Thanks to strong ratings in its first few weeks – including their highest series premiere numbers since 2014 – A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath surprised viewers with not one, but two episodes this Christmas week. In Monday’s special installment, Remini answered questions from her Reddit “Ask Me Anything” and introduced the story of Paulette Cooper, a journalist who was allegedly the target of a nasty Scientology PR campaign called “Operation Freakout.” (More on that in a bit.) That was followed up by last night’s hour, which focused on current Church of Scientology leader, David Miscavige. Here’s what we learned from these two back-to-back episode.
1. Members are advised to watch out for “entheta”
If there’s one recurring lesson from the show, it’s that the Church doesn’t take criticism very well. Hubbard coined the term “entheta” to describe news, information and circumstances which disturb, agitate or otherwise upset “theta,” his word for “life force.” Scientologists are taught that simply engaging with anything that could be considered entheta – that is, anything negative or upsetting – hinders their spiritual progress. It is to be rejected, full stop.
Remini said that as she was becoming disillusioned with the organization, she tried to discuss her concerns about some the allegations she’d read online with two of her closest friends; they allegedly wrote up a Church Knowledge Report on her. “Scientologists will turn you in,” the actress claims. “Doesn’t matter if it’s your child, your mother, your father, your husband.”
Remini describes what apparently happens next: “You get called in, you get interrogated,” she explains, “and unless you’re willing to walk out the door that minute, and lose everything you’ve ever known and your family, you usually just go ‘Fine, okay, I won’t look anymore.'”
2. There were attempts to discredit a critical journalist in the 1970s
The show recounts the story of Paulette Cooper who, in 1971, published The Scandal of Scientology, a “chilling examination” of the Church’s “nature, beliefs and practices.” “It became all barrels against me [after that],” Cooper alleges on Scientology and the Aftermath. “They sued me 19 times – I had 19 lawsuits that I personally had to defend all over the world. Every cent I made went to lawyers.”
In addition to the financial strain of fighting the Church in court, Cooper also claims that 300 tenants in her new apartment building were sent a letter, informing them that she was was a part-time prostitute with venereal disease. Soemone reportedly broke into her psychiatrist’s office and stole her records. She also claims that she “met a man and for five months I lived with him .. I only found out years later, that he was calling in everything I said or did or wore. He was a Scientologist.” Cooper also says that “someone” apparently arranged to have her stationary stolen – which was used to send two bomb threats to the organization.
After she was reported to the FBI, “I was indicted, I was arrested and I was up for 15 years in jail,” Cooper says. “I had this hanging over my head for eight months – I was going to be absolutely ruined in a very public trial. … People thought I was the crazy one sending them bomb threats … The idea was to get me sent to a mental institution or jail so that no one would believe me.”
Then, according to the show, the FBI raided Scientology offices in Washington, DC and Los Angeles in 1977, and uncovered documents which detailed their efforts against Cooper, known as “Operation Freakout.” According to the April 1976 planning document, the plan included framing Cooper for additional fake bomb threats.
3. Some Scientologists believe L. Ron Hubbard isn’t dead
When Hubbard protege David Miscavige delivered the news of Hubbard’s death to an arena full of devoted Scientologists in 1986, Aftermath claims that he didn’t tell them that the leader had suffered a stroke after being sick for years. He also supposedly didn’t mention that Hubbard had reportedly taken psychiatric drugs during the course of his treatment.
Instead, Miscavige explained that Hubbard had completed the highest OT levels, “discarded his body” and assumed the “exterior state” required to “move on to his next level of OT research.” Scientologists reportedly believe that Hubbard will one day return to Earth in a new body and assume his duties. There are reportedly fully decorated and ready-to-use office set aside for L.R.H. just in case.
4. David Miscavige is allegedly said to be developing higher OT levels
The full story of how Miscavige allegedly came to assume the role of Chairman of the Board and self-described “Pope of Scientology” has been disputed. Tom DeVocht, a Sea Org since age 12, claims he was a member of Miscavige’s senior team for years and became privy to some of the lesser-known stressors of being Hubbard’s successor.
