In the fifth episode of Leah Remini’s A&E series exposing Scientology, she has a message for viewers, Scientologists, and the private investigators hired to follow the production team around: You ain’t seen nothing yet.
The episode’s focus rests on gala fundraisers organized by the “church.” Remini explains that these helped keep her tied to the group even after doubts began to surface. The galas center around Scientology’s great successes helping inner city school children and drug addicts—which are all demonstratively false, according to the former producer of these events, Marc Headley.
The events are a cornerstone for Scientologists, and hearing how much of the scripts are false is groundbreaking for current and ex-Scientologists. But the personal stories of Marc and Claire Headley are what stole the show for the millions of other non-Scientology affiliated viewers watching.
How Can Scientology Exist In Our Time?
Sitting opposite Remini and Mike Rinder—the former International Spokesman for Scientology—the Headleys shared tales of false imprisonment, forced abortion, and working for slave wages during their 15 years in Scientology’s most elite group, the Sea Organization.
The Sea Organization (or Sea Org) is formed of a cadre of Scientologists who work full-time for the group, and have signed billion-year contracts promising their full allegiance. Unlike regular members like Remini, the Headleys lived and breathed Scientology, day in and day out. They worked for Scientology full-time, and lived in Scientology-owned property.
The two most gripping scenes of the episode both featured Claire Headley, who joined the Sea Org in her teens and married Marc at the tender age of 17. Both left viewers wondering: how can this group continue to exist in the United States in 2016?
Marc And Claire Expose Sea Organization
When explaining how she came to leave the “church,” Claire makes a point of stating she didn’t just depart—she escaped. Both Marc and Claire describe how they fled: Marc on motorcycle, which was run off the road by Scientologists in the California desert. Claire had to sneak onto a bus, away from Scientology minders on a trip to Walmart—where she was shopping for contact lenses that had to be approved by a dozen higher-ups.
Upon arriving in Las Vegas, she was stopped by other Scientologists, at which time Claire sat on her purse in the middle of the bus station, prepared to raise a ruckus if they tried to physically drag her back to the International Base in California. The Headleys described how others escaped the Base: over barbed wire and through miles of desert to the nearest signs of civilization, four miles away.
When a Sea Org member “blows” (code for leaving the premises without permission), protocols are put in place to turn on strobe lights and scour the surrounding area in order to physically bring the escapee back. The Headleys’ descriptions of these forced repatriations back onto Scientology property are reminiscent of North Korea or wartime Germany, not present-day America.
Why Claire Headley Was Forced To Get An Abortion
The episode’s most jarring moment, especially as a pro-life mother, was Claire Headley’s description of an abortion she was forced to obtain by the “Church,” which views babies a hindrance to the Sea Org’s mission of “clearing” (bettering) the planet. She told Remini in tears,
I absolutely swore that I would never have an abortion. I wanted kids. But next thing I know, I missed a period so I had to see the medical officer… And sure enough, it was positive and she said, ‘Well you’re going to need to get an abortion.’… And meanwhile I’m dying. It’s a worst fear come true. Some wounds you can’t heal. Of course, now I have three beautiful children who are my life. But it doesn’t make it easier to deal with it. It doesn’t make it any easier, ever. It doesn’t make me feel better about not being strong enough to tell them to go f— themselves.
In a time in which Lena Dunham talks about abortion as a glowing feminist ideal, it’s both surprising and refreshing to see another star share how devastating abortion is, and to describe its long-term psychological effects. The practice is rightfully portrayed as a devastating crime, and the fact that it takes place in present-day America begs the question why law enforcement has not become involved yet—not to mention how the group has maintained its tax exempt status.
Given just the Headley’s testimony, viewers are left wondering why there has yet to be a raid on the International Base in California in order to, at the very least, interview its residents and give them the opportunity to safely depart. While police and prosecutors in areas in which Scientology operates may have been able to play dumb thus far, Remini’s bombshell special has now made that farce impossible to continue.