Leah Remini says Tom Cruise is reason she left Scientology

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Belgian Scientologists go on trial for fraud and extortion.

Leah Remini, who’s become as famous for being an ex-Scientologist as she is as an actress, is likely to set the church’s teeth on edge again with her latest broadside, this time taking on the religion’s leading celebrity adherent, Tom Cruise. “Being critical of Tom Cruise is being critical of Scientology itself… you are evil,” Remini says in an interview with ABC’s Dan Harris, airing on the network Friday (10 p.m.The Belgian branch of the Church of Scientology went to trial in Brussels on Monday, facing charges of fraud and extortion in the wake of investigations into the church’s fundraising and recruitment practices.The case opened in a packed Brussels courtroom where the prosecution demanded that the church, known internationally for superstar members such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, explain where it got its financing. According to The Guardian, the country launched two investigations — one in 1997 and another in 2008 — looking into complaints about the church’s inner workings, as well as allegedly bogus job offers manufactured by the church to recruit new members.

Remini is a longtime critic of Scientology but she’s now flogging her new memoir about her 30 years in one of America’s most controversial — and celebrity driven — religions. Eleven members of the Belgian branch and two affiliated bodies are facing the charges, which also include running a criminal organization and violating the right to privacy. The initial investigation into the church’s financial activities was opened by the Belgian authorities in 1997, after a number of complaints were submitted by former members. The court heard on Monday that members would pay €2,000 (£1,400) for a ten-day “purification” programme, comprised of sauna sessions, running, sleeping, healthy eating and food supplements. The treasurer, who worked for the church until 2005, said she was not paid but was not required to pay the church’s fees, while her husband contributed about €10,000 for training.

The church sharply divides opinion – critics say it is cult and a scam, while supporters say it offers much-needed spiritual support in a fast-changing world. She tells ABC’s 20/20 that Cruise was one of the factors that led her to break from church, which she joined with her family when she was just a girl (she’s 45). The church’s mindset is such it interprets an attack on Cruise as an attack on the church, she says. “As time goes on, you start to lose touch with the real world,” she says in the interview. “The mindset becomes ‘Us against them.’ The decision to leave is you are giving up everything you have ever known and everything you have worked for your whole life. She quit the church in 2013, saying she objected to policies that forbade challenges to church leader David Miscavige’s management, or to the alleged abuse of some members.

She also objected to the church’s practice of branding those who leave as “suppressive persons,” and forcing their remaining family members to cease all contact. In August, Russian police sources said a raid on the church’s Moscow headquarters earlier this year revealed spy equipment installed in reconciliation rooms. It is recognised as a religion in the US and in some other countries such as Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden, and claims a worldwide membership of 12 million.

She said she didn’t like how her daughter’s life was starting to resemble her own much-resented Scientology-centric childhood with her mother at a church compound in Florida. “It comes as no surprise that someone as self-absorbed as Leah Remini with an insatiable craving for attention would exploit her former faith as a publicity stunt by rewriting her history with it, including omitting that she was participating in a program to remain a Scientologist by her own choice, as she was on the verge of being expelled for her ethical lapses,” church spokeswoman Karin Pouw told USA TODAY in a statement.

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