Latest celebrity defection casts light on Scientology leadership
By Eric Kelsey and Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The departure of U.S. actress Leah Remini from the Church of Scientology this week raised new questions about the relationship top leaders assume with their high-profile Hollywood members and their ability to retain them.
The New York Post, which first reported Remini's defection on Thursday, said the actress chose to leave after "being subjected to years of 'interrogations' and 'thought modification' for questioning leader David Miscavige's rule," citing an unnamed source.
Remini, 43, best known for her role as Carrie Heffernan in the CBS comedy "King of Queens," released a statement thanking supporters on Thursday, but both she and her representatives declined to comment on her reasons for leaving the church.
It was not possible to independently confirm Miscavige's role in Remini's departure.
The Church of Scientology had no comment on Remini leaving the movement but said the allegations against Miscavige and the characterization of interrogations were "categorically false."
Miscavige, 53, who became the church's leader in 1987, refocused Scientology as a celebrity-friendly religion that depended on the name recognition and deep pockets of Hollywood stars, said Janet Reitman, the author of "Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion."
"Celebrities are treated better than any other human being with that organization," she said. "They are the kings and queens of Scientology."
But Remini's departure suggests that celebrities are feeling uncomfortable in the church, especially if leadership is putting them through what Scientology calls security checks, an intense confessional, Reitman said. Continued...