“[Miscavige] said ‘Hey, I’ve got Hubbard’s worksheets, but that’s all I’ve got to work with – I’ve got to develop what OT 9 is,'” DeVocht claims. “The whole picture of what I thought I was involved in crumbled before me.”
DeVocht told Remini and Rinder about one alleged occasion where Miscavige ordered DeVocht to find a way to tear up the sidewalk in front of every Scientology-owned building in Clearwater, Florida, so that protestors would have nowhere to stand. When he couldn’t get permission from the city, DeVocht claims Miscavige physically attacked him and labeled him an “enemy.” Pressed to explain why he would believe he deserved such treatment, DeVocht said of Miscavige, “Because he was the fucking hero, that’s how intense he was about Clearing the planet.”
Such intensity made it difficult for many former members like Jefferson Hawkins – who was responsible for the Dianetics commercials with the exploding volcano – to recognize themselves as victims. Hawkins claims he was assaulted on numerous occasions, and also witnessed violence between members whom were accused of committing crimes against Scientology. “It was like Lord of the Flies in there,” Hawkins claims.
“Scientology teaches that anything bad that happens to you in your life is your fault,” Remini says on Aftermath. “I want people … to know – you are a victim. Something happened to you that you didn’t deserve and you don’t deserve to be punished for that.”
5. Ron Miscavige finally left the organization in 2012 after Googling info about the Church
David Miscavige’s father introduced his wife and children to the Church over 40 years ago, and allowed his ambitious son to quit school at 16 to join the Sea Org. Around the time Miscavige became Chairman of the Board in the mid-1980s, Ron and his second wife decided to join the Sea Org as well, and relocated to Scientology’s Gold Base in Hemet, California. While some might expect the father of the Church’s leader to receive special treatment, Ron Miscavige told Remini and Rinder that he was expected to behave like a staff member in the presence of the Church’s leader.
“Family connections are considered a ‘false dynamic,'” Ron Miscavige says on the show. “No spiritual being is the father of another spiritual being. On [Gold] base, he referred to me as Ron, he never called me Dad. And I called him ‘Sir.'”
Ron Miscavige finally left Scientology in 2012, and tells Remini and Rinder on Aftermath about the first time he learned that its reputation wasn’t what he thought. David Miscavige gave him a Kindle, he said, but allegedly forgot to disconnect the device from the Internet. So Ron eagerly Googled “Scientology” to find out what amazing things were being said about the Church’s efforts to clear the planet of war, disease and drug addition. The results weren’t what he expected – with just a few clicks, the senior Miscavige realized they had beeen “living a lie.” A few months later, Miscavige and his wife reportedly tricked the Gold Base guard into opening the gates, he hit the gas, and they never looked back.
Like so many others who have left the Church, Miscavige claims he has been disconnected by all of his family members and friends who remain devoted Scientologists, and has not seen or heard from his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren in years. At one point, Miscavige details in his tell-all book, Ruthless, a Church investigator thought the 80-year-old was having a heart attack and was told by David Miscavige not to intervene. “If it was Ron’s time to die, let him die,” the investigator later claimed. Miscavige has denied the allegations.
A spokesperson from the Church of Scientology was contacted about this article and responded with the statement below (please note: this disclaimer has been amended since initial publication):
“Leah Remini is doing this for the money and now tries to pretend otherwise. Ms. Remini is being compensated for this show, just as she profited from her book. In addition, she attempted to extort the Church by first demanding $500,000, followed by an additional $1 million, because the Church invoked its First Amendment right to respond to her false claims with the truth. This shows the extent Leah Remini is willing to go to in order to distort the truth about Scientology.
“Remini has repeatedly disparaged and exploited her former faith for profit and attention through a series of failed publicity stunts, culminating in her reality TV show featuring [former members] who have been telling differing versions of the same false tales of abuse for years. Many of their allegations have been reviewed and discredited in courts of law. A&E’s promotion of their agenda smacks of bigotry.”
From what it takes to go “Clear” to the rigors of OT training, here are the things we learned from’ Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Episode 3.