Leah Remini covers People: Scientology tried to get me to recruit Kevin James

I’ll admit that when I first saw this People cover my reaction was “what year is it?” I respect and admire Leah Remini but to those of us who slavishly follow gossip, Scientology stories come across like old news. At least Taylor Swift isn’t on the main cover. (Come at me Tay Stans, we see you and your foreign IP addresses. Most of you have never commented here before.) As you know, Scientology is a cult that commits awful human rights abuses and traps members, who can’t escape without losing all their money, social contacts and often their families. Ex Scientologists are usually harassed and risk having their reputation ruined and more. Leah is immune from a lot of that as a celebrity. She’s using her platform to help tell other Scientologists’ stories through her A&E show, Scientology and The Aftermath, now in its second season.

While the general information about Scientology has been available online for years so many individual stories have not. One such story/angle is the fact that Leah Remini, who was brought into the cult as a child by her mother, was pressured to recruit her famous friends and coworkers. One of them was Kevin James, who co-starred with her on The King of Queens. Leah told Scientology higher ups that Kevin was Catholic and that she wasn’t going to help cleanse his thetans. (They don’t even tell people about thetans until they get to a very high/expensive level, I just thought I was clever for coming up with that.)

While they grew close filming nine seasons of The King of Queens, former Scientologist Leah Remini says she never tried to convert her longtime costar and friend Kevin James — much to the chagrin of the church.

“They always tried to get me to, [asking] ‘Why is he not in? Why have you not promoted it to him?’ I was like, ‘Because he’s Catholic. He doesn’t want anything to do with it,’ ” Remini, 47, says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “They let it go after a while, but usually you’d be expected to recruit, especially with somebody you work with for nine years.” (The church denies Remini’s claims.)

“I’m finally at peace knowing who I am and who I want to be,” she says. “I just want to be happy — and I want to help people…

“These people who are speaking to me [for the A&E series], they’re getting bullied by Scientology, their children are disconnecting, their parents are disconnecting, and I just hope that I’ve helped even one person to not give up their lives for an ideology,” Remini says.

Adds Remini: “If they’re going to come for me, they’re going to come. I’m not afraid of it. I think it’s disgusting, and the more they do it, the more they expose who they really are … I would like to be the face of resistance to abuse.”

[From People]

People included a statement from Scientology which amounts to “I know you are but what am I?” I don’t understand why outlets continue to give them a platform, but I could say that about so many despicable, criminal and abusive organizations and people lately.

Leah is reuniting with Kevin to become a series regular on Kevin Can Wait, now on CBS. I’m so happy for her and it sounds like she’s still very close with Kevin. Leah told People that Kevin contacted her when she started speaking out against Scientology and told her “I’m so proud of you; if you need anything, I’m here.” Leah also spoke to People about her longterm friendship with Jennifer Lopez, and how Jennifer helped her when she left the cult.

Twinsie BFFs!

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photos credit: Backgrid, Getty, People

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28 Responses to “Leah Remini covers People: Scientology tried to get me to recruit Kevin James”

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  1. littlemissnaughty says:

    I love Kevin Can Wait. It’s not GoT (which I don’t like) but it’s cute and Kevin James is great. I hate that they fired his TV wife though. They had great chemistry.

    As for Leah, I like what she’s doing. Can’t have been easy.

    Also, I’m laughing hard at the Tay stans and their IP addresses. I mean really, it’s not hard to spot when you read this site regularly.

  2. TQB says:

    OT: that red dress with the blue fans is amazing. WANT.

    • AnnaKist says:

      I was just about to say the same, TQB. That bodice is feminine and flattering and,,,no cleavage! The colours are beautiful – just my red. I’d wear the schïtt out of that dress. Sigh.

  3. Neelyo says:

    I thought for sure Remini was trying to recruit J Lo when she was with Marc Anthony.

    • Celebitchy says:

      She probably was but J.Lo’s dad is in Scientology so she was familiar with it. That’s not a good excuse, but still.

      • Neelyo says:

        I think I knew that but forgot it. Do you know if he became a Scientologist before or after Lopez became famous?

      • KB says:

        Was her father Catholic? It seems like Scientology has trouble truly converting the Catholics. Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes, Paul Haggis, even Leah Remini.

        Then again, Tom Cruise wanted to be a priest at one point, IIRC. I think he just has a God complex.

        ETA: Looking into it more, John Travolta and Jenna Elfman were also raised Catholic. So maybe it just seems like there are a lot of Catholic defectors because it attracts Catholics? Anyone know if there a higher percentage of former Catholics in Scientology than in the normal population?

      • different day says:

        Catholicism has it’ s ‘cult’ aspects, so I can see this type susceptible to “needing to belong” to a big organization. Transition is one of the biggest draws to a cult.

  4. HelloSunshine says:

    Has Leah been messing with her face? I feel like something looks different but I might be wrong?

    Either way, I have so much respect for her. She escaped the cult and has been very active in helping others escape as well. Her star power helps people who may not have been able to get out otherwise and I love it! I also love that she and JLo are still friends throughout it all. I imagine being friends with a scio gets to be exhausting since it seems like they’re always in recruiting mode.

    • Velvet Elvis says:

      She’s definitely been getting lip injections, which just look ridiculous on everyone.

