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Leah Remini schools us on what motivates Scientologists to toe the line


Last month, we found ourselves having dinner in some pretty special company. We had flown out to Los Angeles and sat down for a meal with BBC journalist John Sweeney, longtime Scientology critic Mark Bunker, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, and the person who had brought us all together, actress, producer, and Troublemaker author Leah Remini.

We were there to talk about her upcoming series for A&E, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, and it was a real treat to discuss it with these figures we admire so much.

We can’t go into too much detail about what we talked about, but there was one moment we wanted to describe for you. We had fallen onto the subject of Scientology’s snitching culture, that everyone in the church is constantly watching everyone else and looking for any reason to turn people in for breaking the rules. Children are expected to turn in their own parents if they catch them watching television programs critical of Scientology or looking at websites like the one you’re looking at now. Husbands turn in wives, brothers turn in sisters, and once they’ve been snitched on Scientologists undergo abusive interrogations that can literally take weeks to complete — and at the end of it, they’re billed for it!

One of the most startling examples of this is the story of Sylvia DeWall, which we wrote about last year. A friend of Sylvia’s turned her in for, among other things, watching Leah Remini on Dancing with the Stars and sending emails to Mike Rinder. Sylvia was interrogated for three weeks and had to pay $4,500 for the privilege.


We have heard many other stories about interrogations and families being ripped apart after someone had snitched on their parent or child doing things the church considered “out-ethics.” And we said it was all an example of how Scientology ruled its members through fear.

To our surprise, Leah spoke up and told us we had it wrong. It wasn’t fear, necessarily, that kept Scientologists in line.

“It’s certainty. It’s being part of something special,” she said. Scientologists are made to feel that they’re on a crucial mission that will save the planet, and that they have the only answers to the earth’s problems.

And that feeling is reinforced, she said, by the lies that the organization constantly tells them. “It’s the amazing and fraudulent stats the church puts out that make us believe we’re doing good for the world. So when you are told you’re doing amazing things to help mankind, then listening to or looking at anything negative about your church, is ‘contra-survival.’ You don’t want to look, because you are brainwashed into thinking that those things or people just don’t know the good the church is doing.”

She added that there was fear involved, but not fear of being snitched on.

“It’s a fear of being wrong,” she said. If a Scientologist has a negative thought about the church, “Virtually no one in your group will agree with you, even if they feel the same way. And it comes down to their so called ‘eternity’ that the church is holding prisoner. It’s the fear of dying. No one wants to believe this is your only life, and the church preys on that fear. And it’s the fear of being wrong about what you sacrificed your life for. And the fear of losing your family.”

We have many former Scientologists in our reader community, and we wanted to hear your thoughts about this. What motivated you to follow the intricate rules in Scientology? And what fear did you have, if any, for the prospect of being hauled in by ethics for a sec check?

We’d like to get a brisk conversation about it to get us pumped up for the premiere of Leah’s series on November 29.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on November 12, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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