King of Queens actress Leah Remini famously left the Church of Scientology in 2013. Since then, she's spoken out about her story in a memoir, Troublemaker, and is about to premiere a new show, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, on A&E. On the show, she highlights how the secretive organization tears families apart, especially when one or more members leave.
Remini, who was born into Scientology and received the "celebrity" treatment once her career took off, opened up even more about the scary details of the church in an "Ask Me Anything" Q&A on Reddit on Tuesday. She made it clear that she feels it's her duty to highlight victims of Scientology who are brave enough to tell their stories, despite threats from church officials.
For her part, she said that she feels "strangely protected by the world at large" and doesn't feel in danger for speaking out. She even gave a shout-out to a Scientology official who would be reading and examining her AMA. But she also said that many other prominent former parishioners couldn't talk to her even if they wanted to. "The policy of the 'Church' does not allow them to come to me," she said. "Former high ranking Sea Org members like Debbie Cook and former members like Katie Holmes are forbidden to speak to other [suppressive persons, or ex-members]. Certain members are forced to sign agreements that does not allow them to speak to ex-members."
Another crazy detail? Remini also added that Scientologists truly believe Tom Cruise is "singlehandedly changing the planet" and is something of a messiah figure for them. When Remini, who paid millions of dollars to the Church during her time there, was at "OT 3" and told about the sci-fi-esque backstory of Scientology, she said she freaked out:
"My first reaction was 'Are you all fucking nuts?' and then I looked at my mother and said 'What kind if bullshit did you get me in?' My only option was to leave, but at the time my family was not ready to go. The 'church' told me I didn't need to believe it, just do it. And they always pose this question: 'Are you ready to leave everything you've ever known?'"
She accused leader David Miscavige of knowing that Scientology is a scam, but noted that lower-level followers "are in the dark and believe they are doing amazing things for the world." When a commenter who claimed his or her parents were in the organization, she gave this advice on how to get them out:
"If you want to get them out there is no way to do it nicely. There is no way to do it quietly. You have to challenge them by saying, 'If you can think for yourself, if you have truly accomplished what Scientology says you have accomplished, you should be able to speak freely on any subject.' […] You should ask them how is it then that you can't watch a movie called Going Clear or look on the Internet if you are the elite of the planet and handling the planet's ills if you can't think for yourself. I only hope that your challenge will get them to simply look."
Remini said she doesn't think the organization will change once Miscavige dies. But she was hopeful that Scientology's horrific practices will one day stop. "I hope that its abusive practices come to an end," she wrote. "I'm all for people believing in things that are decent."
The Church of Scientology has yet to comment on Remini's AMA, but in the past they have issued this statement about her:
"Desperate for attention with an acting career stuck in a nearly decade-long tailspin, Leah Remini needs to move on with her life. Instead, she seeks publicity by maliciously spreading lies about the Church using the same handful of bitter zealots who were kicked out years ago for chronic dishonesty and corruption and whose false claims the Church refuted years ago, including through judicial decisions."
Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.