The actress, 47, walked away from the controversial religion in 2013. Her husband Angelo Pagán, 59, daughter Sofia, 13, and mother Vicki left with her, but Remini says many who leave Scientology have had family members who stay within the church feel forced to “disconnect” from them.
The church says no one is forced to cut contact, and disconnection is a choice.
During her last years in the church, Remini became disillusioned when she started to question disconnection and the actions of church leader David Miscavige, and she says the church hypocritically treats celebrities and their families — like her friend Jennifer Lopez’s father, David Lopez, who has been a Scientologist for 30 years.
“The [practice] of Scientology says her father should be disconnecting from her because she’s connected to me. And that hasn’t happened,” Remini says in the new issue of PEOPLE. “Although I don’t want that to happen to Jennifer or her family, it is the [practice] of Scientology. They do it to everybody else who is not a big name.”
- For more on Leah Remini’s battle against the church of Scientology, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere now.
Scientology denies that it distinguishes among its parishioners based on their fame. “It is Remini who is the attacker,” a Scientology spokesperson wrote in a statement to PEOPLE (read the church’s full statement here). “Her whole anti-Scientology shtick was scripted and choreographed by her, casting herself in her drama as the ‘victim’ so she could cash in on her false narrative while savaging her friends and those who helped her most of her life.”
Last year, Remini launched her Emmy-nominated A&E docu-series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. Now in its second season, the show follows Remini as she shares fellow ex-Scientologists’s stories, including allegations of disconnection and abuse within the church.
“I would like to be the face of resistance to abuse,” adds Remini, who will reunite with her The King of Queens costar Kevin James in season two of Kevin Can Wait, returning Sept. 25.