Leah Remini, who exposed many alleged abuses by The Church of Scientology in the first season of her A&E documentary series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, is gearing up for Season 2, and there is no dearth of new information to impart.
Remini, along with fellow ex-Scientologist bigwig Mike Rinder, is pulling out all the stops in Season 2, and plans to address further allegations and improprieties by the church.
Over this past weekend, Remini and Rinder participated in a 1.5-hour special called Merchants of Fear, which examined the way the church intimidates and attacks its critics. Rather than solely focus on stories from former members (as Aftermath does), this exposé looked at how journalists and other external detractors are stalked, harassed, humiliated and otherwise assailed by Scientology.
Rinder, as the former senior executive of The Church of Scientology International and the Sea Organization (known colloquially as The Sea Org, it’s a “fraternal religious order, comprising the church’s most dedicated members”), has unique, firsthand knowledge of what actually took place behind closed doors. While Remini was a top-ranking member due to her celebrity, Rinder was often in the room with Scientology leader David Miscavige and privy to some of the organization’s deepest secrets.
Rinder, 62, and Remini, 46, are now classified as “Suppressive Persons” by the church — people who seek to speak ill of Scientology — along with any journalist looking to tell a negative story about the religion. The treatment that befalls SPs is meant to be so unbearable, and in some cases so completely life-ruining, that they’ll cease their crusade to bring down Scientology.
The two former Scientologists, who at the end of Season 1 of Aftermath hinted that they were looking at legal recourse against the church, have not backed down from their mission. While still being cryptic about their potential legal options, the pair is dedicated to putting an end to Scientology.
They teased Season 2 of Aftermath and gave viewers a glimpse of what’s to come — here are a few things you can expect to see in a few months on the show.
More child abuse and sexual assault allegations surface
As horrific as the stories of Season 1 were, you can expect even more disturbing tales to emerge in Season 2. Aside from the standard horrors of parents and children being forcibly separated, or the very idea of families being “disconnected,” new allegations of kids being sexually abused routinely by members of the church are surfacing.
“I just didn’t want to exist in that moment,” said an adult woman who claimed abuse at the hands of a Scientologist. “I would repeat, ‘I want to die, I want to die, I want to die. Imagine a 3-, 4-, or 5-year-old child saying that to themselves that they want to die. We’d been raised to believe that the outside world is completely evil.”
Another woman claims that she was repeatedly raped by a fellow member, despite her saying no multiple times. The ultimate sin, she says, is that the church completely covered it up.
There will be car chases and foot pursuits
In Season 1, viewers saw how hostile Scientology members can be when confronted. In many instances, Remini and Rinder were being tailed; when approached, the alleged stalker either denies it or doesn’t say a word. We can expect more of that in Season 2 as the stakes are higher, and the SP twosome is more vilified.
Paul Haggis, Canadian film director, is interviewed
For those who don’t recall, Haggis defected from the church in 2009 after being a member for 35 years. He was motivated to leave after the church supported Prop 8, the initiative to make same-sex marriage illegal in California. He already felt uneasy about some of the church’s decisions, but that was the final straw. Haggis sits down for an interview with Remini in Season 2.
“I publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. I was declared a suppressive person, an enemy of the church, eight years ago,” he says in the teaser clip. “I guess I was the first person of real note to speak out against the church. They weren’t happy with that.”
He claims the church sent spies and lookouts to tail his every move, and he wants them “held accountable.”
The LAPD may now be involved
In attempting to pursue their legal case, it looks like Rinder and Remini have called in the LAPD.
“Engaging in litigation with Scientology is not something that anyone but a fool does lightly,” Rinder explains. “This season we have to do something about it.”
In a brief snippet from Season 2, a member of the production crew announces, “The detectives are here. They’re at the top of the steps.” Then the screen cuts to black. Looks like we’re going to have to wait for Season 2 to see the end result of this discussion.
Another Tom Cruise story emerges
Most people know about Cruise’s infamous couch-jumping, his bizarre tirade against Brooke Shields, his Scientology instructional videos (leaked onto YouTube) and his otherworldly wedding to Katie Holmes. In Season 2 of Aftermath, we learn a new story about Cruise and his dislike for a 2005 Rolling Stone feature on Scientology by writer Janet Reitman.
The organization allegedly tried to outpace Reitman’s research, and fed her positive stories about the church and its activities worldwide. Rinder, who was still with Scientology at the time, says that the church checked her plane reservations to see if she’d left town or not.
“She didn’t get on the plane because I knew the plane reservations. We absolutely [did],” Rinder said.
That’s not all — apparently Cruise personally called Rolling Stone and attempted to get Reitman taken off the story. Rinder corroborates that, saying he was flown to New York City to get the publication to kill the piece (he says he was told to assassinate her character as well). Reitman jokingly says that Rinder was known as “Mr. Scary” in the Rolling Stone office.
Scientology has further responses for Remini and Rinder
If you watched any of Season 1, you’ll recall the little quotes from Scientology that book-ended each segment of the show. (Since the church declined to participate in the series, this is Remini’s way of ensuring they get to comment.) It seems that the church has crafted some new statements for the new season.
Dated May 18, the passage reads:
“What distinguishes your ‘reality’ show from others is its singular goal of seeking profit from spreading hate and bigotry. You carry on spreading sweeping falsehoods with wild abandon… It is Leah Remini and Mike Rinder who are trying to break up families with their deprogramming attempts and calls to disrespect family members’ religious beliefs. Scientology promotes strong family values.
Leah Remini has nothing better to do with her life and her career than to spread bigotry and hatred and to foment violent prejudice with your anti-religious ‘reality’ TV show.”
Season 2 of ‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath’ is slated for Summer 2017 on A&E.