Actress Leah Remini blasts Scientology in exclusive '20/20' interview

Actress blasts Scientology
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Story highlights

  • Remini's mother introduced her to the religion as a child
  • She was in a very strict branch, the Sea Org, she said
  • The church said her sentiments about it say more about her than about the religion

(CNN)After 30 years as a Scientologist, actor Leah Remini turned her back on the church in anger. She's written a book, in which she harshly criticizes her former faith, in part over incidents related to one of its most high-profile figures -- Tom Cruise.

On Friday, she appeared in an exclusive interview on the ABC news magazine "20/20," ahead of the release of her memoir, "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology," to voice her sentiments.
The Church of Scientology said in a statement to the media that Remini's criticism had more to do with her than with it.
    Remini is best known for her role as Carrie Heffernan in the TV sitcom "The King of Queens," which ran from 1998 -- 2007.

    Remini: Rigidly strict

    Scientology's mission is to save the planet, Remini, whose mother introduced her to the religion as a child, told "20/20."
    Actress Leah Remini
    That may sound good but has very negative consequences, "because Scientologists view children as spiritual beings, you're not treated as a kid, so you're given a lot of responsibility," she said. "Your ego becomes extremely inflated."
    Her mother enlisted her in the Sea Org, a highly disciplined part of Scientology, and she signed a billion year contract with them, she said. Scientologists believe in reincarnation, and Sea Org members are expected to rejoin when they are reborn.
    Remini felt she was exploited as youth labor while living in rundown conditions, "20/20" reported. She said she got into unreasonably severe trouble when her boyfriend then touched her in an enticing but not really salacious way.

    Remini on Tom Cruise comments

    Remini also got written up for comments to and about Tom Cruise during her time as a Scientologist, she said.
    Remini was teaching salsa dancing to Cruise and his then girlfriend Katie Holmes. "He was like, forcibly kissing Katie, and I said, 'Hey, get a freaking room.'" Remini got written up for that, she said.
    She also disparaged Cruise's famed appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," in which he jumped up on a couch. She got written up again, she said.

    Scientology: Remini blaming others

    The Church of Scientology shot back at Remini's allegations with a statement criticizing her as blaming others for her own weaknesses and revising events to suit her own agenda.
    "She needs to move on with her life instead of pathetically exploiting her former religion, her former friends and other celebrities for money and attention to appear relevant again," the church said in a statement.
    Remini has dedicated part of her book to criticizing her own personal faults, saying she pushed people around and was a bad mother, she told "20/20." She said she made the revelations to preempt scathing personal criticism she expected from the church in retaliation to her criticism.