“Trying to Make a Dollar off My Church”

The real story of Leah Remini’s orchestrated exit from the Church of Scientology to get what she craves most: attention and money

Leah Remini reveals her bottom line on ABC 20/20 with Dan Harris in 2017
Leah Remini reveals her bottom line on ABC 20/20 with Dan Harris in 2017

“I don’t want to be known as this bitter, ex-Scientologist,” Leah Remini pronounced to media in February 2014, seven months after being expelled from the Church of Scientology. “I’m not trying to bash anybody and I’m not trying to be controversial.”

As time would prove, that is exactly who she was, what she did and how she wanted to be known—all as part of Remini’s created narrative for personal profit.

The story started years before her expulsion and culminated in a series of events in which she irreparably maimed her career: She was fired from the CBS talk show The Talk in 2011, for her trashy and disruptive conduct. Her next endeavor, ABC’s short-lived Family Tools, resulted in a lawsuit from her management team in late 2012 when she banked her money from the show and fired them before paying commissions owed.

“The way it is going, [Leah] won’t have any friends or family. She is almost to the point where she can’t work with others (studio business-wise). She has been a hardship on all of us (family-wise).”


“History doesn’t lie,” said counsel for her fired management team. “Her pattern and practice of failing to pay representatives speaks volumes.”

Remini’s personal life was not faring much better. Under severe financial strain, and seeking to blame others for her woes, she alarmed and alienated one friend after another with her bitter grudges and vindictive behavior.

“She was constantly just—like an antagonistic person,” one friend recounted. Another experienced their longtime friendship become an “abusive relationship,” in which Remini racially insulted her son and shut off all contact. Yet another longtime friend described her as “very agitated and not happy with her general friends and family. She would complain about her mother. She would complain about her husband. And it just kept escalating.”

Personal assistants were also feeling the brunt of Remini’s acrimony. A close Remini associate confided she “couldn’t believe the amount of turnover with assistants—a new one every two weeks….Not everyone can work for that crazy bitch.”

“The way it is going, [Leah] won’t have any friends or family,” Remini’s stepfather, George Marshall, summed up in November 2012. “She is almost to the point where she can’t work with others (studio business-wise). She has been a hardship on all of us (family-wise).”

The Church, as it had always done, bent over backwards to help Remini to curb her self-admitted, antisocial behavior and live an ethical and decent life. She professed to want that help. But, ever consumed by her self-important “celebrity” status, her acceptance of help came with a condition: it had to be on Remini’s own terms of special treatment.

In that regard, she went after a self-styled position with the Church of “advisor” to its leadership, as a “critical” voice. It was not some whim. Years later, Remini would assert in a podcast interview: “I really thought…‘I’m going to take over the Church.’”

The Church, unsurprisingly, turned down her absurd request. Notwithstanding Remini’s ethical issues, actors don’t direct religions. She was nevertheless, again, offered unlimited help to get back on her feet in life. But as everyone in her close orbit knows, you don’t say “no” to Leah Remini without paying a price.

Remini turned to former Scientologist Mike Rinder, a wifebeater who a decade earlier had been removed by the leader of the Church in utter disgrace for his gross malfeasance and dishonesty.

Rinder—whom Remini had called a “star f—ker” when he was in the Church—was now on an agenda to “get back at” the Church and its leader. Rinder had co-created a get-rich, $1 billion litigation scheme through which he hoped to “financially crush the Church to death” and handsomely profit. That sort of man struck a chord with Remini and she consulted with him about his plan. (In fact, years later the Church learned that Remini had an explicit stake in Rinder’s ill-fated plan, prospecting for millions.)

“Your attempt to rewrite history, or spin the reality of who your client is and what conduct she has engaged in will take the work of a magician, not merely a lawyer….”


The Church confronted Remini on her duplicity. She was on the verge of being expelled for her worsening antisocial behavior. She was given the opportunity to correct herself, but she was unwilling to get honest and own up to her transgressions. That does not meet Scientology ethical standards.

The Church was done with her. No more phone calls or texts reaching out to her. No one trying to meet with her. No one offering counseling.

