The Church of Scientology has lost one of its most prominent members, according to the New York Post's new report: Leah Remini. Page Six has alleged that the 43-year-old former King of Queens actress made a "dramatic break" from the controversial religion. The Church, which has long been associated with a plethora of celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, was recognized as a "non-profit charitable organization" in the United States in 1993. Since publicly admitting to joining the Church in 2001, Leah Remini has defended her choice and the institution itself a number of times. Now she has broken away after apparently being forced into "thought modification" classes and "interrogations."
Why? Technology Center Chairman David Miscavige's wife, Shelly Miscavige, has not been seen in public since 2007. After Remini inquired about where she might be, a source told the Post that Tommy Davis, head of the Scientology celebrity centre, said: "You don't have the f*cking rank to ask about Shelly." From that moment on she was subjected to abuse from members about her question.
Apparently, Remini had written a "knowledge report" about the occurrence, where she criticised Miscavige for his outburst. However, directly after submitting her report, she was ordered to the Scientology spiritual headquarters to take thought modification classes, including lie detection testing to uncover any "negative thoughts" she may have had about the church.
Boasting a following of over 8 million, the Scientology is undoubtedly controversial. It has been viewed as and referenced to as many things from a cult to a corporation; respected and genuine religion is not often one of them, and the possibility of "thought modification" being enforced isn't likely to help the stigma associated with the church.
The church has also been hotly defended, highlighting that it's fees are no different than that of other religious institutions, and that while the high levels of the Church of Scientology are very authoritarian and cult-like, so are those of many other churches. These notions play to the idea that it may just be the youth of the church that make its actions look so starkly "crazy" in comparison to other religions. It's easy enough to wave away questionable incidents associated with other religions due to their age; we may just think them archaic and not representative of most followers of the faith. Seemingly, it is more difficult to apply the same logic to such a new religion.
Scientology is an "applied religious philosophy," so it's possible to be both a Scientologist and any other religion, also making the stigma look a little more unfair and the church look fairly flexible and unintimidating. Something rarely said of Scientology, but often said of older religious institutions, is that a religion's theology or philosophy is not unreasonable, but its leaders are. Over the past 59 years, the church has stood strong and grown, with many new followers; perhaps a change in leadership is what's most needed to make it more publicly accepted.
For now though, the church has had another blow, not in its favor. A source speaking for Remini said that "no religion should … abuse someone under the umbrella of religion".
Tony Ortega's expose about Remini's clash with the church can be read here.