    • Ange says:

      Most definitely. In Kevin Can Wait her face hardly moves. Doesn’t detract from the good work she’s doing vis a vis scientology but it does detract from her acting.

  5. minx says:

    Good for Leah.

  6. jugil1 says:

    I love Leah Remini. I loved her on King of Queens but I really love her spunk in real life. Taking on this egregious cult that is masquerading as a religion that “helps people” makes Leah a hero in my book. Go Leah!

    Oh and people like Kirstie Alley who have been skewering Leah on Twitter make me sick. Kirstie Alley is a pathetic & dangerous bully. She promotes hate sites against Leah online. Check her twitter, it’s disgusting.

    • Bazoo says:

      The more people like Kirstie Alley and the CO$ make vile comments about Leah, the more they prove the criticisms and allegations against the cult are true. Keep fighting the good fight, Leah!

      • NewMe says:

        I loved ‘North and South’ as a kid, and I loved Kirstie as Virgilia, but the fact she’s COS just makes me gag. I feel so conflicted if I watch it now (while ironing). Same with Elizabeth Moss, even though she was great in Mad Men and Top of the Lake. Great actress, but I just can’t with her because of COS.

  7. Freddy Spaghetti says:

    I think Leah is amazing. She’s not afraid to go after that awful cult.

  8. AnnaKist says:

    I believe it. It’s just standard operation for Co$. I once worked for a fabulous company in Sydney. Co$ had been doing one of their massive recruitment drives, when a girl of about 18 started working in my department. Everybody was friendly and inclusive, but after a while, people began avoiding her because she was constantly hassling them to join the “church”. Several people complained and she was warned 3 r 4 times about harassing her co-workers. After about 8 months, she suddenly stopped coming to work. We tried contacting her, and even our lovely GM (June, I never forgot you!) drove to the address she’d filed, but, no luck. No one ever heard from her again. I’m not saying anything sinister happened, but I’ve always wondered about her, because she was clearly completely brainwashed by Co$.

    • minx says:

      That is creepy. I hope she is all right.

    • thaliasghost says:

      It could be that she sent there ‘undercover’ with the task to recruit people. They did that with specific industries and people. Education, dentistry, business consulting. In fact, if you want to teach or tutor in my state you have to sign a clause in your contract that you are not affiliated with Scientology.

      • KB says:

        When you say state, are you talking about a state in the US? It’s against the law to not hire someone based on their religion, and the US government still officially considers Scientology a religion. That policy would violate the Civil Rights Act in the United States and Scientology is litigious as hell, so I’m guessing you’re not talking about a state in the US.

    • lucy2 says:

      Wow, that’s weird! Hope she’s ok.

  9. Deanne says:

    Scientology bully Kirstie Alley promotes hates sites bashing not only Leah, but the other brave souls who’ve spoken out about Scientology’s abuses, including people who have shared their stores of being sexually abused. She compared Leah and Mike Rinder to the KKK and David Duke and except for a couple of brainwashed Scientologists, her followers came down on her hard. How this cult thinks that putting up website after website bashing everyone who speaks out is good PR, is beyond me. They reinforce everything that Leah has said about Scientology and how they force disconnections and ruin lives. I have so much respect for her in her mission to end the abuse and am so disgusted by celebs like Kirstie, TC, John Travolta and his brainwashed wife, Elizabeth Moss, etc., who promote this cult and ignore the abuses. Their complicity is nauseating.

  10. adastraperaspera says:

    I still can’t believe Leah and her family got out in one piece, without having to leave some family members behind and be disconnected from them. I admire what she’s doing to expose Scientology. It also helps people understand the way all cults work (looking at you, Trumpers…).

    • Deanne says:

      They did lose some family. Her brother in law lost his parents and siblings. She lost her godchildren and their families. They lost many friends of 30 plus years as well. It shows you how strong Leah’s family bonds are,. that the core group left together and didn’t let the cult completely destroy their family. I can’t imagine how others who have left feel, having websites put up about them, where friends and family members tell lies about how horrible they are and what liars they are. It’s completely sick.

  11. Mannori says:

    I think it was Leah herself who revealed that when they recruit someone they get money and benefits (probably sea.org “slaves” at their disposal in the form of assistants and help) in return. The bigger the name they recruit the bigger the benefits. They also recruit by starting romantic relationships and friendships in showbiz. Laura prepon in that crazy bonkers interview she did for the cult magazine said she would talk about the benefits of the cult to her castmates…I wonder if she got someone at OITNB hooked, I doubt it though.

    They can barely recruit anymore, unless is people at their most vulnerable state, phycological problems, addicts or really broken people. I guess the only way to add members for them now is to procreate with their fellow scientologist. That would explain the baby boom among the younger generation of scientologist and the cult is probably handling incentive baby bonuses as well.

    • Borgqueen says:

      I live in NYC, Harlem specifically. There is a Scientology Center on 125th and 1st Avenue. Anyone who is from NYC knows this a poor and underserved neighborhood.

      • Mannori says:

        I don’t understand the point of your comment, but Scientology famously has a very fancy celebrity center in the UES and another church near Times Square. The fact that they have one also in Harlem kind of surprises me but not really on second thought, since they aim both to recruit celebrities mostly as a PR prop but their main “work force” are broken and vulnerable random people.