She could have just walked away. The door would always be open for her, even if just a crack, and she knew that.

But, being Leah Remini, it was not that simple. Like all her interpersonal scrapes, she wanted someone to suffer and she wanted to have the last word. And given her moribund career, she wanted attention and money in the process.

Remini with Mike Rinder, expelled former Scientologist and wifebeater. With Tony Ortega, blogger and defender of sex trafficking hub The trio schemed Remini’s public exit from the Church before she was expelled.

As time would tell, Remini was already well on her way to bringing these things about: she had been working with Mike Rinder all along to stage-manage her exit from the Church for maximum publicity and profit.

Remini was laying groundwork behind closed doors at home. As her sister Nicole later revealed to media, Leah had for months been “preparing her family” for “a shitstorm when news broke that she was leaving Scientology.”

“I don’t do anything unless I’m paid. Nothing.”


To “break” that news, Rinder and Remini had enlisted a third partner, anti-Scientology tabloid blogger Tony Ortega. As the notorious apologist and attack dog for—the advertising site that for years aided and abetted the child sex-trafficking trade—Ortega knew something about disinformation and how to create it.

Rinder confided the threesome’s plan to his confidant and mentor, Mark “Marty” Rathbun—the expelled former Scientologist who incited, led and advised the anti-Scientology faction. In 2017, Rathbun posted a bombshell video on YouTube in which he exposed the plan for Remini’s exit from the Church and how it played out:

“It would be reported in a way that they wanted to manipulate it being reported, which was completely and utterly an act. It was a classic troll job,” Rathbun said. “Leah would act as if she were being persecuted by Scientology for disagreeing with it and for having all this ‘scandalous’ information about it.

“It was all going to be a rollout to increase her profile. She’d be this innocent princess who was converted into a warrior because she was hunted down and persecuted by Scientology. That was the story,” he went on to say.

“She never did get persecuted, she never did get hunted down, she never did get people begging her to come back—none of that stuff happened. But Rinder and Ortega just kept spinning the ball.”

It was all about money—Remini escalating her “shitstorm” to raise her profile and her profits.

When the Church exposed her falsehoods, she attempted to silence the Church with threats of lawsuits. She filed a harassing, fictitious “missing person report” on the wife of the Church’s leader, which the Los Angeles Police Department investigated and publicly declared “unfounded.” When the Church informed media of her false allegations and her lack of scruples, Remini, via her then lawyer, sent an extortionate demand to the Church for $500,000 or she would sue. She followed that demand with a second, for another $1 million.

Church counsel put the matter to rest in a letter to Remini’s lawyer: “Your attempt to rewrite history, or spin the reality of who your client is and what conduct she has engaged in will take the work of a magician, not merely a lawyer….

Leah Remini’s extortionate demands for money from the Church
Leah Remini’s extortionate demands for money from the Church
When the Church exposed one of Leah Remini’s many lies to media outlets through which she was profiting from her attacks, she demanded $500,000 with threat of lawsuit. Remini followed her first, unfruitful, demand with a second, upping the ante to $1,000,000—or else.

“Since we do not wish to waste resources further on this attempt at attention getting, this will be the last correspondence on the subject.”

But Leah Remini was not done chasing money through the Church.

“I don’t do anything unless I’m paid. Nothing,” she told mentor Mark Rathbun around 2015.

At that time, Rathbun said, Remini informed him “[she] had successfully come up with unlimited financial backing to go after Scientology,” and was going to create a production to do so. Rathbun says she offered him a role: “She told me that she was so well backed that I could write my own ticket to participate as a producer.”

Rathbun declined, but Mike Rinder filled the role.

With her new, remunerated career—as a bitter, ex-Scientologist—Remini found the two things she craves most.

“Just to run this down, you do get paid and you do get attention for doing this stuff?” asked ABC 20/20 host Dan Harris of Remini in 2017.

“I don’t work for free,” Remini replied. “This is a very demanding job.…I mean, I’m just a crappy, has-been actress who’s trying to make a dollar off my church.”