By the time Leah Remini decided to leave the Church of Scientology in 2013 at the age of 43, she knew it better than most.
Raised a Scientologist by her mother from the age of 9, Remini spent more than three decades in the church. Along the way, she became a rich and famous actress, too, co-starring on the CBS sitcom “The King of Queens.”
I know the heartbreak of the average person who works day and night to pay a quarter-of-a-million dollars for their "religious freedom" in Scientology. Leah Remini
But now that she is separated from the church, Remini is coming clean about Scientology’s inner-workings in her new A&E series, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” which premieres Tuesday. And in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter to promote the series, Remini made clear just how much money people are handing over to the church.
Remini said she personally gave $3 million to the church, “if not more,” but believes the real pain is experienced by people much less wealthy than her.
“I know the heartbreak of the average person who works day and night to pay a quarter-of-a-million dollars for their ‘religious freedom’ in Scientology,” Remini said.
The “heartbreak” Remini refers to comes in the context of comments made by David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology, who called Tom Cruise “the best example of a Scientologist.” But Remini said “those people” ― the non-famous individuals who must hand over their hard-earned money to the church ― “were the example [of the best Scientologists] — not somebody who makes $10 to $20 million a picture.”
In a comment provided to The Hollywood Reporter, the Church of Scientology said Remini was trying to “distort the truth about Scientology” and “exploit [her] former religion to make a buck.”
“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” premieres Tuesday on A&E at 10 p.m. ET.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Leah Remini disassociated from her mother when she left the church. That is incorrect.