What do you do when you realize the church you’ve belonged to for 30 years is a destructive and abusive organization? If you’re Leah Remini, you warn people. Since leaving the Church of Scientology in 2013 she has given countless iinterviews, penned a tell all memoir, and now she’s starring in an A&E reality television show that follows her as she talks with other former Scientologists.
The first episode “Disconnection” aired already and is available for free streaming on A&E’s site. This episode gives a brief timeline of Remini in the group and her reasons for leaving, including the mystery surrounding Shelley Miscavige, the leader’s wife who has not been publicly seen for years and many believe to be imprisoned.
After the mini bio, the show introduced Mike Rinder. He is a former senior executive of Church of Scientology and Sea Org, the naval themed subgroup of Scientology devotees who live and work on church property under constant scrutiny. Rinder left Scientology in 2009. In Aftermath, he expressed his gratitude to Remini for joining the fight. Her entire family left when she did; his entire family stayed.
Next to appear on the show was another former high ranking Scientologist and Sea Org member, Amy Scobee. Scobee recounted to Remini and Rinder her experience of statutory rape as a teen in Sea Org. At this point Remini became visibly upset, over the incident and the lack of justice. She expressed a desire to “hire someone to break his fucking legs” and frustrate with statutory limits on sex crimes. Rinder offered, “There is one thing that can be done. It can be exposed.”
Scobee went on to discuss physical beatings she witness Scientology Chairman of the Board David Miscavige inflict on male officers and executives of the church. For years she mentally justified and excused his violent outbursts: David is overwhelmed, David carries the weight of the world, David is angry they failed him. When she finally recognized she was covering for and enabling abuse, she left. Her mother Bonny, “a leftover flower child”, stayed in the church and disconnected from Amy for a time. The two were reunited when Bonny was receiving cancer treatment and both appear in the episode. Between filming her interview and it airing, Bonny passed away.
What makes this different from other documentaries on Scientology is Remini’s personal investment. Watching her get upset over upsetting things is a breathtaking change from detached observers. She believed in this church. She defended it. She has some guilt over promoting it. Remini is a woman on a mission, to save souls from Scientology. When they taught her to care, when they told her she could change the world, they didn’t plan for her to believe that and use it against them. As a fellow cult survivor, it’s inspiring. She’s officially a role model after watching.
I highly recommend it. New episodes air on Tuesdays!