Actress-turned-activist Leah Remini may be the worst thing to happen to Scientology in its short but tumultuous history. The first season of her groundbreaking and immensely popular series for A&E, “Scientology and the Aftermath,” will come back in the fall for a second season. Because the network was so eager to get another fresh episode on air, Remini and her partner, former Scientologist spokesman Mike Rinder, produced a bonus episode, which aired the evening of Memorial Day.
One would expect an episode sandwiched between the two seasons to basically function as a teaser for the second season. With the exception of commercial interludes featuring clips from season two, however, that was not the case. Season two appears to focus on instances of sexual violence and child abuse, crimes which if found to be genuine could land Scientology and its practitioners in legal hot water.
Remini and Rinder were clear both in season one and the previews for season two what they want to accomplish with additional episodes. More than just give Scientology a black eye, they want this second (and previously unplanned) season to do something tangible. Remini and Rinder want to take down Scientology.
The Pair Has Already Scored Points
The pair are already making headway with their goal. Millions of Americans are watching and talking about the series, and in this week’s special bonus episode, one of the six special guests showed just how damaging daylight can be for Scientology’s bottom line. Australian television journalist Bryan Seymour has been covering Scientology on air for more than a decade and in that time its yearly income plummeted by a third in Australia.
Remini and Rinder spent the episode speaking with six of the most outspoken individuals trying to expose the group, including journalists like Seymour, a professor, a lawyer, and a person whose former job was to destroy Scientology’s opponents. Remini and Rinder explained in season one several times the risk those coming forward on camera were taking, and this bonus episode collected some of the worst horror stories about what Scientology does to those who take it head on.
Seymour told Remini and Rinder about a recent incident involving several Scientology members who served as bouncers at an event in Australia while Seymour was producing another television special about the group. The bouncers waited until the cameras stopped rolling, he said, then leaned into Seymour’s ear and said “We know you grew up in an orphanage. We know they gave you drugs. What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you kill yourself?”
Prepare for More Dirty Firebombs Ahead
It appears several of the individuals coming forward in season two will be new to the world of Scientology watchers. The show says the publicity surrounding the A&E special motivated them to come forward with their painful stories of abuse. It’s unclear if the victims will remain anonymous in the series, but A&E’s cameras intentionally obscured the identities of several in the season two teaser trailers. Why might these individuals, some of whom say they were victims of sexual violence, wish to remain anonymous?
Outside of the usual reasons those who suffered sexual crimes may want to keep their identities hidden, there’s the reports that Scientology devotes itself to the total destruction of its opponents. Remini and Rinder spent the entire hour and a half of their Memorial Day special explaining how. These victims likely fear the character assassination and mind-games Scientology is best at — and famous for, thanks in part to Remini and Rinder.
While explaining the cruel comments hurled at Seymour to upset him, Seymour explained: “That’s what Scientology is. It’s not some crazy sci-fi cult with a few celebrities. These are the people who plan the destruction of its critics and plan the total subjugation of its followers. It never stops with them.”
Viewers need do no more than Google the names of those who appeared in any of the episodes to understand just how low Scientology will stoop to delegitimize critics, including name-calling, character assassination, and in the case of Remini, even a negative interview with her father. Atop every search for names of those appearing in the A&E episodes is a paid ad linking to a hit website written and hosted by Scientology.
The collective effort to take down the cult of Scientology is picking up steam with the second season of the A&E show. Remini and Rinder say they want to expose its abuses for a wider audience. What can regular Americans do to aid in these efforts? Outside of sharing these stories on our social networks and contacting lawmakers, there’s another way. Remember those Google ads? It costs Scientology money every time you click. Just saying.