How much do we know about the Church of Scientology, really?
The answer, of course, is not a lot. Not really. It is, after all, a religion surrounded by controversy and shrouded in secrecy – and one which has, thanks to its prominent Hollywood ties (L. Ron Hubbard is alleged to have created ‘Project Celebrity’ in 1955, offering rewards to Scientologists who recruited targeted celebrities), fascinated outsiders for years.
That’s right: Remini, who left Scientology in 2013, has teamed up with former church official Mike Rinder to launch an audio follow-up to her docuseries Scientology And The Aftermath.
It will specifically focus on the faith’s alleged “Fair Game” practice, wherein its followers do everything in their power to intimidate its critics into silence.
Using Tom Cruise (often held up as Scientology’s ‘poster child’) and the buzz around the actor as an example of this, Rinder explained to The Daily Beast: “Maybe 10, 15 years ago, Hollywood was very complicit – and that had a lot to do with the influence Tom Cruise had.
“He had a lot of influence through CAA, his production deals, Paramount, his lawyers, everything. People did not want to get on the bad side of Tom.”
Remini added: “When I was in Scientology I got in trouble in Scientology for saying, ‘Why is this guy the poster child for Scientology? He can’t keep a fuckin’ marriage together, he’s jumping on couches, he’s acting like he knows anything about postpartum.’
“I learned pretty quickly that that’s not something you should be doing, because Tom Cruise is considered a messiah in Scientology. This is a man who has not even seen his own daughter in years. That this guy can be running around and having people think he’s this super-nice guy, I don’t get it. But that’s the Hollywood-bullshit game people play.”
With episodes recorded roughly one week before airing, Scientology: Fair Game installments will aim to highlight timely Scientology-related topics, such as the tragic deaths of Kelly Preston and Benjamin Keough, the rape charges against Scientologist actor Danny Masterson (who has denied the allegations), and the church’s views of doctors and mental health professionals.
The first full episode, which aired on 27 July and examines how the religion views the cause of all illnesses, sees Remini allege that the Church of Scientology tells followers that they only become sick through “sinful” behaviour. That they must have done something “bad” to get themselves sick.
“A lot of Scientologists don’t seek medical attention,” Remini says. “They seek Scientology solutions. And all children [of the church] are being raised this way… to become a different person, to learn to squash what they’re really feeling and dealing with.
“They’re hiding the fact that they’re going through some pretty serious situations in their life.”
Speaking to EW, Rinder noted that the podcast will go “further, deeper, harder and stronger” than Scientology And The Aftermath, which ran for three seasons on A&E.
“We’re going to go into detail about exactly what the [Fair Game] policy says, what it means, and how it’s implemented,” he said.
Emphasising this point, Remini added that the move to podcast-format means that she and Rinder can speak far more frankly about the religion. Indeed, she says she felt compelled to give up her A&E documentary because she found it difficult to “abide by certain [network] rules that dictate to us what we can and can’t say, or what we can and can’t do.”
“Hopefully, more people get activated to do something,” she added, branding the podcast a ‘call to action’.
To date, Remini has made a number of abuse claims against the religious order, stating that ex-Scientologists who speak out against the religion are “harassed constantly.”
“Especially me,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “Members of the Church go to my mother’s restaurant, confront my little sister, and my step kids in San Francisco, trying to intimidate us.
“These abusive scare tactics are what they call a religion!”
All claims of harassment and abuse have been vehemently denied by the Church of Scientology.
Scientology: Fair Game is available to listen on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Listen to the trailer here.
Images: Getty/Rex Features
Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.
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