Leah Remini, best known for her work on CBS sitcom King of Queens, has reportedly become one of the biggest celebrities to leave the Church of Scientology. Remini, who has been open about her relationship with Scientology since as far back as 2001, issued a statement yesterday about press reports that she had left the church. An unidentified source told the New York Post yesterday that Remini had left the Church of Scientology, which still has Tom Cruise and John Travolta as members, after "being subjected to years of 'interrogations' and 'thought modification' for questioning leader David Miscavige's rule." Remini's website and Wikipedia page have also had all Scientology references removed.
The statement Remini gave did not directly address Scientology, but the source told Reuters that it was confirmation she had left the church. "I wish to share my sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues and fans around the world," said Remini. "I thank you for your support."
Remini has been open since as far back as 2001 about her relationship with Scientology, which has also attracted several other celebrities including Cruise, Travolta, Will Smith and Kirstie Alley. She also reportedly tried to get her friend Jennifer Lopez to convert to the religion in 2007, although later denied this. Remini said in a 2001 CNN interview that she "found solace" in Scientology and attacked critics who questioned her decision to join, claiming that, "If somebody is going to get turned off about something because of what they read or heard, then that person's not smart enough to even enter a church."
Many have questioned the unorthodox teachings of Scientology and it has been viewed by some as a cult. The Church of Scientology was founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1954 and describes its practices as a religion, believing that man is an immortal being whose experience extends beyond one's lifetime. However, critics have accused Scientology of endorsing only like-minded thinking and harassing those who threaten to quit.
It also remains to be seen how the decision by Remini to leave the Church will affect her relationships with family and friends. Her mother and stepfather are both active members in the church, but are reportedly standing by her and refuse to let Miscavige tear their family apart with Scientology's disconnection policy. However, Remini has been rumored to have already lost several friends within the church. Cruise and Travolta have yet to publicly comment on Remini leaving Scientology, but the devoted Scientologists will likely not take the news well.
Remini's most recent project, ABC sitcom Family Tools, was officially cancelled on Wednesday after just one season.