Leah Remini, an actress and activist, sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss Scientology and the Aftermath. Remini has been a forthright critic of Scientology since 2013, when she made her own exit from the organization. After three seasons, she has made the decision to end Scientology and the Aftermath, an Emmy-winning docuseries on A&E.
The final episode of Scientology and the Aftermath was filmed in front of a live studio audience composed of former members of Scientology. The two hour special will feature testimonies regarding Scientology policies that have prevented members from reporting cases of sexual assault and abuse to authorities. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series finale will feature accusations of rape against Danny Masterson, an actor and Scientologist who has yet to be charged with any crime. The episode is scheduled to air on Monday, Aug. 26.
Throughout the show’s three seasons, Mike Rinder, a Scientology defector, has joined Remini in confronting the onslaught of allegations made against Scientology and its members.
During her interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Remini spoke on her decision to end the series. “We’re exposing so much,” she started, “but we need to do some other things to bring the fight to a different level. We did not plan on more than a season or two. I always thought it would be six or eight episodes and that would be enough for the FBI, local police and the IRS to start doing something about it — or at the very least revoke their tax exemptions. People kept telling us more stories, and we had to tell them, but there’s only so much you can do in this forum and in this way.”
The actress continued to speak on the show’s impact on Scientology. “Oh, they’re definitely challenged, as evidenced by their hate websites and picketing A&E and Disney,” she said. “The things they’re doing are right up their alley. They’re feeling it. I mean, who wants to let go of $3 billion? But their time is up — in terms of what they’ve gotten away with for five decades.”
Although Scientology and the Aftermath has inflicted damage on Scientology, the organization has, in turn, impacted the show.
“In television, you have advertisers. When you have employees of Scientology writing 444 letters by seven people, it’s not like whoever advertises on our show is going to take the time to go, ‘Hey, this is the same person and they work for the Office of Special Affairs at Scientology,’” explained Remini, speaking to Scientology’s habit of allegedly meddling in the series. “That department has policies that say ‘Destroy them utterly or at the very least cost them their job.’ I’m quoting the policy. They did this with Richard Behar and Time magazine. They spent $25 million trying to destroy him and the magazine. They did the same with Going Clear. Advertisers are not sitting there going, ‘Are these real religious people? Is this religious bigotry?’ They don’t want any of this bullshit nonsense. They don’t want to be known as bigots. So their first instinct is to say, ‘Look, we know this is a crazy organization, but we don’t want any part of that.’ They want advertisers to say that. It’s all a charade. I mean, what person wants that in front of their office building?”
In regards to ending the series with an episode on accusations of sexual assault, Remini had this to say: “I don’t know ultimately what they’re going to air — which is part of the issue when you’re not 100 percent in charge of your own show — but I can tell you what the intention was. I don’t remember the number of people in the audience, but they were all ex-Sea Org members. When I asked, ‘How many of you had a sexual crime committed against you in Scientology or SeaOrg or know of somebody who was molested or raped,’ every single person raised their hand. That’s just the 75 or so people who were in the audience. One girl stood up told me she knows of 11 people who committed suicide in the Sea Org. Most people are blessed enough to not know any in their life. To raise your hand and say, ‘11,’ it shows you what kind of organization we’re dealing with and how they obstruct justice. The work’s not done — whether it’s with A&E or another outlet, we’re not going to stop working.”
The finale’s focus on sexual assault is accompanied by complications pertaining to Danny Masterson, as the actor has yet to be charged for any crime. With this being said, Remini took a moment to address how she hoped the episode would address the rape allegations. “We filmed with three [alleged] victims,” she began. “The [alleged] victims were concerned and felt hurt and betrayed by [the delay in airing], and I understand that. They also feel hurt and betrayed by the [Los Angeles] District Attorney. I wanted to open up the whole thing. If it was any other organization but Scientology, the D.A. would at least be investigating. I’ve heard nothing.”
The interviewer then shifted the conversation to Remini’s past, asking her how the show has impacted her recovery process as a former member of Scientology.
“I don’t know that it’s helped my recovery,” she said. “Most people, when they get out of an abusive relationship, hopefully start doing the work to heal. I just haven’t been able to do that. It’s opened up a can of worms for me. I didn’t know, as a parishioner, that these things were going on. Obviously, I understood the policies of Scientology, because we all read the same things, but you don’t truly understand what’s going on. You see me, I’m shocked in these episodes. You’re not allowed to talk to each other in a way that people can talk to each other in the free world — and I say that because it’s like a prison. You’re not allowed to tell someone you were molested or raped in Scientology. You’ll get a report written on you internally. You get in trouble. There’s not that free communication among parishioners.”
Even though Remini said that communication was limited amongst members, she claims the church as a whole is aware of the alleged crimes within its circles. “The church certainly knows that there are rapes, molestations and physical abuse going on — which is why I keep saying I think the FBI would be successful if they conducted a raid, as they did in 1977,” she said. “Every crime that Scientology has ever committed or hidden is contained in their folders. I don’t know that I’ve begun the healing process. When Scientology’s tax-exempt status is revoked and people are in prison, that’s when I’ll start healing. Until then, I’m still in the fight.”
As Remini quickly explained, the focus of that fight is children and victims of Scientology. “We’re going down another avenue that we feel will bring real justice to victims of Scientology but also prevent it from happening in the future — particularly with children,” she said. “They need a voice that their Scientology parents aren’t providing. I’m not dumb enough to give Scientology a heads up on what we’re planning exactly.”
The interview concluded with a question on what Remini has planned for the future. “More than telling another story,” she started, “I want to focus on protecting its future victims. We’ve done our job. The public is seeing what a truly evil organization it is. It’s not about religious beliefs. They can believe whatever the fuck they want. But they can’t just do whatever the fuck they want — because that’s what they’ve been doing.”