Leah Remini’s 20/20 interview aired on Friday and plenty of the information was eye-opening, but not too shocking. By this point, the complaints and stories about Scientology have been heard, be it the top ex-high level members to celebrities who managed to leave the church behind. All of them carry their own twists and Remini was no different.
Much of her interview was spent focused on Tom Cruise, especially during his relationship with Katie Holmes, but there were plenty of moments that showcased her life within the organization, including her time in Sea Org according to The Hollywood Reporter:
After plugging into the New York branch, Remini moved with her mother and sister to Clearwater, Florida and enrolled in Sea Org, the fulltime religious order of the church at its headquarters, where she signed a billion year contract to commit herself to the church.
During her time at Sea Org, Remini admitted in the interview that “you live in roach-infested dorms with other children” and “could go from working in a laundry room to working industrial sanders.” Though she was “learning how to learn Scientology” and the food “didn’t taste like food and you had to get it at a certain time,” she considered the church her home.
But during her one-year involvement at Sea Org, Remini and her then-boyfriend partook in physical actions the church deemed inappropriate. “I allowed my boyfriend at the time … to go like this over my shirt,” she said while lighting touching her breast over her shirt. Remini remarked the action was a church violation and she was threatened to be put in the rehabilitation project force. “When you have screwed up royally in the Sea Org, it’s basically to reform you. You have to wear black, you have to run everywhere you go, you have to call everyone sir. It’s pretty severe punishment for an adult, not to mention a child.” Remini said.
Her interactions with Cruise and Scientology head David Miscavige carry some of the oddest details of her stay, including word that the group was allegedly trying to get to Remini’s friend Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony in order to have them join the organization.
The weirdest incident stems from around the time Tom Cruise was jumping on Oprah’s couch in reference to Katie Holmes. According to THR, Remini was invited over to teach Cruise salsa dancing and got an eye of a lot more, leading to some punishment:
“At first it’s very effusive, it’s very very loving. You get the laser in on you and you’re the most important thing that ever happened,” she said of her first impressions of Cruise. She recalled a memory she had of meeting both Cruise and Katie Holmes at the actor’s home one evening. Remini received a call from a church official that said Cruise wanted her to come over and teach him salsa dancing. Two high-ranking Scientology officials were there with the actor at his home and so was his new girlfriend, Holmes, when Remini arrived.“He was forcibly kissing Katie. I said, ‘hey, get a freaking’ room.’ I was written up for that and I had to go into session for it,” Remini said of the evening. The actress said that Church members regularly write knowledge reports on others and they have to answer for it in auditing sessions.
Scientology obviously denies everything from the 20/20 report and claims that Remini’s claims are ridiculous. As for Katie Holmes’ “appearance,” it was merely a statement regarding an incident where Holmes wrote up a report on Remini for the brass at Scientology regarding the latter’s actions at her wedding. As you can tell above, Holmes apologizes for any trouble or hurt she caused Remini during her time in the church.
This is just another log on the recent fire against Scientology, once again highlighting some of the problematic issues within the organization, while also noting how charismatic and tempting it is for those who join.