More specifically, Remini hopes that through the pair’s in-depth research of Scientology and its “abusive practices,” the U.S. federal government will eventually step in and conduct a thorough investigation of the religion. (Season 1 ended with some cryptic language about conversations with law enforcement and legal representatives, but no definitive conclusions were made.)
Remini, 47, and Rinder, 62, both former Scientologists, are dedicated to putting an end to it.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Remini admitted that she’s surprised by the visceral reaction the first season of Aftermath received, and how many people actually chose to leave Scientology based on what they saw on the show.
“We’ve heard from people who were inside Scientology who told me, ‘I watched your show. I went on the internet. I decided to leave. I am fighting for my children after watching your show,'” she said. “We get tons of those. And it’s those moments that you go, ‘OK — we’re doing something.'”
The show won a Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming on Aug. 6, and while accepting the award, Remini was overwhelmed with gratitude.
“Words do not express how grateful [Mike Rinder and I] are for this,” she said while accepting the award. “But our contribution pales in comparison to those who bravely shared their stories. I spent most of my life being told the world outside Scientology would fail me, that I would fail, and that without it I wasn’t worth a whole lot. I thank you for proving those theories wrong.”
It sounds like Season 2 of Aftermath will feature even darker, more horrifying stories from former Scientologists: Remini says that they’ll be focusing on the above-mentioned “abusive practices of Scientology — sexual abuse and physical abuse.”
She also plans to ramp up the show’s mission, getting in Scientology’s way and becoming more “activist.” Ultimately, she’s looking for senior levels of the U.S. government — for example, the IRS, the FBI and the Department of Justice — to get involved.
“I’m talking about the FBI, the police, the Department of Justice, the IRS,” she said. “If the FBI ever wanted to get anywhere, all they would need to do is do a raid. Everybody who’s ever gone to Scientology has folders, and anything you’ve ever said is contained in those folders.”
When asked to document the various abuses she plans to highlight in Season 2 of Aftermath, Remini takes a deep breath before listing off disturbing details. (Even after years of exposing alleged Scientology stories, Remini still feels anxiety sharing them; after all, people who seek to speak ill of Scientology are known as “Suppressive Persons” (SPs) by the church, 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.)
“Scientology policy dictates that children are grown men and women in little bodies. They believe a seven-year-old girl should not shudder at being passionately kissed. That’s in Dianetics,” she said, referring to the 1950 L. Ron Hubbard book that outlines Scientology’s rules and guidelines. “If you join the Sea Org [described by Scientology as a “fraternal religious order, comprising the church’s most dedicated members”] as a child, your parents give you over to Scientology. Children are treated as crew. They are assets. And if a child is molested, that child and/or parent cannot go to the police, because it’s against policy. They handle it in Scientology. They will usually bring the molester in and give them spiritual ‘auditing,’ or counselling.”
“[Then the victim] gets punished for ‘pulling it in,’ which is a Scientology term that means you did something that you’re not telling the church about, and that’s why you received the abuse,” she continued. “The child is usually made to do some kind of amends, to make up for what happened to them. There are no victims in Scientology. Anything that happens to you in Scientology happens to you because you made it happen.”
Scientology, for its part, denies any and all accusations put forth against it by Aftermath, Remini and Rinder, accusing Remini of being money-hungry and exploitative. The church also claims to be the victim of increased physical and verbal attacks since Aftermath premiered, including bomb and death threats.
“There have been more than 500 incidents of vandalism, harassment and threats of violence against the church, its parishioners, staff and leadership,” said Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw. “Leah Remini is just an actress whose current role is starring in a scam of a show whose singular goal is to incite religious hate and violence for ratings, money and Emmy nominations.”
Despite the organization’s tactics, Remini is not afraid of whatever repercussions she might personally face.
“Don’t misunderstand me,” she said. “People who know me know that I have a very big mouth, and I have been that way since I was a kid. But I never want to give the organization of Scientology the idea that anybody is scared of them. We are not. And the more they react in the way that they do, it makes me think we’re doing the right thing.”
Season 2 of ‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath’ starts up on Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on A&E.