Leah Remini, 43, recently sat down for a candid interview with BuzzFeed, in which she goes into detail about her life growing up in Scientology, and why she eventually left the controversial church.
Talking at length about her childhood in the notoriously secretive religion, Remini says that she went "from a middle-class lifestyle" in Brooklyn, New York to a "roach-infested motel with six other girls off a freeway in Clearwater" when her family moved to the Church's compound in Florida at her stepfather's suggestion, before her 10th birthday. "We were separated from our mother. We had to sign billion-year contracts we didn't understand. And we kept saying, 'Why are you doing this to us? Why are we here?'"
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"We were working from morning until night with barely any schooling," Remini claims. "There was no saying no. There was no being tired. There was no, 'I'm a little girl who just lost her father and everything I've ever known.' There was only, 'Get it done.'"
She now credits her daughter, 9-year-old Sofia, as the number one reason for exiting the Church last July.
"She was getting to the age where the acclimation into the Church would have to start," Remini explains. "It includes having children answer questions like, Have you ever pretended to be ill? Have you ever decided you didn't like some member of your family? Have you ever been a coward?
"I started thinking of my own childhood and how I grew up resenting my mother because she was never home," she explains. "It's funny; somehow my father, the guy who left his kids and never paid child support, was excluded from my resentment and I grew up resenting my mother for not being home to make food, like all my friends' moms were. But my mom thought she was doing something good; she thought she was helping the planet. That's what the Church tells you."
Though her relationship with her mother has since vastly improved.
"The fact my mother stood by me after all her years in the Church totally took away any resentment I may have been harboring," Remini shares. "When it mattered the most, my mother was there for me. It was the moment that erased all those days she wasn't there."
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She also reflects on how she's changed since exiting Scientology.
"In the Church, you're taught that everybody is lost," Remini says. "They say they're loving, caring, non-judgmental people, but secretly, they were judging the world for not believing what they believed. To me, that is not a spiritual person. That's a judgmental person and that is the person that I was. I was a hypocrite, and the worst thing you can be in this world is a hypocrite."