Leah Remini used to be one of Scientology's biggest star names, but now the former King of Queens actress has left the church - and her family's going with her.
Leah's sister Nicole Remini, who like Leah was raised as a Scientologist, tells In Touch that the whole Remini family is now out of the religion. According to Nicole, one of their reasons for doing so was the church's reported "disconnection" policy, where current members are asked not to associate with former members. In some cases, that can even mean that family members are asked to stop communicating with each other.
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"One of our really close friends from when we were like 8 years old send me a text saying 'What the heck is going on because I just got called to go into the celebrity center,'" Nicole tells In Touch. The celebrity center is a Scientology church in Los Angeles where many stars go for spiritual counseling and Scientology classes.
"Scientology is so quick to dismiss the people that maybe don’t have a voice," Nicole continues. "They’re so quick to discredit. And it’s so strange that they do that because everybody has the same story, everybody has the same problems."
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Nicole adds that the friend who texted is the only Scientologist they've heard from. Despite earlier reports that actress Kirstie Alley, a devoted Scientologist, had reached out to Leah, Nicole says that isn't true. Instead, Kirstie has posted some angry tweets that sound as if they're directed at Leah.
According to Tony Ortega, the former Village Voice editor who now has a blog about Scientology, Leah first began to consider leaving the church after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' wedding in Italy.
Leah, who was a guest, was taken to task by several Scientologists because she helped friend Jennifer Lopez switch seats with someone else at the reception. Although Leah thought that it was no big deal, some Scientologists complained that she "ruined the wedding" and wrote up "Knowledge Reports," which are like bad report cards, about her. After that, Leah began to ask more questions and push back against some of Scientology's rules.
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Leah isn't the first celebrity to publicly leave Scientology. Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis loudly announced that he was leaving the church in part because of their anti-gay beliefs. Actor Jason Beghe, who currently appears in the drama Chicago Fire, left in 2007 and has become an anti-Scientology activist.