The actress even showed a “knowledge report” she claims was written by the bride, Katie Holmes, about Leah’s behaviour at the wedding.
It stated: “I was dismayed at the behaviour of Leah Remini during the events leading up to our wedding and our wedding.”
Katie Holmes has since apologised to Leah
In 2012 Katie left Tom and Scientology, and now in a statement issued to ABC she broke her silence and apologised to Leah Remini about any behaviour which may been upsetting.
“I regret having upset Leah in the past and wish her only the best in the future,” the statement read.
Finally, Leah had one final word about the three decades of her life she gave to the church, “I don’t regret what I’ve been through, I don’t regret spending my life there, because it really did teach me a lot and because we’ve all survived it.”
While The Church of Scientology had this to say: “We are very happy that Ms Remini is no longer in the Church.”