Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath
A&E Channel, Tuesdays at 10/9c
I was a big fan of the “King of Queens” television show (1998-2007), which featured Leah Remini (pictured) as Doug Heffernan’s no-nonsense wife, Carrie. It wasn’t a stretch to assume actress Remini shared many of the same tough-as-nails characteristics as her TV persona. Following “King of Queens,” Remini began to pop up in the media now and then regarding her very public split from the “church” of Scientology in 2013 and she now hosts this exposé on A&E.
I did a fair amount of research on religious cults way back in the day (especially on Mormonism) and I found Scientology to be one of the strangest. When I heard that Remini had a new show on the A&E cable channel that examined some of the less-flattering aspects of Scientology I was very interested and yesterday I watched the first two episodes via on-demand.
Scientology was dreamed up by science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, and claims to assist its members in achieving increasingly higher levels of self-knowledge and spiritual fulfillment. There is absolutely no trace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the teachings of Scientology.
In the first couple of episodes of the TV show, Remini shares some of her own experiences within the church and then focuses on the harrowing testimonies of other ex-members. It’s one heartbreak after another. The Scientology hierarchy demands unwavering obedience from its members and controls their lives right down to personal details. Ex-members are shunned (referred to as “disconnection”), even by family members, and public criticism of the church brings harassment and worse. This is riveting television, folks, although the frequency of bleeped curse words out of Remini’s mouth would embarrass a sailor.
In other media, Remini has stated that she has re-joined the Catholic church where she was baptized as an infant. “Nobody is asking me for money. Nobody is demanding that I come,” she explained about her current association with Catholicism to a popular magazine. Well, the Catholic church does appeal for money and it does demand that its members show up for weekly mass upon pain of eternal damnation, but the legalism of Catholicism must appear as great freedom compared to Scientology. However, the history of the Catholic church is filled with examples of cruel and heartless authoritarianism of a kind that would make Scientology leader, David Miscavige, feel pretty good about his organization. Unfortunately, there have also been examples of Christian evangelical/fundamentalist churches that sought to control the lives of their members. The Catholic church does teach several biblical doctrines but it has many other teachings that are either un-biblical or anti-biblical. Most importantly, Catholicism teaches salvation is by sacramental grace and merit in contrast to the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
A popular analogy floats around evangelicalism about a government treasury agent who studies only real currency in order to be able to spot the counterfeit. The message is that it’s much more valuable to study God’s Word than to “waste time” studying false religions. But if that’s the case then why do so many evangelicals embrace Roman Catholicism with its false gospel? Yes, we should diligently study God’s Word but we should also be somewhat aware of false religions, especially those that use Christian terminology like “faith,” “grace,” “Jesus the Savior,” etc. Satan’s most effective counterfeits aren’t those “wacko” outfits like Scientology but those that fool even the saints.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” – 1 John 4:1
There’s a lot of junk on television but “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” is definitely worth a watch. I feel a certain bond with Remini after coming out of a false church myself and sensing an obligation to warn those who remain behind and those who might be attracted to it. But it’s sadly ironic that Remini returned to the false church I left.