Leah Remini remains immersed in the Church of Scientology five years after renouncing her beliefs in its ideology.
Her Emmy-winning series, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” has entered its third season on A&E (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.) and continues to dissect the organization to which Remini dedicated nearly 35 years of her life.
“Most people, when they leave a cult, start their life and start the healing process,” says Remini, 48. “But for [co-host Mike Rinder, a former senior executive of the Church of Scientology International] and I doing the show, we’re constantly in it. Most people throw away their Scientology books [when they leave]. But we’ve kept them for the purpose of keeping it accurate, and we’re still kind of in that space.
“It’s been emotionally draining.”
Remini (“The King of Queens”) was in the Church of Scientology between the ages of 9 and 43 but became an anti-Scientology activist after leaving in 2013. (She also still acts, most recently in the CBS sitcom “Kevin Can Wait” opposite her “King of Queens” co-star Kevin James).
The first two seasons of “Scientology and the Aftermath,” which she hosts and executive produces, focused on the church’s policies and personal stories from people who have left.
The show’s third season, as she says in on-air promos, turns the spotlight on “following the money.”
“The shows we’re highlighting this season are maybe not as emotional in that you’re not hearing somebody’s story about their son or daughter or father or mother disconnecting from them, as we did in Season 1,” she says. “This season is more about the things that Scientology has engaged in continuously because they have tax-exempt status.”
Remini says revoking that status is her main goal. Raising awareness is important, but she thinks the general public knows what Scientology is, at this point. “I think the world at large is very aware of the farce that is Scientology,” she says. “Ultimately it needs its tax-exempt status taken [away], so they can stop using the millions of dollars they use each year to follow and harass people and bully them into silence.
“Churches have tax-exempt status because you’re supposed to be helping and servicing the public.”
Remini, who lives in LA with her husband, actor Angelo Pagan, and their daughter, says her A&E series has been impacted by the Church’s alleged bullying.
“It’s just insanity,” she says. “They have [private eyes]following our camera men and our editors. They’re not used to that kind of thing, especially from a place calling itself a church. I’ve been told by my agent and manager that people don’t want to pay me to sponsor or endorse something because they’re scared of Scientology retribution.
“But that’s fine,” she says. “If you’re going to be bullied by Scientology, I probably wouldn’t want to work for you anyway.”
Season 3 also explores another organization beyond Scientology. A special episode centering on Jehovah’s Witnesses aired earlier this month.
“We had so many people reach out to us from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, saying, ‘Can you look into the Jehovah’s Witnesses? They have very similar practices and policies that are hurtful to families,’ ” she says. “It got to be too many to ignore, and so I asked A&E if we could use one of our specials to tell these stories. I’m still reading the messages of people thanking us for doing it, and how they didn’t feel so alone anymore.
“Now we’re being reached out to by people who are asking us to look into the Mormons.”