Season 2 of Leah Remini's hit A&E docuseries Scientology and the Aftermath is already under way and fans are getting a deeper look into the shortcomings of the Church of Scientology through interviews and testimonials from former members. Now that Leah has dedicated her life and career to exposing the church, fans are wondering what exactly happened to Leah while she was a Scientologist and what made her decide to leave. Keep reading below to find out Leah's personal history with the controversial religion.
When did Leah join Scientology?
Leah grew up in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY and her father George Remini was Catholic while her mother, Vicki Marshall was Jewish, Leah’s sister Nicole said in an interview with the noted Scientology whistleblowing blog The Underground Bunker. Leah and her sister were raised Catholic but after their parents' divorce, Vicki’s new boyfriend introduced her family to Scientology. The sisters got involved with the church when Nicole was eight years old and Leah was six years old.
How long was Leah in Scientology?
Leah was involved in the Church of Scientology for 37 years. When she was 12, her mother moved the family to Clearwater, FL in order to be closer to the church’s headquarters. Once they relocated, Leah and Nicole were recruited into the religion’s Sea Org — which a fraternal “religious order” that is made up of the “most dedicated Scientologists” and it requires members to sign a billion-year contract.
But their experience with the church was full of issues from the start, and they were constantly being punished for breaking the rules. When Leah was 15, her family moved from Florida to Los Angeles — which is where Leah’s acting career took off. As she became a celebrity, she started starring in promotional videos and attended events to recruit new members — and she often credited the church with helping her achieve her success in Hollywood.
When did Leah leave Scientology?
Leah left in July 2013 after a series of events led her to completely distance herself from the church. The turning point came in 2006, shortly after noted Scientologist Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes in Italy. While at the wedding, Leah approached Scientology leader David Miscavige and asked him why his wife, Shelly Miscavige, wasn’t with him. She was told she didn’t have “the rank” to ask about Shelly and when she returned from Italy, she was subjected to extreme interrogation in “auditing” sessions. She realized that she no longer wanted to be affiliated with the church and its practices — which Leah has called “corrupt”— so she left, and her family followed her.
Why did Leah leave Scientology?
Seven months after she left the church, Leah opened up about her decision in an interview with Buzzfeed. She said there were "a dozen" reasons for her departure, but the biggest one was her 13-year-old daughter, Sofia Bella Pagan — whom Leah shares with her husband, Angelo Pagan.
“In my house, it’s family first — but I was spending most of my time at the church,” Leah said. “So, I was saying ‘family first,’ but I wasn’t showing that. I didn’t like the message that sent my daughter.”